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Market town premium: Homes are worth £36k more on average

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Homes in England’s market towns are now worth £36,000 more than other locations, with buyers typically forking out double for the privilege in the most sought-after spots. 

Market town properties are typically valued 13 per cent higher than homes in the rest of their county, according to research from Halifax – but in some areas the premium is much higher. 

House prices in the top ten most expensive market towns all average more than £500,000, with Beaconsfield in Buckinghamshire topping the table for the third year running. Its average house price is £1.3million. 

Huge premiums: Buyers in market towns such as Wetherby, Alresford, Henley on Thames and Beaconsfield pay hundreds of thousands more than the average in the rest of their counties

There, buyers pay a huge 155 per cent or £690,000 premium compared to other homes in Buckinghamshire.

Market towns are popular with buyers because of their period properties, rural lifestyle and sense of community. 

The top three most expensive market towns remain unchanged on 2019, with Henley on Thames, Oxfordshire, (£858,772) and Alresford, Hampshire (£703,371) taking the second and third spots respectively.

But it is buyers in Wetherby that will pay the second-biggest premium, shelling out on average 98 per cent or £196,000 more for their home than elsewhere in West Yorkshire. 

What makes a market town?  

Many people think that simply having a weekly market is enough for a settlement to be classed as a market town – but that is not the case.  

The term actually dates back to the Middle Ages, and was bestowed upon towns that were granted a royal charter giving them permission to hold markets. 

They were often at the centre of the local agricultural economy, with people travelling there to buy and sell livestock and other goods. 

Housing developed around the marketplaces over time, giving us the market towns that we know today.  

Those looking for a home in Keswick in Cumbria will also need to pay nearly double (95 per cent more) for the privilege, as will those wanting to buy in Bakewell in Derbyshire (94 per cent more).

Surging house prices over the last 10 years mean that the market town premium has remained relatively constant.

All of the top five market towns have seen their premium rise compared to 2019, as buyers have moved away from cities and sought more space.

The average premium paid for a market town home has increased by nearly £3,000 since 2019. 

Some locations have seen bigger jumps in the long term, however. 

In Alresford, the market town premium has risen 42 per cent, while in Keswick it has risen 25 per cent and in Stamford, Lincolnshire 24 per cent. 

Russell Galley, managing director, Halifax, said: ‘England’s beautiful historic market towns are enduringly popular, which can bring a heavy price tag for prospective buyers, as these areas see house prices 13 per cent above their county averages, equivalent to an additional £36,116. 

‘Market towns offer so much for house buyers, including rich history, period properties, green spaces, and tourism.’   

Market prices: These towns command the highest premiums compared to the local area

Southern bias: All of the most expensive market towns are in the South East

There are some market towns where buyers can bag a bargain, many near Durham 

Where can I get a market town bargain?

All of the top 10 most expensive market towns are in the South East or South West of England, according to Halifax. 

Altrincham in Greater Manchester had been on the list, but was replaced by Lewes in East Sussex in 2020.

Midhurst (West Sussex), Hertford (Hertfordshire), Fairford (Gloucestershire), and Hungerford (Berkshire) also fell from the most expensive list, being replaced by Moreton-in-Marsh (Gloucestershire), Ringwood (Hampshire), Tenterden (Kent), and Marlborough (Wiltshire). 

Although they are still more expensive than the local average, Northern market towns can be more affordable, with several coming in below the UK’s average house price. 

‘While they might still come at a premium, many market town homes are much more affordable – like Ferryhill and Crook in County Durham where average house prices are under £150,000,’ Galley said. 

The average house price in Ferryhill, England’s least expensive market town, was £86,351 in 2020: £1,047,942 less than the average in Beaconsfield. 

Of course, those wanting to get all the benefits of a market town without the price tag could always just move in nearby.  

Galley added: ‘Anyone looking to make the most of their budget could do well to consider looking at the towns and villages near to a historic market town, which can be close enough to take advantage of all the benefits associated with these areas, whilst perhaps avoiding the premium price tag.’

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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Prolonging Covid lockdown would ‘materially’ hamper UK economy, BCC warns

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A delay in lifting lockdown restrictions would ‘materially’ hamper the country’s economic recovery this year, the boss of the British Chambers of Commerce claims.

If the remaining restrictions in England are lifted on 21 June, Britain’s economy looks set to grow by nearly 7 per cent this year, which would be the fastest pace since records began in 1949, according to the BCC.

