Money blog: These are the most and least affordable areas to live in the UK - where does yours rank? (2024)

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  • These are the most and least affordable areas - how does yours rank?
  • Another blow to hopes of interest rate cut
  • Tesco urgently recalls chocolate bars over peanut risk
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  • 'Would you ask me that if I was a man?' Meet the woman behind the UK's first net-zero whisky distillery
  • Basically... APR v AER - what's the difference?
  • How long do trailers last at each cinema chain - and when to get there
  • Consider swapping chicken breasts out of your shopping basket
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Hopes for interest rate cut suffer further blow

By James Sillars, business reporter

The prospect of a pre-election interest rate cut by the Bank of England has been damaged by official figures showing no progress in bringing down the pace of wage growth.

Data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) showed basic pay rising at an annual rate of 6% in the three months to April.

That was flat on the figure reported by the ONS a month ago.

The measure that includes bonuses actually rose to 5.9% from 5.7%.

While it leaves pay growth at way more than double the 2.3% inflation rate,it will not help persuade the Bank of England that the time is right for an interest rate cut when it reveals its latest decision on 20 June.

For more on this breaking story click below...


'Would you ask me that if I was a man?' Meet the woman behind the UK's first net-zero whisky distillery

Just 18% of companies in the UK are led by women, and while data suggests female entrepreneurs are on the rise, men still receive more funding and are entrusted with higher average loans to get them started.

In a new series every Tuesday, Money blog reporter Jess Sharp speaks to women who are bossing it in their respective fields - hearing their stories, struggles and advice for those who want to follow in their footsteps.

This week, she has spoken to Annabel Thomas, the founder of Nc'nean whisky distillery...

Annabel left her job as a strategy consultant in London more than a decade ago to pursue her ambition to change the way the world thought about whisky.

With women and sustainability at the forefront of her mind, she has gone on to create the UK's first net-zero whiskey distillery - and has hired a female-led team to do it.

It took four years of hard graft, fundraising and actually building to create the Nc'nean distillery in the Highlands, and then another three years to produce its first bottle.

'Everyone thought I was mad'

She was first inspired by her parent's farm and dreamed of turning one of its old buildings into a distillery.

After touring lots of distilleries, she realised the industry was still very traditional and no one was talking about sustainability.

"No one seemed to be thinking very creatively about the spirit," Annabel, 41, says.

"I just thought that there was a need for that and consumers were going to increasingly demand sustainable products, which they now are. Though, at the time, everyone thought I was mad."

'I didn't have a time machine' - the long process to get started

After deciding to take the plunge, the mother-of-two says it was a "long, slow process" to get the business off the ground, especially juggling the financial needs of her family and childcare.

In fact, she initially took a sabbatical from her job to get started and then went back and started working on Nc'nean at the weekend to make sure she was drawing a wage from somewhere.

Eventually, her business became a full-time job and she managed to launch a seed funding round to really get things going.

"The thing about a distillery that is different to many other projects is that you have to raise an enormous amount of money upfront," she says.

"You can't make something in your kitchen and try to sell it. We spent £5m building a distillery before we produced a drop of liquid - so it's quite a different profile to many other startups," she added.

Getting the funding was "pretty tough", she says, explaining it's hard to raise money when you don't have a product to show for it.

"You can't even say this is what the whisky's going to taste like, because I didn't have a time machine."

'You would never ask me that if I was a man'

It took Annabel two years to raise the funds she needed, and she wonders if it would have taken as long if she were a man.

"Maybe it would have only taken me a year if I was a man, but you never know," she says.

Initially, she says, she didn't think about the challenges she might have to overcome in such a male-dominated field, but it quickly became obvious.

"It didn't really occur to me until people kept asking, me, basically every single day, if I actually liked whisky," she explains.

"I thought, 'You would never ask me about that if I was a man - just because I'm a woman, you assume I don't like it.'"

Making it sustainable

Sustainability was one of Annabel's key drivers when she embarked on her entrepreneurial journey and her distillery is powered solely by renewable energy.

