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Deux tiers des conseillers financiers s’inquiètent des risques des crédits immobiliers à 100%

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Les deux tiers des conseillers financiers s’inquiètent des prêts hypothécaires à 100 %, car la chute des prix de l’immobilier et la hausse des taux pourraient créer une “crise de remboursement”

  • Le prêteur Skipton a lancé la semaine dernière une hypothèque à 100% pour les premiers acheteurs
  • La chute des prix de l’immobilier pourrait laisser les propriétaires dans une situation nette négative
  • Les experts avertissent que les risques d’une hypothèque à 100% pourraient créer une crise de remboursement

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Selon une nouvelle enquête, six conseillers financiers indépendants sur dix craignent que des prêts hypothécaires à 100 % ne créent une «crise de remboursement».

Le prêteur Skipton Building Society a lancé la semaine dernière une hypothèque à 100% destinée aux premiers acheteurs.

Cela signifie que les acheteurs peuvent acheter une maison sans avoir besoin d’économiser – l’un des plus grands obstacles pour ceux qui essaient de monter sur l’échelle du logement.

Cependant, le produit expose les acheteurs à un risque de fonds propres négatifs, où le prêt sur la maison est supérieur à la valeur de la propriété, ce qui rend difficile la vente ou l’hypothèque, si les prix baissent.

Procédez avec prudence : les prêts hypothécaires à 100 % pourraient aider les premiers acheteurs à accéder à l'échelle du logement, mais ils doivent être conscients de plusieurs risques

Procédez avec prudence : les prêts hypothécaires à 100 % pourraient aider les premiers acheteurs à accéder à l'échelle du logement, mais ils doivent être conscients de plusieurs risques

Procédez avec prudence : les prêts hypothécaires à 100 % pourraient aider les premiers acheteurs à accéder à l’échelle du logement, mais ils doivent être conscients de plusieurs risques

C’est l’inquiétude exprimée par 63% des conseillers financiers qui traitent les demandes de prêt hypothécaire, selon une nouvelle étude de la société de sondage Opinium.

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Alexa Nightingale, responsable de la recherche sur les services financiers chez Opinium, a déclaré: “ Il ne fait aucun doute que les hypothèques à 100% sont susceptibles d’aider les premiers acheteurs à mettre les pieds sur l’échelle de la propriété, et la réflexion derrière l’utilisation des paiements de location dans le cadre des contrôles d’abordabilité pourrait sans aucun doute être utile pour ceux qui n’ont jamais loué.

“Cependant, avec les récents avertissements d’experts tels qu’Andrew Bailey, gouverneur de la Banque d’Angleterre, selon lesquels les acheteurs et les banques doivent être” très prudents “avec ces types de transactions, il est clair qu’il est important de garder à l’esprit les risques potentiels lorsque compte tenu de ce type d’hypothèque.

Globalement, les deux tiers des conseillers financiers se disent préoccupés par les risques de ce type de prêt.

De même, 61 % craignent que des hypothèques à 100 % ne créent une « crise de remboursement » hypothécaire en cas de hausse des taux d’intérêt.

Les taux ont fortement augmenté en octobre lorsque le chancelier de l’époque, Kwasi Kwarteng, a annoncé une vague de réductions d’impôts non financées qui ont déstabilisé les marchés obligataires et fait grimper le prix des emprunts.

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Depuis le début de l’année, les taux hypothécaires ont lentement baissé et semblent maintenant s’être stabilisés autour de 4 à 5 %. Cependant, alors que la Banque d’Angleterre continue d’augmenter son taux de base – maintenant à 4,5 % – la crainte est que les taux hypothécaires augmentent également.

Le taux hypothécaire fixe moyen sur deux ans est maintenant de 5,32 % et le taux fixe sur cinq ans est de 5,03 %, selon Moneyfacts.

En plus de la crainte que les prix des maisons chutent alors que l’inflation et la hausse des taux d’intérêt continuent de frapper le marché, les experts sont sceptiques quant aux hypothèques à 100 % et aux risques associés.

Élevé : Les taux hypothécaires ont culminé l'année dernière et ont lentement baissé - mais ils restent bien au-dessus de ce qu'ils étaient il y a deux ans, ajoutant une pression financière sur les acheteurs

Élevé : Les taux hypothécaires ont culminé l'année dernière et ont lentement baissé - mais ils restent bien au-dessus de ce qu'ils étaient il y a deux ans, ajoutant une pression financière sur les acheteurs

Élevé : Les taux hypothécaires ont culminé l’année dernière et ont lentement baissé – mais ils restent bien au-dessus de ce qu’ils étaient il y a deux ans, ajoutant une pression financière sur les acheteurs

Les prix des maisons ont chuté de 0,1 % en avril, selon le dernier indice des prix des maisons d’Halifax, et on ne sait pas comment les prix des maisons réagiront au cours des prochains mois à des taux hypothécaires considérablement plus élevés qu’au cours des dernières années.

Un tiers (35 %) des conseillers financiers qui reçoivent des demandes de prêt hypothécaire pensent que les prêts hypothécaires à 100 % sont une bonne idée.

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Cependant, malgré cela, 32 % ne recommanderaient pas des prêts hypothécaires à 100 % à leurs clients, et plus du tiers (38 %) ne les recommanderaient pas non plus à leur famille, à leurs amis ou à leurs proches.

