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Last Updated: Friday, 14 December 2007, 18:16 GMT
Banks of the world unite
BBC's business editor, Robert Peston
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday 15 December
at 1204 GMT
On Radio 4 and Online

This week, the Bank of England and four other central banks in America, Canada, Europe, and Switzerland, injected about 10bn each into the money market.

This unprecedented move was made in an attempt to ease what has become known as the credit crunch.

We asked the BBC's business editor, Robert Peston, and Howard Wheeldon, senior strategist at BCG Partners, if this intervention will be enough to encourage banks to begin lending again and bring down the cost of credit for consumers.

Further information:

The housing market
For sale signs
Over the last three months 58% of RICS members saw a drop in prices

One of the sectors hit by the tightening of credit and the lessening of consumer confidence, is the housing market.

The fall in house prices in November was the fourth in a row - according to the survey of members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.

Conditions, the survey says, are at their gloomiest since 1998.

Nearly six out of 10 surveyors said prices fell in November, but the only area to see prices rise was Scotland, where 2% of surveyors said prices were on the up.

So, is the picture uniformly bleak across Britain?

We put this question to Richard Donnell from housing industry research organisation, Hometrack, and Jeremy Leaf, estate agent, and RICS member.

Further information:

The front of a Home Information Pack
When selling a house you can expect a HIP to cost you up to 400

Whatever the future of the housing market, now everyone selling a property of any size needs to have a Home Information Pack commissioned, before putting their house on the market.

The pack contains, amongst other things, local searches
and an assessment of how energy efficient your home is.

But if you are offered a free or discounted HIP, there are warnings that you may end up paying hundreds of pounds if you change the terms of the contract with your estate agent.

Bob Howard read the small print.

Further information:

Community banking
Abbey and Santander Central Hispano logos
Abbey was bought by Santander Central Hispano in November 2004

There is one glimmer of light in the banking gloom this week,
as Abbey has announced that in 2009 it will open three hundred new branches across the UK, increasing its total branch network by 40% to about 1000.

But Abbey, now owned by the Spanish bank Santander, will not reveal where the new branches will be.

This is a matter of concern for the Campaign for Community Banking Services, who say that in the last two years more than 700 bank branches in the UK have closed.

Derek French, director of the Campaign for Community Banking Services and Lesley McLeod, from the British Banking Association joined us to discuss the future of banking in the UK and how we are faring compared to continental Europe.

Further information:

Other news

Millions of pensioners and disabled people could face long queues on Christmas Eve to get their pensions and benefits from the Post Office.

Although the Department for Work and Pensions brought forward some payments to this Friday, including state pension and widow's benefit, it has not moved others, including pension credit and disability living allowance.

The Department has also said that all payments due on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday can be taken out on Christmas Eve, but as Post Offices close at 12.30 that day, reopening on Thursday, millions of people will have just three and a half hours to get out the money to last them over Christmas.

Further information:

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 15 December 2007 at 1204 GMT.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 16 December 2007 at 2102 GMT.

External internet links
14 Dec 07 |  Moneybox


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