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  • The Chancellor gave his budget last week, measures were announced that should offer further support for the housing market coined as the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme. Plans to boost infrastructure investment by an additional £3bn a year were also announced; however the measures would not come into effect until after the next general election in 2015. For a more in depth look at the budget click here.
  • The ONS reported in their official index that house prices in the 12 months to January were up 2.2% for the UK. The large increase in England and smaller increase in Wales was offset by falls in Scotland and Northern Ireland over the year.
    • House prices as measured by the Rightmove house price index increased by 1.2% in the year to March.

UK Economy

  • Inflation as measured by the Consumer Prices Index grew by 2.8% in February; energy prices provided the main upward pressure as gas and electricity bills increased as well as motor fuels and air transport. Downward pressures came from food and drink items, prices of which increased at a slower rate compared to a year ago.
    • The ONS also announced the launch of two new indicators of inflation; CIPH will be a version of the CPI that includes housing costs, and RPIJ is an improved version of the RPI that abides by international standards.
  • The latest set of employment indicators covering November last year to January this year showed that jobs continue to be created in the economy, there were 590,000 more people in work in the period compared to the same period last year, up 131,000 from the August-October period last year.
    • The unemployment rate remained unchanged from August-October last year at 7.8%, but down 0.5 percentage points from last year. There were 2.52m people unemployed during the period.
  • Retail sales jumped in February, on both a volume and value basis sales were up 2.6% compared to February 2012.
    • The largest increases came from non-food stores such as computer and telecommunications, internet retailers and department stores.



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