Au cours du mois dernier, un conseiller sur huit a déclaré avoir constaté une augmentation des demandes de renseignements sur les prêts hypothécaires à 100 %, ainsi qu’une augmentation des demandes de renseignements sur les prêts hypothécaires qui utilisent les paiements de location dans le cadre de leurs vérifications de capacité financière.

L’hypothèque fixe Skipton Track Record de cinq ans est assortie d’un taux de 5,49 % et d’une durée maximale de 35 ans. Le prêt maximum disponible dans le cadre du programme est de 600 000 £.

Les acheteurs devront répondre à des critères d’abordabilité stricts pour être éligibles à un prêt – et les initiés de l’industrie soulignent que cela est très différent de ces produits d’avant 2008.

En plus d’une bonne cote de crédit, les acheteurs potentiels devront également montrer un historique d’abordabilité de tous les loyers mensuels et des dépenses du ménage pour au moins les 12 derniers mois.

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Ils pourront emprunter jusqu’à 4,49 fois leur revenu annuel, mais les versements hypothécaires devront être égaux ou inférieurs à leurs loyers actuels. Il est également entendu que le produit hypothécaire ne peut pas être utilisé pour acheter un appartement neuf.

Les prêteurs sont souvent prudents avec les hypothèques sur ces propriétés car elles peuvent perdre de la valeur en quelques années.

Meilleures hypothèques

Que faire si vous avez besoin d’un prêt hypothécaire

Les emprunteurs qui ont besoin de trouver un prêt hypothécaire parce que leur contrat à taux fixe actuel arrive à son terme ou parce qu’ils ont convenu d’acheter une maison devraient explorer leurs options dès que possible.

Il s’agit du meilleur calculateur de taux hypothécaires de Money, optimisé par L&C, qui peut vous montrer des offres qui correspondent à la valeur de votre prêt hypothécaire et de votre propriété.

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Et si j’ai besoin de réhypothéquer?

Les emprunteurs doivent comparer les taux et parler à un courtier en hypothèques et être prêts à agir pour obtenir un taux.

Toute personne ayant un accord à taux fixe se terminant dans les six à neuf prochains mois devrait examiner combien il lui en coûterait de réhypothéquer maintenant – et envisager de conclure un nouvel accord.

La plupart des transactions hypothécaires permettent d’ajouter des frais au prêt et ils ne sont alors facturés qu’au moment de la souscription. Ce faisant, les emprunteurs peuvent obtenir un taux sans payer de frais d’arrangement coûteux.

Et si j’achète une maison ?

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Ceux qui ont convenu d’acheter une maison devraient également viser à obtenir des tarifs dès que possible, afin qu’ils sachent exactement quels seront leurs paiements mensuels.

Les acheteurs de maisons doivent se méfier des efforts excessifs et se préparer à la possibilité que les prix des maisons chutent par rapport à leurs niveaux élevés actuels, en raison de taux hypothécaires plus élevés limitant la capacité d’emprunt des gens.

Comment comparer les coûts hypothécaires

La meilleure façon de comparer les coûts hypothécaires et de trouver la bonne affaire pour vous est de parler à un bon courtier.

Vous pouvez utiliser notre meilleur calculateur de taux hypothécaires pour afficher les offres correspondant à la valeur de votre maison, à la taille de votre prêt hypothécaire, à la durée et aux besoins en taux fixe.

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Sachez que les taux peuvent changer rapidement, cependant, et donc le conseil est que si vous avez besoin d’un prêt hypothécaire, comparez les taux et parlez ensuite à un courtier dès que possible, afin qu’il puisse vous aider à trouver le prêt hypothécaire qui vous convient.

> Vérifiez les meilleurs prêts hypothécaires à taux fixe que vous pourriez demander

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International

BUSINESS LIVE: Bumper January budget surplus; HSBC profits hit $30.3bn; BAE Systems earnings jump

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The FTSE 100 closed down 56.70 points at 7662.51. Among the companies with reports and trading updates today are HSBC, BAE Systems, Rio Tinto, Heathrow, and Tate & Lyle. Read the Wednesday 21 February Business Live blog below.

> If you are using our app or a third-party site click here to read Business Live

FTSE 100 closes down 56.70 points at 7662.51

Bereaved families stump up £6.3bn in inheritance tax since April 2023

The Treasury raked in £6.3billion from inheritance tax receipts in the period from April 2023 to January 2024, new data from HM Revenue & Customs shows.

The inheritance tax take for the period was £400million higher than by the same point a year earlier.

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The Footsie closes soon

Just before close, the FTSE 100 was 0.73% down at 7,662.79.

Meanwhile, the FTSE 250 was 0.04% higher at 19,116.89.

‘Nvidia is the only stock that matters for many investors at the moment’

Dan Coatsworth, investment analyst at AJ Bell, comments on Nvidia:

Nvidia is the only stock that matters for many investors at the moment. It drove last year’s strong market gains in the US and became the go-to name for anyone wanting to play the AI theme.

Investors have a habit of fixating on a single stock and Nvidia was passed the baton from Tesla which for several years enjoyed its moment in the sun amid the early stages of the electric vehicle boom. It is natural to see a pullback after the initial euphoria and so Nvidia’s results tonight could be the catalyst either for another rally in growth stocks or a market correction.

Sentiment is widely hinged to Nvidia so if its shares fall by a lot in a short period, investors could temporarily lose interest in the market and we could see contagion across the mega cap tech space.

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But if it provides enough evidence that AI is supercharging its profits and there are still plenty more opportunities, then we could see investors load up for more, and that positivity could extend to other parts of the market.

