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Property news: Searches for overseas homes ‘rocket’ as buyers rush to move abroad

The coronavirus lockdown has not only forced Britons to stay home in recent months, but it has also given them the chance to reevaluate their living situation. Many people may have found the restrictions gave them a new perspective on where they want to live and what they need from their homes, especially as working remotely is set to continue. But while the housing market had to close temporarily when the lockdown was in full force, the UK is now able to get moving again with sales and viewings going ahead. 

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However, a new report has revealed a surprising trend for property buyers following the lockdown. 

It seems the pandemic may have given buyers itchy feet – with some looking much further afield for their next dream home. 

Rightmove has analysed its search data and discovered that demand for overseas property has “rocketed” as travel restrictions ease around the UK. 

The property site linked the activity to the relaxation of the rules regarding non-essential travel, as holidaymakers prepare to jet off for their summer getaways. 

READ MORE: Boris Johnson’s plan promises a third off homes for first-time buyers

Rightmove revealed that it had seen a record-breaking number of house hunters looking for property abroad, in its Rightmove Overseas section. 

As the government made its announcement that Britons would be able to travel without quarantine on Sunday June 28, the site saw more than one million searches for properties abroad.

It’s the first time the website has seen such high figures for its overseas searches, with a boost of 28 percent compared to June 2019. 

It’s also attracted new clientele who are hoping to make their move into property away from the UK, with the number of new users on Rightmove Overseas 41 percent higher in June compared to last year.

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The data suggested that buyers were either looking to relocate to sunnier climes, or to secure themselves a holiday home in one of their favourite seaside destinations. 

Despite the change in travel rules allowing holidays to go ahead, many Britons will still be wary of staying in hotels or holiday apartments where they may come into contact with other tourists.

A holiday home could be the answer for those looking to invest in their own property abroad, giving buyers the chance to get away without mixing with other households as the pandemic continues to pose a risk. 

Property experts have also found a change in priorities for those looking to move, with outside space and bigger homes becoming more important than ever over fears of another lockdown.  

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Rightmove also revealed the most popular countries for those looking to make their move into overseas property ownership. 

Spain topped the list of searches for June, where available properties include a three-bedroom villa in Alicante with a private pool for £315,423. 

France was the next most popular location on the list for buyers who may be looking to stay a little closer to home – especially as they could make use of the Eurostar rather than taking a flight, which may be deemed more risky. 

Portugal, Italy and Greece were the next most popular searches; but while Greece may not be as in demand as Spanish properties, a three bedroom villa in Crete is more affordable with prices at just £283,881.

However, it’s not just the lockdown that may have sparked the trend – as often the not-so-great British weather can cause buyers to reassess their living arrangements. 

Rightmove’s overseas insights expert Rachel Beaton explained: “We’ve seen a gradual resurgence of interest from home-hunters looking for properties abroad since April, but after the government confirmed there will be easing of travel restrictions to certain countries we saw demand for overseas homes rise even further to record-breaking levels.

“We know that activity on Rightmove Overseas is always an inverse response to the British weather – so traffic dips when we have good weather, and then bounces back when the rain comes – and this was exactly what happened in the final weekend of June. 

“This, coupled with the news about fewer restrictions on overseas travel, saw UK home-hunters flock to our site to look at places they could relocate to or buy a holiday home.”

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World News

Slain college student's family fights to improve rideshare safety

Fox Business Flash top headlines for July 2

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The family of a 21-year-old college student who was kidnapped and killed last year after climbing into a car she thought was her Uber ride is working to make sure that no one else falls victim to a similar circumstance.

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The man accused of killing Samantha Josephson in South Carolina is still waiting for trial, but her parents, Seymour and Marci Josephson, have wasted no time campaigning to improve rideshare safety. They founded the #WHATSMYNAME Foundation last year in order to educate rideshare passengers, and the group announced this week that it was partnering with Lyft and Uber in order to reach more students on college campuses across the U.S.

