Britains

A tale of two Britains: homes market boom deepens social divide

LONDON (Reuters) – Claire Tomlinson dreams of buying a three-bedroom house in the leafy northern English town of Sandbach but now finds herself priced out of the market, a story that is becoming all too familiar in Britain in the pandemic era.

Claire Tomlinson and her partner Ricky Collier pose for a portrait in Sandbach, Britain, September 25, 2020. REUTERS/Molly Darlington

The 28-year-old e-commerce worker and her partner were saving diligently while renting in Sandbach so they could buy their own home this year, an ambition that has been thwarted by forces beyond their control.

A post-lockdown stampede for bigger houses outside of urban areas in the new work-from-home age has sparked a fresh boom in Britain’s housing market – especially in areas like Sandbach, a small country town surrounded by the rolling Cheshire Plains.

While this dash for the countryside is not a phenomenon unique to Britain, its decision to suspend taxes on residential property purchases till April 2021 has turbocharged the market.

Now house prices have risen to record highs, some 3-4% above their pre-pandemic level – a stark contrast to the battered economy which may be on course for its biggest annual contraction in around 100 years.

The housing market has been one of the starkest manifestations of social and wealth inequality in Britain for many years, and first-time buyers like Tomlinson already faced a daunting task to haul themselves onto the property ladder.

Now, the intensifying competition and rising prices during the pandemic, which coincide with an imminent reduction in a longstanding state support scheme for first-time buyers, make it all but impossible for many people to afford to own their home.

“It’s so disappointing,” said Tomlinson.

“You try to follow the advice, be financially responsible and save enough money for a deposit. But when you

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A Tale of Two Britains: Homes Market Boom Deepens Social Divide | Investing News

LONDON (Reuters) – Claire Tomlinson dreams of buying a three-bedroom house in the leafy northern English town of Sandbach but now finds herself priced out of the market, a story that is becoming all too familiar in Britain in the pandemic era.

The 28-year-old e-commerce worker and her partner were saving diligently while renting in Sandbach so they could buy their own home this year, an ambition that has been thwarted by forces beyond their control.

A post-lockdown stampede for bigger houses outside of urban areas in the new work-from-home age has sparked a fresh boom in Britain’s housing market – especially in areas like Sandbach, a small country town surrounded by the rolling Cheshire Plains.

While this dash for the countryside is not a phenomenon unique to Britain, its decision to suspend taxes on residential property purchases till April 2021 has turbocharged the market.

Now house prices have risen to record highs, some 3-4% above their pre-pandemic level – a stark contrast to the battered economy which may be on course for its biggest annual contraction in around 100 years.

The housing market has been one of the starkest manifestations of social and wealth inequality in Britain for many years, and first-time buyers like Tomlinson already faced a daunting task to haul themselves onto the property ladder.

Now, the intensifying competition and rising prices during the pandemic, which coincide with an imminent reduction in a longstanding state support scheme for first-time buyers, make it all but impossible for many people to afford to own their home.

“It’s so disappointing,” said Tomlinson.

“You try to follow the advice, be financially responsible and save enough money for a deposit. But when you actually try to buy somewhere, you realise the system is broken.”

Last week property website Rightmove said average asking

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The grim truth behind Britain’s stately homes

(CNN) — Grand buildings replete with turrets, picture windows and kitchen gardens. Perfectly manicured lawns. And hundreds of rooms stuffed with antiques and objet d’arts from across the globe.

Few things are as quintessentially English as a stately home. Tourists love them. And they’re a guaranteed box office draw, as “Downton Abbey” and “Pride and Prejudice” can attest.

But there’s a more disturbing side.

Many of these country estates are indelibly linked to brutal legacies of slavery and colonialism. And while their grim origins may have been previously overlooked, they’re now facing a new level of scrutiny that — amid raging debates over how Britain reckons with its imperial past — has exploded into its own cultural conflict.

Published this month, the report identifies 93 places, roughly one third of all of its properties, that it says were built, benefited from or connected to the spoils of slavery and colonialism.

They include Chartwell, Winston Churchill’s former home in the southeastern county of Kent, Devon’s spectacular Lundy Island, where convicts were used as unpaid labor and Speke Hall, near Liverpool, whose owner, Richard Watt traded rum made by slaves and purchased a slave ship in 1793 that trafficked slaves from Africa to Jamaica.

Some 29 properties were found to have benefited from compensation after owning slaves was abolished in Great Britain in 1837, including Hare Hill in Cheshire, where the owners, the Hibbert family, received the equivalent of £7 million ($8.8 million) to make up for the loss of slaves.

“At a time when there’s an enormous interest around colonialism more broadly and indeed slavery more specifically, it felt very appropriate, given that we care for so many of these places of historical interest, to commission a report that looks right across them and try to assess the extent of those

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