Was a coalition with the rightwing Independent Greeks party the only option for Syriza and Alexis Tsipras? No. The centrist Potami party agrees on the need for some debt relief, less austerity and a higher minimum wage. But it is in favour of sticking to Greece’s European commitments and would weaken Tsipras’s negotiating position in Brussels, where he wants to be recognised as leading a tough government prepared to leave the eurozone if debt relief is not on offer. What does Syriza want? Tsipras has campaigned consistently for a reduction in the level of debt Greek and not just easier credit terms. In the past four years, Athens’ debts have spiralled to 175% of GDP, partly because GDP has shrunk by 25%, so its ability to pay down debt has diminished. Tsipras says Athens will never escape this debt spiral without some debt relief. Can Syriza really tear up its debt deal with Brussels? There are many forces standing in the way. First, Brussels officials are only too … [Read more...] about Greece Q&A: what now for Syriza and EU austerity?
Difference between private and public banks
An end to lifetime council tenancies was signalled today by David Cameron as he warned the coming public spending cuts will not be restored when the economy recovers. Cameron said he wanted to see fixed terms for all new council and housing association tenancies lasting as little as five years to help increase social mobility. The prime minister admitted that "not everyone will support this and there will be quite a big argument". Speaking in Birmingham, he said: "There is a question mark about whether, in future, we should be asking when you are given a council home, is it for a fixed period? Because maybe in five or 10 years you will be doing a different job and be better paid and you won't need that home, you will be able to go into the private sector." A consultation paper, due to be published as early as tomorrow, will say the new short-term tenure would be for local councils to implement, but would involve regular reviews of tenancies to see if the council tenant still needed … [Read more...] about David Cameron announces plan to end lifetime council tenancies
Will Alexis Tsipras ever wear a necktie? In the weeks before Sunday’s momentous election, that is the question that has been widely asked of the radical left Syriza leader, the winner of the Greek poll. Invariably Tsipras has replied no, he won’t. “After all,” he has joked, “I didn’t wear one to see the pope.” And therein lies the appeal of the man who is now Greece’s youngest prime minister – and the angst that prospect elicits. At 40, the former communist party youth activist, student leader, self-avowed atheist and populist firebrand appears determined to jolt not only his own country but also Europe. Nonconformity is part of the package. Others, say aides, will have to wake up to the reality that the radicals – for they wish to be called nothing else – will be doing things differently. Under Syriza, Athens will challenge fundamentals: the politics of austerity, fiscal policies, how business is done. With the eyes of … [Read more...] about Alexis Tsipras: the Syriza leader about to take charge in Greece
A £3.5bn investment in government loans to financially stretched homebuyers and a £12bn scheme to increase the availability of mortgages to people who cannot afford a large deposit were unveiled by the chancellor "to support a new generation in realising the dream of home ownership". The two measures were the centrepiece of a package of financial support for the housing market, and aim to provide assistance to first-time buyers and those "trapped" in their existing homes and unable to take the next step up the property ladder. In his budget speech, George Osborne launched Help to Buy, which is, in effect, an expansion of two existing initiatives. Under the loans scheme, a buyer hoping to purchase a newly built home will be able to take out a mortgage for just 75% of the cost of the property, provided they can stump up a 5% deposit. Those who qualify will be eligible for an "equity loan" worth up to 20% of the value of the property, funded by the government, which will be … [Read more...] about Budget 2013: Osborne offers homebuyers Help to Buy
More details emerged this week about how the latest government scheme to help first-time buyers will work, with confirmation that major lenders such as the Halifax and Nationwide will be offering mortgages to those who qualify. FirstBuy will allow people to take out a mortgage for just 75% of the cost of the property, provided they can stump up a 5% deposit, and will help more than 10,000 first-time buyers in England over the next two years, plus a smaller, unconfirmed number across Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. However, it will only apply to newly built properties, which won't suit everyone, and with a limited pot of money, demand is almost certain to exceed supply – especially in London, which has only been allocated enough cash to help around 940 buyers. The Midlands is getting the biggest slice of the cake, with enough money to help more than 2,400 people. The scheme – the latest in a long line of initiatives to help people on to the property ladder – was … [Read more...] about FirstBuy scheme offers first-time buyers a step up