Octopus says EV drivers can charge for FREE with new energy tariff

Electric vehicle owners could charge their motors up for free with a new energy deal from Octopus Energy – but it only currently applies to three car models.

The Power Pack deal could save drivers more than £850 a year compared to charging cars on a variable-rate electricity tariff which is subject to the Ofgem price cap, Octopus said.

Housebuilder Vistry defends hiking boss’s pay amid shareholder opposition

(PA) – Housebuilder Vistry has defended the decision to hike the pay package of its boss despite shareholders revolting against the deal.

Vistry said it recognised the concerns people have but was standing by the pay policy.

The company came under pressure in August when new proposals were narrowly approved by shareholders.

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Some 45% of votes were cast against the policy which more than doubles the annual bonus that the company’s chief executive can receive, and adds 50% to potential long-term incentives.

It means boss Greg Fitzgerald’s maximum pay package will grow from £3.4million to £5.4million, provided he meets all his targets.

Mr Fitzgerald was paid £2.5million in 2022.

In an update to shareholders on Wednesday, Vistry said the remuneration committee, which is in charge of setting pay levels, “understands that the reasons for the number of votes cast against was primarily concerned with the step up in maximum opportunity for the CEO (chief executive officer) which was in excess of usual levels within the FTSE 250”.

It said the committee “acknowledges these concerns”, but maintains the view that the new policy is aligned with a “highly performance oriented” framework, with pay levels that incentivise bosses to create value for shareholders.

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Sir Jim Ratcliffe labels Man United’s organisation ‘not good’

Sir Jim Ratcliffe believes Manchester United’s culture isn’t geared up to achieve success in a damning assessment following his £1.3billion investment.

The Ineos billionaire saw his purchase of a 27.7 per cent stake in the Old Trafford club confirmed on Tuesday but gave a withering assessment of the set-up he will aim to transform.

Petrol has shot up by 3p a litre in just three weeks – here’s why

The price of fuel has shot up by more than 3p-a-litre in just three weeks, new analysis shows.

The RAC said the average price of a litre of petrol increased by 3.3p from 140p on 29 January to 143.3p at the beginning of this week.

Aldi to create 5,500 new UK jobs this year

(PA) – Aldi is to create 5,500 new jobs this year as the supermarket chain continues its expansion across the UK.

The UK’s fourth largest supermarket group said it is hiring for roles including store assistants, manager and cleaners across new shops.

Aldi UK is also recruiting across its 11 regional distribution centres and for head office positions.

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The retailer said store and warehouse assistant will receive a starting salary of £12 an hour, rising to £12.95 nationally, with those within the M25 receiving £13.55, rising to £13.85.

It currently has more than 1,000 stores and employs more than 45,000 workers.

The business has said it plans to grow to 1,500 stores in the coming years, after previously setting a goal of 1,200 shops by the end of 2025.

Giles Hurley, chief executive officer at Aldi UK, said: “Our colleagues work incredibly hard and are without a doubt a huge part of our success at Aldi.

“We continue to welcome more and more customers to Aldi stores every week, not just because of our unbeatable prices and British sourcing, but also our amazing colleagues.

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“We are looking forward to welcoming even more colleagues up and down the country to Team Aldi during 2024 as we progress towards our goal of making affordable, quality food accessible to everyone.”

Close Brothers Group shares top FTSE 350 fallers

Top 15 falling FTSE 350 firms 21022024

Top FTSE 350 risers at lunchtime are…

Top 15 rising FTSE 350 firms 21022024

Stocks to watch: Getting off the Magnificent Seven tech bandwagon

If you weren’t invested in the Magnificent Seven tech stocks, investing in equities in 2023 was a bit like treading water in treacle. Heavy going.

Rio Tinto and Glencore profits slump on lower commodity prices

Two of Britain’s largest mining groups reported lower earnings for 2023, following a slump in commodity prices.

Glencore saw its net income plunge by three-quarters to $4.3billion last year, while Rio Tinto revealed post-tax profits tumbled by 19 per cent to $10billion.

Dominic Raab lands job at private equity mining investor

Dominic Raab has been hired as a ‘senior strategic adviser’ at a Pall Mall-based private equity firm focused on mining sector investments.

Appian Capital Advisory has appointed the former deputy prime minister and foreign secretary as a senior strategic advisor on global affairs.

Pawnbroker H&T Group acquires pledge book from Maxcroft

Pawnbroker and retailer of pre-owned jewellery H&T Group has acquired a selection of assets from Essex-based Maxcroft Securities for £11.3million in cash.

H&T shares rose 2.7 per cent or 10.00p to 380.00p on Wednesday, having fallen over 14 per cent in the last year.

Interpol partners with AI-focused Windward amid maritime crime clampdown

BAE Systems sales top £25.3bn amid global surge in defence spending

BAE Systems profits surpassed expectations last year as governments continued ramping up military spending to counter heightened geopolitical threats.

Europe’s largest defence contractor’s sales rose by 9 per cent at constant currency levels to £25.3billion in 2023, £2billion ahead of guidance, thanks to increasing trade across all sectors.

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Currys backer Redwheel warns of UK market decline

Currys’ biggest shareholder has warned that the stock market is not fit for purpose.

Redwheel, which owns 14.6 per cent of the London-listed firm, backed the decision by the electrical retailer’s board to reject a £700million takeover offer by US hedge fund Elliott Partners.

