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Government launches £330bn coronavirus business loan scheme

The government has launched the first stage of a £330bn loan guarantee scheme for businesses, to help small and medium-sized firms borrow up to £5m to help them weather the impact of coronavirus.

“Any viable business” with a turnover of up to £45m will be able to apply to banks for an 12-month interest-free loan, 80 per cent of which will be guaranteed by the government under its Business Interruption Scheme, the Treasury said.

“We know that businesses are in urgent need of access to funding during these unprecedented times,” said business secretary Alok Sharma, who added that the scheme “will ensure that credit keeps flowing to where it is needed, when it is needed”.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak last week unveiled an unprecedented package of measures aimed at supporting businesses and employers struggling with the economic impact of coronavirus, including tax deferrals and an employee retention scheme.

The Treasury said this morning that further measures would be announced to ensure large and medium-sized businesses could access financing.

The Bank of England this morning announced the opening of a scheme to buy up debt known as commercial paper, issued by large businesses which had an investment-grade credit rating or similar level of financial health before the coronavirus pandemic hit.

BoE governor Andrew Bailey said the corporate financing scheme would “help businesses manage through this period of uncertainty”.

“Combined with steps taken by the government, this will help companies through this difficult time and support the needs of the people of this country,” he added.

Bailey said last week that the Bank would look at widening the financing scheme to firms with lower credit quality, or buying other financial instruments such as asset-backed commercial paper.

By Anna Menin

Source: City AM

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Coronavirus eating into SME cash

Over two-thirds of UK SMEs (69%) have reported significant pressures on their cash levels according to latest insights from business lender MarketFinance. This is in large part down to businesses paying for supplies earlier than anticipated because of Coronavirus-related stockpiling and fears of deeper disruptions to transport (road, air and rail) linkages.

Additionally, on orders and work that has been completed, payments are being delayed. Three-quarters (74%) of business owners reported invoices due to be settled at the end of February have not been paid yet (as of 10th March 2020) and that these were unlikely to be settled before the end of March 2020.

Over a third (36%) of business owners feared they won’t survive to Easter (6 weeks) if they were unable to secure some finance to bolster their business. Meanwhile, as economic conditions worsen, and with the possibility of widespread quarantine implemented across parts of the country, businesses will need to have financial and operational contingency plans in place to protect jobs, industry and communities.

Anil Stocker, CEO at MarketFinance, commented: “The impact of the Coronavirus spread is being felt by SMES across the UK as finance and supply chains are disrupted. At the best of times, only around half of these businesses are cashflow positive. Today, businesses are feeling a palpable sense of helplessness and isolation and there is a lack of specific information on how to cope with the crisis.”

“At the moment cash is king and if businesses are being starved of this cash, it will leave them stranded. Whilst policy efforts play out to contain the spread of Coronavirus, business owners should brace themselves for some turbulence and have a prepared mindset for the scenarios ahead.”

“Rishi Sunak has a golden opportunity to prove that he is a champion of UK SMEs. There is a role for government to work with businesses, banks and other lenders to ensure a resilient economy. It will be the smallest businesses that are most hit as they have the least bargaining power in global supply chains. They could, for example, give businesses VAT / tax ‘holidays’ to ensure that they have enough money to cover immediate costs.”

Source: Business Money

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Businesses turn to alternative money trees as big bank lending stalls

Smaller businesses are turning to alternative ways of financing in much larger numbers than five years ago, as traditional lending flatlines, according to a new report.

Marketplace business lending, which used to be called peer-to-peer, is now providing more than £2 billion a year to British small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), the British Business Bank said.

It is a 374% rise since 2014, the year the bank was set up by the government.

Meanwhile equity finance, providing money in exchange for a stake, has jumped by 131% over the same period.

Since it was set up the Business Bank has provided support to success stories such as cybersecurity outfit Mimecast, and fintech firms Transferwise and Revolut.

Earlier this week Revolut announced it had raised another 500 million US dollars (£387 million), giving the business a valuation of around £4.3 billion.

But while alternative financing has boomed in the last five years, gross lending from major banks to smaller businesses has remained largely flat, growing just 1.2% in real terms.

Gross bank lending reached £56.7 billion last year.

In 2014 it was £53 billion.

Last year 52% of smaller businesses that wanted financing looked beyond the Big Five banks, according to the research.

