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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Gas failure in part of UK render homes without heating in freezing temperature

Thousands of people spent the night without heat in freezing temperatures below zero after gas outage in Falkirk on Sunday morning.

Hundreds of engineers are visiting homes in the area as part of a major operation to tackle the gas network failure.

Fire brigade helping with distribution of heaters in Falkirk

Heaters and portable cookers have been distributed to vulnerable residents and 14 schools and nurseries are closed.

Gas infrastructure company SGN said it had now begun reconnecting supplies to homes across the area.

The company said previously that it had hoped to visit all 8,000 affected properties by Monday afternoon.

By 21:30 on Monday, SGN confirmed it had reconnected gas to 3,000 properties.

More than 250 engineers are going door-to-door to turn off gas supplies at the meter for safety reasons.

Falkirk Council said the majority of schools in the area, as well as Kinnaird Waters early learning and childcare centre, would reopen on Tuesday.

Bainsford primary school and nursery class, Larbert early learning and childcare centre, and Kinnaird primary school and Thistle Wing will remain closed.

Source: BBC News

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Wales launches climate change blueprint

A five-year blueprint to tackle climate change in Wales has been launched by the Welsh Government.

Prosperity for All: A Climate Conscious Wales sets out plans to improve flood defences, secure water supplies, and other environmental improvements.

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Environment minister Lesley Griffiths said the plan is “challenging”.

But Welsh Conservative Andrew RT Davies said “questions must be answered” over if the plans are “workable” and “economically viable”.

The plans build on the climate emergency declaration made earlier this year and Wales’ first climate change conference, the Welsh Government said.

Ms Griffiths added: “But we must all adapt and we must all commit to protect our nation for current and future generations.

“Success will mean Wales is a climate conscious nation, aware of the risks facing us, whilst being prepared and ready to adapt to the impacts before they occur.”

The proposals include:

  • Building defences to guard against flooding and coastal erosion
  • Protecting water supplies from drought
  • Reducing the use of pesticides
  • Growing more woodland
  • Creating more open spaces
  • The creation of 25,000 more energy efficient homes by 2021

Source: BBC News

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Super-insulated home: Heating by cat power?

Not a lot of people know this, but the average domestic cat gives off nearly 20W of heat. Why is this relevant? Because if your home was super-insulated so that it only lost 1kwh of heat a day, then the body heat of a couple of domestic cats could be sufficient to keep the living space warm – at least until the temperature outside was 16° colder than inside.

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The total heat lost of a building depends on two main factors – its average heat lost (ie how insulated it is) and the temperature difference between inside and outside. Together these two factors tell you how much heat you need to generate to keep the interior cosy. So in this example your living space set to be a comfortable 20°C, only once the outdoor temperatures fell below 4° would you need to invite additional household pets into the home to boost the heating.

If the building is well insulated enough, the internal gains will be more than the total losses through the building. In other words the number of watts of heat required would be less than the heat given off by occupants and from everyday activities, such as waste heat from appliances, cooking, hot water use, plus any solar gains received through windows.

 

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How to identify damp in your house

Damp is one of the last things we want to face at home. It doesn’t matter if we’re a homeowner or a renter, it’s not a good thing. It can make a room feel cold, unwelcoming and unhealthy, and at worst it can mean structural or weatherproofing issues.

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Structural dampness is the presence of unwanted moisture in the structure of a building, either the result of intrusion from outside or condensation from within the structure. A high proportion of damp problems in buildings are caused by ambient climate dependent factors of condensation and rain penetration. Capillary penetration of water from the ground up through concrete or masonry is known as Rising Damp.

From condensation to penetrating damp and the dreaded rising damp, different types of damp present different problems, below is how you can identify defects that will cause damp in your house and fix them on time before they cause structural and health issues.

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Damp checks

  • Flashings at junctions to roofs and chimneys.
  • Uncapped pots to open chimneys.
  • Badly eroded mortar joints to brick or stonework in walls.
  • Leaking gutters, downpipes and overflow pipes.
  • Leaks around windows and door flames.
  • Windowsills that don’t project out from the wall sufficiently, or have eroded drip grooves underneath.
  • Garden shrubs or mounds of earth banked up against walls.
  • A lack of ventilation indoors allowing a build-up of condensation from steamy kitchens and bathroom.

 

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Why insulate your home?

If only you could see clouds of £20 notes floating out of your walls, windows, doors and roofs, you would waste no time in plugging the gaps through which they’re escaping.  As energy bills have rocketed in recent years coupled with climate change awareness which has been attributed to extreme flood, amazon fire and heat wave, there are compelling reasons why investing time and money insulating your home is worthwhile for everyone.

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For one thing, properties are increasingly rated and valued on the basis of their energy performance. There’s also the comforting though that with your carbon footprint reduced to the size of a pea, you’re doing your bit to beat climate change.

The benefits of insulating

  • A warmer home in the colder seasons.
  • Reduced fuel bills (over 60% of domestic energy consumed is for space heating).
  • Reduced condensation, damp and mould.
  • Greater comfort with fewer draughts.
  • A cooler home in hotter summer months.
  • Improved EPC rating to qualify for grants and add value.
  • A more eco-friendly building
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Thinking of buying a property?

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Dennis Bebo – MSC, BSC, DEA, CeMAP

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