Heathrow returns to profit for the first time since the pandemic

Heathrow Airport posted its first adjusted profit in four years on Wednesday, buoyed by strong travel demand in the final quarter of 2023.

The airport, one of the busiest hubs in the world, said adjusted pre-tax profit came in at £38million for the year ending 31 December, against a £684million loss a year earlier.

No dividends were paid in 2023 and none are forecast for this year, but Heathrow said shareholder payouts could be on the cards in 2024, subject to financial performance.

National Express crashes 25% after results delay

The company behind National Express lost as much as a quarter of its value after it delayed its annual results.

The bus, coach and rail operator, which has changed its name to Mobico Group, had planned to publish its figures for 2023 on Thursday next week.

But the company will now do so ‘before the end of March’, it says, after its auditor Deloitte warned that it needed more time to complete its work on the German arm of the business.

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HSBC posts record $30.3bn profit despite ‘messy’ final quarter

Market open: FTSE 100 down 0.5%; FTSE 250 flat

The FTSE 100 is in the red this morning on the back of disappointing earnings updates from HSBC Holdings and Glencore , while investors await US Federal Reserve’s last meeting minutes for clues on its policy outlook.

HSBC has lost 6.6 per cent to hit the bottom of FTSE 100, after the lender missed market estimates for annual profit.

Glencore has shed 3.8 per cent as the miner said lower commodity prices had halved its earnings last year, and slashed its payout to investors, as the company saves to fund the acquisition of a 77 per cent stake in Teck Resources’ metallurgical coal business.

Financials and base metal miners have dropped 3.6 and 1.6 per cent, respectively, to lead declines among sectors.

Superdry soars 17% on reports US investor is in talks to buy the troubled fashion chain

Shares in Superdry surged more than 17 per cent after reports that a US investor is in talks about a deal to buy the troubled fashion chain.

New York investment management firm Davidson Kempner is in discussions with Superdry co-founder and chief Julian Dunkerton over potentially backing a deal to take the brand private, according to Sky News.

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Heathrow posts first profit in four years

Heathrow Airport has posted its first adjusted profit in four years, buoyed by firm travel demand in the last quarter of 2023.

The airport, one of the busiest hubs in the world, saw adjusted profit before tax come in at £38million for the 12 months to 31 December, compared with a £684million loss a year earlier.

Heathrow added that no dividends were paid in 2023 and forecast none for this year, but said that it was a possibility.

January borrowing and tax figures ‘mixed news for Jeremy Hunt’

Susannah Streeter, head of money and markets, Hargreaves Lansdown:

‘January’s public finance figures were mixed news for Jeremy Hunt, who had a boost to his coffers, but not one that’s big enough for a Budget bonanza. January tends to be a positive month for tax receipts, so a surplus was always on the cards. In the end, the month delivered £16.7 billion – the biggest January figure since records began 31 years ago – but behind the OBR forecast of £18.2 billion.

‘It offers a few inches of headroom for Hunt, but not enough for a Budget of dramatic tax cuts. However, he does have the opportunity to wiggle into some moves for particular groups, and make changes to ISAs that help support specific groups. .

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‘ISAs are part of the furniture – in a good way. They’ve been around for 25 years and are well-established and well loved. Of course, like anything we’ve been wedded to for 25 years, we can always think of ways they could improve. But while small changes would be welcome, the government needs to beware of major reforms that would end up over-complicating things.’

New report confirms UK debanking fears: Customers being dumped because of opinions or lifestyles

HSBC results ‘marred’ by ‘ugly quarter’

Richard Hunter, head of markets at Interactive Investor:

‘HSBC has again flexed its financial muscles with a leap in profits, despite an ugly final quarter which was marred by a large impairment relating to its Chinese operations.

‘Despite the overall strength of the numbers, the share price reaction overnight highlighted some of the concerns which the group is likely to be facing in the coming months. The likely reduction of interest rates globally could remove a plank from a core growth area of late, while the rather messy performance in the fourth quarter could potentially lead to some rather more negative momentum.

‘Indeed, in the group’s own outlook, HSBC is forecasting slow growth for the first half of the year, followed by a gradual recovery, while inevitably the parlous state of the Chinese economy in general and the real estate sector in particular are ominous headwinds.

‘Even so, HSBC is managing to shield itself from economic attack through its sheer size, while also remaining mindful on the importance of continuing to grow the business, especially in areas where it has particular strength. Among the bank’s immediate strategic objectives are to grow its international businesses while also diversifying its revenues, especially in the likes of its wealth businesses in Asia.

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‘Apart from the longer term potential for the key Chinese market, the group has also identified areas such as India and Vietnam as being some of the fastest growing economies at present, while the building economic connections between Asia and the Middle East, notwithstanding any geopolitical conflicts, are also emerging opportunities for HSBC with its sprawling footprint.

‘HSBC’s sheer scale and power not only provide an economic shield, but also enable investment in further growth, shareholder returns and fresh areas of fee income such as within its various wealth management businesses. The shares have mirrored the Asian experience overnight and have opened sharply lower in early trade, recognising a disappointing final quarter which took much of the sheen from what was otherwise a strong set of results.’

Rio Tinto lifts dividend despite profit slip

Rio Tinto suffered a 12 per cent profit slump last year, in line with forecasts, but the miner has paid a better-than-expected final dividend on the back of easing cost pressures.

The FTSE 100 firm underlying earnings came in at $11.8 billion for 2023, down from $13.4 billion a year earlier, mostly due to lower prices for aluminium and its minerals division. That was largely in line with the LSEG consensus estimate of $11.7 billion.

