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80% of homes 'too expensive' for first-time buyers

More than 80% homes in England are too expensive for a typical working family trying to get on the property ladder, a report has found.

Just 86 properties in London were deemed affordable by Shelter. Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Housing charity Shelter, which analysed more than 325,000 properties with at least two bedrooms for sale across England, found that just 17.9% of them were within the financial reach of a household with children on an average local wage, leaving the remaining 82.1% beyond their means.

Just 86 properties were found to be affordable to local families in the whole of London, compared with 16,134 in the North West.

Government rejects call for council tax changes

The government has rejected calls for single person council tax discounts to be scrapped for people with larger homes.

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis said: "Single person council tax discount is a long-standing feature of the council tax system, reflecting the fact that single adults make less use of local services than larger households.

"We have absolutely no plans to change this discount, and we have rejected the LGA's calls for a Bridget Jones tax."


Council tax: 'Expensive homes should lose discount'

The Local Government Association suggests people in larger homes should lose their discount Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

People living alone in large homes should lose their council tax discount to free up more money for struggling families on low incomes, local authorities say.

Single dwellers currently receive 25% off their council tax bill, but under new proposals the Local Government Association (LGA) wants councils to be able to adjust the discount for working people living alone in homes rated council tax band E and above.

Its own analysis has shown that it is costing councils more than £200 million a year to give the compulsory discount to people living in such properties, which are typically bigger and more expensive than the average family home.

At the same time, it said one in three local authorities expects they will have to reduce council tax support for families on low incomes because of a major shortfall in Government funding for the subsidy.

Home sales reach 10-year high in England and Wales

Property sales in England and Wales grew at their fastest annual rate in 10 years in the six months to September 2013, according to a report by Lloyds Bank.

Property sales grew at their fastest annual rate in 10 years in the six months to September 2013 Credit: PA

Across England and Wales, 98% of towns saw an annual increase in sales, compared with a year earlier, when 26% of towns saw a year-on-year increase.

The report, which used Land Registry figures, found there were 396,756 house sales in the six months to September, marking an increase of more than 21% on the same period in 2012.

While this marks the highest year-on-year increase in a decade, property sales were still 41% below a 2006 market peak of 673,699.

Second step home purchasers facing 'tough' market conditions

Home owners wanting to take their second step on the property ladder face some of the toughest market conditions ever seen, a study has said.

The cost for a "second stepper" to trade up to their next home is 4.7 times annual average earnings - the second highest ratio since records began 25 years ago. The situation has improved on a year ago, when the ratio stood at 5.2, according to Lloyds TSB's home movers review.

The study raised concerns that the high hurdles still faced by this sector are creating a "bottleneck" in the housing market, by limiting the choice available to first-time buyers and creating a greater scarcity of potential home buyers higher up the chain.

Rage over tax on empty properties

Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, has complained about the Chancellor's decision to keep the empty property rate tax, which taxes empty properties at the same rate as occupied ones:

It is extremely disappointing that the Chancellor has ignored the calls fromsmall businesses, landlords and his own backbenchers to provide some relieffrom this regressive and negative tax, which is choking economic growth andpenalising those already suffering from the wider economic situation.

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