Severn bridges toll scrapped allowing motorists to cross for free
Motorists can now cross the two Severn bridges for free for the first time in 52 years as the tolls have officially been scrapped.
The abolition of the crossing fee - which was confirmed earlier this year - comes in time for the thousands expected to make their journeys home for the festive period.
Experts have estimated that regular commuters will save around £1,400 a year from the removal of the toll, while some businesses could pocket around £55,000 in transport costs.
However, the Road Haulage Association has warned that an increase in congestion as a result of there being no crossing fee could increase costs for firms that would then be passed on to consumers.
Free to use: Motorists no longer have to pay a fee to cross the Severn Bridges from Monday 17 December
Charges on the original Severn Crossing have been in place since 1966, when the fee stood at two shillings and sixpence – the equivalent of 12.5p in decimal currency today.
They were then introduced on the second crossing – renamed the Prince of Wales Bridge in April this year – when it opened 30 years later in 1996.
Ministers said scrapping of the tolls would provide an immediate benefit of over £100million per year for Wales, and over a billion pounds of economic benefit over the next decade.
Chris Graying, Secretary of State for Transport, said the abolition would save regular bridge users £1,400 a year.
The final driver to pay to cross over from England to Wales on Sunday was Welsh Secretary Alun Cairns.
Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said scrapping the tolls would see regular commuters save £1,400 per year. He was the last driver to pay the toll on the evening of 16 December
Motorists had been paying £5.60 to cross the westbound bridge since January, as the fee was no longer run by the government and was therefore VAT free, reducing the charge from £6.70
'The end of the tolls is a major milestone for the economies of south Wales and south west of England, and will remove historic barriers between communities,' he said.
'Scrapping the tolls means an end to generations of people paying to simply cross the border and delivering this has been one of my key aims as Welsh Secretary.
'A week before Christmas drivers will no longer have to pay every time they cross the border, meaning more money in their pockets, helping them with the cost of living and leaving them with and more cash to spend in their local areas.'
Chris Graying, Secretary of State for Transport, added: 'We made a commitment in the manifesto to deliver free crossings over the Severn and that's exactly what we're delivering.
'This move will put £1,400 a year in the pockets of thousands of hard-working motorists and help transform the economy in the south west and South Wales creating new opportunities and helping drive future growth.'
Gregg Griffiths, managing director of transport business Collier Haulage, said the scrapping of the toll would save his business up to £55k a year
Gregg Griffiths, managing director of transport business Collier Haulage, based in Pontypool in South Wales, said the abolition of toll fees represents a 'big saving' for his business.
Crossing the Severn bridges from England into South Wales in a lorry costs £16.70, with fees only applying in the westbound direction - as they do for car drivers.
Mr Griffiths predicted the move will reduce costs to his firm by around £50,000 to £55,000 per year.
'It will go straight on the bottom line,' he said. 'We probably cross it 10 times or more a day.'
However, some have warned that the removal of the toll could increase traffic and costs to businesses.
Charges on the original Severn Crossing have been in place since 1966, when the fee stood at two shillings and sixpence – the equivalent of 12.5p in decimal currency today
The two bridges link Wales and England via the M4 and M48 motorways
Richard Burnett, chief executive at the Road Haulage Association, said additional congestion at the crossing could means increase in transportation costs that would then be passed on to customers.
He said: 'We welcome the abolition of tolls as operators are already working to incredibly tight margins.'
Hauliers 'have no choice but to pass toll prices on to their customers,' he added. 'They then have to pass it on to theirs – everybody pays.'
However it is 'essential that traffic remains free flowing', he said, adding: 'Congestion as a result of increased vehicle numbers will quickly cancel out any advantages resulting from a toll-free crossing.
'The abolition of tolls on the Severn Bridge will inevitably increase the volume of traffic on this particular route.'
Earlier this year, more than 30,000 people signed a petition against the Second Severn Crossing being renamed after the Prince of Wales.
