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House prices in south east 'could surpass London'

The cost of a home in the south east of the UK or "commuter belt" could soon rise higher than the price of a home in London, a property expert has warned.

Hometrack's research director Richard Donnell said the price of a home in counties like East Sussex and Kent could rise beyond the London market, after the property analysts found the cost of a home had risen by at least 5% across 20 UK cities.

There are still bright spots of activity amid reports of a wider national slowdown.

For the first time since the financial crisis, an improved economic outlook has seen house prices in cities outside the south of England rising off a low base.

By the end of the year, we could well see monthly house price growth in London slipping below that of some of the major cities outside the South East.

– Richard Donnell

NAO: 11 tax reliefs increased by a quarter since 2007

The National Audit Office examined 10 tax breaks in detail to see whether the government was monitoring them properly.

It found data was not always held on the cost of reliefs to the public purse, even when it was thought to be in the order of hundreds of millions of pounds.

HMRC rarely assessed if tax breaks were having the desired effects on behaviour, or whether they were being widely abused.

Of 46 high-value reliefs with economic or social objectives, 11 had increased by at least a quarter in real terms since 2007.

Although the department had theories as to why the costs may have shifted, "it tended to seek the most obvious explanation and did not try to definitively rule out abuse", the report said.

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Average house price rises from London-Aberdeen 2014

Here are average house prices in the UK's 20 major cities in October and the year-on-year percentage growth:

  • London, £402,800, 17.3%
  • Bristol, £217,300, 13.2%
  • Cambridge, £331,000, 12.2%
  • Portsmouth, £194,700, 9.4%
  • Southampton, £189,500, 9.0%
  • Oxford, £333,400, 8.9%
  • Edinburgh, £194,400, 8.7%
  • Belfast, £114,900, 8.3%
  • Nottingham, £128,500, 8.1%
  • Aberdeen, £190,000, 7.9%
  • Cardiff, £176,400, 7.9%
  • Bournemouth, £242,300, 7.6%
  • Manchester, £137,000, 7.6%
  • Leeds, £140,400, 7.3%
  • Newcastle, £123,800, 6.9%
  • Leicester, £143,100, 6.3%
  • Birmingham, £133,700, 6.1%
  • Sheffield, £125,700, 5.7%
  • Liverpool, £109,700, 5.5%
  • Glasgow, £110,100, 5.5%

House prices rise 5% 'across UK's 20 largest cities'

The cost of a house has risen by at least 5% in 20 of Britain's major cities, with experts pointing to growth as a sign of the economic recovery finally trickling out of the London.

This is the quickest growth in house prices nationwide since 2004. Credit: PA

Property analyst Hometrack revealed there was still a wide discrepancy between the north and the south in terms of house prices, with the cost of a home in London rising by 17.3% or by 5.5% in Liverpool and Glasgow.

However, this was the first time in a decade that house prices have risen year-on-year by more than 5% in all 20 cities.

Bristol emerged as the second priciest place to buy a home in the UK, with the cost of a house rising by 13.2%.

Despite the dramatic growth, house price rises are starting to cool again, Hometrack found.

Growth had slowed in April after banks applied tough "stress tests" about the spending habits of those they lent to, and growth slowed sharply in cities like Oxford and Cambridge over the last few months.

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Rochester and Strood declaration expected between 2-4am

The Rochester and Strood by-election declaration is expected to come between 2-4am, according to ITV News producer Ellie Swinton.

NAO: Billions lost through failing to track tax dodgers

A spending watchdog has said that billions of pounds in tax could have been dodged because the government is failing to track abuse of reliefs.

NAO: Billions lost through failing to track tax dodgers. Credit: PA

The National Audit Office (NAO) found HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) had done little to investigate why Entrepreneurs' Relief introduced in 2008 was costing the public purse £2 billion a year more than expected.

Claims for share loss relief soared by more than 300% to £1.2 billion in 2006/07 after a number of aggressive avoidance schemes appeared - but the taxman did not identify the scale of the increase until 2013.

Nigel Farage confident after polls close in by-election

Ukip leader Nigel Farage is confident of delivering a second bloody nose to David Cameron and the Conservatives, after the polls closed in the Rochester and Strood by-election.

Tellers in Kent began the long process of counting votes. Credit: @ellieswinton

I feel our vote is solid. I think we are going to win but I think it's maybe closer than people think

It's rather High Noon because the Prime Minister in a sense put his own credibility on the line by almost being the candidate for the Conservative Party for the first half of the campaign.

– Ukip leader Nigel Farage speaking before the polls closed.

As tellers in Kent began the long process of counting votes, Mark Reckless appeared poised to join fellow Tory defector Douglas Carswell in returning to the Commons under the Eurosceptic party's banner.

Hunt: 'Very sad to lose a trusted and good colleague'

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt has said he is "very sad" to lose his "trusted and good" colleague Emily Thornberry following the MP's resignation.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt. Credit: PA

He told BBC2's Newsnight: "I think it's very sad to lose a trusted and good colleague in the run-up to a general election.

"But we should also be very clear that we are hugely in favour in the Labour Party of people expressing pride in their national identity and national symbols.

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