The government has proposed that all new-build houses must now be sold as freehold and ground rents in leasehold contracts must be set as zero. However the ban will not be applied retrospectively. Flats will still be able to be sold leasehold. Legislation will be required.
The government has also launched a two-month consultation regarding the creation of a New Homes Ombudsman to hold developers to account for selling poor quality residences.
Betting firms pledge £160 m to help gambling addicts
Five of the UKs biggest bookmakers have pledged £160m to tackle problem gambling, giving the money to the NHS over four years to fund addiction treatment. They will also increase the voluntary responsible gambling levy on profits from £10m a year to £60m by 2023. The firms will also review the “tone and content” of advertising and sponsorship deals.
British Airways fined £183m for breach of its security systems
The Information Commissioner’s Office has fined BA following last year’s incident when users of British Airways’ website were diverted to a fraudulent site which enabled the details of about 500,000 customers to be collected by the fraudsters. The size of the fine reflects the greater powers the watchdog now has following the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) coming into force last year.
Fewer people should have to pay tax on gifts given just before death, under proposals for a major overhaul of the inheritance tax system.
In January last year, Chancellor Philip Hammond asked the Office of Tax Simplification (OTS) to carry out a review of inheritance tax after complaints that vague rules were being exploited by financial planners. The OTS has now presented its report with suggestions for simplication. For example:
When someone dies within seven years of passing on money, property or possessions to loved ones, tax of up to 40% must be paid. The OTS has suggested the deadline should be changed to five years.
Anyone can gift £3,000 each tax year without them being added to the value of the estate. They can also give up to £250 to anyone else. There is a further allowance for gifting money towards wedding costs. The OTS has proposed that the range of allowances be scrapped and replaced with a single, higher, annual gift allowance.
The Treasury will consider the recommendations and respond in due course.
Bookmaker William Hill to close about 700 betting shops
William Hill has blamed the proposed closure of shops on the government’s decision in April to reduce the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals to £2, claiming a “significant fall” in gaming machine revenues. Closures could begin before the end of the year.
Pressure being placed on the government to publish its Green Paper on Social Care
The government has been criticised by various organisations for the effects of delaying the publication of its Green Paper on social care for two years. The longer the government takes, the worse the situation is becoming and the most vulnerable people in society are being failed by a system that does not work.