Cost of living latest: How royal street names boost the value of your home; new pension-boosting scheme - is your company taking part? (2023)

Key points
  • How royal road names could increase the value of your property
  • 'Treated worse than anyone else': 130,000 civilservants on strike
  • New pension-boosting scheme - is your employer taking part?
  • Mortgage deal availability soars
  • Your dilemmas: My boss is refusing me paternity leave - what are my rights?
  • Budgeting Mum: Do food subscriptions save you money?| Tips for buying travel insurance
  • Money-saving hacks: Weddings| Cheaper flights| For parents
  • Live reporting by Lauren Russell


HMV returns to Oxford Street in 'dramatic turnaround'

Music retailer HMV is reopening its historic store on London's Oxford Street after a four-year absence.

The store shut its doors in 2019 when the company fell into administration.

It was then taken over by Canadian billionaire Doug Putman, who owns the toy chain Toys R Us and music retailer Sunrise Records.

HMV said the return to Oxford Street was the "latest sign of a dramatic turnaround" after collapsing and then bouncing back to profit last year.

To keep current as demand wanes for both DVDs and CDs, the company said it has further shifted focus towards pop culture merchandise, vinyl, music technology such as headphones, and live music and signings in stores.

It will have brought the concept of HMV Shop to 24 new sites and 14 existing stores by the end of the year.

Geoff Barraclough, a cabinet member of Westminster city council, said: "It is fantastic to see this iconic brand back on Oxford Street, where it stood as a driver of music and pop culture in the capital for so long."


How royal road names could increase the value of your property by 24%

The coronation is just over a week away - and we've got some good news if your street has a royal connection...

Houses in roads with the word "royal" in the name cost an average 24% more than the typical property value, according to analysis.

Using Land Registry data, estate agent Savills found that houses on such streets have a particularly high typical price tag, of £412,445.

Streets containing the word "king" also have a price point above average for England and Wales, at £354,922.

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Interestingly, houses on streets with the words "crown" or "Windsor" were found to have a typically lower price tag.

An average house price of £330,662 on streets with the word crown, and £295,531 on streets with the word Windsor, according to the research.

Frances McDonald, director of residential research at Savills, said the "priciest streets with royal connections" are primarily located in London and the South East, which is home to a number of royal residences.

The analysis was conducted by looking at selling prices between 2000 and 2022.

It said that when the Queen was crowned in 1952, the average house price was just under £2,000 - around £56,000 in today’s money.

In January this year, the average house price in England was £310,159 and £216,871 in Wales, according to the Office for National Statistics .


Is your employer part of a new pension-boosting scheme?

A pension-boosting scheme launched by the Living Wage Foundation could see your employer pay in 7% of your salary.

The Living Pension is a voluntary savings target of 12% - with 5% contributed by the employee and in tax relief.

Which? found six employers have signed up to the standard so far: Aviva, Citizens UK, Good Things Foundation, Herbert Smith Freehills, Phoenix Group and Wealthify.

Even if your employer does not partake in the scheme, it is worth talking to your HR department because they may offer contributions above the 3% minimum if you increase yours.

This comes as the Living Wage Foundation found more than half of pension savers felt they would never be able to retire and one in 10 stopped or reduced pension contributions in recent months.


'Treated worse than anyone else': More than 130,000 civil servants strike

More than 130,000 civil servants are striking today in a long-running dispute over pay and job conditions.

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Members of the Public and Commercial Services union (PCS) in 132 government departments are walking out after Mark Serwotka, its general secretary, said members had been given "the worst pay rise in the country".

He went as far to say that government ministers were "bullying" civil servants.

"When you look at how badly ministers treat their own staff, it’s impossible not to think this is an ideological war on civil servants," Mr Serwotka said.

"The evidence stacks up - ministers bullying their staff, giving our members the worst pay rise in the country, refusing to give them a back-dated pay claim or lump sum like they've given everyone else, failing even to negotiate with us - so how else do you explain it?

"We were lauded throughout the pandemic, including by the prime minister when he was chancellor, yet now we're treated worse than anyone else, so it's no wonder our members' anger is growing.

"Ministers should be setting an example to employers, paying their own staff a fair wage, not leading the race to the bottom."

The union said its campaign of industrial action shows no sign of easing, with its members at the Passport Office, Department for Work and Pension and Care Quality Commission set to strike next week.

It also announced a 15-day strike at HM Revenue & Customs in the same dispute.


Good morning

We're back for another day of cost of living news, analysis and advice - don't go anywhere (or if you do, pop back later).


Fresh rail strikes set for day of Eurovision

The RMT union has confirmed fresh rail strikes will take place on 13 May - the day of the Eurovision Song Contest final in Liverpool.

The latest comes after union leaders rejected a pay offer from the Rail Delivery Group.

Next month's strike - the latest in a long-standing pay dispute - will involve staff from 14 rail operators.

In March, the RMT said union members at Network Rail had voted to accept a revised pay offer - amounting to a pay rise of up to 14.4% for the lowest paid and 9.2% for the highest paid.

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However, the union said today that "following further discussions between the union and the RDG, the employer issued a clarification on the offer RMT has been considering".

The Rail Delivery Group is allegedly now saying it would "only implement the first-year payment of 5% if the union terminated its industrial mandate".

This would mean no further strike action could take place.

The offer was formally rejected earlier today.


What new gambling laws are being proposed?

The government's long-awaited gambling white paper has been published.

But what exactly would these laws mean for people?

In the clip below, ourpolitical correspondent Liz Batesexplains...


Where to get debt support

If debts are piling up at this difficult time, it is important to seek help from reliable sources.

The government urges people to avoid taking money from loan sharks, who will charge extortionate interest rates and are unauthorised to lend.

Instead, take a look at our list of debt support providers.

Citizens Advice has lots of useful links to help organise, prioritise and manage your debt.

StepChangecan provide advice on what help is right for you.

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Breathing Space is a scheme that temporarily freezes most interest and charges on debts as well as pauses most enforcement action.

Your local council may offer support through the Household Support Fund or grants specific to the area.

You should also find out if you are entitled to any government benefits, and always speak to the company to which you owe money. Some, such as energy providers, may offer a more manageable payment plan.


How much does average scam cost you, what ages are most vulnerable, and why do people in London lose more?

The average amount Britons lose to online scams is £1,169 each - with 7% claiming to have lost more than £7,500 to scammers.

Nationally, 11% of UK adults – 5.8 million people - admitted they had fallen for an internet scam and had money stolen at some point in their lives, the DNS Research Federation found.

This means more than £6.8bn has been stolen from personal accounts - seven times the required budget to end homelessness in the UK (according to Crisis UK).

Older people are most vulnerable to losing large sums to scammers. People aged over 55 that had been victims of internet crime claimed to have lost an average of £2,151 to scammers via their computer or phone.

This compared to an average loss of £1,270 for 36-54 year-olds and £851 for people aged under 35.

London was the place where people were most likely to lose large sums. The average loss in the capital was £1,665 per person, compared to £891 for people in the North and £400 for those living in Scotland.


Carlsberg has hiked prices

Carlsberg hiked prices over the first quarter of the year to offset "significantly" higher costs.

The company, which also brews Tuborg and Brooklyn beer, said it was "uncertain" how recent increases would affect the amount of its beer bought by customers.

It came as Carlsberg told investors revenues grew by 8% to 16.4 billion Danish krone (£1.95bn) over the three months to March.

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