🦜 PerchPulse - United Kingdom Market Update November 2022 🦜

A warm welcome to the November issue of PerchPeek’s UK Market Monthly update! 

Here’s where you’ll find the hottest stories around employee relocation and global mobility, insights from our experts on housing and cost-of-living news affecting your staff, the latest trends in international talent strategy, and tips and tricks on ways to support your teams.

A fly-by summary

  • How the launch of Crossrail Phase II means new commutable areas opening up for your employees in London
  • A full update on how employee home-finding will slow down in the festive season
  • The Bank of England’s latest interest rate rise, and what it means for your staff
  • How to make sure your employees know about energy bill caps and discounts, and when they’ll end
  • Making your staff aware of free festive fun during the cost of living challenges

Support your talent: Crossrail Phase II opens up new lower cost, commutable areas for London employees

Exciting news for London residents: on 6th November the second phase of the Elizabeth line opened, making daily travel easier and opening up new commutable areas outside the city.

Londoners will have noticed the new purple line on the Tube map between Paddington and Abbey Wood. Now, the formerly three separate railways have been linked, meaning you can travel for longer without needing to change.

  • Direct trains from Reading and Heathrow Airport without changing at Paddington
  • Direct trains from Shenfield and Abbey Wood without changing at Liverpool Street
  • New Sunday service for the stations between Paddington and Abbey Wood
  • 22 trains per hour during the week between Paddington and Whitechapel

In London’s difficult rental market, desirable properties are scarce and highly sought-after. This development means that new suburban areas like Stratford and Woolwich - and even separate cities, like Reading and Slough - are now more rapidly commutable, possibly opening them up as living options for your employees.

Finally, it’s always worth advising new arrivals to take advantage of money-saving schemes. Lucky youngsters aged 30 and under can save a third on rail travel with a 16-25 or 26-30 Railcard - which can make a big difference to monthly bills.

Home-finding: Rental searches to slow down during festive season

Halloween and Bonfire Night have been and gone, the nights are drawing in and Christmas ads are in full swing…the festive season is upon us! As well as all the fun stuff, it can be a tricky time for house-hunters, with agencies closing for the holidays and the process generally slowing down.

If you’re supporting employees coming to the UK, you can help manage their rental market expectations at this time of year with this key advice from the PerchPeek UK team:

  • In December, rental stock levels and the pace of the property-finding process tend to slow down, as landlords aren’t keen to have tenants moving in over the festive season.
  • At this point (mid-November), any movers who haven’t secured a place to live will now be looking at a January move-in date (perhaps with the odd exception).
  • Everything will be closed on 25th - 27th December and 1st January. Other than that, it’s normal working days, but expect agencies to close early on 24th and 31st December.
  • It should still be possible to arrange viewings for working days between Christmas and New Year, as most agencies will remain open. Any viewings at this time will be for a January move-in date.

Cost of living: Interest rate rises to 3% - impact on employees

The Bank of England has raised its base rate from 2.25% to 3% - its highest level in 14 years - as a measure to combat soaring prices. It’s the biggest single increase since 1989.

What this rise means:

  • It’s good news for people with savings as they’ll now be earning more interest.
  • However, any boost in savings can’t keep up with inflation so consumers are still losing money in real terms.
  • It’s bad news for homeowners on variable or tracker mortgages whose monthly payments will now be increasing significantly. 
  • There’s a risk for tenants that landlords will pass on this cost increase by putting rents up (except in Scotland, where this has been outlawed).
  • New mortgage deals will now be too costly for many hopeful first-time buyers who’ll be forced to stay put, meaning even less rental supply. 
  • Some landlords may sell their properties to avoid rising mortgage payments, which again will affect rental property supply, of which there’s already a chronic shortage.

To support employees who might feel the impact of the interest rate rise on their rental search, it’s best to keep aware of these challenges. At the moment we’re seeing average rental costs of £1,900 for a one-bed property and £2,300 for a two-bed around central London. If looking further out, cheaper options are available but this of course increases commute time and cost.

If you can, it’s advisable to review compensation packages regularly to make sure your employees’ incoming salary is able to cater to current market costs.

Cost of living: Energy Price Guarantee to end in April 2023

The Energy Price Guarantee is a cap on consumers’ energy bills. There’s no maximum bill amount, but there’s a maximum daily fee that providers can charge on standard tariffs.

The government has recently announced that the EPG will now only last until April 2023, not until October 2024 as originally promised. So, it’ll be a safety net through the cold winter months, but there are warnings that when the cap ends, bills could surpass £4,000 annually.

New employees relocating to the UK and setting up utilities should be warned that their bills until March 2023 will be reduced, and from then they’ll increase to the new ‘normal’ amount. If you can, it’s good to review compensation packages regularly to keep in line with the cost of living. At a time when bills are going up all over the place, your staff will be massively grateful for any extra support.

The EPG is separate from the Energy Bill Support Scheme - a guaranteed, automatic £400 reduction in electricity bills for every UK household, spread over six months until March 2023. 

UK employees, particularly those newly arrived from abroad, should be made aware of this scheme. They shouldn’t have to do anything, but should flag it with their supplier if they don’t see any bill reduction. Again, they’ll also need to be prepared for this ending and for bills to increase in the spring (when at least it’ll coincide with the warmer weather!).

Support your talent: Festive feels - the best UK Christmas markets

With the ongoing cost of living crisis, it might feel difficult to muster up some festive cheer right now, especially for new arrivals settling in. However, one way to offer support to your employees is by making them aware of cheap or even free ways to enjoy the sights of their city!

In November, towns and cities across the UK transform their main squares into wonderlands festooned with twinkling lights and lined with stalls selling crafts and sweet treats.

Exploring the scenes with a mug of mulled wine is a great way to boost morale, get into the holiday spirit and mix with the local community, plus a chance to pick up gifts for loved ones!

Here are some of the biggest and brightest:

  • London - Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, 18th Nov - 2nd Jan 2023
  • Birmingham - Victoria Square & New Street, 3rd Nov - 23rd Dec
  • Manchester - Nine sites across city centre, 10th Nov - 22nd Dec
  • Edinburgh - East Princes Street Gardens, 18th Nov - 3rd Jan 2023
  • Cardiff - City centre, 10th Nov - 23rd Dec
  • Belfast - City Hall Gardens, 19th Nov - 22nd Dec
  • Bath - City centre, 24th Nov - 11th Dec

We hope you enjoyed this month’s update - if you ever have any feedback, comments or questions about what's going on in your location, feel free to reach out!

Thanks for reading, and see you next month!

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Questions About Moving Employees or What We Do At PerchPeek?

No matter where your business is located, or how many employees you have to move, the relocation experts at PerchPeek are standing by at all times to answer any and all questions that you may have about moving and taking care of your most important business asset, your team!

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