“[Samantha] wanted to go to law school to help people,” Seymour Josephson said. “She was a person that just cared about other people and just wanted to help people.”

Samantha Josephson (#WHATSMYNAME Foundation)

Following her death, Josephson found he’d suddenly been given a platform as he spoke at vigils in South Carolina, where Samantha attended school, and New Jersey, where the family lives, and the story gained international attention.

“It just took off,” he said. “I didn’t even think about it, it was just her, and how can I help make change and not have this happen to anybody else again. That was our – Marci’s and mine – big inspiration.”

The foundation has even used Samantha’s nickname – Sami – to help make its message easy to remember: “Stop, Ask, Match, Inform.” Verifying the information available through rideshare apps, including the driver’s name and the make, model and license plate of the vehicle, with those simple steps can help rideshare users keep themselves safe.

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They have made signs and literature to remind college students on campuses in multiple states. The group is also working with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to add signs in NYC-area airports, Madison Square Garden and public transit stops, according to Josephson.

“We just found that if we can have something out there and just put it in front of people as a reminder, and use Samantha’s name … it really resonates,” he said.

Separately from the foundation, the family has been working to pass new laws that protect rideshare passengers. Several states have already backed legislation inspired by Samantha Josephson, and Seymour Josephson said their local congressman, Rep. Chris Smith, a New Jersey Republican, is helping them draft legislation with input from a bipartisan group of federal lawmakers.

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During that process, Seymour Josephson said, he met Uber and Lyft representatives to collaborate on a future bill that wouldn’t draw opposition from the industry. He used those contacts to help the foundation work with Uber on its latest project.

“Uber wanted to join forces and create safety in education, and that’s what we’re going to do,” Josephson said.

Uber said it has made efforts to improve the safety of its platform already: Last year, it rolled out an optional four-digit PIN system to ensure passengers match with their drivers.

Tracey Breeden, head of women’s safety at Uber, said in a statement that “what happened to Samantha Josephson was an unspeakable tragedy and something that no parent or family should have to go through.”

“Together working alongside colleges and cities, while leveraging education and technology, we can all help create safer communities,” Breeden said.

A driver displaying Lyft and Uber stickers on his front windshield drops off a customer in downtown Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel, File)

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Lyft has also worked to improve safety, increasing the visibility of plate numbers in its app and sending push alerts to remind passengers to verify vehicle information.

Jennifer Brandenburger, Lyft’s director of public policy for community safety, said in a statement that the company is proud to team with the Josephson family and foundation to “amplify ridesharing safety education on college campuses nationwide.”

The companies are valuable partners because they already have relationships with many colleges, while Josephson said the foundation’s materials provide exactly what colleges need.

“All the colleges went into a complete panic [following Samantha’s death], because they didn’t have anything,” he said.

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The foundation helps colleges create designated rideshare safety zones near dorms and Greek life housing with the “SAMI” signs, Josephson said. While some efforts have been temporarily hampered by the coronavirus pandemic, the couple also attend conferences and make safety presentations for student groups to emphasize the steps to take before entering a stranger’s vehicle.

The partnership will help the foundation reach more than 100 additional student groups, according to Lyft.

“The last thing you want to do is get into the car and have what happened to Samantha,” Josephson said. “Because once you get in the car, it’s too late.”

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World News

Pension tax relief may be on the agenda ahead of autumn budget – will Rishi Sunak act?

Pension contributions can eventually receive tax relief from the government, which is provided to encourage long term planning. Under current rules, a person can get tax relief on up to 100 percent of their annual earnings.

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However in practice, the relief offered can be impacted by things such as earnings, age and gender according to the Pensions Policy Institute.

In a recent report, the institute found that despite the fact that those earning less than £30,000 a year make 63 percent of all pension contributions, they are only receiving 24 percent of total tax relief.

