Caesar & Howie Latest News

Archive for December, 2007

Divorcing couples ‘should be amicable’

Friday, December 14th, 2007

Couples planning a divorce should make a list of their combined assets and try to agree on an amicable split, an independent financial adviser (IFA) said today.

Graeme Mitchell, managing director of Lowland Financial, explained that in law, money is theoretically split equally between the two parties.

He added that if there are children involved, then "whoever’s earning" should contribute fiscally towards their upbringing.

Mr Mitchell concluded his advice on divorce in Scotland by stating that if a couple cannot agree on figures then it is a matter of dividing everything.

"It’s a matter of saying: ‘Right, we’ll just draw a line around the middle. We’ll split the pension, split the house – which has to be sold’," he stated.

According to the latest government figures, the divorce rate is now at its lowest level since 1984.

Lowland Financial is a general practice IFA based in Galashiels which is regulated by the Financial services Authority.

Gay couple to divorce after homophobic attacks

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

One of the first couples to get a civil partnership in Scotland has filed for divorce after the pair suffered a number of homophobic attacks.

Bryan Morgan states that he has sought legal advice on divorce and has elected to legally separate from his civil partner, Richard Brown, after they were driven out of their home in Ayrshire.

He tells the Sunday Mail: "Gangs of up to 15 youths were outside shouting abuse, throwing bricks and trying to break my door down."

Mr Morgan adds that the attacks had a "massive influence" on the breakdown of their relationship.

He concludes that his partner currently has legal rights over him and vice versa and that he wishes for this situation to be resolved.

Mr Morgan and Mr Brown became civil partners at Irvine Registry in May 2006.

Civil partnerships have been legal in Scotland since their introduction on December 5th 2005.

Tenant farmers call for closure of legal loophole

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

The Scottish Tenant Farmers’ Association (STFA) has lobbied for the closure of a legal loophole which allows some landlords to block the passing-on of heritable tenancies within families, it has emerged.

Such activity occurs through the "two man rule" which states that landlords may serve a notice to quit on a tenant within twelve months of their inheriting a tenancy should the holding be capable of giving full-time employment to two people and the property-owner intends to amalgamate the holding.

Angus McCall, chairman of the STFA, describes the situation as "iniquitous".

"The two-man rule still exists as a remnant of previous legislation but is being exploited by some landlords and their agents to frustrate the assignation of a tenancy," he tells the Herald.

He concluded that the two-man rule should be removed from the statute book and until this occurs advised tenants facing difficulties to seek legal advice.

The STFA improves the professional and technical knowledge of its members and encourages the flow of new tenancies into the market.

House prices ‘on the rise’ in October

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Scotland saw house price inflation increase in October this year, according to the latest Communities and Local Government (CLG) house price index.

Figures indicate that it rose to 13.9 per cent from 12.5 per cent in September and was above the UK’s average annual house price inflation rate for October (11.3 per cent).

The average house price in Scotland remained below that of the UK for October, at £164,960 in comparison to the national average of £220,195, which may be encouraging news to those looking to purchase a property in the region.

CLG states that the increase in UK house prices between September and October could be attributed to price rises in detached, semidetached and bungalow properties.

Also, the UK house price inflation rate for first-time buyers fell to 10.9 per cent in October from 11.8 per cent in September.

CLG sets UK policy on a number of areas, including housing, fire and rescue, urban regeneration, local government and planning.

Next year will be a double-edged sword, says CML

Monday, December 10th, 2007

For first-time buyers, 2008 will be something of a "double-edged sword", according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML).

Head of external affairs at the council Sue Anderson explains that if property values stabilise or drop, this will have a positive impact because income growth has been a lot slower than house price inflation in recent years.

Conversely, first-time buyers are possibly the consumers who will be most vulnerable to confidence issues following recent market activity, she adds.

Ms Anderson notes: "Whether that means they will take a wait and see approach, or whether they decide that is it the right moment to enter the market is more difficult for us to gauge right now."

She concludes that the picture is likely to be clearer following the festive period.

The CML is the trade association for the mortgage lending industry, with its membership providing approximately 98 per cent of residential mortgage lending in the UK.

Reaction to the Bank of England’s interest rate cut

Friday, December 7th, 2007

Following the announcement that the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee (MPC) cut interest rates by a quarter of a percentage point to 5.5 per cent, a number of organisations have responded.

