The average bills will fall around 5% for water and waterwaste for customers across England and Wales.

The Water Services Regulation Authority Ofwat has finalised decisions that means the average bills for water and wastewater customers across England and Wales will fall by around 5%, before adjustments for inflation, between 2015 and 2020. This would see average bills fall by around £20 from £396 to £376.

Over the next five years, customers will benefit not only in lower water bills but also have improved levels of service. As companies are set to spend around £2000 for every household across England and Wales.

By 2020 customers will benefit from significant improvements in areas of service that really matter to them, such as by tackling leakage and promote water efficiency, there will be more than 370 million liters a day of water saved – enough water saved to serve all of the homes in Birmingham, Manchester, and Leeds. With a reduction in the time lost to supply interruptions -down on average 32%. 4,700 fewer properties flooded by sewer water and cleaner water at more than 50 beaches.

With around 760,000 people benefit from some form of financial support from their water company this figure will more than double to around 1.8 million by 2020. Companies are putting in place measures, such as social tariffs, which are forecast to help an additional one million people over the next five years.

The announcement from Ofwat includes the decision to lower further the weighted average cost of capital (WACC), which is the minimum rate of return that lenders or investors require to support investment in the sector. Since its initial proposal of a WACC of 3.85%, Ofwat has updated its decision to reflect current market evidence on required returns, resulting in a WACC of 3.74%.

Jonson Cox, Chairman of Ofwat said:

“This is an important step in maintaining customers’ trust and confidence in the water sector. We set out to deliver a challenging but fair outcome. We are requiring companies to meet higher service standards and deliver on their promises to customers. We are bringing down bills so customers can expect value for money, while investors can earn a fair return. Companies will need to stretch themselves to deliver much more with the same level of funding as in previous years. We will achieve more resilient infrastructure and better service as a result.”

Cathryn Ross, Chief Executive of Ofwat said:

“With bills held down by five percent and service driven up over the next five years, customers will get more and pay less. Where companies stepped up to do the best they could for their customers we did not need to intervene. But where companies fell short we stepped in to make sure customers get a good deal. Now the hard work begins. Companies will only build trust and confidence with their customers if they deliver. Those who do can look forward to fair returns, while those that don’t will be hit in the pocket and face a tough five years ahead.”

These new charges will come into effect in April 2015. Companies have two months in which to accept Ofwat’s final determination or seek a referral to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Final determination: average bill changes (excluding inflation)

All figures are in 2014/15 prices. Figures may not add up due to rounding

Changes to average annual combined bill for water and sewerage companies

Ofwat’s final determination

Companies’
2013 December
request

2014-15

2019-20

5 year change

5 year change

National average bill (England and Wales)

£396

£376

-5%

-2%

Anglian

£431

£390

-10%

-8%

Dŵr Cymru

£440

£416

-5%

-4%

Northumbrian
(including Essex & Suffolk)

£388

£382

-1%

0%

Severn Trent

£333

£316

-5%

-4%

Southern

£437

£403

-8%

-2%

South West*

£545

£506

-7%

-4%

Thames**

£370

£353

-5%

3%

United Utilities

£410

£398

-3%

0%

Wessex

£485

£442

-9%

-4%

Yorkshire

£373

£361

-3%

-1%

 

Changes to average annual water bill for water only companies

Ofwat’s final determination

Companies’
2013 December
request

 

2014-15

2019-20

5 year change

5 year change

Affinity

£176

£163

-7%

-4%

Bristol

£202

£160

-21%

1%

Dee Valley

£152

£149

-2%

8%

Portsmouth

£97

£96

-1%

-1%

SembCorp Bournemouth

£153

£134

-12%

-6%

South East

£201

£194

-3%

3%

South Staffs
(including Cambridge)

£141

£135

-4%

2%

Sutton and East Surrey

£186

£180

-3%

-5%

* The average combined customer bill for South West does not reflect the £50 per customer Government contribution towards household bills. This addresses the significant investment needed in the infrastructure which was inherited by the company at privatisation to meet environmental and drinking water quality standards.

** Thames Water’s figures includes the costs for the preparatory works to build the Thames Tideway Tunnel – a 25km sewer to deal with the problem of too much sewage overflowing into the River Thames. However, it does not include costs for the construction of the tunnel. This is because the project will be financed and delivered by an independent infrastructure provider (IP). The IP is due to be appointed in 2015.

 

7 THINGS YOU SHOULD LOOK OUT FOR IN YOUR RETIREMENT HOME

At Property Property Property we cater to everyone, including our dear pensioners. So this post is dedicated and the start of more to come, that are highlighted specifically to pensioners or those seeking retirement.

We have curated and listed below our top 7 tips on things you should look for in your retirement home:

TIP #1: Ramp or home modification

Now we’re not suggesting that this is a most for everyone, but as most people who are seeking retirement homes for the purpose of living there for the rest of lives, we advise that this is something you look out for. As it is a known fact that strength decreases with age, so looking into securing a property with a ramp and already installed home modifications is a bonus as it will save you time and money in the future when having to maybe install these functions.

