Wednesday newspaper round-up: Help to Buy, Brexit, China, Easyjet, Glencore

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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Help to Buy, Brexit, China, Easyjet, Glencore

Wed, 16 August 2017
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Wednesday newspaper round-up: Help to Buy, Brexit, China, Easyjet, Glencore

(ShareCast News) - The number of first-time buyers is increasing rapidly because of the support of the government's Help to Buy scheme and ultra-low mortgage rates. First-timers borrowed £5.9 billion in mortgages in June, up by 26 per cent compared with May and 9 per cent on June last year. This equated to 36,000 loans, a rise of 22 per cent from the previous month, according to UK Finance, the trade organisation. - The Times

A government plan to copy European customs controls after Brexit has run into immediate difficulties in Brussels and the UK, with ministers being accused of making unrealistic promises in pursuit of "frictionless trade". The long-awaited policy paper proposes to keep Britain in a near identical customs union with the EU for an unspecified period after departure while it seeks to negotiate a permanent arrangement that will also "mirror" much of the existing system. - Guardian

China's credit-fuelled economic strategy has been branded as dangerous by the International Monetary Fund in a strongly-worded statement warning that its approach risks financial turmoil. The IMF used its annual health check on the world's second biggest economy to stress that faster expansion in 2017 was coming at the cost of a jump in private sector debt and an increasing use of complex financial instruments. - Guardian

The UK government will insist there must be "no return to the hard borders of the past" as it publishes its proposals for ensuring goods and people can continue to travel freely between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic after Brexit. In the latest of a series of papers covering different aspects of Britain's future relationship with the EU, David Davis's Brexit department will say it hopes to agree upfront with the EU that there will be no need for "physical infrastructure" such as new border posts. - Guardian

A Glencore unit in the Democratic Republic of Congo has admitted that it understated its copper production in a disclosure that analysts say risks fuelling suspicions among African governments that mining groups are underpaying tax. Katanga Mining, which is 86 per cent-owned by Glencore but is listed separately on the Toronto stock exchange, has applied to the Canadian regulator for trading in its shares to be halted after an external investigation into "incorrect recording" of output in 2014 and 2015. - The Times

Germany's constitutional court said yesterday that it saw "significant reasons" to believe that the European Central Bank had overstepped its mandate with its €2.3 trillion bond-buying scheme. As they referred a legal challenge to the ECB's actions to the European Court of Justice, judges at the federal constitutional court in Karlsruhe expressed doubts over whether the scheme complied with rules designed to prevent richer nations being forced to bail out weaker ones. - The Times

French pilots have claimed easyJet is risking passenger and crew safety by scheduling too many flights. Captains are being pressed into flying more hours than they are legally allowed and face intimidation if they refuse, France's pilots' union said. - Guardian

Air Berlin sought to put years of financial turbulence to an end yesterday by filing for insolvency when Etihad, its main shareholder, pulled the plug on further financial support. The German government immediately sparked controversy by announcing a bridging loan of €150 million to enable Air Berlin to keep its aircraft in the air for the next three months, including the tail end of the busy summer holiday period, and to secure the jobs of 7,200 staff while talks continue. - The Times

Institutional investors have sharply increased efforts to shame individual company directors into better behaviour by voting against their re-election, according to new figures. Revolts against single directors of FTSE 100 and FTSE 250 companies rose fivefold this year in protest against them taking too many jobs or to curb egregious pay packages. - The Times

Millions of Britons are having their health and home life put at risk because bosses are not offering them regular shift patterns, a new study by Oxford and Cambridge Universities has shown. Nearly 15 per cent of the workforce, 4.6 million people, are the victims of 'precarious scheduling' where their hours are so inconsistent that they cannot make plans, leading to stress and domestic strife. - Telegraph

David Davis's former chief of staff launched a series of Twitter tirades yesterday, accusing the Brexit secretary of leering, bullying and laziness. James Chapman, 40, claimed that Mr Davis, 68, had been "working a three-day week since day one" in the cabinet and suggested he did not bother to read the contents of his red box. - The Times

Energy companies face a fresh public battle after new findings revealed that consumers have still been overcharged by an "unacceptable" £100m as a result of billing blunders, even as complaint rates fall. The industry's second major spat in as many weeks has erupted after a survey of energy users found that around 1.3 million bill payers claim to have been overcharged by their energy supplier in the year ending in May. - Telegraph

More than 70,000 extra care home places will be needed by 2025, with pensioners now spending twice as long living without independence, a Lancet study suggests. Women over the age of 65 can now expect to spend the last three years of their lives in a care home, or receiving help several times daily, the research shows. Two decades ago, they could expect to spend the last 18 months of their lives in need of such help. - Telegraph

The number of official appeals against business rates has collapsed since the introduction of reforms branded "disastrous" by representatives of small companies. The "check, challenge and appeal" system for making an appeal against the contentious bills has made it nearly impossible to challenge calculations that may be incorrect, businesses claim. - The Times

The government is to cancel all contracts with Learndirect, the adult training provider that tried to suppress a damning regulator's report into its poor standards. The Department for Education said on Tuesday that it would withdraw all funding from the organisation, which is responsible for almost 73,000 trainees, by July 2018 and that it had already banned it from taking on new apprentices. - Guardian

The problem of native speakers "gaming the system" and taking a language exam in their native tongue has become so great that Ofqual, the exam regulator, attempted to measure it. It discovered that almost one in five candidates taking German A level was, in fact, German. In Spanish it was one in ten and French one in 11. - The Times

They may conjure images of rainy British summers, tedious scrabble games and cramped bathrooms, but sales of caravans and motor homes have boomed over the past 12 months, figures show. Although Britain's "staycation" trend is a factor behind increase, it has emerged that another, even less glamorous phenomenon is behind the rise; the housing crisis. - Telegraph

Britain's first big pumped hydroelectric power station is to undergo a £50 million refurbishment to extend its life by 20 years. The Ffestiniog plant in Snowdonia was built in 1963 and can generate 360 megawatts of electricity, enough to supply north Wales, for up to three and a half hours at a time. - The Times