There is evidence that the flatline in traditional lending is due to demand from businesses drying up, British Business Bank chief executive Keith Morgan told the PA news agency.

More than 70% of them say that they would be willing to forego some future growth rather than take more loans.

Mr Morgan said that small business confidence seems to have rebounded in recent months.

“We are seeing some indication that confidence has rebounded given the additional clarity that is now present with the outcome of the general election and the increased understanding of the course with respect to Europe,” Mr Morgan said.

However it is too early to say whether that will increase demand for finance, he added.

Business Minister Paul Scully said: “Finance for small businesses is essential to our goal of making the UK the best place in the world to start and grow a business.

“This report will shape our support for business leaders across the country, so they can drive innovation and growth.”

By August Graham

Source: Yahoo Finance UK

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Fears for SME retailers as banks cut lending

Bank lending to small and medium-sized retailers has fallen by 6% since the 2016 Brexit vote, while large retailers have benefitted from a 20% increase in lending.

New figures show that funds lent to SME retailers has dropped from £15.6bn to £14.7bn in the three years, accountants and business advisors, Moore. Funds borrowed by large businesses has increased from £31.5bn to £37.8bn during the same period.

In a statement, accountancy firm Moore said: “The figures suggest that some banks are favouring big businesses, [which] are typically seen as more able to repay any funds borrowed… With big retailers increasing their borrowing so aggressively, that means less finance for smaller retailers.

“As well as needing finance to see them through the current volatile trading conditions, SME retailers also need to invest to ensure their stores and overall offering remain contemporary. Without that investment, smaller retailers risk losing more ground to bigger competitors and to e-commerce.”

It also said smaller-sized businesses need funding to help prevent them from going into administration, with the number of retail insolvencies up 31% from 951 in 2016 to 1,252 on 30 September 2019.

Bridget Culverwell, director at Moore, added: “It is a real worry for smaller retailers if banks are treating them less favourably than larger retailers.

“With the final outcome of Brexit still uncertain, it is expected that banks will continue to be apprehensive to lend to the sector in the months ahead.

“Small retailers are still big employers. They occupy space in high streets where larger retailers are not present and often not interested in being present. If too many small retailers fail, then that leaves those parts of town centres with the highest level of vacant shops even emptier.”

BY KATIE IMMS

Source: Drapers

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Merchant Cash Advance 101 – Everything UK SMEs Need To Know About Business Cash Advance #1 – Alternative Sources of funding for SMEs

Running a business, of any size and nature, eventually boils down to how well you can handle the numbers. There are, of course, the important calculations about growth and reinvestment, but, as far as the day to day operations are concerned, it’s all about managing the cashflow.

Larger businesses have it slightly easier in this regard. Bigger pockets usually ensure better credit, thereby also implying that such businesses rarely have to borrow in order to look after everyday expenses.

The same, however, cannot be said about an SME. SMEs have a whole different set of questions to answer, and the answer usually lies in how easily, how conveniently, how fast and how affordably they can borrow money. This is where alternative sources of finance come to the fore as many of them have the ability to mould themselves to the exact needs of your business.

Merchant cash advance is among the most popular alternative funding sources for UK SMEs, and we will try to take stock of its features in this article.

What Is Merchant Cash Advance?

Merchant cash advance, also known as business cash advance in many circles, is a fast, unsecured business loan that helps SMEs tackle the cashflow problems. Merchant cash advance is a cash injection that is tied to your future debit and credit card sales. In that sense, merchant cash advance or business cash advance is a good source of alternative funding for B2C SMEs.

Merchant Cash Advance Definition

Merchant cash advance is an unsecured business loan that is repaid through the future debit and credit card sales you make.

Unlike other business loans and overdrafts, there are no fixed monthly repayments to make. There is no APR to worry about either. The equation is fairly simple – the more sales you make, the faster your loan gets repaid. This also means that if you’re experiencing a particularly slow month, your repayments will be proportionately smaller.

Each merchant cash advance account is tied directly to your card terminal (point of sale). So, it’s important that a healthy share of your sales comes through debit/credit card transactions.

Merchant Cash Advance – How It Works

Merchant cash advance is inherently different from other unsecured business loans in that it is based directly on the profitability of your business. Lenders, while assessing the potential of your business, will take a close look at the performance of your business – especially the card terminal transactions. Due to this peculiarity, it becomes important to understand how merchant cash advance really works.