Rio declared a final dividend of 258 cents per share, up from 225 cents per share in 2022 and ahead of the LSEG estimate of 247 cents per share.

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The £135m man: That’s how much Pascal Soriot has been paid in 12 years at AstraZeneca… with more to come

‘BAE Systems continues to move from strength to strength’

Aarin Chiekrie, equity analyst, Hargreaves Lansdown:

‘BAE Systems continues to move from strength to strength, with both its full-year revenue and underlying operating profits coming in ahead of its prior guidance. The group manufactures heavy-duty military equipment like fighter jets, aircraft and submarines, and recent global events are keeping demand for its products strong.

‘Despite being a UK-based company, a whopping 42% of its sales came from the US last year, making it the largest single contributor. On an absolute basis, US military spending trumps any other country in the world, so having a large exposure here is proving very beneficial and has helped the group bring in a record £37.7bn worth of orders in 2023.

‘But BAE Systems isn’t stopping there. The UK’s largest defence contractor sealed the deal on its £4.4bn acquisition of US-based Ball Aerospace last week, which should further increase its footprint on the other side of the pond. Ball has unique positions in critical space and nuclear deterrence technologies, and the deal looks like a good strategic fit.

‘The new business should enhance top-line growth and margins, contributing positively to the group’s expectations for sales and profits to rise at double-digit rates this year. Against a backdrop of elevated global tensions and rising military budgets, the sky’s looking bright for this jet-maker.’

BAE Systems hikes dividend as earnings jump

BAE Systems has hiked its dividend after the British defence group’s earnings soared 14 per cent last year, as the Ukraine war continues to drive government military spending.

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The group said it expect further growth in 2024 as government orders for defence equipment surge due to rising geopolitical tensions.

Underlying earnings per share at the country’s biggest defence contractor came in at 63.2p, compared with a consensus forecast of 62.5p, and its guidance of a 10 to 12 per cent rise.

The company, whose biggest customers are the United States, Britain, Saudi Arabia and Australia, recorded sales of £25.3billion last year, up 9 per cent on 2022.

For this year, BAE, which makes submarines and Typhoon fighter jets in Britain, said it expected earnings per share to grow by 6 to 8 per cent on sales which are forecast to rise 10 to 12 per cent.

‘Our performance, combined with our global footprint and record order intake, means we’re well-positioned for sustained growth in the coming years,’ said CEO Charles Woodburn.

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HSBC profits hit $30.3bn

HSBC has posted a record pre-tax profit for 2023 at $30.3billion, missing market forecasts after gains from higher interest rates were offset by a hefty $3 billion charge from its stake in a Chinese bank.

The lender’s profits were up 78 per cent from a year earlier but worse than a $34.1billion broker estimate.

But HSBC has rewarded investors with a fresh $2 billion share buyback, and said it would consider a special dividend of $0.21 per share in the first half of 2024 once its Canada disposal is complete.

However, the record-high annual profit was marred by a $3 billion impairment on the bank’s stake in China’s Bank of Communications.

Monzo’s £4bn valuation woe: Digital bank not worth much more than it was three years ago

Monzo is eyeing a valuation of £4billion in its latest funding round – not much more than it was worth three years ago.

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The online bank is set to finalise a deal in the next two weeks to raise as much as £350million from old and new investors, according to reports.

Tax under the microscope ahead of Spring Budget

Rachael Griffin, tax and financial planning expert at Quilter:

‘With the government’s spring budget now just two weeks away, the impact of its current tax policy has been laid bare this morning as new HMRC figures reveal PAYE income tax and NIC1 receipts for April 2023 to January 2024 were £336.2 billion, which is £22.7 billion higher than the same period last year.

‘This soaring increase in tax take has persisted despite the fact that these figures include the first month of the government’s 2% cut to National Insurance from 12% to 10% for the main rate of Class 1 employee NICs. Though time will tell whether the cut to NI will cause a slowdown in the rate at which this increase in tax take grows, the fiscal drag effect caused by the frozen income tax thresholds coupled with inflation driven wage growth will likely keep the number ticking up.

‘The cut to NI allows basic rate taxpayers to save a maximum of £754 a year. However, this saving is already being eaten into as households face increased costs elsewhere, such as the increase to council tax which will hit from April. The changes mean the average Band D household will now face an annual bill of £2,168, a rise of £103 compared to the current financial year.

‘Given the pressures on households, rumours suggest the government is considering a further cut to either income tax or NI during the budget. Polls suggest the Conservatives are struggling, so we can expect they will pull out all the stops at the budget in an attempt to sway voters as we near the election. Should a further cut materialise as part of this, we could see tax revenues fall considerably.

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‘Inheritance tax had been hitting the headlines as an area for potential change, including suggestions of total abolition, but those rumours have since gone quiet. Given inheritance tax receipts for April 2023 to January 2024 were £6.3 billion, £0.4 billion higher than the same period last year and on track for another record breaking year, the government is likely to leave it well alone. Though higher house prices and frozen thresholds have seen more people caught by the IHT net in recent years, ultimately, it impacts relatively few families but brings in a tidy sum to boost government coffers which it will be unwilling to relinquish – particularly if other tax cuts are on the table.’

UK records biggest budget surplus since 1993

Britain recorded its biggest monthly budget surplus since 1993 in January at £16.7billion as tax receipts soared to £111.4 billion for the month, fresh data from the Office for National Statistics shows.

