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Home repossessions on the decline despite rising mortgage costs



THE LASTEST market analysis from property purchasing specialist, House Buyer Bureau, reveals that since the Bank of England started raising interest rates at the end of 2021, the number of homes being repossessed by money lenders has significantly decreased, bucking the expected trend that more and more people would lose their homes as mortgage payments go up.

In December 2021, the Bank of England started increasing interest rates to try and bring stability to the nation’s economy in the wake of the pandemic, a trend that has continued into 2022 as energy prices and war in Ukraine continue to cause economic turbulence.

As a result of these increases, the number of monthly mortgage approvals in the UK since December 2021 has fallen by -19.2% as borrowing becomes more expensive and prospective homebuyers decide to postpone their ambitions until a more stable time.

But despite this, the impact on the housing market has not been entirely negative because, as Home Buyer Bureau’s research reveals, the rate increase has not yet resulted in a rise in the number of people having their homes repossessed. Instead, there has actually been a significant drop.

In the eight months preceding December 2021, there were 1,739 repossessions across England and Wales.

The latest available data shows that in the months following the rates increase, this number has fallen by -26.1% to a total 1,285 repossessions.

The biggest fall in repossessions has been reported in the East of England where a pre-rates increase total of 70 repossessions has dropped to just 19. This is a -72.9% decrease.

In the South West, 114 repossessions in the eight months before the rates increase has fallen to just 73 in the months since; a drop of -36%. And in the North West, a total of 403 repossessions has dropped by -32.5% to just 272.

The fall in repossessions has also been significant in the North East (-30.8%), South East (-28.2%), London (-25.7%), and West Midlands (-22.7%).

Meanwhile, the drop has been smaller in Yorkshire & Humber (-2%), Wales (-6.4%), and the East Midlands (-9.3%).

Managing Director of House Buyer Bureau, Chris Hodgkinson, commented:

“Interest rate increases are never welcome news for homeowners with mortgages, so it’s going to be a relief for many to see that repossessions have not become more frequent as a result.

But this sharp decrease in repossessions doesn’t necessarily mean that homeowners are having no problem with fulfilling their mortgage. Instead, a key factor will be the fact that lenders are being advised to avoid rash repossessions in the case of payment shortfalls.

They are, for example, being advised to allow homeowners to stay in possession of the property for a reasonable time to enable them to sell the property rather than have it taken away.

So, while this drop in repossessions is preferable to a rise, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people aren’t struggling with payments and we could well see a spike in repossessions over the coming months, as the patience of lenders wears thin when it comes to those unable to fulfil their repayment obligations.”

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McDonald’s thanks Milford Haven after a busy first day



MC DONALD’S new restaurant in Milford Haven, which opened its doors for the first time today, February 28th, at 11am, has already become a hit with the locals, thanks to an overwhelming turnout.

The opening day saw the restaurant bustling with patrons eager to check out the new location.

Reflecting on the day, the McDonald’s team extended a warm message of gratitude. A spokesperson said: “Wow, you came to see us in your droves today!

“We certainly tried our best to provide good service to you all. Inevitably at times, service was a bit slower than we would have liked, but we hope to see you all again soon.

“Thank you from team Milford.”

Despite the busy start and not offering breakfast on its first day—a detail proactively communicated to customers—the franchise’s focus remained steadfast on ensuring everyone had a positive experience.

The commitment of the new McDonald’s restaurant to the local community extends beyond its menu. In partnership with the police and Port Authority, the franchise is actively working to address anti-social behaviour and improve traffic management around the new site.

These collaborations aim to create a safe and enjoyable environment for both patrons and the broader community, reinforcing McDonald’s dedication to making a positive impact, the company said.

The opening of the restaurant has also brought significant employment opportunities to Milford Haven, with 90 new jobs created.

This boost increases the total number of individuals employed by Lonetree Limited, the local franchisee, to around 1,700 across its 17 McDonald’s outlets in South West Wales.

As McDonald’s encourages residents to follow their social media for updates, the overarching message is one of gratitude and excitement for the future.

