Week commencing 16 May 2016

In today's bulletin

• Landlord rush to beat stamp duty in March, suggests ONS data
• Queen’s Speech outlines upcoming changes to planning and infrastructure

• Regulator asks for feedback on ambitions for rail
• Shining a light on domestic electricity use

Property, Planning and Regeneration

Landlord rush to beat stamp duty in March, suggests ONS data

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) published its House Price Index for March 2016 on Tuesday 17 May. The data shows UK house prices dropped in April after rising by nine per cent in the year to March 2016, up from 7.6 per
cent in the year to February 2016. The price inflation has been attributed to landlords rushing to beat stamp duty.

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Unions UCATT and Unite to join forces

On Wednesday 18 May the Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) voted to merge with fellow union Unite. The vote took
place at UCATT’s conference following a debate about its future described as “full, frank and passionate”. Both sides will now enter into negotiations.

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Queen’s Speech outlines upcoming changes to planning and infrastructure

This year’s Queen’s Speech included details of a new Neighbourhood Planning and Infrastructure Bill. The Bill includes elements that look to improve the planning system by making it as efficient as possible.
Questions still remain over how some of the new policies will be implemented and whether they will streamline the planning system.

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Estate Agents predict short-term benefits of Brexit for first-time buyers and renters

Both renters and first-time buyers could benefit from Brexit argues the Vote Leave campaign. A joint commissioned report by the Association of Residential Letting Agents and National Association of Estate Agents has suggested that by 2018 the total value of UK housing could fall by £26.5bn.
Exit from the EU and its free movement of labour policies could see the UK population fall by more than a million, freeing up UK properties. However the potential benefits could be short lived as the report warns of disaster for the construction industry and future of the UK housing market.

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Urban locations outside London are outperforming rural counterparts

The popularity of towns and cities outside of London has risen by 4.1 per cent since the economic downturn of 2007. Prosperous urban locations such as Bath, Oxford, Winchester and Cheltenham are now outperforming their rural counterparts. Prime housing stock and good schools are thought to make
these locations popular among families looking to upsize, as well as the equity rich looking to downsize but remain close to good restaurants, shops and amenities.

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Property transactions to reach 1.5 million by 2020

Property transactions in the UK could potentially increase by a fifth (21 per cent), reaching up to 1.5 million by 2020, according to research commissioned by mover conveyancing service provider, My Home Move. This is due to increased access to high loan to value lending for first time
buyers. The average deposit for first time buyers is also likely to fall, from 17 per cent to 10 per cent by 2019, as LTV mortgage products enter the market. The forecast is therefore bright for the UK’s property market, as property transactions provide a crucial measurement of overall market strength.

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Late trains at highest annual level for nine years

The latest figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show railway punctuality dropping to its lowest annual level since 2006-2007, while the incidents of Cancellations and Significant Lateness (CaSL) is at its highest
since 2004-2005. The ORR claims that despite these figures the overall performance is still better than in the early 2000s.

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DVLA working on digital driving licence

The Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) is developing a digital version of its driving licence that will be used on smartphones. The news comes after DVLA’s chief executive Oliver Morley tweeted a photo showing a prototype
version using Apple’s Wallet app on an iPhone, which can already be used to pay for items and store boarding passes and gift cards. Mr. Morley has said the addition will be an add-on to the existing driving licence rather than a replacement.

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Local authorities urged to embrace ‘active travel’

Public Health England has released a report encouraging councils to embrace active travel by building walking and cycling into everyday life.
The report includes a section called Physical activity, the under-rated ‘wonder drug’.

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Regulator asks for feedback on ambitions for rail

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) is seeking public feedback on potential developments across the rail network between 2019 and 2024.
The consultation will play a role in influencing Network Rail’s work over this five-year period.

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Energy and environment

Shining a light on domestic electricity use

Researchers at the University of Oxford are asking thousands of people to keep a 24-hour diary of their electricity usage. The project, known as METER, is aimed at getting a better understanding of the UK’s peak electricity demand.
It forms part of a five year programme to find ways of relieving peak demand, which the government estimates could save the UK economy £8.1bn.

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Climate policies not bad for business, says report

UK climate policies have not damaged business competiveness, according to a new report from the Grantham Institute and the Centre for Climate Change Economics and Policy. The report comes as the government considers the
fifth carbon budget, to run from 2028 to 2032, and argues that higher carbon prices in other countries have not damaged business growth.

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