UK household debts excluding mortgage rose to £119bn

Debts excluding mortgages are on the rise in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Debts including credit card debt and personal loans rose 11% to £119bn in the two years to March 2018, according to the ONS study, which is published every two years.

Average household financial debt rose 9% to £9,400.

Debt graphic

Much of the increase is a result of higher student loan and hire purchase debt.

“The figures are skewed slightly by the £32bn of student debts – which the vast majority of graduates will never pay back in full,” said Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at stockbroker Hargreaves Lansdown.

“However, even excluding that we’re carrying £87bn in loans, credit cards, hire purchase agreements, overdrafts and arrears.”

Source: BBC News

UK biggest property investment firm M&G suspends fund withdrawals

Investors in the UK’s biggest commercial property fund – worth £2.5bn – have been temporarily prevented from taking out their money.

Investment firm M&G said withdrawals from its property portfolio fund had been suspended after investors consistently withdrew their savings.

The firm blamed “Brexit-related political uncertainty” and difficulties in the retail sector for the situation.

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The fund has shrunk by £1.1bn so far this year.

“Given these circumstances, we have now reached a point where M&G believes it will best protect the interests of the funds’ customers by applying a temporary suspension in dealing,” M&G said in a statement.

It has waived 30% of its annual charge to investors, as they were unable to access their money, although some have called for action from the regulator on such charges.

The M&G Property Portfolio has invested in 91 UK commercial properties across shopping centres, other retail, industrial and office sectors on behalf of UK investors.

The same fund was suspended in July 2016 for four months following the UK’s EU referendum when money flooded out of such funds.

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Investors range from armchair, retail investors to institutional investors, dealing with millions of pounds.

M&G has been unable to sell properties fast enough, particularly given its concentration on the retail sector, to meet the demands of investors who wanted to cash out.

The decision to suspend the fund, and its feeder fund, was taken by its official monitor – its authorised corporate director – and the City watchdog has been informed.

“The FCA is working closely with the firms involved to ensure that timely actions are undertaken in the best interests of all the fund’s investors,” a spokesman for the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said.

M&G said the suspension would be monitored daily, formally reviewed every 28 days, and would only continue “as long as it is in the best interests of our customers”.

This will allow assets to be sold over time, rather than as a fire sale, in order to meet investors’ withdrawal demands. The firm has written to investors to explain the current situation.

Source: BBC News

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Home Improvement: Exploiting opportunities for energy efficiency

To identify opportunities that are likely to arise for energy efficiency upgrades, start by making a list of future home improvements you plan to carry out over a number of years. then try to match these to major energy efficiency projects, such as insulation, solar installation, window and boiler replacement. Below are some planned projects and recommended opportunities for energy efficiency improvements.

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Planned project and energy efficiency opportunity 

  • Internal decoration, Re-plastering walls, Refitting kitchens, Refitting bathrooms and cloakrooms etc.

Internal wall insulation.

  • Rendering external walls.

External wall insulation

  • Re-roofing.

Photovoltaics (PV) Solar panel roof installation, Roof or loft insulation. If external wall cladding is planned, prepare the way by extending the roof at eaves level.

  • Replacement windows.

Specify high-performance windows and combine wall insulation works.

  • Replacing old hot water cylinder.

Specify a twin-coil (or triple-coil) cylinder ready for the later installation of solar water heating.

  • Replacing worn-out boiler.

Specify ‘A’-rated high-efficiency replacement boiler.

  • Replacing floorboards

Floor insulation and underfloor heating (can be paired with renewable technology).

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10 practical ways to find time to plan

Time is the one resource that we can’t buy, but we often waste it or use it ineffectively. we’re all busy people one way or the other and finding time to plan for that dream project or investment can be a challenge. Remember that what you need to do mostly is to think and you can do that almost anywhere. Here are ten ways you can find the time to plan.

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  1. Daydream – Let your imagination go wide and your thoughts take you through the journey to places you want your project or investment to be.
  2. Family time – Parents, partners and even children have the knack of knowing us better than we think. Discussing your plans and seeking their opinion might be invaluable in making and perfecting your decision.
  3. Keep a diary – Planning takes time and keeping a diary is very important to keep track on your plans and thoughts for reference when making decision.
  4. Ask for help – In today’s digital world, information and knowledge is on our fingertips. All you need to do is ask for help and research it from places and persons with the right competency, experience and skills.
  5. Walk the dog – Fresh air is good for creative thinking and waking up in the morning to walk the dog or jog will test your commitment and willingness.
  6. Indulge your partner – Book that dream activity holiday and then while you’re sat at the bar reflecting, planning and thinking, your partner can be enjoying their time and warming to the idea
  7. Take a break – If possible take a break from work to have time to plan the project or investment.
  8. Relax bath – Instead of the hurried shower, soak in the bath and let your mind wander.
  9. Lose the phone – Try travelling or having a break with your switch off, and use the freedom from distraction to explore your project or investment ideas
  10. Paint the house – Minor domestic home improvement like painting or decoration will give you more time confined to one room , free of cerebral distraction to think and plan.

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TA DenEco Consultancy –