About Elizabeth Baker

Elizabeth is our Business Development Manager. She has a degree in both English Literature and Law from Glasgow University. After graduating in 1983 she served her traineeship as a solicitor in Oban. When she was admitted as a solicitor her first job was at Mitchells Roberton in 1985 so she is a well known face. She spread her wings and joined other firms along the way and had a successful law practice under her own name for some years. She returned to Mitchells Roberton in 2011 and works primarily to enhance the marketing of our firm. With her excellent links with small business and the media in the greater Glasgow area, she is well placed in the role and generates a good deal of referrals and new business. Elizabeth is a people person and naturally connects with both staff and clients. Elizabeth has two grown up children and loves walking her dog, travelling and reading literature.

Rise in First-Time Buyer Numbers

There was a sharp rise in the number of first-time buyers entering the property market in 2017 despite having to put down a deposit that is more than double what was required ten years ago.

The latest Halifax First-Time Buyer Review found that the number of first- time buyers rose by 6% in the last 12 months. Halifax data also revealed that although the average price of a typical first home has grown by 21% from £174,703 to £212,079, first time buyer levels have almost returned to those last seen in 2007, when 359,900 took their first step on the property ladder. This is an increase of 87% compared to an all-time low of 192,300 in 2008 and is now just 11% below the most recent peak of 402,800 in 2006. First-time buyers now account for half of all house purchases with a mortgage, an increase from 36% a decade ago.

“A flow of new buyers into home ownership is vital for the overall wellbeing of the UK housing market,” commented Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax. “This ten year high in the number  of first time buyers shows continued healthy movement in this key area despite a shortage of homes and the on-going challenge of saving enough of a deposit.”

“Low mortgage rates, high levels of employment and Government schemes such as Help to Buy have helped first-time buyers become a much greater segment of the market,” he added.

For expert legal advice on buying or selling a property in Scotland, whether you are a first-time buyer or an existing home owner, then please contact me Elizabeth Baker on 0141 552 3422 or by email eb@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Number of Bankruptcy Awards in Scotland Falls

On the 24 January 2018 the Scottish Government body which deals with insolvency known as the Accountant in Bankruptcy (AiB) released its latest statistics. The figures show a decrease in the number of bankruptcy awards in the last quarter of 2017. Although the AiB only keeps partial records relating to corporate insolvency the figures they do have show a slight drop in the number of liquidations for the same period. In general these figures are hopeful.

That said there has been an increase in the use of the Debt Arrangement Scheme and Protected Trust Deeds which reveals a small increase in the overall levels of personal insolvency.

However given the present unsettled economic climate it is always best to take early advice if you have any insolvency concerns.

If you would like to discuss your situation with an expert please contact Joel Conn on 0141 552 3422 or by email on jmc@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Gender Pay Gap

Organisations with 250 or more workers must publish their figures to report gender pay gap information by April this year. So far it seems that just over 500 out of the anticipated 9000 affected groups have done so. The next quarter of the year is therefore going to be busy.

According to the BBC news Ladbrokes, Easyjet and Virgin Money are among the major companies to reveal gender pay gaps of more than 15% in favour of men for mean hourly rate. Kate Palmer reports “Women’s hourly pay rates are 52% lower than men’s at Easyjet. On average, women earn 15% less per hour at Ladbrokes and 33% less at Virgin Money.” All three firms say men and women are paid equally when in the same role.

It is important to note that whilst equal pay and the gender pay gap deal with the disparity of pay women receive in the workplace they are two different issues:

  • Equal pay means that men and women in the same employment performing equal work must receive equal pay.
  • The gender pay gap is a measure of the difference between men’s and women’s average earnings across an organisation or the labour market. It is expressed as a percentage of men’s earnings.

Women’s Equality UK responded to the figures released: “Transparency –while welcome- is not enough to close the gender pay gap. Action is needed to address the imbalance of power which underlies the problem, and to make sure women and men’s work is valued.”

In Britain in 2016 there was an overall gender pay gap of 18.1% .Employers with low or no gender pay gaps include the British Museum (0%) and the Armed Forces (0.9%)

A report recently published by the BBC found that there was a gender pay gap in favour of men of 10.7%. Director General Lord Hall pledged to close the gap by 2020 saying that the corporation should be “an exemplar of what can be achieved when it comes to pay, fairness, gender and representation.”

The Problem with Plastic

According to The Independent “Humans have produced about 8.3 billion metric tonnes of plastic since 1950”.Researchers writing in the journal , Science Advances ,warned that if current trends continued some 12 billion tonnes of plastic waste would be in landfill sites or the natural environment by 2050.