The new title, which has the agreement of the Queen and Prime Minister Theresa May, was to recognise Charles' 70th birthday year and 60 years since he became the Prince of Wales.
The Road Haulage Association has warned that an increase in congestion at the bridges could result in higher transportation costs for businesses, but supported the abolition of the toll
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December 17, 2018
Sources: Daily Mail
ast year, findings from Action Fraud warn as Valentine's Day approaches.</p><p>In 2018, the average sum of money lost by a victim of romance fraud came in at £11,145, marking a 27 per cent increase on the year before.</p><p>In one case, a woman lost around £10,000 to a man who claimed to be in the army needing money for a box of belongings to be returned to the UK.</p><p>Be careful: Unsuspecting singletons can easily come across fraudulent crooks online (file pic)</p><p>The online crook gained the woman's trust by talking about getting married and buying a house together, but she became suspicious and contacted the Foreign Office, which confirmed it was a scam.</p><p>The woman had used a loan and her private pension to cover the money she had sent to the scammer.</p><p>Romance fraud can happen to anyone, but the average age of victims last year was 50. Women also lost twice as much cash than male victims, according to Action Fraud.</p><p>Victims of romance fraud are tricked into thinking they have met the perfect partner online via a dating app, social media or dating website.</p><p>Online dating fraudsters often pretend to be someone they are not and may use fake photos, be reluctant to meet up face-to-face and typically come up with a far-fetched sob story as to why they need to be sent cash.</p><p>Once an online dating fraudster gains the trust of their victim, they start scamming them for cash. Victims can also end up having their identities stolen if they provide the crook with personal details like their address or passport number.</p><p>Don't be fooled: Victims of romance fraud are tricked into thinking they have met the perfect partner</p><p>Victims are often swept along by the idea of their next big romance and are heavily pressurized by crooks to part with their cash.</p><p>Help is widely available for people who think they may be about to or have already become a victim of romance fraud.</p><p>Diana Fawcett, chief officer at Victim Support, said: 'These scams can be extremely sophisticated and victims should not feel ashamed or embarrassed and shouldn't blame themselves in any way.'</p><p>Who are you really talking to? Online dating fraudsters may be unwilling to meet face-to-face</p><p>Speak out: Help is widely available for people who think they may be about to or have already become a victim of romance fraud</p><p>Action Fraud is currently working with the Date Safe working group to raise awareness of the risks of romance fraud in the UK. </p><p>It can be embarrassing to feel tricked into thinking you’ve formed a relationship online, but if you tell Action Fraud they can take a report in confidence.</p><p>Report romance fraud to Action Fraud online or call 0300 123 2040.</p><p>Date safe's members include Action Fraud and the City of London Police, Get Safe Online, the Metropolitan Police, Age UK, Victim Support, Scamalytics and the Online Dating Association.</p><p>Commander Karen Baxter, head of City of London Police's economic crime department, said: 'Heartless fraudsters are cruelly targeting vulnerable victims and exploiting those looking for love online.</p><p>'Together with our partners, we are urging people to spot the signs of romance fraud and to follow the Date Safe advice this Valentine's Day and in the future.</p><p>'If you think you have been a victim of romance fraud, please report this to Action Fraud.'</p><p>Stay safe: Action Fraud is currently working with the Date Safe working group to raise awareness of the risks of romance fraud in the UK</p><p>Be cautious: Never give away your personal information to people on dating sites</p><p>Meanwhile, Metropolitan Police’s Detective Inspector Suzanne Grimmer said: 'This cruel fraud is one of the most devastating for our victims to deal with because they have suffered losses both financially and emotionally. </p><p>'The fraudster preys on the emotions of individuals looking for companionship for their own self-gain and profit. Please follow our “Date Safe” advice to ensure you are aware of how to protect yourself whilst dating online.</p><p>'If you believe you may have been victim of a romance fraud please come forward and report it to Action Fraud – you are not alone and this action may help prevent others falling victim too.'</p><p>1. Do not rush into an online relationship - get to know the person, not the profile and ask plenty of questions.