The Process – Take A Moment To Familiarise Yourself With How MCA Works

Merchant cash advance lets you borrow money as and when you need it – but it’s technically not really a loan (we will get down to that part shortly). For now, we suggest you take a moment to understand the process and how it will impact your cashflow.

  1. Any SME that makes card terminal sales can apply for a merchant cash advance. Commercial Finance Network makes this process incredibly easier and faster.
  2. The lenders take a look at the recent history of card based transactions and decide your affordability. This is similar to other forms of credit and loans.
  3. Once the lender determines your affordability, you’re presented with a cash advance offer.
  4. After you accept the quote, the money is transferred directly to your bank account. This process is smooth and involves minimal paperwork. Working with an experienced whole of market broker like Commercial Finance Networks means that you will have the added advantage of speed. You can expect to see the funds in your account in 1-2 business days.
  5. You will start paying the money back to the lender as soon as the repayment period kicks in. The repayments are usually based on your daily business (5-25% of your daily card sales, depending on the offer you’ve agreed to).
  6. There is no conventional interest rate or APR. You’ll essentially be selling a fixed percentage of your future sales to the lender until the advance is fully repaid along with the fees and charges. An upfront interest amount is calculated using the “factor rate”.

Merchant Cash Advance Factor Rate – What It Is & How It Is Calculated

Every MCA quote you will receive will specify a certain “factor rate”. This number essentially replaces the traditional interest rate and tells you everything you need to know about the cost of borrowing.

The factor rate is expressed as a single number that typically ranges between 1.1 and 1.5 (depending on the health of your business and your affordability). For example, if you’re borrowing £10,000 from a lender and the factor rate is 1.1, you will be required to repay £11,000 in total. It’s really as simple as that.

There are a few things to consider here.

The factor rate differs from the APR/interest rate on two counts. Firstly, it is a fixed number that tells you exactly how much you will need to pay. Secondly, it has nothing to do with the balance of the advance that’s unpaid. It doesn’t matter how quickly you pay the MCA off, you will still pay the amount determined by the factor rate.

Merchant Cash Advance Is Not Really A Loan

In the traditional sense of the word, a loan is the amount you borrow and pay back as a function of the interest rate and time. Therefore, it should be easy to see why it’s not a good idea to treat a merchant cash advance as a loan.

As we mentioned earlier, when you borrow money using an MCA, you essentially agree to sell a part of your future revenue to the lender. The lender assumes much less risk here, even though it’s an unsecured mode of credit. We would go so far as to argue that a business cash advance/merchant cash advance is an unsecured counterpart of revenue based alternative sources of funding for SMEs (for example, invoice finance).

How Much Can You Borrow?

Larger businesses usually don’t feel the need to borrow via MCA since they have at their disposal stronger lines of credit from banks and other lenders. SMEs, on the other hand, can borrow enough to tie up the loose ends, get the cashflow in order and access money to fund purchase orders/new business opportunities.

At Commercial Finance Network, we help UK SMEs borrow anywhere between £2,000 and £200,000 as a cash advance from our panel of responsible and specialist lenders.

Please note that the amount you can borrow will depend upon the following factors:

  • The nature of your business and the industry/sector you operate in
  • The average daily turnover (card terminal transactions)
  • The overall profitability of your business

There’s no need to feel overwhelmed by these factors – these are essentially the same factors that lenders will look at while assessing any other loan application.

Please read on to learn more about how we, at Commercial Finance Network, make it easy for you to apply for and get a merchant cash advance from UK-wide lenders.

Merchant Cash Advance – A Short Case Study

Being a leading whole of market commercial finance broker, we get to work with businesses of all sizes. This gives us a unique vantage point regarding the requirements of UK SMEs. The following MCA case study will help our customers and readers understand the practical importance of merchant cash advance as a financing tool.

We recently worked with a London based mobile food startup. Their business model was interesting and had already received a good deal of positive PR in local circles. However, at less than 18 months of age, the business had no history of credit to fall back on, meaning that they couldn’t borrow the money required to grow their business from banks and high street lenders. To receive more funding from investors they already had on board, they had to hit a monthly sales target – a target they couldn’t possibly reach without investing in a new point of sale (a financing catch 22 situation). This meant that they needed at least £20,000 to buy a new van and hire 2 more employees.

