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  • There were a total of 3,721 compulsory liquidations and creditors’ voluntary liquidations in England and Wales during the first quarter of 2014; a 4.8% rise on a year earlier. Additionally, there were 884 other corporate insolvencies in England & Wales during the first quarter, a 2.8% on the same period in 2013, while Scotland saw total company insolvencies more than double to 237. Estimates based on provisional data indicate that at around 680 firms, the number of construction company insolvencies edged up 7% during the quarter, although they remained 18% down on a year ago. The number of insolvencies is expected to rise further over the coming months as the upturn in construction activity gathers momentum and as material and labour costs increase. This will increase the financial risks faced by contractors and suppliers. 
  • UK house prices increased by 8.0% in the year to March 2014, down from 9.2% in the year to February 2014, according to data released by ONS. Annual house price increases i were driven by rises in London (17.0%), the East of England (6.6%) and the South East (6.1%). Excluding London and the South East, UK house prices increased by 4.7% in the 12 months to March 2014.
  • Gross mortgage lending was an estimated £16.6 billion in April, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. This is 8% higher than March’s gross lending total, 36% higher than April last year (£12.2 billion) and the highest total for an April since 2008 (£25.7 billion).


  • The Office for National Statistics has confirmed that the UK economy grew by 0.8% (in volume terms) during the first quarter of 2014 to stand 3.1% up on a year ago. Growth was primarily driven by increased consumer spending and higher fixed investment:
    • Household consumption rose 0.8% during the quarter and was 2.1% up on a year ago.
    • Fixed investment increased by 0.6% to stand 8.5% up on a year ago.
    • In contrast general government spending slipped 2.2% during the first quarter and was 0.9% down on a year ago.
    • Manufacturing output increase by 0.3% during the quarter and was 0.8% higher than a year ago
    • Construction output grew by 0.6% during the quarter and was 5.4% higher than in the first quarter of 2013. 
  • Retail Sales data from the ONS shows that the rise in consumer spending has continued into the second quarter. The volume of retail sales during April was 1.3% up on March and 6.3% higher than during April 2013. . This was the highest year-on-year growth in the quantity bought since May 2004 and continues a pattern of year-on-year growth underway since early 2013.
  • The private sector remains the main driver behind higher fixed investment, with business investment rising by 2.7% during the quarter to stand 8.7% up on a year ago. Private sector investment in dwellings also rose 2.1% during the quarter and was 11.6% up on a year ago. By contrast, while general government investment was 2.8% higher than during the previous quarter, it was still 10.3% below the level of a year ago.
  • Inflation edged up during the year to April, with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) growing by 1.8%, up from 1.6% for the year to March. This remains below the Bank of England’s target rate of 2%. The rate of inflation as measured by the Retail Prices Index (RPI) was unchanged at 2.5%

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