</p><p>2. Analyse an online profile carefully and check the person is genuine by putting their name, profile pictures or any repeatedly used phrases and the term 'dating scam' into your search engine.</p><p>3. Talk to your friends and family about your dating choices. Be wary of anyone who tells you not to tell others about them.</p><p>4. Thwart scammers by never sending money to, or sharing your bank details with, someone you have met online, no matter what reason they give or how long you have been speaking to them.</p><p>5. Stay on the dating site messenger service until you are confident the person is who they say they are. If you do decide to meet in person, make sure the first meeting is in a public place and let someone else know where you are going to be.</p><p>It is vital not to give away too many personal details when dating online, as revealing your full name, date of birth or home address may lead to your identity being stolen.</p><p>Never send or receive money or give away your bank details to someone you have only met online, no matter how much you trust them or believe their story.</p><p>Action Fraud says it is also crucial to use a reputable dating website and use the site’s own messaging service. Fraudsters will want to quickly switch to social media or texting so there is no immediate evidence of them asking you for money.</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
up Appearances, who insisted that her surname was pronounced 'Bouquet'. </p><p>Now you could live next door to the fictional Hyacinth Bucket, who tried to impress others with her perceived affluence and refinement in the popular 1990s sitcom. </p><p>This included her competing with her upper-middle-class neighbours, Elizabeth and brother Emmet.</p><p>The real life property where her neighbours lived on the show is on the market for £495,000.</p><p>The popular 1990s sitcom Keeping Up Appearances followed Hyacinth Bucket and her henpecked husband Richard as she tried to impress others with her perceived affluence</p><p>This property for sale was used as the home of Hyacinth Bucket's neighbour Elizabeth (with the corner of Hyacinth's home picture on the left)</p><p>TV sitcom gold: Hyacinth's neighbour Elizabeth Warden is pictured here with her brother Emmet</p><p>The exterior of the four-bedroom detached house in Binley Woods in Coventry, Warwickshire, regularly appeared in the sitcom.</p><p>Hyacinth's house was next door and she was frequently seen walking to her neighbour's property, often with her henpecked husband Richard in tow.</p><p>The actor Clive Swift, who played her husband, died earlier this month, aged 82, following an illness.</p><p>Keeping Up Appearances began in 1990, with Swift starring in 42 episodes until 1995.</p><p>Hyacinth Bucket's long-suffering neighbours Elizabeth Warden and her brother Emmet</p><p>The house for sale (pictured on the right) is next door to TV's Hyacinth Bucket's property (pictured on the left)</p><p>The neighbours' detached property is on the market and comes with a modern interior</p><p>The house for sale has a large kitchen with white based units and floor tiles, along with a separate dining area </p><p>How it looks today: The lounge has patio doors and attractive wooden floor </p><p>Fun in the sun: In the garden, there is a covered swimming and some decking</p><p>Annabel Dixon, from property website Zoopla, said: 'Hyacinth was often name-dropping her sister Violet, who "had a Mercedes, swimming pool, sauna and room for a pony".</p><p>'So the grande dame would surely approve of this unusual opportunity to snap up the home of her twitchy neighbours, Elizabeth and Emmett.</p><p>'Its features include a landscaped garden, heated swimming pool, hot tub and wooden summer house.'</p><p>There is a wooden summer house and a patio area to the left of the swimming pool</p><p>There is a modern fireplace and television on the wall next to the seating area </p><p>There is double glazing thoroughout the property, including in the kitchen and dining area</p><p>The Coventry property spans across more than 1,620 square feet. It has a spacious living area with room for a dining room table and a large fitted kitchen.</p><p>On the first floor, there is a master bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe and an en-suite shower room, two further double bedrooms, a single bedroom and a family bathroom.</p><p>To the front of property is an extensive gravel driveway leading to a separate garage.</p><p>In the garden, there is a sun patio and a heated swimming pool with a hot tub and wooden summer house.