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Chancellor 'unlikely to hit borrowing target'

Chancellor George Osborne. Credit: PA Wire

ITV News' Deputy Political Editor Chris Ship has calculated that Chancellor George Obsorne is unlikely to hit his borrowing target following new figures released by the Office of National Statistics.

In March, the Office for Budget Responsibility forecast borrowing for 2014-2015 would be £95.5bn.

The new ONS figures show £64.1bn has been borrowed since April.

Government borrowing at £7.7bn in October

Government borrowing fell to £7.7bn in October, down £200m from last year, latest figures show.

But borrowing between April and October, was £64.1bn - £3.7bn higher than the same period last year, monthly figures from the Office for National Statistics show.

Meanwhile the UK's net debt is now at £1.449 trillion, down on last month but £3.7bn higher than last October. It now represents 79.5% of gross domestic product (GDP), down from September's 79.9% but ahead of 77.7% a year before.

The figures mean the Treasury still looks well off the target for a 12% fall in the annual deficit expected by the independent Office for Budget Responsibility.


AA president calls for petrol 'price transparency'

The AA's president has called for petrol 'price transparency' after the organisation published figures showing the cost of fuel fell much lower across north west Europe.

If the forecourts think they are being blamed unfairly and the Government wants to get it right when pointing the finger of blame for families and businesses being denied the benefit of lower fuel costs, there is a very simple solution: oil, wholesale and pump price transparency.

– AA president Edmund King

The AA said the average petrol pump price has dipped from 127.22p a litre in mid-October to 122.93p this week. Diesel has fallen from an average of 131.30p a litre to 127.43p.

However, AA analysis shows that since November 2010 the rise in the wholesale price of petrol across north west Europe has been much lower than the rise in the margins for retailers and suppliers and for refiners and petrol commodity traders.

It all means that although the wholesale price of petrol is back to where it was four years ago, the cost of petrol at the pumps is still a lot higher now than the average of 118.83p a litre in this week in November 2010.

AA: Motorists still getting poor deal at the petrol pump

The AA has said that motorists are still getting a poor deal at petrol pumps despite a big dip in the price of fuel in the last month.

Forecourts have taken the blame for being slow to pass big falls in world oil prices on to motorists.

AA: Motorists still getting poor deal at petrol pumps. Credit: PA

But the AA said that higher VAT, fluctuating exchange rates and increased margins over the last four years for retailers and suppliers and for refiners and market traders have all combined to keep pump prices comparatively high.

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.

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.

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.

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