Credit: Reuters/Toby Melville LONDON | Fri Sep 27, 2013 4:31am IST LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s Finance Minister George Osborne has asked the Bank of England to play a bigger role in ensuring that his controversial “Help to Buy” housing program does not cause a new property boom. The BoE’s Financial Policy Committee will make annual assessments of the plan, starting next September, the Treasury and the central bank said on Thursday. The committee had been due to advise on the suitability of extending Help to Buy only after its first three years of operation. The FPC will also advise whether a price cap for properties covered by the program and fees charged to lenders are appropriate. Help to Buy was originally launched to help buyers of new properties and a second, potentially much bigger phase is due to begin in January. It will assist buyers who might otherwise be unable to afford a down payment on a home. Up to 12 billion pounds ($19.20 billion) of government guarantees could spur as much as 130 billion pounds of new mortgages. Since the second stage of the plan was announced in March, Britain’s housing market has shown signs of recovery, especially in London, where prices have jumped by about 10 percent from 12 months ago. Critics of the scheme have said it risks fuelling an unsustainable rise in house prices. Britain’s Business Minister Vince Cable has expressed his concerns about the program. Properties worth up to 600,000 pounds would be eligible for the Help to Buy as announced in March. Some critics have said that lowering the ceiling would help lessen the program’s impact on properties in London where prices are highest.
UK retailers remove ‘staggeringly offensive’ mental health costumes from sale
STORY HIGHLIGHTS Walmart subsidiary Asda and retailer Tesco were selling mental health themed costumes The British retailers apologized and withdrew them from sale after a social media outcry Mental health charity Mind said the sale of the costumes had been “extremely misguided” Soccer player Stan Collymore tweeted about the effect of mental health stereotypes (CNN) — British retailers have removed “psycho ward” and “mental patient” Halloween costumes from their online stores after criticism that they were offensive to people with mental health conditions. Walmart subsidiary Asda showed a man in a blood-stained white coat brandishing a meat cleaver to advertise its “Mental Patient Fancy Dress Costume.” Tesco’s advertisement for its “Psycho Ward Costume” showed a man in an orange boiler suit branded “PSYCHO WARD” brandishing a hypodermic needle and wearing a mask similar to that of Hannibal Lecter in the film, “The Silence of the Lambs.” An Asda spokeswoman offered the company’s “sincere apologies for the offense” the costumes had caused. “This was an unacceptable error and the product was withdrawn immediately,” she said in a statement. “We take our responsibilities very seriously which is why we will make a sizable donation to Mind.” Tesco also issued an apology, saying in a statement: “We’re really sorry for any offense this has caused and we are removing this product from sale.” Mental health charity Mind welcomed the withdrawal of the costumes, saying the retailers had shown themselves to be “extremely misguided” by offering them for sale. Slept in. Have @asda withdrawn their ‘mental patient fancy dress’ costume or are we going to organise a protest at HQ? #timetochange Alastair Campbell (@campbellclaret) September 26, 2013 Alastair Campbell “It is staggeringly offensive to the one in four of us affected by mental health problems and our families and friends, and troubling that some businesses are still so out of touch with the public mood,” spokeswoman Sue Baker said in a statement . However, Baker said the outcry the costumes provoked on the social media site Twitter was encouraging. “We hope this will urge Asda, Tesco and other retailers and manufacturers to review their processes and consider taste and decency on mental health grounds, to avoid fueling stigma and discrimination that are so damaging for large numbers of the population,” she said. Mind and the group Rethink Mental Illness run the Time to Change campaign to challenge mental health stigma and discrimination. One of the campaign’s supporters is Alastair Campbell, who was former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s media chief and who has publicly spoken of his battle with depression . Campbell was among those who tweeted his displeasure at the “brutally stigmatizing outfits.” “@asda and @tesco should sign up for one of the @mindcharity @Rethink_ @TimetoChange mental health training courses,” he tweeted . Campbell alleged that Amazon still carried mental health patient costumes and called for people to tweet the company, asking it to withdraw them. But in response to an inquiry from CNN, an Amazon spokesperson said: “The item you refer to is not available on Amazon.co.uk.” Soccer player and broadcaster Stan Collymore who has also spoken out on depression, also took to Twitter to criticize the stereotype he said Asda and Tesco’s costumes had promoted.
UK minister applauds Abu Dhabi’s vision and speedy development
Now the Minister will take this inspiration and apply it to the needs in UK Infrastructure, the spokesperson said about the ministers experience in the capital. Lord Deighton met with General Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, key Government agencies and other members of the Abu Dhabi leadership to learn about Abu Dhabis ambitious 2030 Vision. He shared his experiences of delivering the London 2012 Olympics, and discussed his current responsibilities for delivering the UKs National Infrastructure Plan. Lord Deighton took up the post of the minister in January 2013 after successfully completing his role as Chief Executive of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG), which was responsible for preparing and staging the London 2012 Games. The UAE is already a strong investor in the UK. Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company Masdar has funded the worlds largest offshore wind farm- The London Array-in the UK. DPWorld is investing 1.5 billion in the London Gateway project. Mubadala has a strong relationship with Manchester through the ownership of Manchester City football club a relationship that fosters trade and investment in a two way flow, a British embassy statement said yesterday. The UAE also is a welcome investor in some of the UKs most fundamental infrastructure assets such as Thames Water. It is a clear demonstration of a vote of confidence in the UK economy, the embassy said. The minister said there is also great opportunity for UAE investment into the UK, across a broad spectrum of energy, infrastructure, healthcare and innovation. Asked whether the minister got any more commitment from the UAE on new investments in the UK, the spokesperson said: No, but we are in a strong dialogue with the UAE Government on investment into priority areas for the UK. Lord Deighton also came with the aim to explore ways in which British business can help deliver Abu Dhabis 2030 Plan.