The quiet Summer months are a good time to collate the information required for an annual tax return to avoid a last minute rush in January. Whilst the recent news that the private sector is growing at its fastest rate since 1998 is very welcome, government finances will remain stretched for years to come. As well as the programme of austerity with cuts in welfare spending, the government has given HMRC an additional £1b so it has the teeth to pursue tax evaders more effectively.
I was struck by the clear message that catering for an ageing population will be one of the defining economic and political challenges of the next 50 years in the recently published report by the Office for Budget Responsibility. The number of people aged over 65 is projected to rise by nearly 50% in the next 20 years and centenarians have quadrupled since 1981 according to official figures.
This week the ‘feel-good’ factor is everywhere. We have cheered sporting success, with Murray achieving an amazing victory at Wimbledon, the British Lions triumphant in Australia, and Chris Froome leading the Tour de France. Business confidence in the UK has reached a 13-month high as companies report higher levels of business and increased job creation, supporting the view that the economy is finally on a gradual road to recovery.
A Quarter of Two Halves
The last three months can broadly be divided into two parts, a strong market rally in April and May, followed by a sharp sell-off in June. Despite high levels of volatility, markets enjoyed a strong start to the second quarter.
As a keen driver I was unsurprised this week by the news that Devon and Cornwall face a bill of approaching £1b to fix the potholes in our roads. All too frequently I find myself having to steer around deep potholes on our rutted roads. The last few weeks have certainly given investors a reality call and served as a useful reminder that markets are not a one-way street with falls of over 10% in stock markets.
Despite the best efforts of the government to rebalance the economy over the last few years most of us continue to measure our wealth in terms of house prices. Many commentators had predicted a sharp fall in prices, but in fact the ‘average’ UK house now costs £233,061, the latest rise taking prices above the February 2008 peak, according to the recent LSL Acadametrics survey.
This weekend will see the crowning of Miss England and Mr England at the Riviera International conference centre in Torquay. Devon beauty, Charlotte Holmes is the reigning Miss England and she will hand over the crown to her successor on Saturday. The organisers of the event are keen to point out the strong focus on raising funds for charity under the Miss World’s ‘Beauty with a Purpose' banner.
After seemingly weeks of dull weather, the warm sunshine of the last week in Devon and Cornwall reminds us that Summer is on its way. Unlike many commentators I view this week’s new lending figures from the Bank of England with guarded optimism. The good news is that money is starting to flow more freely, with an increase in lending to individuals and an improving trend in corporate lending, particularly by Barclays and Nationwide, which have together lent an additional £11b over the last year.
6 June 2013: A Professional Women’s 'Lunch and Learn' event is to turn into a regular occurrence after it was given a big thumbs-up from its delegates. The lunch event was held at Seabrook Clark Wealth Management's office in Exeter.