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Nearly 40,000 first-time buyers used Help to Buy in first year

The Help to Buy schemes, launched by the government last year, have enabled nearly 40,000 people to buy their first home, according to official statistics.

Help to Buy consists of two schemes which enable people to buy a property even if they only have 5% of the purchase cost.

More than 48,000 people in total have taken advantage of Help to Buy in the scheme’s first year. The government has released a statement revealing some of the key figures:

• more than 80% of house purchases made using the scheme were made by first-time buyers
• the average price of houses sold was £187,800, which is significantly less than the national average of £265,000
• 94% of Help to Buy purchases were on houses outside of London.

One concern about the scheme is that it will make getting a mortgage too easy, and push house prices up too high – there was a 10% rise from June 2013 to June 2014.

The mortgage guarantee loans are restricted to 4.5 times the borrower’s income to try and keep a natural balance in the market, and also prevent buyers borrowing more than they can afford.

We will keep our clients informed of any developments.

Please contact us if you would like information about the legal aspects of buying or selling a home.

Rise in damages for hurt feelings in employment disputes

The level of compensation a victim receives for hurt feelings in employment disputes is to be raised by 10%.

Earlier in the year, the Court of Appeal decided that there should be a 10% rise in the monetary value placed on a victim’s hurt feelings in civil cases. The Employment Appeal Tribunal has now confirmed that this will also apply to cases between employers and their staff.

The level of hurt feelings that an employee might suffer will be assessed and categorised into one of the following bands:

• Bottom Band – with damages from £600 – £6,600. This applies to moderate cases of hurt feelings, usually relating to a one-off incident.
• Middle Band – with damages from £6,600 – £19,800, for a case that would be considered too serious to be classed as the bottom band, but not severe enough for the top.
• Top Band – with damages from £19,800 – £33,000, for serious cases of discrimination or harassment that have been ongoing for long periods of time.

Claims that are subject to the change include cases such as sex, race or age discrimination, as well as bullying at work and unfair dismissals.

In order for the court to decide the level of hurt feelings suffered, claimants will be required to provide evidence on exactly what happened to them, how it affected their time at work and at home, and if they suffered any long term effects. Statements from family members, friends, colleagues or medical experts may also be requested.

Please contact us if you would like more information about the issues raised in this article or any aspect of employment law.