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  • The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors reported last week that their survey for April shows that demand for housing in the UK is at the highest level for three and a half years as the Help to Buy Scheme continues to boost market activity.
    • The report for April reported a positive net balance of 25% of surveyors reporting an increase in new buyer enquiries, in addition the RICS seasonally adjusted house price balance rose for the first time since June 2010.
  • National Statistics reported that during the year 2012-13 102,000 new permanent dwellings were started in England, a decline from the 105,000 that was seen last year. Of this number 82,000 were privately built, down from 84,000 during 2011-12. 18,000 housing association properties were built, down from 19,500 in the previous year. Local Authorities built 1,500 during 2012-13, up from 1,300 in 2011-12.
  • The DCLG reported that sales of council homes by Local Authorities under the governments Right to Buy scheme soared in the final quarter of the 2012-13 financial year; 2,449 properties were sold in the period under the scheme, more than fourfold the amount sold in the final quarter of the previous year (566).

UK Economy

  • The ONS reported last week that the recent growth seen in the labour market may have stalled during the first quarter of the year;
    • The employment rate for the period was 71.4%, down 0.2% points from the October to December period last year, but up 0.8% points from the same period last year. This represents 29.71m people in employment, down 43,000 from the previous period.
    • The unemployment rate was 7.8%, up 0.1% points from the preceding October to December period last year representing an additional 15,000 more people unemployed, but this was down 0.4% points or 92,000 people from the same period last year.
    • Total pay (inclusive of bonuses) rose 0.4% compared to January to March 2012, representing the lowest growth since the March to May period of 2009, regular pay (excluding bonuses) rose by 0.8% over the same period, the lowest growth since records began in 2001.
  • The Bank of England upgraded both its growth and inflation forecasts in the most recent quarterly inflation report out last week; inflation will now fall back to 2% by mid-2015 and growth forecasts for the next three years were revised slightly higher.

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