</p><p>Family home: There are four bedrooms at the property for sale in Coventry, Warwickshire</p><p>Stepping stones lead across the generous garden at the rear of the property</p><p>There is also a patio area at the rear of the property with a seating area for entertaining</p><p>The nearest station is Coventry, which is 4.2 miles away, with local primary schools including Binley Woods.</p><p>Nearby secondary schools include Ernesford Grand Community Academy and Riverbank School.</p><p>The average price of a property in Coventry is £211,008, according to Zoopla. It compares to £310,757 for the country as a whole.</p><p>A piece of sitcom history: Today, the property's bedrooms have a bright and colourful interior</p><p>Out of my price range. Is Onslow's old place up fo...</p><p> The views expressed in the contents above are those of our users and do not necessarily reflect the views of MailOnline. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
sion.</p><p>Orange Vanilla Coke and Orange Vanilla Coke Zero Sugar are scheduled to hit shelves Feb. 25 after successful testing in Canada.</p><p>“Expect the Coke version to hit you with more of that orange flavor upon first sniff—and, yep, it’s there on the taste, too. There’s major sweetness here, and if you like classic Coke more than Coke Zero, you’ll likely still reach for this one. The Orange Vanilla Coke Zero doesn’t smell or taste as orange-heavy. This can focuses on the vanilla, it seems,” the tester described.</p><p>Both options will be available in a 12-ounce can and 20-ounce bottle and in the tall, skinny “sleek” cans for a limited time from March through May.</p><p> News Corp. is a network of leading companies in the world of diversified media, news, and information services. </p>
><p>These are external links and will open in a new window</p><p>These are external links and will open in a new window</p><p>These are external links and will open in a new window</p><p>These are external links and will open in a new window</p><p>These are external links and will open in a new window</p><p>These are external links and will open in a new window</p><p>Nordstream 2 is the name of the undersea pipeline that should soon pump more Russian gas into Europe.</p><p>It is a divisive project within Europe and has infuriated the US, which fears that more Russian gas means more Russian influence and less share of the lucrative European gas market for American liquefied natural gas.</p><p>BBC’s Berlin correspondent Jenny Hill has been looking at the issue.</p><p>These are external links and will open in a new window</p>
rading update today, its cancellation rate crept up from 11 to 13 per cent in the six months to the end of January.</p><p>Brexit jitters aside, Bellway said demand for affordable homes, low interest rates, cheap mortgage deals and the Government's Help to Buy scheme combined to stoke 'high' levels of consumer interest in the firm's homes.</p><p>Brexit outlook: Housebuilder Bellway has admitted that Brexit was 'inevitably' taking its toll on consumer confidence and the economy</p><p>The average cost of a home by Bellway increased by £17,855 to £293,800 in the last six months.</p><p>Bellway said it was expecting total revenues to rise by over 12 per cent to nearly £1.5billion for the half-year.</p><p>This increase has been driven by a 5.6 per cent rise in the number of housing completions, which grew to 5,007.</p><p>The firm said that while the rate of house price growth has moderated, it remained 'firm.'</p><p>In today's update, Bellway said: 'This is a robust performance given the ongoing discussions around our forthcoming exit from the EU, which has inevitably had some bearing on customer confidence in the wider economy.'</p><p>The group added: 'However, the board remains cautious given the uncertainty regarding the UK's forthcoming exit from the EU and the extent to which this will affect wider customer confidence.'</p><p>Paul Hampden Smith, Bellway's chairman, said: 'Bellway has delivered another strong trading performance, achieving growth in both volume and average selling price in the six month period. </p><p>Demand: Bellway said demand for affordable homes was helping it boost sales</p><p>'Further, disciplined investment in high quality land, together with a sizeable forward order book, ensure that the Group is well placed, over the longer term, to continue increasing its contribution to the supply of much needed new homes.'</p><p>He added: 'While the forthcoming exit from the EU is providing a degree of wider economic uncertainty, Bellway’s balance sheet is solid and the Group retains its ability to respond positively to opportunities in the land market as they arise.'</p><p>Today's update comes several months Bellway embarked on a cost savings programme in a bid to boost margins amid growing caution in Britain’s housing market. </p><p>Shares in FTSE 250 listed Bellway are down 1.7 per cent or 49p to 2,841p.