by Thomas Hale

Fears of an incipient housing bubble in London – and concerns about the UK property sector in general – are soaring as quickly as the prices themselves. But not all bubbles are created equal – especially when it comes to first-time buyers.

How might rising house prices affect first-time buyers? The graph below shows the average UK house price compared to how much of the average take-home pay first-time buyers spend on repayments.

The most striking thing about the graph is the way price correlates so strongly to the stretched nature of first-time buyer households until mid-2009, at which point the two lines start to move in opposite directions. Prices have begun to go up again, but first-time buyers have become consistently less stretched across the UK. Read more

(c) Getty Images

By Henry Foy

Ten things to know about the 48 hour London tube strike that began last night:

1. 3.4m people use the tube every day, according to Transport for London (TFL). Not today they didn’t.

2. The strike is all about jobs. Boris Johnson and TFL, which runs the Tube, wants to close all tube ticket offices by 2015, at a cost of 750 jobs.

3. TFL say the public support the plans. Eighty-two per cent of respondents to their survey backed the move to close ticket offices, it said. But the Rail, Maritime and Transport Union, which is taking part in the strike, said a survey it commissioned found 65 per cent of tube users felt industrial action as a last resort was justified.

4. Forty-three stations, or 16 per cent of the total station network, were completely closed on Wednesday morning, TFL said. Read more

By Henry Mance

BSkyB and BT have both committed billions of pounds to sports rights over the past two years – as they seek to protect their positions as the UK’s biggest pay-TV provider and biggest broadband operator respectively.

So has either taken a lead?

The long view starts in July 2006, when Sky entered the broadband market.
It was slowly closing the gap on BT, adding about 400,000 more customers that its rival.

However, since the launch of BT Sport last summer, BT has added more broadband users than Sky – the first time in a half-year period since 2007. Read more

On Thursday Eric Schmidt gave a fascinating talk on technological innovation, in which he warned that broad range of jobs that once seemed beyond the reach of automation are in danger of being wiped out by technological advances.

I raised two questions to neither of which in my view did I receive a good answer. Read more

The government’s decision to axe the collection of land price statistics threatens ministers’ ability to understand the effects of their radical housing policies, senior economists and policy analysts have warned.

Land prices are a significant component of new-build costs and the rapid housing market recovery in Britain – fired by the government-backed Help to Buy scheme – has already sparked a scramble for land, particularly in the southeast.

 Read more

By Roger Blitz, Leisure Industries Correspondent

Should we praise European football clubs for creating an international labour market or criticise them for failing to nurture homegrown talent?

Take your pick. According to the Swiss-based CIES Football Observatory, the proportion of players playing at clubs where they trained is at an all-time low of 21.2 per cent. Five years, ago, it was at 23.1 per cent.

Among the top five countries – England, Spain, Germany, Italy and France – the proportion is even lower, at 16.5 per cent. All charts are from the CIES’ latest report.

 

No surprise, therefore, that the percentage of expatriate players is at a record high of 36.8 per cent, as the transfer market continues to flourish. Many of them are Brazilians, with 471, though in 2009 there were 538 plying their trade in Europe.

The most likely place to find a club-trained player is Sweden, Slovakia and Finland. The least likely is Italy, Turkey and Russia. English clubs are producing only 13.6 per cent of club-trained players, Germany’s proportion is not much better and they are both well behind Spain and France. Read more