She was the first to create a distillery that has been verified as having net-zero carbon emissions from its own operations, and also the first to use a 100% recycled clear glass bottle.

"It doesn't sound like a big deal," she says modestly. "But actually 100% recycled glass saves 40% of the carbon emissions versus what within the industry would be called fake glass, which is largely like new materials."

When you look at a Nc'nean bottle, it has a kind of green tinge and a few bubbles in it.

The "big guys" would consider them imperfect, Annabel says, but she has decided to "embrace the imperfections".

"If it saves 40% of the carbon emissions, then we think that's the right thing to do," she says.

Nc'nean also replants everything it harvests, only uses 100% organic Scottish barley (the main ingredient in whisky) and feeds the leftover grain to the cows that live on the farm.

The challenges

Away from the struggles with fundraising, Annabel says childcare is one of the biggest challenges she has had to overcome.

With her setting up the company and her husband a lawyer, she says full-time childcare was the only option, but it was far too expensive.

"I don't think as a country we have the right support system," she says. "It's not economic for me to work. If I was running the country, things would look very different."

The issue also means getting the work-life balance can be hard, and she always feels like she's "not spending enough time with the family, and too much time on work".

"I think at least I have some control over my own diary now, which is really helpful," she adds.

Annabel's advice

Use your differences to your advantage - that's Annabel's top tip.

She urges women not to be "put off" by jumping into a male-dominated field, saying the key is to create something different.

Being a woman in such an industry was actually an "advantage", she says.

"You will find that you think differently to everyone else and that can only be a good thing for creating something different, which is ultimately important because you need to find your niche."

Within the whisky world, work is already ongoing to encourage women to join and she hopes that's the same in other industries as well.

Practically, she says, seeking out support groups is "definitely worth it" and surrounding yourself with people who know more than you do is helpful.

"None of our distillers have ever worked in whisky before and I like that because it brings a different perspective," she says.


These are the most and least affordable areas in the UK - where does yours rank?

British house hunters should look at buying Scotland if they want to get the most for their money, according to new research.

A study by Hopkins Homes, a real estate and zero energy bill expert, found Scotland prominently featured among the most affordable areas, while perhaps unsurprisingly, London dominated the least affordable category.

The research assessed the affordability of 325 areas in Britain by looking at average house prices, the rate of price increase, the ratio of the average couple's earnings to house prices and average council tax costs, to give a final "affordability" score.

The higher the score, the more affordable the area.

Angus in eastern Scotland has come out top for affordability in Britain, according to the research.

There, prospective buyers are looking at an average house price of £164,076, while the price-to-earnings ratio sits at 2.31. According to Hopkins Homes, it has an "affordability score" of 85.

It was followed by West Dunbartonshire, also in Scotland, with a score of 84.1, and Aberdeenshire with 83.2.

At the other end of the scale, the swanky London borough of Kensington and Chelsea came out as the least affordable area to buy a home in Britain.

With average house prices sitting at a whopping £1.2m, buying in this area is out of reach for many, with the house price-to-couple's earnings ratio sitting at 16.18.

The affordability score for Kensington and Chelsea is just 40 - the lowest in Britain - and is followed by London's City of Westminster at 53 and Elmbridge in Surrey with 57.3.

The Hopkins Homes report says Britain's housing affordability landscape in 2024 "presents a diverse picture, with significant variations across different regions".

"When making house buying decisions, the analysis highlights the importance of considering factors beyond just house prices, such as income levels, council taxes, and overall quality of life," it said.

"Overall, the data underscores the importance of careful consideration and planning when navigating the UK housing market."


APR v AER - what's the difference?

You'll likely have seen these acronyms used if you've applied for a credit card or mortgage, or opened a savings accounts.

Basically, AER calculates interest earned when you save money, while APR gives you an indication of what you'll pay when you borrow money.

But what do they stand for? Here's a quick - and hopefully easy - explainer...

What is APR?

APR stands for annual percentage rate - the official cost of borrowing money over a year.

You'll see the figure quoted when you apply for a credit card, personal loan or mortgage. It includes the interest you'll pay on your borrowing as well as any fees - giving you a decent picture of how much it'll cost you to be lent the money.

