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Southport Reporter® covering the news on Merseyside.

Date:- 06 March 2006

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YOUNG renters are being hit on all sides, says the NAEA.  News that council tax bills are to increase by more than twice the level of inflation this year could be the final straw for rapidly disappearing first time buyers, according to the National Association of Estate Agents (NAEA).
With gas and electricity prices also due to increase by up to 22% this year, it is becoming much more difficult for those renting a property to contemplate saving enough to be able to afford a home of their own, says the Association.

Chief executive of the NAEA Peter Bolton King says:- “That crucial first rung of the property ladder is slipping further and further out of reach for most first time buyers. Those without family help to fall back on are already despairing at the lack of suitable homes for them, and the fact that council tax has now doubled in just 10 years will be the breaking point for many, who will simply be unable to save.”

Potential first time buyer Kristina Crowe, 27, says:- ”I rent in Wimbledon, where I need to be for work, and have been looking to save for a deposit for a few years now. Despite earning a reasonable salary, I still find it very difficult to save once rent, council tax, bills, running a car and paying off student loans are all taken into consideration. Most of my friends who rent are in the same situation - any increase in expenditure on bills will have a really negative impact on our plans for the future.”

Peter Bolton King adds:- “The situation for many first time buyers is becoming intolerable and these rises, which go far beyond the level of inflation, just add insult to injury. At the very least the Government should look to making some serious amendments to stamp duty levels, not to mention providing more much-needed affordable housing, in order to ease the financial pressure on this beleaguered section of society.”

Usdaw's Women and Work Commissioner welcomes gender pay gap report.

USDAW General Secretary John Hannett has welcomed the Women and Work Commission's report into the UK's gender pay gap as a positive framework to address this inequality which has serious implications for the union's low paid and part-time women members.

John Hannett has served on the commission for the last year examining why the pay gap between men and women in full-time employment in the UK is 17% less for women workers who make up more than 60% of Usdaw's total membership.

"I was pleased to have the opportunity on this commission to create a framework so we can put this fundamental issue of inequality at the very top of the political agenda," John Hannett said. "The majority of our members are women and it is an issue they have been telling us needs addressing and while this is only the beginning of a long road I think the 40 recommendations we have made will open up this much needed and long overdue debate.

I was very encouraged that the Prime Minster and the Chancellor were at the launch of this report and that the Government has made a clear commitment to tackling this issue especially when our gender pay gap is the worst in the EU.

This report doesn't have all the answers but I am confident that the 40 clear recommendations we have made will help us make real progress in tackling the pay gap which Usdaw is determined to deal with.

As a progressive union Usdaw has been ahead of the game on this issue running an innovative Supporting Parents and Carers campaign designed to tackle the issues of inequality and childcare that contribute to this problem, especially for part-time workers. This report is not merely an academic exercise but a real attempt to offer constructive solutions to a problem that can blight the working lives of a majority of our members."

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