After understanding their unique situation, we forwarded their application to a specialist MCA lender who agreed to assess their business.

The following terms were drawn:

  • Cash advance: £20,000
  • Factor rate:20
  • Total amount to be repaid: £24,000
  • Average card sales forecast (per month): £9,000
  • Average card sales forecast (per day): £300
  • Percentage of daily card sales to be paid back: 33% (£100)
  • MCA repaid in around: 240 days (8 months)

As the borrowing business received the money in just about a couple of days, they were able to invest it back readily. This opened up an additional revenue stream for them, and as they reached the targets laid down by the investors, they were also able to access a new line of credit.

Merchant Cash Advance – Who Is It Suited For?

Merchant cash advance is suited for SMEs that:

  • Require money urgently
  • Register significant card sales on a daily basis
  • Operate in cash rich industries and sectors

Are You Eligible For A Merchant Loan (Merchant Cash Advance)?

You’re eligible for a merchant loan if:

  • You’re a UK based business that accepts card payments,
  • You have a merchant account,
  • You generate at least £2,000 in card sales each month (over a minimum of three months),
  • You are a registered business (sole trader, partnership or limited company)

Advantages Of Business Cash Advance (MCA)

Now that we’ve seen how MCA works, let’s now see what advantages it has to offer to the borrower.

1. It’s Fast

The most important advantage is the speed. When you work with an experienced broker and specialist lenders, you can expect the entire process to complete within a matter of hours. This not only saves you a great deal of hassle, it also lets you put the money towards the requirements as soon as possible.

2. It’s Flexible

Since there is no interest rate to worry about, you know how much you’re going to have to pay back. This makes merchant cash advance incredibly flexible. On a good day, you will pay more and on a slower day, you’ll pay that much less. In other words, you will never be put in a position where you have to stretch your finances thin just to make the repayment.

3. No Need To Draw From Your Cash Transactions

You will only pay back a part of your card sales. You will still have full control over all the cash sales you make during this period.

4. No Collateral/Security Required

MCA is an unsecured form of credit. You will not be required to raise a deposit or collateral to get approved.

5. Poor/No Credit Shouldn’t Be A Problem

Most lenders tend to approve merchant cash advance applications from SMEs that have poor/no history of credit as long as the business performance is promising.

6. MCA Works With All Major Card Terminals

All major card terminals and machines are compatible with the auto debit facility for card sales.

7. MCA Can Be Topped Up

Some lenders provide the option of topping up your existing MCA account based on your history of repayment and business performance. This allows you to borrow more as and when required.

Relative Shortcomings Of Business Cash Advance (MCA)

  • Merchant cash advance is not at all suitable for businesses that do not accept card payments.
  • Young businesses that have little to no history of card sales find it difficult to get approved.
  • While MCA helps you gain access to funds faster, it also means that your daily cash flow will be impacted as long as the advance isn’t fully paid back.

How To Apply For A Merchant Cash Advance?

Merchant cash advance is a specialty form of financing. As is the case with all such finance products, it’s always a good idea to work with specialist lenders. Generic high street lenders don’t have the expertise or experience required to make such deals work, and the borrower has to face the brunt in the form of an unreasonably expensive offer.

At Commercial Finance Network, we help you get fast, flexible and low factor rate MCA offers from some of the most experienced and trusted specialist lenders across the UK.

Applying is easy – just fill in this form to message us or call us on 03303 112 646 to speak to a merchant cash advance specialist.

A Merchant Loan Can Be Used The Way You Want To

Unlike a mortgage or asset finance, merchant cash advance can be used to fund any and every business requirement as you see fit. Common examples include:

  • Opening up a new location
  • Managing the daily cashflow
  • Staff salaries
  • Funding new purchase orders
  • Refurbishments
  • Advertising and marketing
  • Purchasing new equipment
  • Investing
  • Paying off other loans

Make Merchant Cash Advance Work For Your Business

Given the number of positives it brings on board, merchant cash advance is undoubtedly one of the most versatile financing tools an SME can rely on..

To know more about how an MCA can help you grow your business and take care of emergency requirements, call us on 03303 112 646. You can also apply for a merchant cash advance directly by filling in this online form.

