New fracking sites could soon be springing up across the country.

Fracking: Britain's big balancing act

Shale gas is certainly controversial, but Brits may be more willing to accept it as the desperation for cheaper energy bills takes hold.

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Research 'shows government policy is working'

Research showing that first time buyers pay £1,300 less than renters show that government policy is working, according to the Housing and Planning minister.

We've cut the deficit to keep interest rates low, built half a million homes and helped thousands of responsible, hard-working people purchase properties with smaller deposits through Help to Buy.

– Brandon Lewis

Research shows first-time buyers pay less than renters

First-time buyers are now paying around £1,300 less than people who rent, new research has found.

First time buyers pay £1,300 less than renters according to Halifax.
First time buyers pay £1,300 less than renters according to Halifax. Credit: PA

Running a three-bedroom house for someone taking their first step on the property ladder now costs £677, which is £110 lower than the typical monthly rent paid on a similar property, according to the Halifax bank.

They said that while the typical monthly cost of buying a home has increased by £25 compared with a year ago, typical rental costs have have risen by £42 a month to now stand at £787 a month on average.

Five years ago, the average cost of owning your first property was around £37 a month more expensive than renting, they added.

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Citizens Advice: Small price rises can have a 'big impact'

Small increases in phone and broadband bills "could have a big impacts on family finances," according to the chief executive of Citizens Advice.

Utility companies need to be up front with their prices, according to the chief executive of Citizens Advice.
Utility companies need to be up front with their prices, according to the chief executive of Citizens Advice. Credit: PA

Speaking after BT announced that prices for phone and broadband packages will rise by up to 6.5%, Gillian Guy said: "Inflation-busting price rises are bad news for cash-strapped households."

She added: "With the extremely tough pressures on household budgets at present and wages that will continue to stay way below inflation, even a small increase in phone and broadband bills could have a big impact on family finances."

Utility providers need to be up front with their customers about when prices are going up and where there are savings to be made, she said, adding that Citizens Advice has dealt with more than 62,000 telephone and broadband debt problems in the last 12 months.

BT is 'sensitive to the tough economic times'

BT's chief executive has insisted the company is "sensitive to the tough economic times," despite announcing a rise in prices from December.

.BT chief executive John Petter BT was sensitive to tough economic times
BT chief executive John Petter BT was sensitive to tough economic times Credit: PA

John Petter said: "Although some prices have gone up, we want to help our customers to find the best value BT option with Right Plan."

Petter added: "BT is sensitive to the tough economic times and we've taken care to make sure that low-income customers avoid price increases. We've added extra money-saving options for low-income customers and for customers who only want a phone line for calls."

BT prices set to rise by up to 6.5% from December

BT is set to increase prices by up to 6.5%, with landline calls, broadband internet and standard line rental for direct debit customers all set to rise.

BT announced prices will rise by up to 6.5% from December.
BT announced prices will rise by up to 6.5% from December. Credit: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

The telecoms giant said the pence per minute (ppm) rate for calls to UK landlines and 0870 numbers will go up 6.44% from 9p a minute to 9.58p. The set-up fee for landline calls will increase from 15p to 15.97p.

Broadband prices are going up by as much as 6.49%, although BT said its current "high profile" press and TV broadband offers will stay the same price.

They said the majority of its customers were on inclusive call packages and did not pay the set-up fee or ppm charges, adding that calls bills had "decreased 14% in the last five years".

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'Enormous challenge' to produce own Scottish currency

Scotland would face an "enormous challenge" to produce their own currency if it became independent, according to the chair of HSBC, Douglas Flint.

Polls show most Scots want to retain the pound if they become independent.
Polls show most Scots want to retain the pound if they become independent. Credit: Edward Smith/EMPICS Entertainment

He said: "Scotland would be faced with monetary policy implementation without representation - a very odd form of independence."

The three main parties at Westminster have all ruled out the Scottish Government's preferred option of a formal currency union between an independent Scotland and the rest of the UK.

The Scottish referendum vote will take place on September 18.

Scotland's economy 'will be in parlous state' if Yes vote

Scotland's economy would be in a "parlous state" if it becomes independent in next month's referendum, the chair of HSBC Scotland claims.

HSBC chairman Douglas Flint.
HSBC chairman Douglas Flint. Credit: PA

Douglas Flint, who describes himself as an exiled Scot, warned that sterling currency was an "anchor of stability" for Scotland.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, he said: "At the extreme, uncertainty over Scotland's currency arrangements could prompt capital flight from the country, leaving its financial system in a parlous state."

EDF Energy £3m fine 'a step in the right direction'

EDF Energy has acknowledged that its customers were caused significant disruption when the firm introduced a new IT system in 2011 and has publicly apologised for this.

Ofgem said that the firm's payment of £3 million to vulnerable customers was a "step in the right direction".

EDF Energy failed to have sufficiently robust processes in place when they introduced a new IT system and this led to the unacceptable handling of complaints.

Their commitment to putting things right and paying £3 million to the Citizens Advice Energy Best Deal Extra scheme and the Plymouth Citizen Advice Bureau's Debt Helpline to benefit vulnerable customers is a step in the right direction to rebuilding consumer trust.

– Sarah Harrison, Ofgem's senior partner

EDF Energy saw 30% rise in complaints in 2011

A probe into energy giant EDF Energy's handling of consumer complaints by watchdog Ofgem followed a 30% increase in complaints when the firm began introducing a new IT system in 2011, the regulator said.

Between May 2011 and January 2012, EDF Energy did not have appropriate procedures in place to properly receive, record and process all customers' complaints in accordance with complaints handling rules, Ofgem found.

EDF Energy is to pay out £3 million after Ofgem found the company had breached complaint handling rules.
EDF Energy is to pay out £3 million after Ofgem found the company had breached complaint handling rules. Credit: PA

Many customers experienced unacceptably high call waiting times and there was evidence that the supplier failed to record all the required details for the complaints it received, the regulator said.

It said that EDF staff acted quickly to rectify the problems and to mitigate the effects on consumers.

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