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Archive for November, 2014

Help for Older Buyers

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With an estimated 2.5 million older homeowners hoping to downsize, an all-party parliamentary group, headed by Lord Best, has suggested that the government should be making it easier for older buyers to move. During their research, the group found that in some parts of the country, up to 50% of older people have been priced out of the retirement property market. Making it easier for these people to buy suitable properties could free up more family homes and help people to enjoy more comfortable retirements.

Among the recommendations for the proposed Help to Move scheme are breaks on tax duty for older buyers on properties costing less than £250,000, and improved access to equity loans that would make it easier for people to afford better properties for their retirement. Unlike a mortgage, these loans would be only be repayable when the property is eventually sold, so older buyers would be able to spend more on their new homes without having to make larger monthly repayments.

Encouraging older homeowners to consider downsizing could help to open up more family homes for younger buyers who are looking for a place to raise their children. The parliamentary group estimated that as many as 4.3 million family properties could be vacated by older people if it becomes easier for them to buy new homes. If the scheme goes ahead, it might encourage developers to invest more in building retirement properties. It could also make life easier for those of us who are getting older. Moving to a smaller property can make maintenance easier and more affordable, and it can also leave us with some extra savings to supplement our incomes or pensions.

Although moving to a more manageable property can be a good idea as you grow older, moving house can be particularly complicated when you are downsizing. It is often necessary to clear out the house at the same time, and to get rid of furniture and other items that are no longer needed or which will not fit into the smaller property. Using a company that can combine removals and waste disposal can be a good solution, but it can also help if you can recruit friends and family to help with your move.

How Far Does Your Recycling Travel?

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recycling centreIt is easy to stop thinking about our rubbish as soon as it leaves our homes. We might occasionally wonder what our recyclables have been turned into, particularly when we notice that something we are buying has been made from recycled materials, but other than that, we tend to forget about our waste.

It might come as a surprise therefore that some of your rubbish could actually be taking a trip abroad after you have thrown it out. A lot of our waste is disposed of or recycled fairly locally, but some of it is actually exported out of the UK. Some of it goes as far as China, but increasing amounts of waste are now being sent to Europe to power the incinerators that are generating heat and electricity for in countries such as Denmark and Sweden.

The Danish national broadcaster, DR, reports that thousands of tonnes of non-hazardous waste are being transported from the UK to Denmark in order to heat homes and provide power. The rubbish that is being sent to Denmark is mainly old construction material and waste from building sites. It includes cardboard, wood and plastic, all of which can be burned to generate power.

According to the operations manager of AVO, a company that burns imported waste at a plant in Frederikshavn, this waste is the perfect mixture for producing heat and electricity from their incinerator. The company has actually doubled the amount of waste that it imports from the UK, contributing to the total of about 200,000 tonnes of combustible waste that is now being sent each year from the UK to Denmark.

The waste incinerators can provide Danish homes with much cheaper heating than they could get through other options, such as natural gas, so demand for more waste to burn is increasing, and luckily, there is a good supply of combustible rubbish from the UK. Although we do have some similar incinerators, we don’t have enough to make use of all our available waste. Sending our rubbish overseas can provide homes in Denmark with cheaper power, but it is also a way to keep our useable rubbish out of landfill.

Both Renters and Buyers Are Paying More

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MoneyIt doesn’t matter whether you are planning to buy your first home or to move into a new rental, the chances are that if you are making your move this autumn, you will be paying higher prices than you would have done a couple of years ago. Both rents and the costs of starter homes have hit new highs, leaving many tenants wondering which of the options for their next move will make the most financial sense.

The average amount spent by first time buyers has reached its highest point for two years, according to estate agency haart. The average cost of a first home is now over £160,000. The market is particularly difficult for first time buyers at the moment. Although the property market as a whole has experienced growth this year, the impact has been strongest for starter homes. In September, the average price for all properties actually dropped by 1.1%, but the average cost of a starter home rose by 4.1% in the same month. While the overall growth is now beginning to slow down, starter homes are still becoming more expensive, and there is more competition between first time buyers than in other parts of the market. However, with the numbers of prospective first time buyers registering with estate agents on decline, the situation might become a little better as the competition for starter homes is reduced.

