Money

Inflation is falling, slowly but surely

Slowly but surely the Consumer Price Index is falling, and inflation is now at the lowest level since 2009. Why does that matter?

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School's Out

As the government adopts a harder line on taking children out of school for holidays in term-time, Tonight looks at the options for parents.

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Government 'has initiatives' to boost housing supply

The Government has "a series of initiatives to boost housing supply" and to support a healthy private rented sector, the Housing Minister has said.

Responding to the news that house prices rose by 9.1% in the year to February 2014, Kris Hopkins said interest rates remain at a record low, making home ownership more affordable.

Mortgage lending activity in the housing market remain below the historic average and relative to earnings, median house prices across England are around the same level they were in 2005.

And through schemes like Help to Buy we’re helping people get on the property ladder with a fraction of the deposit they would normally require, with leading developers pledging to build more as a direct result of this increased demand.

– Housing Minister Kris Hopkins

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UK house prices rise by 9.1%

UK house prices rose by 9.1% in the year to February 2014, up from 6.8% in the year to January 2014.

The rise in house price inflation was driven by a rise in London of 17.7%, according to the latest figures from the Office for National Statistics.

House price annual inflation grew by 9.7% in England, 5.3% in Wales, 2.4% in Scotland and 2.8% in Northern Ireland.

Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 5.8%.

Russia's stock market falls and rouble weakens against dollar

Russia's stock market fell and the rouble weakened in early trading on Monday after tension escalated in Ukraine over the weekend, with Merrill Lynch stating "the entire development is clearly negative."

The rouble was 1 percent weaker at 36 against the dollar and 0.7 percent weaker at 49.83 against the euro.

"The escalation sharply increases risks of an all-out civil war in Ukraine," said Bank of America Merrill Lynch analysts in a research note.

"The entire development is clearly negative for the market (and raises) renewed fears of another wave of sanctions from the West."

Read more: Ukraine's deadline passes for separatists to disarm

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Donations: 'Children must be given an equal chance'

File photo dated 03/12/2003 of a teacher helping pupils in a lesson. Credit: PA Archive

The Department for Education has defended the practice of schools schools asking parents to pay for textbooks, computers and trips away but has insisted that it does not put poorer students at a disadvantage.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "While schools can ask for voluntary contributions for textbooks, musical instruments or other equipment, it must be made clear to parents that there is absolutely no obligation to donate.

"If a parent is unable or unwilling to pay, their child must be given an equal chance to take part in school life.

"We have protected the schools budget and just last month announced that we are giving an extra £350m to schools in historically under-funded areas".

Read: School donation requests 'disadvantage poor children'

School donation requests 'disadvantage poor children'

Schools are requesting donations from parents which could lead to pupils from poor families being disadvantaged, a poll by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL) suggests.

ATL member Jo Inglis said the survey found just 7% of teachers felt that asking parents for donations had no impact on disadvantaged pupils.

The survey also claimed that:

  • 43% of parents have contributed up to £50 a year per pupil in voluntary contributions for activities or goods that are not linked to their child's schoolwork
  • 70% have donated up to £50 a year per pupil to help pay for items and trips that are related to the school curriculum.

Parents 'asked for donations' by schools

Parents are being asked for donations by schools towards stationery, textbooks, trips and computers, a survey has suggested.

Classroom
In some cases, families have received requests for donations to help with the upkeep of school buildings. Credit: PA

The findings show that 70% of parents have contributed up to £50 a year per pupil to help pay for items and trips related to the school curriculum.

The poll, by the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, indicates staff are worried that pupils could be put at a disadvantage if their parents are unable to donate money.

Seven-day bank account switching 'not a game-changer'

The level of switching bank providers is still low, the executive director of consumer group Which? has said. Richard Lloyd said:

Despite an increase in public awareness and confidence, switching levels are still low, suggesting that the new seven-day service is not the game-changer that can significantly increase competition in banking.

We're pleased the Government has responded to our calls to make banks release better data about current account running costs. If done properly this should help people more easily compare banks and find the best account for them, which will inject much needed competition into the market.

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