News Round-Up – Debt, small beds, and smart investing

DEGREES OF DEBT

Graduates in England face the highest debts in the English-speaking world, above the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, research by the Sutton Trust has found.  Those leaving English universities last year under the £9000 a year fees regime owe an average of more than £44,000 including loans for maintenance.   By contrast, US graduates leave owing between £20,500 and £29,000 depending on the institution.   But the trust notes that in England, loans only start to be repaid when the graduate reaches a certain income (£17,495).  The trust is concerned that the abolition of maintenance grants will leave the poorest with debts above £50,000.

CITY CEILINGS

Women working in the City would not encourage their daughters to follow in their footsteps, a Financial News survey found.  Four years on from the last poll of City women, 65 per cent said they felt disadvantaged compared with 66per cent in 2012. Of the 705 women asked, 92per cent thought that despite years of publicity little had improved in their workplaces.  However, the proportion accepting that being female had helped their careers jumped from 4 to 12 per cent. A typical view was that being a woman on a male-dominated trading floor had helped them stand out.

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GOING SMALL

Smaller beds, sofas and household appliances are becoming more popular as the housing crisis forces more people to go small. John Lewis reports that sales of smaller 50-inch beds are up by 34 per cent, and of ‘snuggler’ chairs – around a third smaller than a two-seater sofa – are up 13 per cent.  Sales of slimline dishwashers, 18 instead of 23 inches wide, are also on the up.  The average price of home space across the UK has rocketed by 227per cent over the past 20 years according to the Halifax.

SMART MARKETS

Stock market dabblers can use a smart new platform to keep ahead of breaking news that could affect their investments.  Trading.co.uk uses social media and financial news sources to keep investors one step ahead of the market, monitoring over 9000 stocks in real-time, alerting users to heightened activities and changes within the market.  It uses Artificial Intelligence to collect and analyse around 250,000 online messages per second – more than 22 billion per day – and filters these to produce a dashboard of live data on developments affecting your stocks.

SWITCHING IN THE DARK

Consumers and the smaller energy companies stand to lose out under a shake-up that would allow comparison websites to list only those companies that pay them commission. Under the changes to be introduced by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA), the big five switching  sites – Uswitch, GoCompare, Comparethemarket, MoneySuperMarket and Confused – will be free to list only the deals that pay them commission, ignoring whether or not they are the cheapest on the market. Will Hodson,  co-founder of The Big Deal, said the CMA was “seeking a return to the dark days of deal hiding..it has caved in to the price comparison sites”.    The sites say the small suppliers are getting a “free ride” and all listings should be subject to a commission structure. The CMA is about to end a consultationon the proposal.

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