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‘Death ship’: Vessel carrying 19,000 cattle causes stench in Cape Town

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The Al Kuwait ship docked in Cape Town harbour on February 20, 2024.

The Al Kuwait ship docked in Cape Town harbour on February 20, 2024. © Reuters

A ship carrying 19,000 cattle that docked in Cape Town on February 18 has been blamed for causing an “unimaginable” stench across the South African city and prompted protesters to call for a ban on live animal exports. Members of the NSPCA who were called in to inspect the ship after residents complained about the smell described finding “abhorrent” scenes, with animals living in ”dams of their own excrement”.

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The best beaches in the world for 2024 ranked by Tripadvisor – with Portugal home to the winner, Australia and Florida making the top 10 and a Dorset beach No.1 in the UK

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Sea-ze the day and enjoy sun-soaked fun at one of Tripadvisor’s top-ranked stretches of sand for 2024.

The number one beach to add to your bucket and spade list is Praia da Falesia in Portugal’s Algarve, according to the travel site, which awarded it first place in its 2024 Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards for Beaches.

It knocks six-time champion Baia do Sancho in Brazil off the top spot in the ranking, which is drawn from the quality and quantity of reviews and ratings from Tripadvisor travellers for beaches worldwide, gathered from October 2022 to September 2023.

Italy’s Spiaggia dei Conigli on Lampedusa island in Sicily wins the silver medal, the bronze goes to La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain and Kaanapali Beach in Hawaii is the top-ranking beach in the U.S, landing fourth in the 25-strong global charts.

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Weymouth Beach on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast wins the title as the UK’s top-ranking beach and comes 19th on the European list, which features 25 beaches.

The number one beach to add to your bucket list is Praia da Falesia in Portugal's Algarve, according to Tripadvisor, which awarded it first place in its 2024 Travellers' Choice Best of the Best Awards for Beaches

The number one beach to add to your bucket list is Praia da Falesia in Portugal's Algarve, according to Tripadvisor, which awarded it first place in its 2024 Travellers' Choice Best of the Best Awards for Beaches

The number one beach to add to your bucket list is Praia da Falesia in Portugal’s Algarve, according to Tripadvisor, which awarded it first place in its 2024 Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best Awards for Beaches

Italy's Spiaggia dei Conigli on Lampedusa island in Sicily wins the silver medal in the global list. Visitors praised its 'clean environment' and unforgettable 'great views' in reviews on Tripadvisor

Italy's Spiaggia dei Conigli on Lampedusa island in Sicily wins the silver medal in the global list. Visitors praised its 'clean environment' and unforgettable 'great views' in reviews on Tripadvisor

Italy’s Spiaggia dei Conigli on Lampedusa island in Sicily wins the silver medal in the global list. Visitors praised its ‘clean environment’ and unforgettable ‘great views’ in reviews on Tripadvisor

Praia da Falesia, which came sixth last year, has racked up 5,900 reviews to date – 68 per cent of which award a coveted ‘five-bubble’ rating. 

Tripadvisor said the world winning beach is ‘known for its dramatic red, sandy cliffs and can be reached by a wooden staircase’, adding: ‘It is beloved by Tripadvisor reviewers for its soft, powdery sand, perfect for sunbathing and strolls.’

Writing on the site, reviewer ‘tinkle_24’ described it as a ‘gorgeous stretch of uninterrupted fine sandy beach’ that’s ‘not to be missed’, while ‘K17elly’ said the cliffs ‘are stunning’ and ‘DrDance57’ noted it’s ‘the best beach I have been on’.

Spiaggia dei Conigli, meanwhile, was praised by ‘omar p’ for its ‘clean environment’ and unforgettable ‘great views’ and third-place La Concha Beach, in the Basque Country, was hailed by one visitor as ‘beautiful’ and ‘accessible’. Another visitor, ‘Antonia-Maria Stoian’, wrote: ‘The beach has a phenomenal promenade! At any hour of any day, it is gorgeous.’

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Fourth-place Kaanapali Beach is described by ‘bil2cg’ as ‘pure heaven’ with ‘fabulous views and delicious waters with unreal sunsets’.

Tripadvisor describes it as a ‘stunning three-mile stretch of sand… regarded as one of North America’s best beaches’ with ‘crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkelling and surfing, against a backdrop of lush mountains’.

The bronze goes to La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain. Writing on Tripadvisor, 'Antonia-Maria Stoian' said: 'The beach has a phenomenal promenade. At any hour of any day, it is gorgeous'

The bronze goes to La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain. Writing on Tripadvisor, 'Antonia-Maria Stoian' said: 'The beach has a phenomenal promenade. At any hour of any day, it is gorgeous'

The bronze goes to La Concha Beach in San Sebastian, Spain. Writing on Tripadvisor, ‘Antonia-Maria Stoian’ said: ‘The beach has a phenomenal promenade. At any hour of any day, it is gorgeous’

Kaanapali Beach in Hawaii is the top-ranking beach in the U.S, landing fourth in the 25-strong global charts

Kaanapali Beach in Hawaii is the top-ranking beach in the U.S, landing fourth in the 25-strong global charts

Kaanapali Beach in Hawaii is the top-ranking beach in the U.S, landing fourth in the 25-strong global charts 

Landing in fifth place in the worldwide ranking is Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos

Landing in fifth place in the worldwide ranking is Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos

Landing in fifth place in the worldwide ranking is Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos

