Week commencing 7 January 2019

In today's bulletin

• Christmas high street sales plummet
• Improve transport links to help meet housing demand

• Small scale energy providers to be guaranteed payment for excess electricity
• Britain’s fossil fuel use drops by 30 per cent in nine years

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Q4 2018: house prices continue to rise

Figures released by the Halifax House Price Index on 8 January show that house prices in the three months to December 2018 were 1.3 per cent higher than in the same period a year earlier.
The report also stated that the average house price had reached £229,728, with a monthly increase of 2.2 per cent in December.

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RICS responds to Shelter Commission’s report

The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has backed findings made in a report, Building for our future: A vision for social housing from housing charity Shelter.
In a press release issued 8 January RICS stated its belief that the recommendations presented by Shelter “must be picked up and driven forward by government”. The organisation also called for a “massive effort” from public and private sectors, along with major investment, in order to achieve the Commission’s aims for social housing.

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Private rental property MOT on the horizon

MOT-style certificates for properties could raise standards across the private rental sector (PRS), says inventory service provider, No Letting Go.
The recommendation was made by Dr Julie Rugg and David Rhodes in their review The Evolving Private Rented Sector: Its Contribution and Potential. The new system would ensure properties are required to meet a minimum standard suitable for habitation, a move welcomed by David Cox, chief executive of industry trade body for letting agents, ARLA Propertymark.

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Transport

Improve transport links to help meet housing demand

Placing good transport links at the heart of new building developments will help the UK reduce the number of cars in urban areas and help provide new homes to meet the current demand, a report by the Urban Transport Group has revealed.
The report, The place to be: How transit oriented development can support good growth in the city regions, sets out a five point plan for new building developments to be based around sustainable transport links. It claims this will help reduce congestion in towns and cities.

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Energy and environment

Small scale energy providers to be guaranteed payment for excess electricity

The government has introduced a new scheme called Smart Export Guarantee, intended to help the UK transition to a smarter energy system.
The plans mean that small-scale renewable energy providers will be guaranteed payment for any excess electricity supplied to the grid.

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World’s first energy storage system

Researchers at Newcastle University have developed the first grid-scale pumped heat energy storage system (PHES), able to store up to 600kWh of electricity.
Developed as part of an Energy Technologies Institute (ETI) project, PHES puts the UK in a world-leading position in the development of thermal energy storage. The technology is intended to store renewable energy such as solar or wind and make it readily available to consumers.

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Government unveils export guarantee for small-scale renewables

A ‘Smart Export Guarantee’ will see large energy suppliers offer small renewable generators a price for all exported power, according to new government proposals.
The changes will apply to suppliers with more than 250,000 customers and will replace the current export tariff, which closes at the end of March.

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Lithium-ion batteries to become ‘cheapest way to store power’ by 2050

Lithium-ion batteries will be the cheapest way to store power by 2050 according to researchers at Imperial College London. Results of research released on 11 January stated that the technology suits most storage applications, ensuring energy grids do not suffer large fluctuations and allowing consumers to manage their bills.
Considerations that have become increasingly important as intermittent resources are relied on more.

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Britain’s fossil fuel use drops by 30 per cent in nine years

Use of fossil fuels in Britain has dropped from 75 per cent to under 45 per cent since 2009, according to research from the University of Birmingham and Imperial College London.
The research, released on Thursday (10 January) showed the country was coal-free for a record 1,898 hours, while wind energy increased its output to 17 per cent.

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Other News

Brexit uncertainty and cyberattacks threatening 2019 business

Following weak growth in 2018, UK business forecasts for 2019 are cautious, according to a joint survey by EEF, the manufacturers’ trade body, and insurer AIG. Companies remain positive but expect more risks than opportunities in the coming year.
The three largest risks to manufacturers are all Brexit related, including movements in exchange rates, upward pressure on pay settlements and delays at customs. Cyberattacks were acknowledged as the biggest potential threat aside from Brexit. Forty-eight per cent of manufacturers have been knowingly subject to a cyberattack.

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Christmas high street sales plummet

Figures released 5 January by accountancy and business advisory firm BDO LLP reveal that 2018 was the worst year on record for in-store like-for-like sales, marking 11 consecutive months of negative sales growth since January 2018.
Non-store sales grew in December, reflecting the move to last-minute online shopping, despite significant discounting and a shopping surge just before Christmas.

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