On top of this, it was found that men are receiving a disproportionate amount of total tax relief available and those who are older or earning more get more beneficial tax relief results.

The report was wide ranging but to rectify some of the issues found, PPI detailed that a flat rate of tax relief could equalise the playing field somewhat.

The report caught the eye of experts within the field and Penny Cogher, a Pensions Partner at Irwin Mitchell, detailed that the timing could be fortuitous given coming commitments: “The PPI’s Briefing Note 122 on tax relief on defined pension contributions has been issued in good time for the Chancellor to mull over before his main autumn budget.

“We already know that this Chancellor has an imaginative approach and this is exactly what is needed to push forward the reform of pension tax.

“The PPI seem to conclude that the current system is not good for purpose in many areas. Men in employment disproportionately benefit from the current pension tax relief system compared to women – they get 71 percent of the value of this tax relief and account for 69 percent of the contributions.

“This reflects current society- there are more men in employment at higher income levels whereas women take more time away from work for family reasons and overall earn less.

“There is also age difference in who receives the most benefit from our current tax relief system which again leads to questions of its cross generational fairness.

“Around two thirds (67 percent) of the value of tax relief on DC pension contributions goes to individuals aged in their 40s and 50s, two and a half times as much as the amount obtained by those in their 20s and 30s.”

Penny went on to examine the complicated nature of changing pension rules to create a more even landscape: “Interestingly our current system is so complex that the PPI conclude there is a very large gap between the actual cost of pension tax relief and the amount that could be claimed. This gap has been estimated at more than £750million.

“This covers both the higher and additional rate taxpayers who need to make claims through self-assessment tax returns and also the poorest i.e. the non-tax payers who have relief at source. Simplifying the system would help to ensure that more people do not miss out in this way.

“However there is still the need for some fundamental change to make the system fairer for all. Even with automatic enrolment, the proportion of pension tax relief going to those earning less than £30,000 has only increased from 23 percent to 24 percent despite the proportion of claimants increasing from 52 percent to 63 percent but the overall cost of this tax relief has more than doubled in the last 20 years.”

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Neil Hugh, the Head of Proposition at Phoenix Group, also commented on this, noting that if changes are to be made, all the relevant players will need to be consulted: “Changes made to the pension tax relief system over the years have made it very complex for savers.

“It is clear that reform is needed, but this must be done in full consultation with our industry and across both the defined benefit and defined contribution pension system arrangements in order to make things simpler for savers.

“The PPI’s report highlights that a flat rate of relief may help to simplify the system, which in turn could lead to greater engagement with pension saving.

“However, while the aim of reform should be to simplify, implementing any change is itself likely to be complex and needs to be properly considered and consulted upon.

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“At a time when millions more people are successfully saving through automatic enrolment, it’s crucial that the pensions taxation system continues to reward savers for doing the right thing and putting money aside for their futures, which is even more important given today’s challenging economic environment.”

The difficulties in taking action in this area was also addressed by Steve Butler, the Author of “The Midlife Review: A Guide to Work, Wealth and Wellbeing”.

He agreed that there is a clear case for introducing a flat rate: “Although there is a strong case for the implementation of a flat rate of pensions tax relief, to remove some of the inequalities in the current system such is the pension gender gap, it is not without its challenges.”

He found that the challenges can mainly be found in three distinct areas:

The difference for employees and employers

As he explained: “Firstly, taxation of pension contributions is treated very differently for employers and employees, so any change to employee taxation needs to consider changes to the taxation for employers to avoid any unintended consequences.”

A flat rate introduction could also interfere with another pension arrangement, which would need to be addressed:

Salary sacrifice

“Secondly, many employers offer salary sacrifice arrangements under which employees ask their employer to pay contributions on their behalf, in return for a cut in salary.

“If a flat rate scheme was introduced this arrangement would need to end, otherwise those using salary sacrifice would, essentially, still benefit from full tax relief.”

