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Stamp duty reforms 'helped boost housing market'

Radical reforms in stamp duty have helped boost the housing market, experts have said.

The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) said the changes - which see stamp duty increased gradually alongside the cost of the house, rather than increasing in large 'steps' - are responsible for a predicted rise in house prices, coupled with a lack of homes to choose from.

Under a revised system unveiled and launched earlier this month, the vast majority of buyers will pay less stamp duty - though it means people buying homes at the top end of the market will pay significantly more.

Read: Stamp duty reforms: How the new rules will affect you

Read: Buyers beware? The hidden costs of stamp duty reform

House prices outside London 'to see biggest rises' in 2015

House prices in the north west, south east, the West Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside are set to shoot up by five per cent in the coming year - while property in the capital will remain level, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has said.

It comes as further research from property analyst Hometrack found that house prices in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Southampton, Bristol and Birmingham had grown at a faster rate than London over the three months to November.

The predictions come from the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Credit: PA

The RICS predictions state that Northern Ireland and Scotland will see overall increases of four per cent, while the east of England, the East Midlands and the north east are set to see rises of three per cent.

House prices in Wales and the south west are expected to rise by two per cent.

London is the only region due to see no overall rise at all, though property experts have warned of massive fluctuations between different areas of the capital.

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German authorities confirm second case of bird flu

German authorities have confirmed a second case of the H5N8 strain of bird flu in the eastern state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern, with the virus found in a wild bird.

A second case of H5N8 bird flu has been detected in a wild bird in Germany. Credit: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The strain is highly contagious among birds but has never been detected in humans.

In a statement agriculture minister Christian Schmidt said: "For the first time, the H5N8 virus has been confirmed in a wild bird in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern.

"With that the suspicion is strengthened that wild birds are connected with the cases in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern as well as in the Netherlands and Britain."

UK cull of 6,000 birds with flu strain begins

All 6,000 birds will be culled following the outbreak. Credit: ITV News

The cull of 6,000 birds at a farm in east Yorkshire began this afternoon following an outbreak of bird flu.

A team of experts put the animals into crates before locking them in an airtight container where they were gassed. Their bodies will later be incinerated.

The cull will continue in the morning but it will be a few days before experts will know if it has been successful in stopping the spread of the disease.

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'Christmas turkeys safe from bird flu', experts claim

Assurances that the current bird flu outbreak will not affect the supply of turkeys for Christmas dinners around the country have been made today by UK farming experts.

Andrew Large, chief executive of the British Poultry Council, said: "The current outbreak has a 10km restriction zone and this will have no impact on the supply of turkeys for the festive period."

British turkeys Credit: Owen Humphreys/PA Archive/Press Association Images

The poultry adviser for the National Farmers' Union, Gary Ford, added: "Farmers are working extremely hard at this time of year to prepare for the Christmas market and consumers can be reassured that buying British poultry (chickens, turkeys, ducks) is safe."

Supermarket expects egg shortages after bird flu outbreak

Discount supermarket Aldi has said it expects to see egg shortages in its stores following the bird flu outbreak in the Netherlands.

The supermarket chain, which has over 500 stores across the UK and Ireland, are expecting problems sourcing the essential product due to a three-day ban on poultry shipments from Holland where many of its suppliers are based.

More bird flu cases could emerge in the UK, expert warns

British farmers should prepare themselves for the possibility that more bird flu cases could emerge in the coming days.

Keith Warner, president of the British Veterinary Poultry Association, issued a warning ahead of today's duck cull at East Yorkshire's Nafferton farm.

Staff put up a no entry sign on a farm in Nafferton, East Yorkshire, where measures to prevent the spread of bird flu are under way Credit: Steve Parkin/PA Wire

He said: "Everybody in the UK that owns birds in any number should be on biosecurity lockdown."

Health experts seen at bird flu farm ahead of duck cull

Health experts have been pictured at a farm in Yorkshire where a reported bird flu outbreak has been confirmed.

Experts wearing protective suits are seen at a duck farm in Nafferton Credit: REUTERS/Phil Noble

Dressed in protective suits the health experts were seen at Nafferton farm yesterday ahead of today's planned cull of the 6,000 resident ducks.

It is believed the current bird flu outbreak, which has also affected the Netherlands and Germany, was brought to Europe by wild swans migrating from Asia.

The farm in Nafferton is expected to cull all 6,000 of its ducks Credit: REUTERS/Phil Noble
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