</p><p>Ed Monk, associate director from Fidelity Personal Investing, said: 'Housebuilder Bellway’s trading update showed solid performance with only a small minus being higher cancellations, which the company said was driven by Brexit fears. </p><p>'The cancellation rate rose from 11% to 13%, but on most other metrics performance was strong. </p><p>'Average selling prices rose 6.5% and the company again cited the importance of the Help-to-Buy scheme for bolstering demand. Even the troubled Nine Elms development saw increased demand and jump in selling prices.'</p><p>On Brexit, all Barratt said is that it's working with suppliers to ensure the 'continuity of supply of non-UK manufactured components'.</p><p>Barratt's boss David Thomas added: 'Whilst we continue to monitor market conditions closely, current trading is in line with our expectations and we are confident of delivering a good financial and operational performance in full year 2019.'</p><p>Meanwhile, Redrow said that sales were 'negatively affected' towards the end of the calendar year as a result of the 'political uncertainty surrounding Brexit' and the effect of high stamp duty tax. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
ouseholds this April and could be the catalyst for many to hunt ways to cut down on their bills. </p><p>Ofgem, the energy regulator, announced that customers on standard variable tariffs will see the price cap increase by £117 to £1,254 per year, while those on pre-payment plans will see the cap increase by £106 to £1,242 per year - an increase of 10.3 per cent.</p><p>Overall, the price hike is expected to collectively cost energy customers £1.3billion, leaving many wondering what they can do to avoid mounting bills.</p><p>However, there is one simple way households can save money on their energy bills - switch providers and move onto a cheaper tariff, before the price cap comes into effect.</p><p>Price hike: The new price cap means that millions of UK households will see their bills increase</p><p>According to Ofgem and other consumer groups, switching supplier could save the average household nearly £200 a year, but yet millions remain on SVTs.</p><p>To help those looking to bring their bills down, This is Money turned to comparison website uSwitch, which has revealed the ten cheapest energy tariffs currently available - and small suppliers come out on top. </p><p>The cheapest deal is with renewable energy company, People's Energy, which is offering a fixed tariff that would cost customers, on average, £968 a year.</p><p>This means that customers on this deal could potentially pay £286 less than the increased price cap. </p><p>Orbit Energy, another small supplier, is second on the list with their '10 per cent off for life' variable tariff that will currently cost customers £974 - £280 cheaper than the price cap. </p><p>The firm, founded in 2017, promises to charge their customers at least 10 per cent under the Government price cap, guaranteed, for life. </p><p>Pure Planet rounds off the top three with their '100 per cent green' variable deal, costing on average £974 a year. </p><p>The renewable energy company is app-based, letting customers check their meter readings and bills on the go. </p><p>All but one of the tariffs included in the list are from small suppliers, revealing a shift away from the Big Six. </p><p>First Utility, which came tenth, is the seventh largest supplier in the UK, putting it just outside of the Big Six.</p><p>Although small suppliers have had a rough time in recent years, with many ceasing to trade due to market difficulties, they still offer some of the most competitive prices in the industry. </p><p>Not only are customers advised to switch supplier before the price cap, they are encouraged to change onto a fixed tariff, which means paying a set amount, protecting them from any energy price rises. </p><p>Peter Earl, head of energy at Compare the Market, said: 'The revised price cap level will shock people and usher in a spring of discontent for millions when it comes into force on 1 April. </p><p>'A rise was expected, but a hike of £117 represents a brutal hit to households on variable and default tariffs. </p><p>'This increase is a reminder that as Ofgem continues to review the cap, there could be more rises to come in the future. </p><p>'The reality is that the price cap, while well intentioned, will not save people from price hikes - people still need to take control of their own energy provision to have the best opportunity of making savings.' </p><p>The price cap, initially introduced in January, promised to save the average UK household £76 a year.