TIP #2: Low ceilings

Ideally, when you look for properties, your mind isn’t too focused on the size or height of the ceiling. But as you gracefully age, I believe it is something you should look for in your retirement home. As you’ll still want to be able to have reach of the lighting on your celling and something that doesn’t have an overwhelming effect, such as a high ceiling.

TIP #3: Lower units

Following on from having lower ceilings, you may also consider having lower units. Such as a lower kitchen cabinet, lower bathroom system; anything that doesn’t stress you or is more easily accessible for yourself as you age.

TIP #4: Community park or recreation center

At this age, you are either more free to explore the world or you’re freer to explore your community. We suggest looking for local facilities that encourage pensioner activities or anything that will keep you busy and stress-free in your older years.

TIP #5: Location

Location is a very important factor to consider when seeking a retirement home as you still want to be accessible and reachable to family, friends, and anyone who you are in contact with. But at the same time, aim to look for a more peaceful and scenic neighborhood so that you can enjoy your retirement with less noise pollution.

TIP #6: Maintenance

This leads back to point 3, we just want to reinforce the point that it’s better to look for a property that will require less maintenance work in the long-run. As you wouldn’t want to spend your retirement having to make continuous modifications and alterations to your new home in order to suit your health. Why not jump this step and consider this now.

TIP #7: Transport

And finally transportation. We advise anyone and everyone looking for a new space to look for a location with good transportation links, as this will give you more freedom to travel as this will be something that is easily accessible for you to visit friends or family.

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘Retirement and Pensioners’ series.

 

 

Manchester Property Prices Rising

Manchester has seen property values in the city have risen by 6.92 percent in the last 12 months, with the average home now worth around £162,000. However, across the whole of the UK, house prices rose by 5.14 pc in the year to July seeing the average move up to £226,185. According to the report, the total value of all homes in the UK is £3 trillion, with two-thirds of the total in the capital.

According to a new study, Manchester’s property market is the third most valuable in the country. Hometrack research found that houses in the city are worth a total of £133bn, behind London and Birmingham, which with housing markets worth £1.99 trillion and £152bn respectively.

Estate agent Ged McPartlin, from Ascend Properties, says news of Manchester’s housing boom comes as no surprise.He said: “The north is certainly booming as the latest Hometrack report has revealed that Manchester is the best city for growth – experiencing a strong increase in house prices.This, along with the total value of homes being worth a huge £133bn creates a truly thriving property market which is showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon.From an agent’s point of view, these figures truly reflect what we’re seeing in the marketplace.Buyers understand that the market is moving fast, competition is rife and it’s generally fastest fingers first. The demand has continued to push prices up and the lack of stock has created marketplace urgency.There’s also been an increase in landlords snapping properties up in the city, particularly throughout June, July and August, as the new university year creates a rush of tenants desperate to secure a decent property before the term starts.It’s been a very busy summer and the growth reported today clearly reflects this.”

The study also showed that mortgage debt in Manchester came to a total of £32bn, while housing equity – the difference between the home’s market value and the outstanding balance of mortgage payments – came to £100bn.

Richard Donnell, research and insight director at Hometrack, said: “House prices continue to rise on the back of sustained price inflation in large regional cities as unemployment falls and mortgage rates remain low.”

 

New research – shortage of homes in England set to reach a million by 2022

New research shows England is set to reach more than a million by 2022 in a shortfall in new homes in as the gulf between building houses and demand from a growing population widens.

England has seen a cumulative shortfall of more than 530,000 new homes since 2005. With a projection for the next five years suggests that the situation is not going to get any better.

Search provider Search Acumen analysis from conveyancing using official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggests that there is enough brownfield land to provide the space to meet housing demand. They compared the volume of new homes completed in England each year since 1976 with new dwellings needed to accommodate the growing number of households over the same period.

With an estimation household growth by assessing annual ONS birth, death and migration data, and used the ONS’ average annual number of people deemed a household to determine how many new homes would meet the extra demand.

Taking a closer look at the gap that developed after 2005, the data can estimate the shortfall in supply created by the slowdown in new house builds. Between 2005 and 2016, more than 530,000 too few homes were built to meet the growing demand.

Search Acumen’s research also projected how many homes would be completed each year and how many more households would be created. If trends do continue, England will need an additional 510,000 homes to meet demand. This, on top of the current shortfall, means England could have more one million too few homes by 2022.

More than one million homes additional homes may sound like a daunting proposal in a relatively small country and to illustrate the amount of space needed Search Acumen theoretically speculated as to the amount of potentially available land for housing development in England by assessing only available brownfield and green belt land.

Finally, Search Acumen estimated how much green belt land could be theoretically affected. The research found that if housebuilders continued to build 14 domiciles per hectare on the more than 1.1 million hectares of green belt land in England, only 14% of all greenbelt would have to be turned over to developers to meet cumulative demand into 2047.

The housing market in all corners of England has ground to a halt as people struggle to find a home that fits their needs and their budgets. Our research suggests that, even with housing supposedly higher up the political agenda, the pledges made at the last election won’t do the job of keeping up with demand in the long-term after years of under-investment into new housing,’ said Andrew Lloyd, managing director of Search Acumen.

