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Stamp duty reforms 'helped boost housing market'

Radical reforms in stamp duty have helped boost the housing market, experts have said.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said the changes - which see stamp duty increased gradually alongside the cost of the house, rather than increasing in large 'steps' - are responsible for a predicted rise in house prices, coupled with a lack of homes to choose from.

Under a revised system unveiled and launched earlier this month, the vast majority of buyers will pay less stamp duty - though it means people buying homes at the top end of the market will pay significantly more.

Read: Stamp duty reforms: How the new rules will affect you

Read: Buyers beware? The hidden costs of stamp duty reform

Doctor Who's 'hidden plug' for Game of Thrones

Doctor Who fans tuning in to the sci-fi show's Christmas special should keep a sharp ear out for a hidden plug for rival drama Game of Thrones.

Writer and producer Steven Moffat, who is also the man behind Sherlock, included a character detailing their plan for a perfect Christmas Day TV schedule - which includes classic film Miracle on 34th Street and a "Thrones marathon".

The special episode will be shown on Christmas Day Credit: PA

Moffat admitted he originally intended the character to mention Doctor Who in their list, but decided it would be "too self-reverential".

Game of Thrones is currently being shown in full from the beginning on Sky Atlantic ahead of the launch of its new series.


House prices outside London 'to see biggest rises' in 2015

House prices in the north west, south east, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside are set to shoot up by five per cent in the coming year - while property in the capital will remain level, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has said.

It comes as further research from property analyst Hometrack found that house prices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Southampton, Bristol and Birmingham had grown at a faster rate than London over the three months to November.

The predictions come from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Credit: PA

The RICS predictions state that Northern Ireland and Scotland will see overall increases of four per cent, while the east of England, the East Midlands and the north east are set to see rises of three per cent.

House prices in Wales and the south west are expected to rise by two per cent.

London is the only region due to see no overall rise at all, though property experts have warned of massive fluctuations between different areas of the capital.

Crashes, rows and angry notes: Britain's parking problem

Driving home for Christmas is one thing - but it's when it comes to parking that people in Britain seem to have a problem.

The survey found 19 per cent of drivers have asked someone else to park for them

According to research by one insurance company, 17 per cent of male drivers have had an accident while trying to park, along with 15 per cent of female drivers.

The survey also found:

  • 19 per cent have asked someone else to park for them
  • 21 per cent have had an argument with someone over a parking space
  • 17 per cent had left a note on another car criticising the driver's parking
  • 18 per cent admitted they had illegally used a disabled space in the past

US 'investigating whether Iran helped in Sony hack'

US investigators are looking at the possibility that Iran helped North Korea in a 'state-sponsored' cyber attack on Sony's film division, government officials have said.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the official told Reuters news agency that the code used to attack the studio bore striking similarities to malware known as 'Shamoon'.

Shamoon is believed by the US to have been used by Iran to target tens of thousands of computers at Saudi Arabia's national oil firm, Saudi Aramco, in an attack in 2012, and against banks and broadcasting companies in South Korea last year.


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