</p><p>However, the decision was met with criticism and it was suggested that energy companies would use the cap as a 'target rather than a limit'. </p><p>Earl added: 'There is little doubt that energy providers will most likely immediately raise their prices to just below the new limit, adding extra pain on people already paying over the odds for their energy. </p><p>'The message is clear – shop around and move to a competitively priced fixed tariff or face an inertia tax of around £117 on your annual bill.' </p><p>Mark Ronald, lead engineer at Hometree, has given his top tips on how to keep your house warm in the winter months. </p><p>The price cap cap will continue to be reviewed every six months in April and October.</p><p>Using published algorithms, the regulator adjusts the level of the caps twice a year to reflect the estimated costs of supplying electricity and gas to homes for the next six-month period.</p><p>This means, for the cap starting on 1 April, it is prices from 1 August 2018 to 31 January 2019 which have been taken into account.</p><p>Dermot Nolan, chief executive of Ofgem, said: 'Under the caps, households on default tariffs are protected and will always pay a fair price for their energy, even though the levels will increase from 1 April.</p><p>'We can assure these customers that they remain protected from being overcharged for their energy and that these increases are only due to actual rises in energy costs, rather than excess charges from supplier profiteering.</p><p>'Alongside the price caps, we are continuing to work with government and the industry to deliver a more competitive, fairer and smarter energy market that works for all consumers.'</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. 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year to just 1.2 per cent as its policymakers held interest rates at 0.75 per cent today.</p><p>Amid signs that Brexit uncertainty is wreaking havoc on the economy, the monetary policy committee voted unanimously to keep rates unchanged. Experts said rate-setters are likely to hold off from raising rates for some time until Brexit clarity emerges.</p><p>Sterling weakened on the news and was trading 0.6 per cent down versus the US dollar at 1.285, while against the euro the pound was down 0.3 per cent at 1.134. </p><p>The Bank and Governor Mark Carney have ramped up their warnings over the worsening outlook for the global economy, and China in particular.</p><p>The Bank's latest rates decision comes just days after industry data showed output in Britain's dominant service sector almost ground to a halt in January, reaching its lowest level for two-and-a-half years.</p><p>Economists said the figures suggested growth may flatline in the first quarter of 2019, following disappointing purchasing managers' index readings for the manufacturing and construction sectors in January.</p><p>The uncertainty caused by Brexit appears to be weighing not just on businesses, but also consumers as retail and house purchases appear to be affected.</p><p>Retail sales fell 0.9 per cent in December after Black Friday brought spending forward to November, while there are also signs of sales stagnating in January.</p><p>Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit, said data suggests gross domestic product stagnated in January after eking out growth of just 0.1 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2018.</p><p>He said: 'There is a heightened risk of the economy stagnating or even contracting in the first quarter, especially if Brexit uncertainty intensifies in the lead-up to March 29.'</p><p>The Bank - which forecast growth of 1.3 per cent in 2018 and 1.7 per cent in 2019 last November - cautioned at its rates meeting in December that Brexit uncertainties had 'intensified' and were slamming the brakes on the economy.</p><p>The Bank estimated UK growth was set to slow by more than previously expected to 0.2 per cent in the final three months of the year, down sharply on 0.6 per cent seen in the heatwave-boosted third quarter.</p><p>Since then, the economic signs have worsened, while the Bank and Governor Mark Carney have ramped up their warnings over the worsening outlook for the global economy, and China in particular.</p><p>Financial markets have cut nearly one full quarter point rate rise over the next two years since the last inflation report in November, factoring in just a 50/50 chance of one hike in 2019.</p><p>The pressure to raise rates has also eased as recent official figures showed inflation falling further in December, to 2.1 per cent from 2.3 per cent in November.</p><p>But Investec expects the Bank to tweak its inflation forecast to show a modest overshoot of its 2 per cent target over the next two years as it remains concerned about domestic pressures, such as wages.</p><p>James Smith at ING added: 'A rate hike in the first half of 2019 looks very unlikely, but further tightening later in the year shouldn't be completely ruled out.</p><p>'With wage growth continuing to perform strongly, we sense that policymakers would like to raise rates again if they can.'</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>
