UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

from From Reuters.com:

How has the credit crisis affected you?

The demise of Lehman Brothers a year ago sparked a collapse in financial market confidence and set of a series of reactions that have spread hardship into the four corners of the globe.

Reuters News has charted the key events and their impact in "Times of Crisis" -- a major new multimedia production on Reuters.com. (See it here.)

We'd like to add the experiences of Reuters readers. So, if you or your family have been affected by the events of the past year then use the comments section below to share your story.

from Left field:

Players, fans unite behind the Lions

RUGBY-LIONS/All professional sportsmen talk about how important their supporters are but when it comes to the British and Irish Lions there really is a special bond.

Defying the credit crunch, up to 30,000 fans are expected to travel to South Africa to follow the Lions in their three-test series against the world champions.

BA horror show should quell talk of “green shoots”

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Willie Walsh likes to tell it as it is.

Recent weeks have seen smatterings of good economic news. Sectors that took the full weight of the recession last year said they were staggering to their feet now spring is here.

Retail: John Lewis had its best week of the year so far from 2nd-9th May.

Leisure: Pubs group Greene King said things have ‘generally improved’ since the start of the year.

from Left field:

Punters prepare for credit crunch-busting Cheltenham

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Credit crunch? World financial crisis? Don't you believe it. The Cheltenham Festival, the highlight of the British jumps racing calendar, starts on Tuesday and millions of pounds will be gambled over four days of high-quality action.

Forget the glamour and fashion of Royal Ascot, this is where tweed adorns the shoulders of the English gentry and the Irish travel in their droves to roar on their equine superstars.

Top 10 credit crunch trends: It’s cool now to use restaurant vouchers

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Two-for-one restaurant deals and money off vouchers have shrugged off their “uncool” image as the credit crunch bites, according to a survey, and apparently even Wayne Rooney and wife Coleen McLoughlin have used at least one to get a half price evening meal, despite the Manchester United star’s 100,000 pound a week salary.  ******The practice – which used to carry a stigma – has topped a list of “cool money-saving options” adopted by people in the economic downturn.******Leaving reduced tips or none at all, buying own brand supermarket products and taking packed lunches to work also made the list.******The list of previously frowned-upon practices also includes selling things on eBay and shopping at discount stores such as Lidl and Aldi.******A spokesman from www.OnePoll.com who carried out the research said: ”We all seem to be embracing social habits that we would never have done last year as they were deemed ‘uncool’ or socially unacceptable. Paying by two-for-one vouchers would have had a stigma attached to it last year, yet now it’s almost more normal to hand over a money-off coupon when it comes to paying the bill at the end of the night. ******”Everyone is watching their pennies in the current financial climate so any possible money saving opportunities are being snapped up. Things that used to be considered tight-fisted such as failing to tip or buying own brand food is now common practice.”******The poll of 5,000 Brits revealed over two thirds of people feel the credit crunch has made them less judgmental about embracing money saving measures.******Seventy-two percent even admitted they secretly enjoyed saving money by adopting previously uncool customs. And 69 percent said the credit crunch has actually encouraged them to think about their financial future for the first time in their lives.******Forty-eight percent said they now set a monthly budget for their outgoings and the average Brit is now saving an extra 46 pound per month compared to last year.******Other previously frowned-upon practises helping Brits save cash include taking left-over food from the night before to work and shopping in charity shops.******TOP 10 CREDIT CRUNCH TRENDS (according to www.OnePoll.com)******1. Using money-off vouchers******2. Buying supermarket own-brand food******3. Making packed lunches******4. Refusing to tip waiting staff, taxis or hairdressers******5. Shopping in Lidl and Aldi******6. Selling things on eBay******7. Turning the heating down******8. Driving slowly******9. Shopping in charity shops******10. Re-using carrier bags

Rate cut round-up: “policy mistake” or “confidence boost”?

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The Bank of England’s decision to cut interest rates to a record low of 1.0 percent may have been widely predicted, but this did little to hold back the avalanche of commentary that began the moment the news came through at noon today.

Interest rates, which have now been cut five months in a row, are at the lowest level in the Bank’s 315-year history, and the list of people calling yet another easing pointless appeared to be getting longer.

Are interest rates at one percent the answer?

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The Bank of England has gone into further into uncharted territory with its decision to cut rates by half a point to just one percent. Many economists think they will be down to zero by the Spring.

But like gunfighter running out of bullets, the Bank is, in the view of some observers, just wasting ammunition by using the interest rate weapon.

Banks rescue package: will they start lending again?

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Melanie Bien, director, Savills Private Finance, is a guest commentator. The opinions expressed in this commentary are her own.

It is too early to say whether the latest bank rescue plan will have the desired effect of persuading the banks to start lending again. But it is a step in the right direction and we welcome it as a positive move as it may just remove the remaining stumbling blocks to getting the credit and mortgage markets functioning properly once more.
Clearly, something further had to be done. October’s £37bn bank recapitalisation did little to persuade banks to regain their appetite for lending. Credit continues to be difficult to come by – unless you have a large deposit or equity in your home and a clean credit history.

Global problem or self-inflicted wound?

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The government has unveiled a second package of measures aimed at getting the banks to start lending again and helping the economy off its knees.

The new package follows last October’s 37 billion pound bank bailout which ministers have reluctantly had to concede was not enough. It may have shored up their capital positions but it did not prompt them to start lending again. The latest plan aims to give them a hefty nudge in that direction by offering them insurance against losses and guaranteeing their debt.

Easing the pain for small businesses

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The government has unveiled a plan to guarantee up to 20 billion pounds of loans to help small businesses survive the credit crunch.

But there are concerns that will not be enough to get the banks lending sufficient funds to help businesses get access to cash.

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