The growth would largely be driven by an upturn in consumer spending, which is, at present, expected to rise by 5.5 per cent this year, equivalent to the highest level seen since 1988. 

But, bumper growth forecasts would need to be revised if the Government decides to delay the reopening of the entire economy later this month, the BCC added.

Money matters: Chancellor Rishi Sunak at the G7 summit this week

On 14 June, the Government is expected to announce whether or not all restrictions will be lifted in England as of 21 June, as planned in the current lockdown roadmap. 

Some experts and ministers are urging caution as the number of people contracting the Delta, or Indian, variant, of coronavirus continues to rise.

Britain’s GDP dropped by 10 per cent last year, with output falling 9.1 per cent, marking the biggest annual drop on record. 

As the economy floundered, the Bank of England cut interest rates to 0.1 per cent. The BCC now thinks interest rates will only start creeping up to 0.25 per cent from the second quarter of 2023. 

Suren Thiru, head of economics at the BCC, said: ‘Our latest outlook points to a historically robust short-term outlook for the UK economy.

‘The UK economy is in a temporary sweet spot with the boost from the release of pent-up demand, if restrictions ease as planned, and ongoing government support expected to drive a substantial summer revival in economic activity, underpinned by the rapid vaccine rollout.

Impact: The pandemic took a major toll on Britain’s economic performance last year

‘Beyond the strong short-term outlook, notable economic scarring from the pandemic is projected to weigh on economic activity once government support winds down and drive an uneven recovery across different sectors and groups of people.’

Mr Thiru thinks the economy will become ‘increasingly unbalanced’ over the next year or so, with experts pinning their hopes on consumer spending driving up growth, while trade levels flounder.

He added: ‘Such economic imbalances leave the UK more exposed to future economic shocks.

‘The risks to the outlook are on the downside. A more significant surge in inflation would weigh on a consumer led revival by eroding their spending power. 

‘The squeeze on activity and the damage to confidence from a marked delay to the full lifting of restrictions or further restrictions to combat Covid-19 variants would materially slow the recovery.’    

The number goods exported from Britain to the European Union is forecast to drop by 12 per cent this year, by 1.4 per cent next year and by 2.5 per cent in 2023.

The BCC said: ‘Trade is projected to make a negative contribution over the forecast period. 

‘This largely reflects an anticipated decline in exports to the EU with post-Brexit disruption and the weak near-term outlook for the euro area expected to weigh on EU demand for UK goods and services.’  

Amid current lockdown easing plans, the BCC has predicted that quarterly growth will reach its strongest over the second and third quarters of this year, with the overall economy picture returning to pre-pandemic levels at the start of next year. 

Slashed: The Bank of England dropped interest rates to 0.1% last year

Forecast: The BCC thinks the BoE will only hike interest rates from 2023

According to the data, the economy looks set to grow by 5.1 per cent in 2022.  

UK unemployment is projected to remain at a ‘much lower level’ than in recent recessions, the BCC said. It is expected to peak at 6 per cent, with youth unemployment at 15.6 per cent, by the end of the year after the furlough scheme comes to an end. 

Fresh figures from the Office for National Statistics have revealed that there are still around 1.7million people on furlough up and down the country. 

The BCC thinks business investment levels will rebound strongly this year and in 2022, bolstered by the anticipated boost from the reopening of the economy and the introduction of the super-deduction incentive. 

But, business investment is projected to slow sharply in 2023 as the super-deduction incentive ends and corporation tax rise.  

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Amigo Loans asks 4,000 borrowers why they voted against proposed rescue scheme

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Borrowers of beleaguered subprime lender Amigo Loans have hit back after it sent them a survey asking them why they voted against its rescue plan.

Britain’s largest guarantor loan provider had its proposed cost-cutting scheme of arrangement rejected by the High Court last month.

The judge ruled it was unfair and that past and present borrowers, who could have been compensated just 5 per cent of what they were owed for mis-sold loans, were not properly informed about the proposals or any alternatives to them.

There are fears Amigo Loans could be on the brink after its proposed rescue plan was rejected by the High Court. It had said such a rejection could tip it into insolvency

He sent the company back to the drawing board, after the Financial Conduct Authority said it believed ‘a fairer scheme’ was possible, despite the company saying the scheme’s failure would likely tip it into administration.

The just under 4,000 borrowers who voted against the scheme were sent emails on Wednesday morning from Amigo’s chief executive Gary Jennison asking them several questions, including why they voted against the scheme.