As supply has weakened, demand continues unabated with more dispersed households, an increasing number of births, and net migration unlikely to be affected by Brexit and proposed changes to border controls,’ he explained.

We face a future where first-time buyers are further squeezed by rising prices, and where those already on the ladder looking for an affordable home simply cannot. To make up for years of undersupply, we need to embark on the greatest housing boom this country has seen in a century,’ he pointed out.

But it is possible. We have space, we have the desire and we have tens of thousands of housing professionals in the private and public sector ready to go. We just need our leaders to share our industry’s sense of urgency and begin laying foundations for economic success right away,’ he added.

7 WAYS TO CHEAPLY UPGRADE AND UPSCALE YOUR SPACE

Ever looked inside a home and lifestyle magazine and seen the exquisite homes and expensive looking decoration and wished that your home could look like that. Well, it can! And it isn’t too costly either.

We’ve curated and listed below our top 7 tips for upgrading and upscaling your space:

TIP #1: Clean or Conceal the clutter

First things first we’re the realist… clean the clutter. To achieve that expensive look, we recommend either cleaning/detoxing the unnecessary clutter or hide it with a good storage system that could easier be decorated with a nicely textured cloth or key ornaments.

TIP #2: Paint the floors, not just the walls

Try the unconventional method of painting the floor and not just the walls. Some of the most expensive looking spaces have the best floors. Try a monochrome pattern on the floor, ie. black and white vertical lines.

TIP #3: Organise & Conceal wires

More concealing! A lot of the times we have many little wires all over the floor, hanging on the wall and they’re basically everywhere. They don’t do your living space much justice, to be honest. So hide them! And not just a basic tape work; but branch into the various DIY projects the internet has to offer, such as hiding the wire in boxes or disguising them in the finishing on the wall.

TIP #4: Upgrade switch covers

I’m honestly trying to avoid using the word conceal again, so instead, I’ll use a disguise. Disguise those old light switches with fancy new covers. Or better yet, spray paint or just liquid paint them with the colour of your taste in a metallic finishing. That ought to do the trick!

TIP #5: Retouch & Upgrade hardware

To continue the topic of disguising, why not disguise the hardware around your home also. Switch those old looking door handles to crystal door knobs; they automatically add an element of elegance and luxury to any space. Also, the hardware at the corner of the doors, your kitchen counter, your bathroom floors spray paint those in a waterproof stainless steel gold/silver colour as they will also automatically upscale any space.

TIP #6: One Statement Piece

Most luxury homeowners have that one statement piece that they love to brag about, and why’s that? Well, it might be due to the fact that it actually is a statement piece. Now you don’t necessarily have to go completely out of pocket; but if you’ve got a liking for a certain style of artwork, why not get it blown up in your local photography shop to the largest size and have that one painting/artwork displayed in your living room. That will definitely make a statement.

TIP 7: Simplify your room styling

Now for our final tip. Simplify your room styling.

In order to get that expensive, yet simple living look, don’t do too much. You don’t need to have so many pretty ornaments or too many metallics in one room. Space it out across your living space and make every room a statement.

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the Home Improvement series.

 

5 THINGS TO LOOK FOR IN A FAMILY HOME

When hunting for a nice property as parents there are things you’ll be keen on looking for in your new home. So are obvious, such as schools, gardens and the area. But here are some of our top 5 alternative things to especially look for in family homes.

TIP #1: If no gardens, look for parks

Ideally, for a family home, you’ll be looking for a place with a good size garden so that your children have the option of playing outside of the house. But as there is a demand/increase in flats/apartments, families are just about missing out on gardens. So if you are one of those families, we recommend that you look into a property that is easily accessible to the local park, so that your children still are able to play outdoors.

TIP #2: Family friendly facilities and recreation centres

The rising use of technology means that this generation of children already have their recreation sorted on mobile devices. However, if you’re looking to discourage the over the use of technology as recreation for your children, then look for the possibilities of having recreation centres, family friendly cafes and facilities that are local to your forth-coming family home.

TIP #3: Well insulated homes

In order to decrease the number of runny noses and ticklish coughs, we recommend that families look for properties that are well insulated or have a good central heating system in the home, as this will help keep the warmth in during those colder miserable days that we tend to have in the UK.

TIP #4: A good kitchen

When we were looking for our family home, one thing my parents especially my mum looked for was a good kitchen and that always stuck with me. A sizeable kitchen with a well-tiled wall was on the top of her list, as families tend to do more cooking throughout the weeks that the walls become accustomed to the steam, heat and smells. So we recommend looking for a kitchen with well-insulated walls, a breathable space and also a good/replaceable air vent.

TIP 5: Good structure/sizing

Regardless of the type of property, we suggest a good sized space that will allow for children to freely express themselves throughout the home. This will decrease the number of inconveniences and also avoid that claustrophobic feeling of having furniture/storage space crowding up the place.

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Also if you have any tips that you could recommend to us, share them in the comments and we’ll be highlighting them in our upcoming articles in the ‘Family’ series.