Steve concluded by identifying holders of (already struggling) defined benefit schemes would also need to be taken care of:

Defined benefit pension schemes

“Finally, and most significantly, is how a flat rate of tax relief would be applied to defined benefit pension schemes.

“If overall tax relief on employee contributions fell, employer contributions would probably have to increase to enable the same benefit to be paid out.

“This would be on pension’s scheme that many employers are already struggling to support.

“These challenges should not stop the debate around the introduction of a flat rate of pension tax relief but, they certainly need to be considered before any progress can be made about changes to pension taxation if it is to achieve what it set out to do.”

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World News

Martin Lewis issues urgent warning for self employed people – how you could boost income

A financial journalist and campaigner, Martin Lewis is often referred to as the Money Saving Expert, and he has founded a website of the same name. This evening, the broadcaster appeared on the self-titled show The Martin Lewis Money Show, which he co-presents with Angellica Bell.

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As well as being on hand to answer a whole host of questions from the public, Martin also used a portion of his show to inform viewers about a number of money matters.

And tonight, this included the topic of support which may be available to some people who have been hit financially during the cororonavirus crisis.

Issuing a warning about an upcoming deadline this evening, Martin addressed self-employed people.

He said: “So I want to start this week with just checking whether there are any of you who are wrongly missing out on the Self Employment grant number one, because the deadline is the 13th of July – less than a fortnight away.”

READ MORE: Nationwide current account changes have come in to force

He went on to explain that so far, only 2.6 million people out of the 3.5 million eligible have claimed the support available from this scheme.

The financial journalist and campaigner also addressed the matter that not everyone has been eligible for the scheme.

“I know, there are many of you who aren’t eligible and wish you were,” he said.

“I’m sorry. That’s a different subject, but I need to just get this one done for now.”

During the segment, Martin focused his attention to the pressing deadline for eligible people to claim the first grant for the SEISS.

“So the first thing to say is if you’re not sure you’re eligible you can go to HMRC’s eligibility checker and it will tell you whether you’re entitled to the grant,” he said.

With an estimated 900,000 being eligible for the scheme but not yet having claimed the support, the Money Saving Expert addressed some reasons why it may be that they hadn’t yet claimed.

He said: “Now, why don’t people claim? Some think, they’re working [so] they can’t claim. Not true.

“With the Self-Employment Income Support grant you have always been able to work and claim – unlike furlough (although from this week you can actually work part-time for your employer whilst on furlough – that’s another change that came in).

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“The second one – and I think the bigger reason, when most people talk to me about this – is people are scared to sign the declaration that they’ve been impacted by coronavirus.”

Keen to clear up the matter, Martin explained that there are a whole host of ways in which a self-employed person may have been impacted financially.

“Let me give you some idea of what that means,” he said of the declaration for the SEISS grant.

“It could mean you or your staff have been off work due to coronavirus and that has had an impact. Or your premises have had less access because of coronavirus.

“It may mean your demand has decreased – [such as] you’re a taxi driver and there are less tourists due to coronavirus, that would count.

“Or you’re a hairdresser opening next week – this would be for the next grant – and you’re going to have to clean a lot between each customer so you can take less customers. That would be impacting.

“Or your costs have been increasing because of PPE you’re needing to provide for your staff. All of those would count.”

The Martin Lewis Money Show continues next Thursday on ITV at 8.30pm.

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World News

Mortgage UK: Millions of borrowers may be able to save over £5,000 – can you?

Cutting unnecessary costs is a priority for many, but when it comes to compromising on saving more or enjoying a product or service, making changes to spending habits can be hard. However, there may be a way in which some people can reduce their mortgage outgoings without making a major change to their life.

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Millions of UK borrowers could potentially save themselves more than £5,000 on their mortgage payments by switching to a new fixed rate offer, according to research by Experian.

The credit reference agency’s analysis has found that up to 44 percent of the UK’s 10.8 million mortgages are likely to be on their provider’s Standard Variable Rate (SVR).

