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Children’s spending habits show UK gender divide starts early

The spending habits of British children show the gender divide starts early, writes Gavin Jackson.

As girls hit their teens, they spend an average of £2.80 a week more than boys, according to figures published by the Office for National Statistics.

Slightly more than half of this difference — £1.70 a week — is on cosmetics and toiletries. Even seven to nine-year-old girls spent 10p more a week on grooming products than boys in every cohort.

The survey of Family Spending. Statisticians asked a group of children aged between seven and 15 to keep a diary detailing everything they bought over a two-week period, using money they received their parents, from working or from gifts,

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Steel pensioners ‘shamelessly’ exploited, say MPs

A0P450 Team member taking iron samples using a lance on Blast Furnace No 5 at Corus Port Talbot Steelworks South Wales UK
A blast furnace at the Port Talbot steelworks © Jeff Morgan/Alamy

British Steel pension savers were “shamelessly” exploited by “dubious financial advisers” after a restructuring of the scheme last year, according to a stinging parliamentary report that sharply criticised the Pensions Regulator and Financial Conduct Authority, writes Josephine Cumbo.

The work and pensions select committee also called on regulators and the government to take urgent action to curb what it warned was a wider pensions mis-selling scandal “erupting” over advice to savers transferring out of defined benefit pension schemes.

The committee’s report, published on Thursday, focused on a 2017 deal to keep the UK operations of Tata Steel afloat by allowing the steelmaker to offload its giant £15bn retirement fund, with 130,000 members.

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UK inflation holds at 3% as domestic pressure drives up prices

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 06: In this photo illustration, a basket of goods is seen in a supermarket on February 6, 2018 in Bristol, England. The Governor of the Bank of England Mark Carney has called for the UK Government to drop the Retail Price Index as a measure of inflation which is used to set rail fares, student loan repayments and government contracts worth billions of pounds, because it has known errors. According to the Office of National Statistics the RPI has a number of calculation errors and has consistently overestimated inflation meaning many costs set by the RPI have risen too high, whilst beneficiaries of government bonds have had larger than expected returns, funded by the taxpayer. Because RPI is typically higher than the BankÕs preferred measure of inflation, the Consumer Prices Index, many experts believe it paints an unrealistic picture of the cost of living and both the government and businesses have developed a habit of choosing which ever inflation measures that best suit their interests. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)
Inflation had been expected to fall to 2.9 per cent © Getty

UK inflation remained at 3 per cent in January, as domestic pressures drove up prices, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics, writes Gavin Jackson.

Inflation hit a five-year high of 3.1 per cent in November, before falling slightly, to 3 per cent, in December. Analysts had expected the headline rate of inflation to fall again, to 2.9 per cent, last month.

Lucy O’Carroll, chief economist at Aberdeen Standard Investments, said that inflation may have peaked as the depreciation in sterling after the EU referendum fades out from year-on-year comparisons.

However, she added that there “are signs that the dynamics in the labour market are finally driving some level of domestically generated inflation”.

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Number of UK first-time buyers highest for 10 years

Savills says the number of first-time buyers has been rising steadily since 2012
Savills says the number of first-time buyers has been rising steadily since 2012 © Getty

The number of people buying a home for the first time rose to the highest level in more than a decade last year, while the number of new mortgages given to landlords continued to decline, writes Aime Williams.

According to figures published on Tuesday by UK Finance there were 365,000 mortgaged first-time buyers in 2017, the highest number since 2006, and an increase of 7.4 per cent on the year before. The industry body counts the UK’s three largest mortgage lenders — Nationwide, RBS and Lloyds — among its members, along with Barclays, Santander and HSBC.

Frances Clacy, research analyst at Savills, the estate agency, said the number of first-time buyers has been rising steadily since 2012, with the help of government policies such as the Help-to-Buy equity loan scheme.

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BoE surveys point to long-awaited pay rise for UK workers

British five and ten pound banknotes and one pound sterling coins sit in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017. Strategists are revising their estimates for the currency after its best week since 2009 saw it gain almost 3 percent as the Bank of England signaled it would look to withdraw stimulus “over the coming months.” Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg
Study finds active managers beat the market by 60 basis points, of which 44 bps was consumed in costs © Bloomberg

British workers may finally be getting a pay rise, according to a survey of businesses published alongside the Bank of England agents’ latest report on business conditions, writes Gavin Jackson.

Private sector employers are expecting pay settlements to be about 3.1 per cent in 2018, compared to 2.6 per cent in 2017, the survey said. Overall, 386 businesses responded to the central bank’s survey employing a total of about 845,000 people.

Pay growth would be broad based, the agents wrote, with only construction companies expecting settlements not to accelerate. The biggest increase was expected in consumer services where a large number of companies employ people on the minimum wage.

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Persimmon boss promises to donate part of bumper bonus

IHS Markit say business activity growth has plunged to a four-month low and new orders are sliding back into decline
Persimmon’s chairman and the head of its remuneration committee resigned last year after admitting the bonus scheme should have included a cap on executive pay © Bloomberg

The chief executive of Persimmon, the UK’s second-largest housebuilder, has said he will give some of his expected £100m bonus to charity after sharp criticism from politicians, writes Aime Williams.

Jeff Fairburn said he regretted the “controversy” about his bonus awarded under Persimmon’s 2012 long-term incentive plan and would set up a private charitable trust to “benefit wider society over a sustained period of time by supporting, in a very meaningful way, my chosen charities”.

Mr Fairburn, who became eligible to claim about £40m of the total at the end of December, did not say how much he would give away, but did not “consider it right” to keep the whole amount.

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