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water meter

This week’s roundup includes news that MPs are calling for compulsory water meters in UK households, more young people are struggling to afford deposits for new homes and the IMF has published a report warning against ‘dangerous undercurrents’ in the economy.   

MPs: water meters should be compulsory 

Millions of households in England and Wales could be forced to have water meters installed if a group of MPs gets its way. 

Members of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee (EFRA) say that all water companies should be allowed to introduce compulsory metering with the aim to help save water. 

But the MPs concede that in some cases putting in a meter might lead to significant increases in bills. Householders who do not have meters currently pay a flat fee, according to the rateable value of their home. Those with meters pay according to how much water they actually use. 

So those with low rateable values and large families, face the biggest increase in bills. 

Water meters help reduce demand and make it easier for companies to detect leaks.At the moment, three billion litres are lost every day, enough to fill over 1,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools. 

Young with deposits cannot afford homes 

About 40% of young adults cannot afford to buy one of the cheapest homes in their area even with a 10% deposit, according to a new research. 

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said house prices in England have risen by 173% over two decades.But average pay for 2534-year-olds has grown by just 19% over the same period. 

In 1996, 93% of those with a deposit who borrowed four and a half times their salary could purchase a home, but that fell to 61% in 2016. 

The IFS also said that higher rental costs - up from an average £140 a week to £200 a week in England - have reduced the purchasing power of young adults incomes and made it harder to save for a deposit. 

‘Dangerous undercurrents’ in global economy, says IMF 

One of the most comprehensive studies of the state of banking and markets since the financial crisis warns that dangerous undercurrents are a rising threat to the world economy. 

The International Monetary Fund's Financial Stability Report says that although banks are far safer than they were in 2008 there are new risks. 

Trade tensions are growing, the IMF says, and inequality has risen.Further moves towards a trade war could significantly harm global growth. 

Other threats to trade, such as a disorderly Brexit, could also adversely affect market sentiment, the IMF argues. 

The US-based organisation says that a no-deal departure from the EU could lead to fragmentation in European money markets, meaning that finance cannot flow around the system so efficiently. 

Big four accountancy firms facing probe

 The dominance of the big four accountancy firms - Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC - is set to be scrutinised following widespread concerns. 

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it would probe whether the sector is "competitive and resilient enough to maintain high quality standards". 

The decision follows fears the sector is not working well for the economy or investors and the collapse of construction firm Carillion. 

The CMA investigation will examine three main areas. 

  • How firms choose auditors and the frequency of switching 

  • Resilience of the industry because of the risk the big four firms were too big to fail 

  • The lack of incentive for auditors to produce challenging performance reviews 

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli said it planned to move swiftly and to issue our provisional findings before Christmas.