Between Royal Mail shares being issued and SSE drawing the opprobrium of, well, everyone, it’s been quite a week.
There’s been a lot of kerfuffle regarding Help to Buy, too. And as far as the Money Shot can tell, it all seems a bit of a mess.
Indeed, confusion reigns on the government’s initiative to stimulate the quite-buoyant-in-the-grand-scheme-of-things housing market, with big discrepancies in what’s available in different parts of the United Kingdom.
Allow us to elaborate. Back in April, the first phase of Help to Buy was launched in England.
Then earlier this week – amidst much fanfare – the second phase was ‘rolled out’ to the rest of the UK.
But here’s the rub – it turns out that the Scottish government and the Northern Irish executive have their own schemes that are similar to phase one. But the new, second part of Help to Buy also applies to those areas, with £12bn of central government backing.
Scotland’s own Help to Buy scheme – the ingeniously titled ‘Help To Buy Scotland’ – helps first-time buyers and existing homeowners get new-build homes from participating builders.
Northern Ireland’s version has been running since the Bee Gees were riding high in the hit parade with ‘Night Fever’ – it’s been around since 1978.
On Wednesday, the Welsh government trumpeted that it would be investing £174.5m into its Help to Buy Cymru scheme for people who want to buy new homes.
Both the Scottish and the Northern Irish schemes don’t charge any interest on the equity share, but in England there is a 1.75% charge on the share after five years which increases with inflation every year after that.
Befuddled? Well, you won’t be the only one. The Money Shot is now predicting more disputes on the Celtic borders than since the days when Gruffudd ap Llywelyn was in his Hereford-razing pomp.
Gocompare.com’s mortgage expert Steve Williams said: “When we contacted government officers in Scotland and Wales there was confusion about whether the second phase – the mortgage guarantee scheme – was applicable in those areas. If we are struggling to get this information what chance do first-time buyers have?
“It’s tough enough for lots of consumers to get their heads around mortgages and shared equity schemes – but then to have four different schemes working throughout the UK and a different mortgage guarantee scheme, just adds more misunderstanding.”
Anybody would think they were just making it up as they were going along.
Short change – Money News in Brief
Royal Mail shares were issued. Let’s hope the privatisation of this national institution works as well as it has done for energy and trains, eh? EH?!
TRL – formerly the government’s transport research laboratory – has suggested plans to raise the driving test age to 18, and to ban new motorists from driving after dark and from carrying young passengers. The Association of British Insurers has thrown its weight behind the plans. Expect a full consultation from the Department for Transport by the end of the year.
With Halloween just around the corner, 27 people have been arrested for ‘ghost broking’ – the practice of selling fake car insurance policies, usually to younger drivers who find it prohibitively expensive to get insured.
The British Chambers of Commerce egged George Osborne on to 'go all out' in his efforts to stimulate growth.
Expect a big increase in sales of funky-branded Minis - property sales have hit a near four-year high, according to the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
On Covered Mag this week
Want more on Help to Buy? Fill your boots.
Phil Huff ran the rule over Volvo’s XC60.
With the news that Land Rover is to retire the Defender, Chris Pollitt slipped into his best green wellies and told the venerable 4x4’s tale of mud, sweat and tears.
The London Fire Brigade has released a selection of some of the most feeble 999 calls it’s received.
They feature sorry tales of folk making emergency calls because they dropped their phone down the toilet, finding spiders on their pillow, and finding squirrels and bats in kitchens.
There was also a call in which an elderly lady threw a glass of water at fighting dogs, forgetting her false teeth were inside.
Senior fire officer Dave Brown sighed: "Our advice is simple - if it's not an emergency, don't ring 999. If you're calling because you have a serious phobia, then arrange for a housemate, friend or neighbour to help you.
“If you're calling because there's an unexpected animal in your home, call the RSPCA,” he concluded, presumably as a cackling hen party spilled out of a pink stretch limo outside.
Join us NEXT WEEK for another THRILLING instalment of THE MONEY SHOT.