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Commons Library Briefing Papers: latest update

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Tuesday, January 26, 2016This briefing paper provides an outline of the current regulation of estate agents in England and Wales only. In both countries there is no legally binding contract at the point when a seller accepts an offer; there is only the potential for a transaction at a verbally agreed price. This means that until exchange of contracts, either side can pull out without being liable to the other for any losses incurred. The situation is very different in Scotland, where there are different property laws. In Scotland, there is a much earlier legally binding agreement between the buyer and seller of a property.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016This note looks at trends in income inequality in the UK over the last 50 years.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016The price of domestic gas and electricity has generally increased over the past ten years after around a decade of falling prices. The cost of heating oil has increased by a larger amount. There have been some price cuts over the past few years, but these have been smaller than the price rises. So far in the current year only one of the big six energy companies has announced a cut in in domestic gas bills. Over the last few years domestic prices have ratcheted up as higher operating, network and environmental costs and higher supplier margins have magnified the impact of longer term increases in wholesale costs. Energy companies have recently been under pressure to cut prices in response to drops in wholesale energy prices. In the medium to long term the pressures on price appear to be mixed as companies consider the reduction in wholesale price as well as infrastructural costs. The only way for most consumers to reduce the impact of increased unit costs, and even to reduce their bills, is through energy efficiency improvements.

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