Housing market stuck in mud as Halifax reports highest ever prices

The number of mortgage approvals is falling while Communities Secretary Sajid Javid's plans to reform the buying process are well intentioned but tepid
The housing market remains stuck in a pool of thick mud.
According to the Halifax, the UK’s largest lender, prices in the first quarter of 2018 were up by 2.7 per cent year on year, taking the average to a fresh record of £227,871, but they actually fell a bit in February and the outlook is cloudy at best.
Of more concern is that the number of approvals is low by historic standards, and falling, despite the lender arguing that a competitive mortgage market has made for home loans that are at their most affordable in a decade.
Read more UK house prices fall in February for first time since last May House price growth weakest in four years in May says Halifax House price growth hits three year low, but buyers still priced out MD Russell Galley referenced that fact in his comments on the latest Halifax House Price Index, noti..

Brexit: UK businesses face storm of flawed legislation as ministers rush through laws, warn experts

Scrutiny likely to be minimal and mistakes will 'undoubtedly' made, many of which won’t be noticed until they are in force, Hogan Lovells says
UK businesses face a “storm” of flawed and poorly scrutinised laws, rushed through by government ministers with minimal parliamentary oversight after Brexit, top lawyers have warned.
Thousands of pieces of legislation must be amended or else they simply will not apply after 29 March 2019 when the UK leaves the EU. With Brexit taking up much of the government and parliament’s time, the task of trawling through laws to make these changes will be rushed and mistakes “undoubtedly” made, many of which won’t be noticed until they are in force, Hogan Lovells said.
It warned that it was looking increasingly likely that the process of redrafting legislation would take place within government departments and without appropriate consultation.
Read more FCA needs £30m extra for Brexit but the real cost will be higher still Analysis by the l..

City regulator to keep companies' treatment of loyal customers a top priority as it faces £30m Brexit bill

The FCA also revealed in its business plan that it's facing a £30m Brexit bill this year
The City regulator says the treatment of existing customers by financial firms remains a top priority over the next year, with a focus on insurance prices and competition in the current account and cash savings market.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has been conducting an investigation into how companies treat their loyal customers as opposed to the treatment prospective new clients receive.
Read more FCA needs £30m extra for Brexit but the real cost will be higher still The watchdog said in its business plan for 2018/19, published on Monday, that while many firms “have made progress in putting customers more firmly at the centre of their business models, they need to further improve both competition and their standards of treatment for existing customers”.
The particular areas the FCA is looking into include understanding firms’ pricing practices in retail general insurance; as..

FCA needs £30m extra for Brexit but the real cost will be higher still

Work is being put on hold, but while the FCA says its day to day activities will continue a bomb like Brexit will inevitably hit activities beyond those considered to be low priority
Brexit has already collectively cost the citizens of this country billions, and the bills keep on coming in. One of them is from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), which says it needs an extra £30m to deal with the thing this year.
It’s true that that sum represents little more than a rounding error compared to the overall cost, and the City provides the funding for its regulator, so that might not seem like such a big deal. But it is.
Y’see, while some of the money will come from an extra levy on regulated businesses, and some will come out of the watchdog's reserves, and some will come from new firms it will take on the role of supervising, there will still be a gap representing just under half of that.
Read more Public backs fresh referendum to have 'final say' on Brexit deal ..

French Connection share price jumps as it unveils plans to sell premium lifestyle brand Toast

French Connection said the sale may enable it to start paying dividends to shareholders again
Shares in fashion retailer French Connection jumped almost 20 per cent on Monday morning, after the group revealed plans to sell Toast for £23.3m and said the deal may allow it to start paying a dividend again.
French Connection is selling its 75 per cent holding in the brand along with Toast founders Jamie and Jessica Seaton, who are selling their 25 per cent stake, to Bestseller United, which owns a range of retailers including Jack & Jones and Vero Moda.
Read more Toast Of The Town: The artisanal lifestyle brand turns 15 The group said it expects the deal to result in net cash proceeds of £13.9m for French Connection, after the payment of management exit awards, the amounts due to the Seatons under the terms of the shareholders' agreement, and transaction costs.
The company added: “Should the disposal be achieved the company will review its ongoing dividend policy with a view ..

World's 'big four' accounting firms face £10m fines for serious breaches

The FRC is cracking down on PwC, KPMG, EY and Deloiite for poor audit work
The world’s Big Four accounting firms will face potential fines of £10m or more for serious rule breaches from June, double the record penalty to date.
The Financial Reporting Council (FRC) said on Monday that it has accepted the findings of a study in November by former judge Christopher Clarke, which recommended much bigger fines for serious misdeeds by the world’s biggest accountants.
Larger fines are part of the FRC’s push to bolster its credibility after being heavily criticised by MPs for being too slow to take on the big accountants caught up in company scandals.
Read more PwC’s Carillion role looks like ‘massive conflict of interest’ says MP
Under the FRC’s disciplinary procedure, it sets out a case against an auditor or individual accountant at an independent tribunal before asking the tribunal to set a fine at a specific level. The record amount agreed by a tribunal so far is £5.1m for PwC ove..

McDonald's faces more strikes as workers balloted over pay and zero-hours contracts

'We are the McStrikers, and we will not be silent, we will not be scared,' says employee Tristan Bentley
McDonald’s faces a fresh round of strikes as a union ballots members at six restaurants across the UK. The Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU) has notified the fast food chain about the ballot and said industrial action will take place next year if workers vote for it.
McDonald’s employees at Crayford, Manchester, Cambridge, one central London branch and two outlets in Watford are involved.
Ian Hodson, president of the BFAWU, said on Monday that union representatives from six stores wished to be balloted on issues of pay, unequal wages for young workers, and to demand to be given a choice of fixed hours.
Read more McDonald's workers 'over the moon' about pay rise but vow to fight on “The union is committed to supporting its members and campaigning for £10 an hour, an end to zero-hour contracts, and to give McDonald’s workers a voice,” Mr ..