Manly Beach in Sydney is the top-ranking Australian strip of sand and No.7 worldwide

Manly Beach in Sydney is the top-ranking Australian strip of sand and No.7 worldwide

Manly Beach in Sydney is the top-ranking Australian strip of sand and No.7 worldwide

Weymouth Beach on Dorset's Jurassic Coast wins the title as the UK's top-ranking beach and comes 19th on the European list, which features 25 beaches

Weymouth Beach on Dorset's Jurassic Coast wins the title as the UK's top-ranking beach and comes 19th on the European list, which features 25 beaches

Weymouth Beach on Dorset’s Jurassic Coast wins the title as the UK’s top-ranking beach and comes 19th on the European list, which features 25 beaches

The UK's Bournemouth Beach comes 20th in the European ranking, described by visitors as 'a wonderful sandy beach' with 'lovely golden sands and great walks along the seafront'

The UK's Bournemouth Beach comes 20th in the European ranking, described by visitors as 'a wonderful sandy beach' with 'lovely golden sands and great walks along the seafront'

The UK’s Bournemouth Beach comes 20th in the European ranking, described by visitors as ‘a wonderful sandy beach’ with ‘lovely golden sands and great walks along the seafront’

The remainder of the worldwide top 10 list comprises Grace Bay Beach in Turks and Caicos (fifth); Anse Lazio in the Seychelles (sixth); Manly Beach, Sydney, Australia (seventh); Eagle Beach, Aruba (eighth); Siesta Beach in Florida, U.S (ninth) and Varadero Beach, Cuba (tenth).

Another U.S beach to make the worldwide ranking is Hawaii’s Poipu Beach Park, in 14th position (and second in America).

In the Europe ranking, first-place Praia da Falesia, second-place Spiaggia dei Conigli and third-place La Concha Beach are followed by the ‘stunning’ Reynisfjara Beach in Vik, Iceland, in fourth place.

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It’s one of two Icelandic shorelines to make it into the European top 10 – Vik’s Black Sand Beach – a new entry for 2024 – ranks tenth.

The rest of the European top 10 comprises Playa de las Canteras in Gran Canaria, Spain (fifth); the ‘incredible’ Falassarna Beach in Crete, Greece (sixth); the ‘must-visit’ Nissi Beach in Ayia Napa, Cyprus (seventh); Myrtos Beach in Kefalonia, Greece (eighth); and Playa de Maspalomas in Gran Canaria (ninth).

Playa de las Canteras in Gran Canaria, Spain, comes fifth in the European ranking

Playa de las Canteras in Gran Canaria, Spain, comes fifth in the European ranking

Playa de las Canteras in Gran Canaria, Spain, comes fifth in the European ranking

In the Europe ranking, the 'stunning' Reynisfjara Beach (pictured) in Vik, Iceland, comes in fourth place. It's one of two Icelandic shorelines to make it into the European top 10 - Vik's Black Sand Beach, a new entry for 2024, ranks tenth

In the Europe ranking, the 'stunning' Reynisfjara Beach (pictured) in Vik, Iceland, comes in fourth place. It's one of two Icelandic shorelines to make it into the European top 10 - Vik's Black Sand Beach, a new entry for 2024, ranks tenth

In the Europe ranking, the ‘stunning’ Reynisfjara Beach (pictured) in Vik, Iceland, comes in fourth place. It’s one of two Icelandic shorelines to make it into the European top 10 – Vik’s Black Sand Beach, a new entry for 2024, ranks tenth

TRIPADVISOR’S BEST BEACHES OF 2024 – GLOBAL, EUROPE AND USA

TOP BEACHES IN THE WORLD

1.  Praia da Falésia, Portugal

2. Spiaggia dei Conigli, Italy

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3.  La Concha Beach, Spain

4.  Ka’anapali Beach, Hawaii

5.  Grace Bay Beach, Turks and Caicos

6.  Anse Lazio, Seychelles

7.  Manly Beach, Australia

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8. Eagle Beach, Aruba 

9. Siesta Beach, Florida

10. Varadero Beach, Cuba

11. Playa Pilar, Cuba

12. Balandra Beach, Mexico

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13. Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland

14.  Poipu Beach Park, Hawaii

15. Seven Mile Beach, Cayman Islands 

16. Playa de Las Canteras, Spain 

17.  Ipanema Beach, Brazil

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18.  Playa Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica 

19. Falassarna Beach, Greece 

20. Nungwi Beach, Tanzania

21. Kelingking Beach, Indonesia

22. Nissi Beach, Cyprus 

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23. Myrtos Beach, Greece 

24. Playa Norte, Mexico 

25. Muro Alto Beach, Brazil 

TOP BEACHES IN EUROPE 

1. Praia da Falésia, Portugal

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2. Spiaggia dei Conigli, Italy

3. La Concha Beach, Spain

4. Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland 

5. Playa de Las Canteras, Spain

6.  Falassarna Beach, Greece

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7. Nissi Beach, Cyrpus

8. Myrtos Beach, Greece

9. Playa de Maspalomas, Spain

 10. Black Sand Beach, Iceland

11. Playa de Muro Beach, Spain

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12. Anthony Quinn Bay, Greece