It's usually expressed as a percentage of the amount you're borrowing, making it easier to compare different products. It doesn't, however, include some other charges such as late payment fees and other penalties.

There are different types of APR:

  • Fixed- the rate will stay the same over a designated period or the lifetime of your borrowing, depending on the lender's offer.
  • Variable- this tracks an index interest rate, meaning you could end up paying less than those on a fixed rate if it goes in your favour, but making it harder for those who like to plan their finances.
  • Typical - this tells you what most people are likely to be charged, but the figure could change based on your circ*mstances.
  • Representative - this means the lender only needs to offer the rate advertised to 51% of successful applicants. For example, you may see a loan offered at 8% representative APR - only 51% of applicants will get that rate. The remaining 49% of people will typically get a higher APR.

APR can vary based on what type of loan you're going for - it's typically higher on credit cards than home or car loans, for example. APR is also generally lower the more you borrow.

APRs can be affected by your credit history, credit score and credit activity. Unsurprisingly, people with better credit ratings tend to qualify for lower rates, as is the case with interest generally.

And AER?

AER stands for annual equivalent rate - the interest your savings might earn over a year if you put money in your account and left it there.

Similarly to APR, it's expressed as a percentage and makes it easier to compare how you'll benefit from different account options as it takes into account bonuses and compounding.

Compounding is the extra interest you earn on the interest you gain each month - this bit is complicated so...

Example: A savings account offering a headline rate of 6.25% interest AER may look like a better option than one paying 6.12% interest monthly.

However, the equivalent rate on the monthly account actually rises to 6.30% as opposed to the 6.25% on the account with annual interest payments.

This is because the interest is compounded - you earn extra interest on the interest you gain each month.

With AER, none of this applies - the compounding is already factored into the original rate.

Are there any downsides?

AER doesn't account for fees or charges related to accessing or managing your savings account, which may affect how much you would benefit over the year.

Unlike with savings, for investment products the AER is not widely advertised, meaning investors will need to make their own calculations.

The AER also assumes that interest rates remain constant over the year, which may not be the case for you.

Read other entries in our Basically series...


Fraudsters using bogus X accounts to impersonate 'every major airline'

Scammers pretending to be major airlines are using social media to try to commit identify fraud, according to new analysis.

Consumer champion Which? says fraudsters are using the X social media platform to trick people into giving away personal information by responding to messages sent to official airline accounts.

One of the group's researchers posted a message to Wizz Air asking if a flight was delayed and received replies from two bogus accounts "almost immediately".

"Both used near-identical language, apologising for the inconvenience, stating that they had 'already escalated this matter to the relevant department' and requesting a 'reachable WhatsApp number for assistance' via DM (direct message)," Which? said.

It added that there are fake X accounts "impersonating every major airline" including British Airways, easyJet and Ryanair.

X, which is owned by billionaire Elon Musk, has been contacted for comment.

According to Which?, users have struggled with reporting fake accounts to the website, with many still live despite being flagged as bogus.

Customers can make sure they're dealing with a real account by checking the link on the airline's official website, when it joined X and its number of followers, it said.

Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: "Unscrupulous fraudsters are shamelessly trying to trick airline customers seeking urgent customer service advice via X for stressful situations, such as delayed flights and lost luggage.

"There is an epidemic of fraud gripping the UK and that's why Which? wants the next government to appoint a dedicated fraud minister and make fighting fraud a national priority."

Ms Concha also said X and Ofcom "should not shy away" from taking "strong enforcement action" against social media platforms that break the law.


UK suffers biggest rise in unemployment of any OECD country

The UK has seen the biggest rise in unemployment of any OECD country since the start of the year, according to figures.

The Trades Union Congress (TUC) found that unemployment levels increased by 178,000 across England betweenOctober-December 2023 and January-March 2024.

The North West had the biggest increase in unemployment (47,000) followed by the West Midlands (38,000) and London (37,000).

The TUC said the rise in unemployment in 2024 had coincided with a slump in job vacancies and real wages were still worth less than in 2008.