And, research shows that this rate can be more than double the interest rate of the lender’s original introductory offer.

For example, a homeowner with a £150,000 20-year mortgage loan on a typical lender’s SVR of 4.75 percent will have a monthly repayment of £969, Experian said.

Meanwhile, the same mortgage on a typical two-year fixed rate remortgage deal of 1.25 percent, would mean a monthly repayment of £707.

As such, Experian has said that switching represents a saving of £6,288 over the two years, or £262 per month.

In this example, the credit reference agency took an arrangement fee of £999 into account, concluding the homeowner would be £5,289 better off over the period.

While the calculations suggest savings could be had, it seems that less than a quarter of borrowers took the option.

The research, based on a poll of 2,000 UK adults, found one in four (24 percent) current or previous mortgage holders remortgaged at the end of their last introductory mortgage offer.

Of those that have lapsed onto their provider’s SVR, almost a quarter (23 percent) said they hadn’t switched to a new deal because they thought remortgaging would be too much hassle, or too complicated.

Meanwhile, it seems that confusion had left some lapsing on to a SVR.

The survey found 16 percent moved onto a SVR not realising that it would be more expensive for them.

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The research analysed different parts of the UK too, finding the highest proportion of homeowners likely to be paying a SVR are in Northern Ireland (52 percent) and the North East (51 percent).

Meanwhile, the lowest proportion is in the East of England, South East and South West regions, at 43 percent.

Amir Goshtai, Managing Director of Experian Marketplace said: “The fact that lenders still remain open for business for remortgages presents a real opportunity for homeowners to take advantage of low rates and make a typical saving of more than £3,000.

“With so many other worries and stresses at this time, we wanted to make it much simpler for homeowners to find and switch to a better deal to help them with their finances.

“The Remortgage Savings Calculator [by Experian] makes it easy for people to check if they can save money on their mortgage, without impacting their credit score.

“The market is changing rapidly as lenders review their acceptance criteria and product ranges.

“This makes it particularly important to plan ahead and allow extra time to complete a remortgage, especially for higher loan-to-value ratios, and to use a broker or eligibility service to help you find the right lender.”

Should homeowners have concerns about meeting their regular mortgage payments during the coronavirus pandemic, Experian directs them to speak to their lenders and providers as soon as possible.

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World News

Mrs Hinch fan’s professional carpet cleaning hack – best product for getting carpet clean

One cleaning fan approached the expert cleaning platform over her carpets. She said: “Can we talk carpet cleaners? I have an old vax and it’s been ok, not amazing and I have had a few issues with it. But it is about 7 years old.

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“Who has one that they can recommend… ideally one with a tool for stairs? I have a toddler so needing one that can get into my carpets!”

A number of Mrs Hinch fans gave their advice, including one expert cleaner.

They wrote: “I clean carpets as part of my business and the Henry Wash is by far the best cleaner I have ever used.”

The Henry Wash cleaner is in the range of popular carpet appliances, notable because they have a face design on them.

The Henry Wash cleans and shampoos carpets, and comes with a 10m cable.

Argos is selling it for £219.99.

The Amazon price is currently in £199.

It can be bought directly from Henry for £219.98.

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Other members of the group gave their advice too.

One recommended Vax Powermax.

They said: “I’ve tried most Vax and a few other brands and this is by far my fave the tanks are hugeeeeeee it’s has automix for the solution lots of different setting and adaptors.”

She added it’s “very easy to empty and fill does my living room which is large in 2 or 3 refills/empties.”

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Another carpet cleaning hack saw homeowners share how to clean a stain off a carpet. 

The Facebook user wrote: “Any ideas how to get red semi permanent red hair dye out of my cream carpet? My dog decided to chew it!”

Commenting on the post, a Facebook user wrote: “Try hairspray.”

“Hairdressers use hairspray on their work clothes to take out the dye,” another added.