Among the options provided to customers were ‘I did not believe it would give customers the best outcome for any compensation claims’, ‘I did not understand it’ and ‘I wanted Amigo to go into administration.’

Another of the questions was: ‘How do you feel about the objection of the court and the consequences of this? (Such as a further delay to receiving any compensation for customers who have a valid claim)’

Under the proposed rescue plan, Amigo was set to earmark a potential £35million pot to pay back borrowers mis-sold unaffordable loans. 

Given it had received thousands of complaints, nine in 10 of which were being upheld by the Financial Ombudsman, borrowers could receive as little as 5 per cent of what they were due.’

A 31 March tweet announcing voting on the scheme had been opened featured the tagline: ‘Vote FOR Your Money’.

The judge in the High Court case said ‘the creditors lacked the necessary information or experience to enable them properly to appreciate the alternative options reasonably available to them’.

The email to those who voted no added: ‘We previously said that without the scheme, we would likely go into insolvency. 

‘This means there would be no cash compensation available for customers who were mis-sold an Amigo loan. This situation is still a very real possibility.’

Amigo was criticised by regulators and then the High Court for failing to properly outline its rescue plan to borrowers 

In his judgment, Mr Justice Miles effectively accused the lender of fearmongering over this suggestion, stating: ‘It is unlikely that the directors would put the group straight into administration and destroy the substantial surplus value of the enterprise.

‘There is nothing in the evidence to suggest any imminent cashflow event that would force Amigo into insolvency.’

The subprime lender’s share price has crashed 72 per cent in the last month, ever since the FCA weighed in on 10 May to announce it would oppose the scheme in court. 

They crashed from 18.6p on 24 May to just 8.3p on the day the scheme was rejected a fortnight ago.

One borrower, who voted in favour of the scheme, wrote on the blog Debt Camel, where details of the email surfaced, it was ‘shocking that Amigo seem to be targeting people who voted no to the scheme.’

Another said: ‘I feel they have singled out everyone that voted against the scheme.’

A third added: ‘The questions are farcical and still looking to shift blame, I have been scathing in my response.’

Sara Williams, a debt adviser who runs Debt Camel, said: ‘The FCA said Amigo had not accurately described their situation and the proposed scheme to customers.

‘It is very disappointing that once again Amigo is now talking to customers without properly explaining things. 

‘I am not sure what the point is of asking customers what they think of the situation when those customers have not been properly informed about it in the first place.

‘These emails asking customers who voted for their thoughts have again emphasised that there would be no cash payouts in insolvency, but Amigo fails to mention that the 130,000 borrowers with a current loan would be able to get their balances reduced or cleared in insolvency if an affordability claim is upheld, so they would gain little or nothing from a scheme.’

Britain’s city regulator said Amigo’s proposed rescue scheme was unfair to borrowers who would have had the value of their compensation massively watered down 

Amigo said similar emails asking for feedback had been sent to the 74,866 creditors who voted no, as well as those who didn’t vote at all.

Amigo told the London Stock Exchange this morning it was continuing to consider all options and was in talks with the FCA ‘to identify an appropriate way forward’, including a more generous scheme for borrowers.

John Cronin, a financial analyst at the stockbroker Goodbody, said the uncertainty over Amigo’s future ‘could roll on for some time yet.’

An Amigo spokesperson told This is Money: ‘We have reached out to customers who voted both for and against the scheme to update them on what is going on and at the same time gather their views and inform our thinking as we determine our next steps.

‘We have always had an ongoing dialogue with our customers and this is not the first time we have sought to survey their views.

‘We want to hear from all of our customers and will also be reaching out to a sample of those who did not vote in the coming days, to gain a greater understanding of their reasoning.’

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The Covid bounce back is an opportunity to grow or start a business

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‘Everybody thinks they have a book in them,’ is the old saying, but I reckon nowadays there’s a new version of that: ‘Everybody thinks they have a business in them.’

Over the past decade, Britain has seen a surge in entrepreneurial spirit.

Studies have repeatedly shown that many of today’s cohort of school leavers and graduates want to start their own business, either now or in the future.

And many say that when they do seek a job, they’d like it be with a company where their entrepreneurial spirit can be harnessed and nurtured.

For many of these ambitious souls, employment is somewhere they can learn the ropes of running a business before one day hoping to start their own.

Dragons’ Den judges, such as Sarah Willingham, left, and success stories, such as Levi Roots, right,  have also helped increase the profile of entrepreneurial spirit

For a generation that has grown up watching disruptive businesses emerge and become household names in record time, this is no surprise.

