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War threat takes toll on house price confidence

Uncertainty over possible war with Iraq took its toll on house price confidence last month despite the recent 0.25 per cent cut in base rate, according to the Woolwich.

Its consumer confidence research for February found that 55 per cent of the 1,000 people questioned believe house prices will fall compared with 53 per cent in January.

Confidence in the housing market has been falling since a peak of 68 per cent in May last year, which Woolwich says suggests that the public are generally less optimistic about property this year than last year.

There was also a reduction in gross mortgage lending last month to £17.9bn from £19.4bn in January, according to CML figures, although this is well up on the £13.3bn in February 2002.

Woolwich sees this fall in confidence as an early indication that the market will be more realistic this year. with long-term sustainability and affordability replacing rapid growth and cheap borrowing.

Head of lending Andy Gray says: “Global events can play a major part in impacting individual sectors of the economy and the housing market is not immune to wider uncertainty.”

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David Cameron appoints former adviser to Tony Blair as new pensions minister

Following a cabinet reshuffle in light of last week’s general election, David Cameron has announced that Ros Altmann will be replacing Steve Webb as pensions minister. As the industry works with one of the largest reforms to the sector in almost a century, the former adviser to Tony Blair has been tasked with ensuring that the pensions revolution does not stray off track.

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