Lunchtime news Tuesday 18 December 2014

Lunchtime news Tuesday 18 December 2014

The government is to publish a new planning policy designed to boost the use of renewable energy and community heating schemes in new buildings. The planning policy statement will require all councils to plan with renewables, such as wind power, in mind on all new buildings – not just houses which already have to be zero carbon by 2016. The share of renewables required on new buildings is also to rise to 20 per cent.

Demand for rental flats has fallen sharply over the past three months as a result of oversupply in the market, according to the Royal Institution of Surveyors (RICS). RICS reported that the rise in demand among tenants over the past three months has fallen to 17 per cent, down from 37 per cent in the previous quarter. It also found that the number of new landlord instructions, a strong indicator of buy-to-let activity, has almost halved over the past six months. Figures indicate that investors who bought houses were in a better position than flat owners. Overall gross yields for flats had fallen for the fifth quarter in a row, whereas it continued to rise on houses.

The Home Office announced yesterday that 19,000 asylum seekers whose cases date back to 1994 are to be allowed to stay in the UK. More than a third of the backlog being considered for deportation have being granted leave to remain since 2013 and many more people are expected to be told they can stay, as officials work through up to 450,000 files still to be determined. On the current figures if the trend continues, up to 160,000 asylum seekers could be allowed to stay in the UK.

At the same time, a study by Ernst & Young has found that the recent influx of 1.5 million migrants has boosted Britain’s economy and kept inflation low, although it may have increased unemployment for younger Britons and reduced pay increases for all. A spokesperson for Ernst & Young said that they would expect GDP to grow by three per cent a year over the next decade if immigration were to continue to increase at the same rate as the past two years, whereas if there was no immigration at all the figure would be likely to drop to just 2.2 per cent a year.

And finally, opposition housing spokesperson, Grant Shapps, will spend Christmas Eve sleeping rough near the House of Commons. Planning to keep warm with a sleeping bag, blankets and cardboard boxes, he insists the plan is not a stunt and that he wants to call attention to the plight of homeless people.