On a more accessible level than dreaming up the new Amazon, Facebook or Tesla, is the popularity of entrepreneurs closer to home, such as the Dragons’ Den judges and success stories.

But for every twentysomething dreaming of being the next Elon Musk, Sarah Willingham, or Levi Roots, there is also a wiser older head with years of experience in business, who harbours the desire to break out of employment and start up themselves.

And then there are the existing small businessmen and women: the backbone of the British economy.

The people who are out there creating jobs, growing the country’s fortunes, innovating, persevering and making Britain and its towns, cities and villages a better place to live.

And while the past year has almost certainly felt tough for many of our small businesses, there is some good news.

Things are getting better, the economy is reopening and Britons are sitting on an estimated £150billion cash pile of lockdown savings, according to the Bank of England, that many are eager to get out and spend some of.

But even through the gloomy days of lockdowns before the vaccines arrived, there were successful entrepreneurs telling us that tough times can be the best for starting, pivoting, or growing a business.

Peter Hargreaves started Hargreaves Lansdown from a Bristol bedroom with Stephen Lansdown

In an interview with This is Money last October, Peter Hargreaves told us: ‘Right now is a fantastic time to launch a business, especially those who are working for companies that are struggling.

‘They are in a great position to set up cheaply and challenge the bigger guys.

‘People are also doing things they’ve never done before which entrepreneurs should take advantage of.’

Peter Hargreaves is the co-founder of Hargreaves Lansdown, a business that revolutionised DIY consumer investing in Britain, and is now a FTSE 100 giant worth almost £8billion.

It was started in a bedroom in Bristol, by Hargreaves and his co-founder Stephen Lansdown, who decided they had an idea for a better way of doing things for individual investors and went for it.

They capitalised on their opportunities, spotted how the emerging digital world could help them and grew a household name from scratch.

‘Right now is a fantastic time to launch a business 
Peter Hargreaves 

The pandemic and lockdowns may not seem the time to take a risk, but I have been inspired over the past 15 months by the stories we’ve heard from small businesses and then told to This is Money’s readers.

People who pivoted their businesses, decided not to abandon their launch, or even came up with ideas and launched them in lockdown.

Lockdown has led to a clear digital opportunity, with talk of five years’ worth of change in one. 

But that doesn’t just help those trading online; small businesses tell me it has been a major advantage in reaching customers, finding suppliers, arranging meetings over Zoom or Teams with people they would have once struggled to get with face-to-face. Some say it has even helped with doing deals.

As the economy reopens and lockdown eases, a boom has been forecast by the Bank of England, with Britons expected to spend some of their £150bn of savings built up

In a world of unicorns and high growth disruptive firms, it is easy for digital businesses to grab the headlines, but the small businesses that are the backbone of our economy are not necessarily the hot property ones.

We should pay tribute to the shops, the cafes, the pubs, the restaurants, the delivery firms, the manufacturers, the electricians, plumbers and builders and more – in fact, to all those whose businesses were hugely disrupted.

Some were ordered to shut repeatedly. Meanwhile, those that were deemed essential had to work out how to stay open, while keeping staff and customers safe, and do things such as get shelves stocked, people’s boilers fixed, or items delivered.

All this came while the country was more fearful than at any time since the Second World War, but the stories that we have heard have been amazing.

They were of businesses adjusting, pivoting, and finding new customers, but also working out ways to help out their local communities – perhaps getting the young, the old, the vulnerable everything they needed – and simply putting a smile on people’s faces.

It pales in comparison but editorially we have tried to do our bit to support small businesses: we have fought their corners, argued for better government support, and told their stories.

We want to encourage entrepreneurs and small businesses and help people turn their business ideas and dreams into reality. With a bounce-back boom forecast, now might be the time to do that – come read our Small Business section for inspiration.

This column is an adapted version of a speech Simon Lambert recently gave at the Federation of Small Business Awards. 

A helping hand to promote your small business

To help small businesses as Britain comes out of lockdown, MailOnline and This is Money are offering the chance to advertise to their huge audiences – without a big price tag.

The new self-serve Ad Manager makes it easy to do so. It takes minutes to set up, and your campaign could be live in less than 24 hours.

You can advertise to people in your area and target by postcode, interests, and life stage to reach those you want to.

There are no hidden fees, and you can control everything, from the budget you spend, to the target audience and creative design.

> Find out more about MailOnline Ad Manager here

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