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Personal guarantees are turning 50% of SME owners off business loans, weakening Brexit preparations

In recent years, many banks in the UK have offered increasing support to British businesses through access to finance. However, many SME owners are rightly concerned about the prospect of using personal guarantees when securing access to funding.

Taking a different viewpoint on the matter, Purbeck Insurance Services has suggested that small business owners should not be deterred by personal guarantees, and instead should seek out ways they could dampen the risk.

In a survey carried out earlier this year on 500 small business owners and directors, Purbeck found that while a staggering 49% had never taken out any business finance, 29% of respondents had typically called on their bank overdraft to fund their business.

What types of business finance have you ever taken out?

I have never taken out any business finance 49.00%
Overdraft 29.00%
Unsecured business loan 16.00%
Commercial mortgage 10.40%
Asset finance 9.00%
Invoice finance/factoring 7.60%
Other loan secured by debenture or charge 5.20%

Furthermore, a significant 12% of small business owners claimed to have decided against using business loans to fund their organisations as they included a personal guarantee.

Todd Davison, director of Purbeck Insurance Services, explained: “Our findings suggest that many small business owners could be looking at external finance for the first time in readiness for Brexit. It’s important they seek independent advice and consider Personal Guarantee backed finance as part of their options as they can seriously reduce the risk of these types of loans.

“As well as taking Personal Guarantee Insurance, they can also share a Personal Guarantee with fellow directors of the business, and negotiate which part of the loan is covered.”

The company’s personal guarantee insurance is an annual insurance policy that provides SME directors with insurance in the event their business lender calls in the personal guarantee, provided by the directors as part of raising business finance.

In an effort to help mitigate risk for small business owners considering opting for a business loan including a personal guarantee, Purbeck offered several tips including:

Negotiate a time limit for the Guarantee and a cap on the amount;

Educate yourself about the risks, whether you can afford to take them and always seek legal support;

Consider splitting the Guarantee between directors;

Know where your responsibilities for the Guarantee begin and end – is it loan specific or does it cover all future loans that the lender may provide?

Remember that if you have signed a Personal Guarantee for another business loan they are cumulative;

Agree terms so that the lender seeks settlement from company’s assets before enforcing the Guarantee

Confirm all points of agreement intention and expectation in writing with the lender.

Consider Personal Guarantee insurance to protect against the risk that the Guarantee is called by a lender. This will offset any outstanding obligations called in under a Personal Guarantee.

Written by Miles Rogerson

Source: Asset Finance International

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UK SMEs overcome Brexit fears to seek investment for growth

The growth and funding ambitions of SMEs have strengthened during 2019 despite the uncertainty caused by Brexit negotiations.

According to a new report from asset-based lender Independent Growth Finance (IGF), almost three quarters (73%) of small businesses expect to see their revenues climb in the next 12 months, compared to 69% at the start of the year.

Of those seeking to raise funds to support growth, the average amount has also increased by 22%, or £250,000.

Three-quarters of businesses are looking to secure funds in the next 12 months. On average, they are seeking £1.4 million.

Most of this spending is earmarked for innovation with investment being poured into technology (45%) and product development (27%).

The survey found that 85% of respondents were open to switching their funding provider in exchange for more flexibility (35%), sector-specific expertise (32%) and 48-hour decision-making (26%).

John Onslow (pictured), chief executive officer of Independent Growth Finance, said: “It’s incredibly encouraging to see so many SMEs focused on the future. Making decisions that are best for them and their employees in an unpredictable landscape. This includes a greater willingness to switch funding providers to get the flexible funding they need, when they need it. We’re not surprised that our research shows three of the top five funding sources are alternative finance.”

Written by Miles Rogerson

Source: Asset Finance International

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Why credit scores are like grades

The simplest way to understand your credit score is to think back to your school days.

Think back to a time when your performance was measured in letter grades. Basically, having a great credit score is equivalent to being an A student.

Or, for people at the other end of the spectrum, having a low credit score is much like being a C or D student. If you just think about your credit score in terms of the letter grade system, the comparisons are easy.

And, the reality is that your parents or teachers were somewhat right — your grades can determine your future, like the fact that high school grades were a large factor in where you could go to college. Well, just like that, your credit score influences the types of loans you can get, as well as the types of interest rates you’ll pay.