If these higher prices are enough to put you off buying for the moment, you won’t find much relief in the rental market. According to LSL Property Services, rents have also been on the rise recently. The average monthly rent in England and Wales has reached £768. However, the future could be looking a little brighter for tenants, since the rate at which rents are increasing has been showing signs of slowing down, as often happens at this time of year. In August, rents rose by about 2.4% on average, but the rise slowed to 1.5% in the following month. This slower growth is expected to continue into the next year, with an expected average monthly increase of 1.8% in the next 12 months.

Flytipping on the Rise

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Fly Tipped WasteThe amount of rubbish that is being illegally dumped in England has increased by 20% since last year, according to the latest government figures on the problem. Over the last year, there have been over 750,000 separate instances of flytipping reported.

This recent increase in flytipping marks a serious step back. Flytipping, which had been on the decline, has now returned to well above its 2010 levels. The problem is at its worst in London, but all parts of England have been affected by a problem that is both unsightly and environmentally harmful.

Rubbish has been found dumped on quiet alleyways in towns, along major roads and peaceful public footpaths, and even on once pristine farmland. About two thirds of what is dumped is domestic waste, including large items such as sofas and mattresses, as well as general household junk. This works out as one instance of flytipping for every 39 households.

It is likely that a lot of this domestic waste was dumped by ordinary people as a one-off, but there have been some cases of individuals accepting payment to dispose of household waste and then simply dumping it rather than taking the waste to the proper disposal site. These cases highlight the importance of dealing with a reputable company when arranging rubbish removals. It also shows how important it is for councils to consider how their waste services can be improved to encourage more people to dispose of their rubbish safely, and what educational measures might be taken to convince potential flytippers to get rid of their waste in a more responsible manner.

Reducing flytipping and the problems it causes is very important. Flytipping is not just an aesthetic problem. It can also be seriously harmful for our health and for the environment, particularly when hazardous materials that need to be disposed of very carefully are left lying around. The cost of dealing with discarded waste is also serious. Our councils are now spending 24% more on clearing up flytipped waste and on prosecuting those who dumped it. This adds up to a total cost of £45.2 million across England, all of which would be unnecessary if people took more care of their waste.

Why You Should Be Careful What You Throw Away

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treasuresThe importance of sorting through items carefully when clearing out a house is highlighted by the treasures that are sometimes recovered at the last minute. Although many of our most precious objects are easy to spot and save when we sort through old boxes or clear out overflowing drawers, there are some irreplaceable items that are all too easy to lose. Their value doesn’t become apparent until we look at them a little closer.

One such item was almost thrown out by Hertfordshire native Nicola Baird, who was helping her mother to clear out her house before she moved to a smaller home. As she explained to the Guardian newspaper, Baird was about to throw out a tatty old book, written in French, when her mother happened to comment that it was linked somehow to their Swiss relations. Baird knew nothing about this side of the family, but she pulled the book out of the recycling pile and decided to find out more about her family history. She learned that her ancestors had lived in Switzerland for many generations, mixing with famous authors including Voltaire, Victor Hugo and Charles Dickens, and even being visited by George V. However, the beautiful family home had to be sold when an inheritance was split between four siblings, and the grief of this loss combined with the horrors of the Second World War, had made it too difficult for her grandfather to speak about the past. If Baird had not recovered that book, she might never have known about her family history.

Another last-minute recovery was recently made at a recycling centre in Hertfordshire. John Beesley from Berkhamsted spotted a set of photo albums that had been thrown out and was intrigued by the old school photos he saw inside. The photographs showed pupils dressed in old-fashioned clothes conducting experiments and learning, as well as some old school buildings, libraries and classrooms. After a lot of detective work, Mr Beesley discovered a school in Somerset that matched some of the pictures. The Sidcot School’s prospectus even had photos of the same library that he had seen in the discarded albums. The photos, which are believed to have been taken by former Sidcot pupil, Norah Hudson, in 1912-13, have now been donated to the school, but the insight they provide into Sidcot’s history could all too easily have been lost with the recycling.

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