to a 401(k), 403(b) or similar employer-sponsored plan are often plagued by this question: How do I go about evaluating and selecting which funds to invest in.</p><p>In some cases, the research shows that investors contribute equal amounts to all the funds on their menu of options. In other cases, investors – overwhelmed by the number of choices – choose not to contribute to their retirement plan. And in still other cases, according to new research, retirement plan participants use something called alphabeticity to select funds.</p><p>Using a proprietary database of 401(k) plans, researchers recently showed that alphabeticity – when fund names are listed alphabetically on an investment menu – significantly biases participants’ investment allocation decisions.</p><p>This as well as other factors that cause irrational investment in defined contribution savings plans are of great concern, the researchers concluded in their paper, "Alphabeticity Bias in 401(k) Investing." </p><p>“The paper confirms what many would suspect,” says Stacy Schaus, the founder and CEO of Schaus Group, a retirement consulting firm. “Participants choices are often irrational and/or uninformed.”</p><p>The research also suggests that a “more strategic ordering of funds could result in favorable outcomes for participants,” wrote Jesse Itzkowitz, a vice president at the Ipsos Behavioral Science Center, who co-authored "Alphabeticity Bias in 401(k) Investing." </p><p>For instance, if funds were listed in ascending order by expense ratio rather than alphabetically, then the plan design feature would help reduce investment fees paid by plan participants affected by alphabeticity bias.</p><p>In the absence of more strategic ordering of funds by plan administrators and plan providers, how might people in an employer-sponsored retirement plan go about choosing funds?</p><p>Itzkowitz says people should sort their choices according to what’s most important to them. “For example, a prudent strategy is looking for funds with minimal fees,” he says.”</p><p>Likewise, if you think that five-year returns are most important, sort by that criteria first. </p><p>People can also improve their ability to pick the best option by making sure that they are alert and focused, says Itzkowitz. “To do that, they should save important decisions, like how to invest their retirement savings, for when they are well rested, after a good meal, and before they done a lot of other difficult decision making,” he says. “Research has shown that when we are tired, both physically and mentally, all of our biases, not just alphabeticity, become more pronounced.”</p><p>In some cases, when plan participants are automatically enrolled in a 401(k), they are also placed into what are called qualified default investment alternatives or QDIAs. If that happens to you, consider sticking with them.</p><p>There are four types of QDIAs: a lifecycle or target-date fund; a professionally managed account; a balanced fund; and a capital preservation product such as a stable-value fund.</p><p>“We know that defaults can be very helpful,” Schaus says.</p><p>QDIAs, however, are targeted to the average worker without regard to their personal needs and circumstances. Given that each person has different goals and resources, what's needed is more customized and personal advice. And that's especially true as one gets older, as financial assets increase in value and as financial affairs become more complicated.</p><p>“The closer to retirement, the more important comprehensive planning becomes as participants are likely to have more outside assets, varying risk preferences and health considerations,” says Schaus. “Decisions also matter more when the participant has more at risk — accumulated balances and less human capital," she says. "Working with a financial planner to tailor the allocation within a defined contribution plan with a comprehensive view and objectives in mind would be ideal.”</p>