But it’s important to understand that your credit score (unlike your grades) does not necessarily “go down in your permanent record.” Nope, the credit scoring system is much more forgiving! Your credit score is always changing, and you definitely have control over how it will be in the future.

You can’t go back and retake Calculus junior year, can you? But let’s say your credit score is not exactly perfect — a few late payments on cards, or loans — it doesn’t mean lenders will blacklist you for life. If you get your financial house in order, which is often as simple as starting to make regular on-time payments on your credit cards and loans, then over time your score may rebound. While your school transcript will always show that C+ in AP History, your credit score only shows your current creditworthiness. It lets lenders evaluate how much of a risk you are, as well the type of interest rates you’ll get, whether for credit cards, a car loan, a personal loan or mortgage.

The system is cyclical: lenders report your payment history to the credit rating agencies (the three major agencies are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion), and they act as a kind of hub, a place where your payment performance is centralized and can be accessed by lenders. This “hub” helps creditors make decisions much faster. Today, with our online capabilities, lenders can approve or deny applications almost instantly. In addition, your credit score is free of biases. It isn’t influenced by factors such as race, religion, marital status, or gender. And it’s a great system in that your credit score doesn’t scar. It isn’t permanent. It changes with you and your habits over a lifetime. You know how sometimes you look back at school and think “if only I knew then what I know now?” Well, with your credit score, you can always learn to do it better!

Take the next step: protect your credit and start saving money.

Source: True Credit

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More than half of SMEs unable to fund business ambitions

More than half (52%) of UK SME owners have business ambitions they feel they are unable to fund, alternative finance provider Nucleus Commercial Finance has revealed.

Business owners in the capital are struggling the most to match their ambitions, with over three-fifths (61%) of London SMEs unable to access funds.

Chirag Shah, chief executive, Nucleus Commercial Finance comments: “Although it’s great to see an increase in both profit and revenue for small businesses, it’s clear that funding challenges still remain.

“If business owners cannot access the funds they need to achieve their strategic goals, we could see a significant impact on the UK’s economy if SMEs are held back.

“With SMEs accounting for 99% of all UK businesses, the alternative finance industry has a significant role to play in helping businesses succeed.

“Particularly as high street banks become more reluctant to lend, we need to better educate small businesses on the other solutions out there.

“The alternative finance industry offers a more flexible and personalised approach to lending, meaning they can help business owners who otherwise thought they had no available option.”

Despite SME owners reporting that revenue and profit increased by 10% and 8% over the previous year respectively, businesses are reportedly struggling to achieve their strategic goals.

The biggest goals are increasing brand, marketing or online presence (19%), expanding across the UK (17%), increasing staff (14%) and launching a new product or service (13%).

By Michael Lloyd

Source: Mortgage Introducer

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Steepest fall in lending to UK businesses for almost two years

LENDING to UK businesses saw the biggest decline in almost two years in July, the Bank of England has reported.

Net lending to UK firms slid by £4.2 billion over the month, driven by a £2 billion net repayment by businesses to banks.

The significant amount of repayment saw the annual growth rate of bank lending to UK businesses fall to 3 per cent, down from 4.4 per cent in June.

Analysts have suggested the slump in borrowing could be another sign that firms are resisting investment which would need a loan and are hunkering down until there is greater clarity over Brexit.

The decline was most significant among large businesses, where the growth rate of borrowing fell to 4.2 per cent.

Growth of borrowing by small and medium-sized firms (SMEs) was unchanged at 0.8 per cent for the month.

Michael Biemann, chief executive of Selina Finance, said: “SME borrowing rates remained static at 0.8 per cent, which once again underlines the disconnect between the average UK business and the high street.

“These days, high street banks want businesses to jump through all kinds of hoops to secure finance, and so it’s no surprise the number of SMEs turning to alternative sources is on the increase.”

Meanwhile, the new Bank of England figures also revealed that British lenders approved the greatest number of mortgages for two years in July, appearing to highlight greater stability in the housing market following a Brexit slowdown.

The central bank said lenders approved 67,306 mortgages last month, up from 66,506 in June.

The UK housing market has been downbeat since the EU referendum in 2016 but has shown tentative improvements in recent months.

However, earlier on Friday, the latest Nationwide housing survey revealed that annual house price growth ran below 1 per cent for the ninth month in a row in August as consumer confidence remained low.

Source: Irish News