It also found that of the 38 OECD countries, only Costa Rica had suffered a similar rise in unemployment.

The OECD is a club of the 38 richest countries in the world.

TUC general secretary Paul Nowak said the "country was crying out for change".

"In every single English region, people's job prospects have been deteriorating - with the unemployment rate rising and vacancies falling," he said.

"The Conservatives are failing working people. Joblessness and economic inactivity are up.

"Over four million people are trapped in insecure work and real wages are still worth less than in 2008. Our country is crying out for change."


'Are they fur real?' Cats advertise living room in London for £1,000 a month

Renting in London can be tough.

And now things seem to have got worse.

A listing on SpareRoom has gone viral after it was advertised by "a couple of Siamese cats".

The ground-floor living room in Kensal Rise, northwest London, comes with a single bed, a couch that can open into a double bed and a desk.

There is also access to a shared kitchen, bathroom and garden.

"We are a couple of Siamese cats that live in a large one bedroom ground floor flat with a private garden on a quiet street in a great location with great access," the listing reads.

"We live with a lovely couple of humans who take care of us, they think the place is theirs, but it's ours. The female human is not around much so it's just us and the male. He's usually in the kitchen and dining room area.

"Aside from watering the plants he never goes into the living room, so we thought we'd rent it outon a private room-only basis."

The room is available until the end of August and prospective renters need a £500 deposit.

Social media users didn't hold back, with one person calling the capital's rental scene "the Wild West"...


More than £366bn sitting in accounts earning 1% or less

More than £366bn is sitting in UK current and savings accounts earning returns of 1% interest or less, according to new research.

The analysis by Yorkshire Building Society and data consultancy CACI shows there are still nearly 13 million current accounts held in the UK with balances above £5,001.

The figure is slightly down on the £380bn held in accounts paying 1% interest or less in January but means there is still more than £366bn sat in low-paying accounts.

In addition, 17% of people admit to having never checked what rate of interest they are earning on their savings, according to an Opinium survey for Yorkshire Building Society.

And 36% admit they keep their savings in their current account.

Chris Irwin, director of savings at Yorkshire Building Society, said it was "surprising" that there were such "large pockets of people who are significantly missing out on savings interest".

"It's encouraging to see that for a small number of people they have made moves to improve the situation," he said,

"However, there is still an incredible amount of money not earning returns like they could be."

Every Thursday we team up withSavings Champion founder Anna Bowes,who shares her insights into the savings market and how to make the most of your money.

Last week she suggested now really is the time to move your money if you have cash languishing, earning less than inflation.

This is especially the case, she said, if you can lock some away with a fixed rate, as a base rate cut will happen at some stage, we just don't know when.

Click below to see which type of accounts she recommended - and she'll be back again this Thursday...


Deadline today to microchip your pet cat or face £500 fine

Millions of cat owners in England face a fine of up to £500 if they fail to get their cat microchipped and registered on a database under new laws coming into force from today.

The legislation applies to cats aged 20 weeks and older - but of the estimated nine million pet cats in the country, up to 2.2 million are still not chipped, according to data from the charity Cats Protection.

It costs between £20 and £30 to have a cat microchipped by a vet, the charity said.

Owners found not to have microchipped their pet will have 21 days to have one implanted or face the financial penalty.

You can read more here...


Tesco urgently recalls chocolate bars over peanut risk

Tesco has urgently recalled two chocolate bars because they could contain undeclared peanuts.

The supermarket chain's Nutty Nougat Caramel Chocolate Bars Multipack and Dreamy Caramel Chocolate Bars Multipack are being taken off shelves over "possible health risk for anyone with an allergy to peanuts".

The products aresold in packs of six for £1.15.

"If you have bought the above products do not eat them," the UK's Food Standards Agency said.

"Instead, return them to any Tesco store for a full refund."

A Tesco product recall notice reads: "Due to a mispack, there is a risk of peanuts not being declared as an ingredient in the product.

"This poses a possible health risk for anyone with an allergy to peanuts."

Money blog: These are the most and least affordable areas to live in the UK - where does yours rank? (2024)
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