The National Association of Estate Agents "heartily welcomed" the cut.

Chief executive Peter Bolton King commented: "There has been considerable doom and gloom lately as we have had to endure the fallout from some significant national and international events."

He stated that the cut will go some way towards improving consumer confidence.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders stated that a reduction in interest rates is "exactly" what the market needs, but called for more aggressive intervention on the part of authorities to open wholesale funding markets.

Director general Michael Coogan noted a "real need" to minimise the shortfall between supply and demand in the mortgage market.

The Bank’s decision to reduce the interest rate reflects the first drop since August 2005.

Bank of England cuts interest rates

Thursday, December 6th, 2007

The Bank of England’s monetary policy committee (MPC) has elected to reduce the rate of interest by 0.25 percentage points to 5.5 per cent.

Signs that growth in the market is beginning to slow and forward-looking surveys of households and businesses suggesting that spending is moderating led the committee to decide that a cut was the best move to make.

Commenting on the results, Nici Audhlam-Gardiner, head of mortgages at Abbey, states that the reduction reflects some warning signs of a slowing economy and, in particular, the drop in activity noted in the housing market in recent weeks.

"The rate cut will be a welcome start to 2008 providing relief for house-buyers and remortgagers as it eases the pressure on monthly mortgage payments," she said.

The previous change in rate was an increase of 0.25 percentage points to 5.75 per cent on July 5th this year, the last of five rises since August 2006.

Predictions for Thursdays’ interest rate decision

Wednesday, December 5th, 2007

Analysts are predicting that the base rate of interest will remain steady at 5.75 per cent this Thursday.

Christmas shoppers may be relieved to hear that most experts believe that the Bank of England’s interest rate decision making monetary policy committee (MPC) will keep rates unchanged.

The December interest rate decision will be announced at midday on Thursday December 6th and MPC members are expected to keep them unchanged in light of a recent dip in the property markets, economic uncertainty and high energy prices.

According to the Centre for Economics and Business Research, the chances of a cut in interest rates stand at around 20 per cent, while Howard Archer, chief UK and European economist at Global Insight, claims that "it’s right on the margin" but is likely to remain at 5.75 per cent.

Making his prediction for Thursday’s MPC meeting, Trevor Williams, UK chief economist for Lloyds TSB, said: "We’re going for a hold at 5.75. We think there will be a cut in February 2008."

Calls are growing for a reduction in interest rates amid increases in food prices, forecasts of an economic slowdown and further pressures on household finances.

The Scottish space race

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Space is one of the most important factors to people looking to buy a home in Scotland, according to new research.

A study by Clydesdale Bank has indicated that more than half (57 per cent) of homebuyers north of the border are driven by the amount of room a property has to offer.

However, despite being prepared to fork out for the additional space, most people do not use it in the way that they may have intended.

Garages across the country have been filled up with belongings and over half (53 per cent) of people admit to leaving their car out on the drive as their outbuilding is full of their possessions.

Steve Reid, Clydesdale Bank’s director of retail banking, explained: "While location still tops the charts of ‘must haves’, space is now the new frontier. However, once we’ve got it – and in most cases paid a premium for it – we often don’t use it in the way we intended."

Recent figures from the Bank of Scotland indicate that the average price of a house north of the border is currently £141,158.

TUC calls for reform in employment law

Monday, December 3rd, 2007

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) has called for the national minimum wage (NMW) to be increased to more than £6 an hour in 2008.

General secretary of the TUC Brendan Barber comments that it is “vital” for a crackdown on those who flout regulations by underpaying their staff, stating that they deserve “zero tolerance”.

Mr Barber adds that the NMW makes a “real difference” to the lives of many low-income workers and that more must be done to catch penny-pinching bosses who do not pay their staff the wage they are entitled to.

“Economic growth is set to continue next year and we expect to see 175,000 extra jobs created. All the signs are that the UK can afford a £6 hourly wage,” he concludes.

The NMW currently stands at £5.52 an hour for adult workers aged 22 and over, £4.60 per hour for those between the ages of 18 and 21 and £3.40 an hour for employees who are below 18 years old and are no longer of compulsory school age.

With member unions representing more than six and a half million people, the TUC campaigns for social justice and a fair deal at work.