An “game changer” hack for cleaning the oven was also shared online. 

Posting onto Facebook group Cleaning Tips & Tricks, one cleaning fanatic shared her incredible oven cleaning tip with this unusual item.

She wrote: “My new best oven cleaning tools. Please don’t judge i have been pre occupied with personal stuff but finally catching up.

“No more expensive oven cleaners elbow grease sprayed on with a glass scraper and all the grease comes straight off.”

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Economy

House approves $1.5T plan to fix crumbling infrastructure

Fox Business Flash top headlines for July 1

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WASHINGTON — The Democratic-controlled House approved a $1.5 trillion plan Wednesday to rebuild the nation’s crumbling infrastructure, pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into projects to fix roads and bridges, upgrade transit systems, expand interstate railways and dredge harbors, ports and channels.

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The bill also authorizes more than $100 billion to expand internet access for rural and low-income communities and $25 billion to modernize the U.S. Postal Service’s infrastructure and operations, including a fleet of electric vehicles.

In this file photo, vehicles pass a highway construction site on Interstate 80 in Sacramento, Calif. (AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli, File)

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Lawmakers approved the Moving Forward Act by a 233-188 vote, mostly along party lines. It now goes to the Republican-controlled Senate, where a much narrower bill approved by a key committee has languished for nearly a year. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has not attempted to schedule a floor debate and none appears forthcoming.

The idea of “Infrastructure Week” in the Trump era has become a long-running inside joke in Washington because there was little action to show for it. Still, Wednesday's vote represented at least a faint signal of momentum for the kind of program that has traditionally held bipartisan appeal.

Democrats hailed the House bill, which goes far beyond transportation to fund schools, health care facilities, public utilities and affordable housing.

Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and a sponsor of the legislation, called it a “transformational investment in American infrastructure that will create millions of jobs.”

In this Jan. 29, 2020, file photo, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi of Calif., right, shows a note to Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/ Jacquelyn Martin, File)

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Republicans ridiculed the bill for what they called a Green New Deal-style focus on climate.

"Instead of seeking bipartisan solutions, this bill adds $1.5 trillion to the nation’s debt and disguises a heavy-handed and unworkable Green New Deal regime of new requirements as an ‘infrastructure bill,’” said Missouri Rep. Sam Graves, the top Republican on the transportation panel.

Graves blamed House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats for turning what has traditionally been a bipartisan issue in Congress — infrastructure — into what he called “a partisan wish list.”

Republicans scored a rare procedural victory, winning approval of an amendment to block money from the bill going to Chinese state-owned enterprises or companies responsible for building internment camps for the nation's Uighur minority.

The White House promised a veto if the measure reaches the president's desk. In a statement this week, the White House said the bill “is heavily biased against rural America,'' is based on debt financing and ”fails to tackle the issue of unnecessary permitting delays" that have long impeded infrastructure projects.

In this June 23, 2020, file photo President Donald Trump speaks with reporters before departing on Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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President Donald Trump has frequently declared his support for infrastructure projects and pledged during the 2016 campaign to spend at least $1 trillion to improve infrastructure. Since taking office, Trump has repeatedly called for enactment of an infrastructure package — but those efforts have failed to result in legislation.

Hopes were dashed last year when Trump said he wouldn’t deal with Democrats if they continued to investigate him. The House later impeached him.

Trump said after signing a $2 trillion coronavirus relief package that low interest rates made it a good time to borrow money to pay for an infrastructure bill. No formal proposal has emerged, although the White House has suggested the next virus response bill could include an infrastructure component.

The centerpiece of the House legislation is a nearly $500 billion, 5-year surface transportation plan for roads, bridges and railways. The White House said in its veto threat that the proposal is “heavily skewed toward programs that would disproportionately benefit America’s urban areas." The bill would divert money from the Highway Trust Fund to transit and rail projects that “have seen declining market shares in recent years,” the White House statement said.