ive-thrus, called Chipotlanes, in 2019. </p><p>The company made the announcement during its fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday.</p><p>The exact locations haven't been released yet. However, the chain reported that the 10 locations tested in Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Tennessee, Texas and Virginia have been successful.</p><p>But burrito buyer, beware: You can't actually order food at a Chipotlane. There's no speaker to give a staffer your order, like you'd find at traditional drive-thrus. At the Chipotle version – which is billed as a "mobile order pick-up lane" – you have to mobile-order and then you go to the Chipotlane to pick up your food.</p><p>"You never have to get out of your car. You order from your app, pull up to the window and out comes Chipotle," CEO Brian Niccol said.</p><p>Customers also may place their order via the corporate website.</p><p>What enables the chain to accommodate the extra ordering via the car window is the second area in the restaurants where employees prepare customers' food – what Chipotle calls a "make line."</p><p>Niccol previously ran Taco Bell, a chain known for its vibrant drive-thru culture, but Chipotle's stab at it predates his time in the new position. The first Chipotle drive-thru window opened in Pickerington, Ohio, in January 2018 and Niccol took over the helm of Chipotle two months later.</p><p>"Consumers' No. 1 barrier to Chipotle is access," he said. "One way to access is to not have to have people get out of their cars."</p>
st year according to the latest Halifax house price index, which also revealed the second largest monthly drop in values since September 2010. </p><p>Across the country, annual price growth slowed from 1.3 per cent in December to 0.8 per cent in January, one of Britain's biggest lenders says. </p><p>Down: House prices have dropped £6,000 in a month, Halifax data shows</p><p>The average house price now stands at £223,691, more than £6,000 lower than December, meaning prices have now fallen in four months out of the last six. </p><p>However, December did see 102,330 home sales, which means 100,000 homes or more have now been sold for the fourth consecutive month.</p><p>Revising his bold projection from last month, Russell Galley, managing director at Halifax, said price growth is now expected 'to remain subdued in the near-term'.</p><p>He said: 'Attention will no doubt be drawn towards the monthly fall of 2.9 per cent from December to January, the second time in three years that we have seen a drop as a new year starts.</p><p>'However, the bigger picture is actually that house prices have seen next to no movement over the last year, with annual growth of just 0.8 per cent.</p><p>'This could either be viewed as a story of resilience, as prices have held up well in the face of significant economic uncertainty, or as a continuation of the slow growth we've witnessed over recent years.'</p><p>House prices dropped nearly 3% last month after a surprisingly strong December. Halifax has now revised down its prediction for house price growth in the near future</p><p>He added: 'There's no doubt that the next year will be important for the housing market with much of the immediate focus on what impact Brexit may have.</p><p>'However, more fundamentally it is key underlying factors of supply and demand that will ultimately shape the market.'</p><p>According to Halifax, the quarterly figure provides the clearest indication of overall market trends, 'smoothing out the monthly volatility caused by the reduced number of monthly transactions used to calculate all house price indices'.</p><p>On that basis, quarterly prices are down 0.6 per cent, which compares to a 0.3 per cent fall in December and 1.1 per cent drop in November. </p><p>The figures are based on its own mortgage approval data. </p><p>Howard Archer, chief economic adviser at EY ITEM Club, said: 'The Halifax reported house prices plunged 2.9 per cent month-on-month in January, which was the second largest monthly drop since September 2010.'</p><p>He said January's drop was 'clearly partly a correction' after house prices surprisingly spiked 2.5 per cent month-on-month in December.</p><p>Mr Archer added: 'Caution over making major purchases will likely be magnified in the near-term by current heightened uncertainties over Brexit.'</p><p>Jeremy Leaf, a north London estate agent and a former residential chairman of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, said: 'What we are seeing on the ground is the release of some pent-up demand prompting more listings, viewings and offers over the past few weeks than we dared hope for.</p><p>'However, interest is very patchy and real value must be perceived, otherwise little market change will result.</p><p>'Looking forward, we do not expect any significant improvement at least until the odds on a Brexit deal improve.'</p><p>Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, said: 'Flat growth is probably the best we can hope for given the current tricky political situation we find ourselves in.</p><p>'Brexit has caused a slowdown in purchase activity as would-be buyers sit on their hands, waiting for the outcome before committing to something as major as buying a new home.</p><p>'Fewer transactions has meant less business for lenders, yet they remain keen to lend.'</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday & Metro Media Group</p>