Campaign groups suggest that the average person throws away the equivalent of 1,212 Coca Cola bottles or 4,600 plastic forks each year. Scientists from a number of Universities in a paper published in Science Advances state that “The growth of plastics production in the past 65 years has substantially outpaced any other manufactured material”.

“The same properties that make plastics so versatile in innumerable applications – durability and resistance to degradation-make these materials difficult or impossible for nature to assimilate.”

“Thus , without a well-designed and tailor- made management strategy for end-of-life plastics, humans are conducting a singular uncontrolled experiment on a global scale, in which billions of metric tons of material will accumulate across all major terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems on the planet.”

In October 2014 shops in Scotland began charging 5p for single-use plastic carrier bags. In the first year the number of plastic bags handed out in stores was slashed by 80%- the equivalent of 650million carriers. Scottish government research concludes that a reduction of 650 million bags means a net saving of more than 4000 tonnes of plastic and other materials each year.

MPs are now considering a 25p latte levy on disposable coffee cups to reduce waste. Apparently the UK throws away 2.5 billion paper cups every year with less than 1% being recycled. The rest are incinerated or buried in landfill sites because they have an inner-lining made of plastic which paper mills struggle to remove.  The Environment Audit Committee is calling on the Government to introduce a minimum 25p charge on disposable coffee cups to cut waste in the same way as the plastic bag levy.  It seems that MPs are open to the idea but want to ensure that any levy would trigger a change in behaviour not merely an increase in price.

In our office we do our best to recycle as much as possible but these figures suggest we should be doing considerably more to protect our environment.

Christmas Closing

Please note that our office will be closed from 5pm on Friday 22 December until 9am on Wednesday 3 January.

If you require urgent assistance, an emergency out of hours number 0141 552 3422 will be in operation between 9am-5pm, Wednesday 27 December to Friday 29 December.

We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Housing Market Confidence is Still Fragile

The Building Societies Association (BSA) has revealed that consumer confidence in the housing market hasn’t fully recovered since June’s General Election.

Their recent research found that over a quarter of respondents (27%) do not agree that now is a good time to  buy a property compared to just 23% who do.

Although the political environment has stabilised a bit since June, confidence in the property market continues to be affected by a number of factors. 68% of those interviewed said that raising a deposit remained the biggest barrier to purchasing a property with 45% saying that being able to afford the mortgage repayments was a problem. Another particular concern for home movers is stamp duty costs which prevent those who want to move up the property ladder from doing so thus limiting the stock of housing for those looking to make their first purchase.

Paul Broadhead, Head of Mortgage policy at the BSA commented:

“Consumers were faced with political uncertainty following the vote to leave the EU and unexpected General Election results, and now the rising cost of living is their latest challenge.”

“It is evident that home- movers are facing the same affordability pressures as first time buyers, meaning some homeowners are unable to sell their property-further reducing choice and pushing up prices for those just getting on to the housing ladder” he added.

If you are looking to buy or sell a property please contact me Elizabeth Baker on 0141 552 3422 or by email eb@mitchells-roberton.co.uk

Parkers Take Note

I was chatting to someone the other day who said they had received a parking ticket for parking their van in a Morrison’s car park for four hour. The gentleman said he was just going to throw it away because it was unenforceable.

With my solicitor’s hat on I told him that this unfortunately was a common myth and that recently motorist ,Carly Mackie, received the largest ever parking fine in Britain amounting to £24,500. Ms Mackie had been issued with multiple parking charges by Vehicle Control Services Limited who were employed by the factors of her parents’ housing estate to provide a parking scheme. In the estate there were visible signs , eight in all,  advising that a permit was required to park in the area and the consequences of a fine if the terms and conditions were breached.

Despite this Ms Mackie parked her car outside her mother’s home and ignored the almost daily parking charge notices on her windscreen. She wrongly believed she was entitled to park her mini without a permit within the private parking area and that the tickets were unenforceable. Ms Mackie had been offered a parking permit but declined on principle.

However the private firm Vehicle Control Services Limited took her to court last year when she had racked up an £18,500 bill for ignoring more than 200 penalty notices. The action raised at Dundee Sheriff Court was defended by Ms Mackie on the basis that Vehicle Control Services Limited had no right to issue the parking charges and therefore she was under no obligation to pay them.

Generally speaking the public accepts that Local Authorities are able to issue parking tickets known as a fixed penalty. But car parking operators are able to issue parking charges for private car parks provided they display signs in the parking area setting out the terms and conditions of use.  If a motorist parks a car within a private parking area  which has clear signage setting out terms and conditions of using the car park then the driver is taken to have accepted the terms and has entered into a contract which if breached can lead to charges being applied.

In a written judgement of the case Sheriff George Way said Ms Mackie had “entirely misdirected herself on both the law and the contractual chain in this case” and ordered her to pay £24,500.

So be warned!