A CSX freight train crosses the Potomac River in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia in this file photo. (REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

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Democrats countered that the bill would rebuild the nation’s transportation infrastructure, not only by fixing crumbling roads and bridges, but also by investing in public transit and the national rail network, boosting low- and zero-emission vehicles and cutting carbon pollution that contributes to climate change.

The bill also authorizes $130 billion in school infrastructure targeted at high-poverty schools with facilities that endanger the health and safety of students and educators, Democrats said. The schools portion alone could create more than 2 million jobs, they said.

The bill would spend more than $100 billion to create or preserve at least 1.8 million affordable homes. “These investments will help reduce housing inequality, create jobs and stimulate the broader economy,'' Democrats said in a "fact sheet" promoting the bill.

The measure also would upgrade child care facilities and protect access to safe drinking water by investing $25 billion in a state revolving fund that ensures communities have clean drinking water and remove dangerous contaminants from local water systems.

Three Republicans voted in favor of the bill: Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick of Pennsylvania and Reps. Jeff Van Drew and Chris Smith, both of New Jersey. Two Democrats opposed it: Reps. Collin Peterson of Minnesota and Ben McAdams of Utah.

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World News

Nationwide current account changes come into effect today – are you affected?

Nationwide first launched its FlexDirect account in November 2012, with the current account having offered customers a five percent introductory rate. However, changes were announced in April this year, and today, a new rule has come into effect.

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At the time, the building society said the FlexDirect account would pay, from May 1, 2020, credit interest of two percent AER (1.98 percent gross) on balances of up to £1,500 for the first 12 months.

“All you need to do is pay in £1,000 a month, not counting transfers from other Nationwide accounts or Visa credits,” Nationwide’s website states.

After that period, the rate would revert to 0.25 percent AER (0.24 percent gross) on balances up to £1,500.

Those who had applied for the account prior to May 1 would continue to receive credit interest of five percent AER (4.89 percent gross) on balances of up to £2,500 for the remainder of their 12-month introductory period.

Meanwhile, any existing FlexDirect members who were outside of the introductory period would have their credit interest reduced from one percent AER to 0.25 percent AER, on balances of up to £1,500, from July 1.

With this date falling today, those in this situation will now see their credit interest reduce.

The FlexDirect account isn’t the only account which will change from today.

From today, Nationwide’s FlexStudent and FlexGraduate accounts will no longer offer credit interest.

Meanwhile, the credit interest on the Society’s FlexOne will be reduced to 0.10 percent.

These changes will affect both existing account holders, as well as those opening these accounts from today.

The Society said in April it would be writing to all impacted current account holders notifying them of the change in credit interest rate.

Sara Bennison, who oversees Nationwide’s products and propositions, said: “We know that this is a tough time for savers, particularly after two cuts in Bank Rate in quick succession taking it to an historic low of only 0.10 percent.

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“In order to preserve the long-term sustainability of the Society for all our 16 million members, we have had to take these decisions on the interest rates we can offer on a number of our accounts.

“We have tried to remain as competitively priced as possible, with our FlexDirect account, for example, remaining one of the best in the market for credit interest and our savings prize draws helping people into good savings habits.”

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee announced two successive cuts to the Base Rate in March, as an emergency response to the coronavirus crisis.

It saw the Bank Rate reduce from 0.75 percent to 0.25 percent, and then to 0.1 percent – a historic low.

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Premium Bonds: NS&I reveals July jackpot winner won £1million after buying Bond THIS May

July 2020 has arrived, and National Savings and Investments (NS&I) has released some details about the Premium Bonds winners for the July 2020 prize draw. In this month’s draw, a total of 3,710,908 prizes will be paid out.

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The total prize fund for this month is worth £106,070,125.

In this prize draw, there were 90,917,241,141 eligible Bonds.

The odds of winning for each £1 Bond number is 24,500 to one.

