UK employment continues to rise
Business activity advanced across all United Kingdom regions in November, led by strong growth in the North West of England and Wales, as per the latest Lloyds Bank Regional Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI).
Wales (58.3) saw a further rise in business activity after growth reached a nine-month high in October. The North West business activity index - a measure that tracks changes in total output across the manufacturing and service sectors - increased to 58.5 in November, its highest reading in over three years. The Lloyds Bank Regional PMI is the leading economic healthcheck of regions across the UK. A reading greater than 50 represents growth in business activity, while a reading below 50 indicates a contraction. The greater the deviation from the 50 mark, the faster the rate of change. Other strong performances were recorded in the East of England (57.3) and East Midlands (56.0), with the latter seeing growth accelerate to a three-month high. Conversely, Scotland (50.2) saw a substantial loss of momentum as growth slowed to the weakest in eight months.
Meanwhile, the sales of million pound properties in northern England strongly outperformed many other parts of the country in the first six months of 2017, as per the latest house price data from Lloyds Bank.
Increases were also seen in the West Midlands (up 33%) and the South East (up 15%). Purchases of prime properties in the North West and Yorkshire and The Humber rose by 55% and 45% respectively. Overall, there was a modest drop (-1%) in the number of properties sold for more than a million pounds across Great Britain in the first six months of 2017, in contrast to the same period in 2016, with actual number of sales edging down from 6,684 to 6,613.
Million pound home sales in London fell by 7% from 4,230 to 3,940. Other areas which experienced significant decreases in the number of purchas- es of premium-priced properties include Scotland (down by 35%), East Midlands (down by 27%) and Wales (down by 31%). This is part of a growing trend as the average price for million pound properties has dropped for three consecutive years, from £1,862,578 (H1 2014) to £1,717,141 (H1 2017), a fall of 8%.
Meanwhile, twenty-four percent homeowners plan to move within the next five years and almost 10% are preparing to take their next step on the property ladder next year but face a number of barriers.
Twenty-two percent of homeowners say that the cost of moving is the key blocker for buying their next home, according to research from Lloyds Bank. High stamp duty and a lack of the 'right type' of homes are causing the number of people thinking of moving house to fall.
It found that the inability to find the right property within budget (20%), stamp duty costs (19%) and increasing house prices (17%) are all cited as issues that stand in the way of homeowners making that next move. And broader financial pressures may also be constraining market activity, with one in three (32%) stating that they would need a significant pay rise to help make the jump. This is even more pronounced for the younger generation; over half (57%) of 25 to 34 year-olds say they need an income boost.