A local councillor said: “The successful launch day sets a promising tone for the McDonald’s restaurant in Milford Haven as it embarks on its journey to be more than just a place to eat but a valued community partner.”

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McDonald’s opens new branch in Milford Haven today



A BRAND new McDonald’s restaurant is opening its doors in Milford Haven today (Feb 28) at 11am, offering locals a fresh dining option with a promise of community engagement and attention to local issues. The opening marks a departure from the usual breakfast service, with the restaurant opting to start later on its first day, running until 11 pm, before resuming its regular hours of 6 am to 11 pm thereafter.

A spokesperson for McDonald’s Milford Haven expressed enthusiasm for the launch, stating, “We are excited to be opening at 11am! We are open all the way through till 11pm and can’t wait to serve all of you throughout the day/week. We hope no matter what time of the day or night you visit us that you enjoy your first look around our new store.”

The opening day’s late start means that breakfast will not be available, a point the franchise was keen to highlight ahead of time. “Good Afternoon, Our opening hours will be 6am-11pm. But however, on opening day we will be opening at 11am so no breakfast,” the company announced, setting the stage for what is anticipated to be an enjoyable experience despite this minor setback.

In a move that underscores its commitment to becoming an integral part of the Milford Haven community, McDonald’s has announced collaborations with local law enforcement and the Port Authority to address anti-social behaviour and ensure efficient traffic management around the new location.

This partnership, The Herald was told, aims to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for both patrons and the broader community.

The McDonald’s restaurant franchise encouraging residents to follow their social media pages for updates and to share news of the opening with friends and family.

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Community to rally against Tata Steel job cuts in Port Talbot



PROTESTORS are set to gather outside the Port Talbot Jobcentre Plus, making a stand against the proposed job cuts by Tata Steel that threaten to devastate the local community. The rally, scheduled for Wednesday, 28 February 2024, from 1 pm to 2 pm, aims to draw attention to the potential destruction of Port Talbot’s social and economic fabric if the company proceeds with its plan to lay off 2,500 steelworkers and shut down the town’s blast furnaces permanently.

This demonstration is a critical part of Unite the Union’s broader campaign to compel Tata Steel to reconsider its decision, a move that is also receiving strong support from members of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) Union employed at the jobcentre. The gathering will take place at the Jobcentre Plus located at 64-66 Station Road, Port Talbot, SA13 1LX, with organisers promising comprehensive photo and video coverage upon request.

The protesters aim to vividly portray the bleak future awaiting Port Talbot should Tata’s current proposals come to fruition, drawing parallels to the long-term suffering endured by coalfield communities across England and Wales in the wake of mine closures. These areas continue to grapple with diminished employment opportunities, heightened unemployment, deteriorating health outcomes, and an increased dependency on social benefits.

Sharon Graham, Unite’s General Secretary, expressed a determined stance against the looming economic calamity, reminiscent of the plight that befell Britain’s coal mining towns. “The fight to prevent Port Talbot from enduring similar economic devastation is urgent,” she asserted. Graham remains optimistic about the UK steel industry’s prospects, citing the success of its counterparts in Germany, France, and the Netherlands, contingent on the right mix of support and strategic decisions. Unite is poised to escalate its efforts by initiating a strike ballot among its Tata members next week and leveraging all available means to pressure the company and political leaders to abandon their current plans.

Echoing Unite’s sentiments, PCS General Secretary Fran Heathcote extended unwavering solidarity to the workers at risk of redundancy due to the closure of Port Talbot’s blast furnaces. Heathcote criticised the move as an act of “industrial vandalism” and highlighted the ripple effects it would have, not only on the directly affected employees but also on the PCS members working in jobcentres and the broader community. The jobcentre staff, already under significant strain, face the daunting prospect of accommodating thousands of additional claimants, further exacerbating the challenges within the beleaguered town.

As Port Talbot stands on the brink of an uncertain future, the upcoming rally symbolises a critical juncture in the community’s fight against industrial decline, urging both Tata Steel and the government to chart a more compassionate and sustainable course forward.

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