Among this month’s winners are two people who have been selected for a payout of £1million each.

While the holders of these jackpot winning Bonds have remained anonymous, NS&I has released some details about them.

For instance, the areas in the UK in which they are from has been revealed – with these being Tyne and Wear, and Surrey.

The first eligible Bond number drawn was 392SK696449 and this belongs to a man from Tyne and Wear, NS&I said.

This £1million jackpot winner bought the winning Bond in May 2020, and he has a holding worth £35,000.

NS&I explains that Bonds become eligible for the draw one full calendar month after the person buys them.

“So when you buy Bonds in November, they’ll be in every draw from January,” the website states.

As such, the Bond bought in May, became eligible from this month.

His win means he’s become the tenth £1million Premium Bonds winner from Tyne and Wear.

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The second millionaire this month is a woman from Surrey.

Her winning Bond number is 297WB837011 and she has the maximum Premium Bonds holding of £50,000.

Her winning Bond was purchased in March 2017, and this result means she’s now the 25th Premium Bonds millionaire from Surrey.

Among the high-value winners this month were seven people selected for a payout of £100,000, while 12 scooped a prize worth £50,000.

Jill Waters, NS&I’s Retail Director, said: “When people think of Premium Bonds they often recall memories of a prize warrant landing on their doormat, but since the introduction of paperless prizes we’ve seen a good uptake in the number of customers choosing to have their prizes paid directly into their bank account.

“In June alone just over 70 percent of Premium Bonds prizes were paid out in this way – making it the quickest and most convenient way for people to receive their prizes.

“Premium Bonds holders can choose to have their prizes paid directly into their bank account, or to have any wins reinvested up to the maximum holding amount of £50,000, by registering for NS&I’s online services with a valid email address or mobile phone number.

“Money put aside each month can quickly grow into a small nest egg with the added bonus of a potentially life-changing prize.”

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Help to buy ISA warning: You can’t receive your bonus without this one key document

Help to buy ISAs were created to help people get on the property ladder and eventually start making mortgage payments. While savings can only be put into a help to buy ISA up until November 2020, it’s possible to use the associated bonus beyond that.

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The help to buy bonus can be claimed at any point up until December 1 2030.

The bonus itself could be as high as £3,000 but it will only be provided for a home purchase.

According to the government’s explanation, the person(s) involved will need to instruct their solicitor or conveyancer to apply for the bonus when they’re close to buying a first home.

Once they receive the government bonus, it will be added to the money the saver is putting towards the home.

The bonus must be included with the funds consolidated at the completion of the property transaction.

The home purchaser involved must ensure that the bonus is used correctly as it cannot be used for the deposit due at the exchange of contracts.

Nor can it be used to pay for solicitors, estate agent’s fees or any other indirect costs associated with buying a home.

These rules could become especially important if a person plans to withdraw money from the account.

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Unlike Lifetime ISAs, help to buy accounts have no penalties in place for withdrawing funds.

Some people may, knowing there is no penalty, withdraw all their money from the account to move on with the home purchase.

However, this could be a grave mistake as if it is done the person will not receive the “closing statement” which is essential for receiving a bonus.

In order to move forward with the purchase, the conveyancer involved will need a closing statement to receive the bonus.

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The ISA provider/manager will provide the closing statement so long as everything is done correctly.

In the event that the homebuyer losses their closing statement, the ISA provider will be able to give a new one upon request.

There is one exception in place where a closing statement is not needed.

An “expedited bonus application process” can be followed by the solicitor or conveyancer involved but this can only be done if a completion is imminent.

There are also procedures in place for handling bonuses and payments if a property purchase eventually falls through.

Under the scheme’s rules, a person has the right to reopen their account if the property purchase fails.

If this occurs, the purchaser must present a “purchase failure notice” to the ISA provider.

The account must be requested to be reopened within 12 months of the closure date and this specific date can be found on the closing statement.

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