13. Plage de Palombaggia, France

14. Matala Beach, Greece

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15. Fig Tree Bay, Cyprus

16. Iztuzu Beach, Türkiye

17.  Cala Mariolu, Italy

18. Makronissos Beach, Cyprus 

19. Weymouth Beach, UK

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20. Bournemouth Beach, UK

21. Konyaalti Beach, Türkiye

22. Praia da Nazare, Portugal

23.  Lido Marakaibbo, Italy

24. Praia dos Três Irmãos, Portugal

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25. Mellieha Beach, Malta

TOP BEACHES IN THE U.S

1. Ka’anapali Beach, Hawaii

2. Siesta Beach, Florida 

3. Poipu Beach Park, Hawaii

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4.  Hollywood Beach, Florida

5.  La Jolla Cove, California

6.  Cannon Beach, Oregon

7. Santa Monica State Beach, California

8. Driftwood Beach, Georgia

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9. Coligny Beach, South Carolina

10. Ocean City Beach, Maryland

11. Waikiki Beach, Hawaii 

12. Clearwater Beach, Florida 

13. Panama City Beach, Florida

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14.  Napili Beach, Hawaii

15. Fort Lauderdale Beach, Florida

16.  Ho’okipa Beach Park, Hawaii

17. St. Augustine Beach, Florida

18. Hanalei Bay, Hawaii

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19. Henderson Beach State Park, Florida

20. Hanalei Beach, Hawaii

21. Tunnels Beach, Hawaii

22. Ogunquit Beach, Maine

23. Bahia Honda State Park, Florida

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24.  Wai’anapanapa State Park, Hawaii

25. Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area, Hawaii 

Source: Tripadvisor 

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UK No.1 Weymouth Beach is described on Tripadvisor by ‘Julie B‘ as an ‘absolutely beautiful beach with lots to do’ while ‘CathyD1978‘ called it a ‘great beach’ with ‘lots of amenities to hand’ and ‘shallow water for quite a distance, so great for kids’.

Another UK beach to make the European ranking is Bournemouth Beach (20th), described by visitors as ‘a wonderful sandy beach’ with ‘lovely golden sands and great walks along the seafront’.

This year’s awards sees the launch of a new sub-category – World’s Best Sustainable Beaches – and the UK comes out top with Sandbanks Beach in Poole, Dorset named No.1 and Saundersfoot Beach in Pembrokeshire, Wales, coming in at No.3, following Radhanagar Beach on India’s Havelock Island at No.2.

Nungwi Beach on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania ranks 20th among the world's best beaches

Nungwi Beach on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania ranks 20th among the world's best beaches

Nungwi Beach on the island of Zanzibar in Tanzania ranks 20th among the world’s best beaches

Bali's Kelingking Beach in Indonesia features in 21st position in the world ranking

Bali's Kelingking Beach in Indonesia features in 21st position in the world ranking

Bali’s Kelingking Beach in Indonesia features in 21st position in the world ranking

It comes after Tripadvisor noted that more than half (55 per cent) of its global users say that helping the environment is important to them.

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‘Measured by a combination of inputs from sustainable data partner BeCause (via the Blue Flag program) and Tripadvisor traveller reviews, winners stand out for their commitments to sustainability including sustainable transport options, waste disposal and water quality,’ the site said.

‘Europe comes out top in this list, taking seven of the top ten spots, with India, South Africa and the UAE also making the list.’

Siesta Beach in Florida ranks as the ninth best beach in the world and the second best in the U.S

Siesta Beach in Florida ranks as the ninth best beach in the world and the second best in the U.S

Siesta Beach in Florida ranks as the ninth best beach in the world and the second best in the U.S

Poipu Beach Park, Hawaii, is the 14th best beach in the world and the third best in the U.S, according to the study

Poipu Beach Park, Hawaii, is the 14th best beach in the world and the third best in the U.S, according to the study

Poipu Beach Park, Hawaii, is the 14th best beach in the world and the third best in the U.S, according to the study

Hollywood Beach in Florida appears in fourth position in the U.S ranking

Hollywood Beach in Florida appears in fourth position in the U.S ranking

Hollywood Beach in Florida appears in fourth position in the U.S ranking

Commenting on the 2024 ranking, Sarah Firshein, head of editorial at Tripadvisor, said: ‘Last year, Tripadvisor received millions of reviews for beaches — it’s clear that our community absolutely loves them.

‘But as our Travellers’ Choice lists reveal, there’s no one-size-fits-all “beach day”.

‘Our top 25 winners alone encompass 18 countries across five continents. The top three beaches are all in Europe, ousting the perennially popular Caribbean from those spots – a sign that some travellers are eager to swap typical resort vacations for the coastlines of Portugal, Italy, and beyond.’

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For the complete list of Travellers’ Choice Best of the Best award-winning beaches for 2024, visit: tripadvisor.co.uk/TravellersChoice-Beaches

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Diet that mimics the effect of fasting WITHOUT starving yourself could add years to followers’ lives, trial shows

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A diet that mimics the effect of fasting without starving yourself can extend your life by years, a study suggests.

Researchers found that people who followed the fasting-mimicking diet (FMD) for five days a month reduced their biological age by over two years on average.

Tests also showed they had a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke, based on biomarkers in their blood.

The FMD diet involves eating around fewer than 1,000 calories – made up of low-fat foods, soups, energy drinks and supplements.

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It is said to trick the body into thinking it is fasting, releasing enzymes and other chemicals in the body that have been linked to longevity.

Participants ate a FMD made up of plant-based soups, energy bars, energy drinks, chip snacks, and tea portioned out for five days, as well as a supplement providing high levels of minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids

Participants ate a FMD made up of plant-based soups, energy bars, energy drinks, chip snacks, and tea portioned out for five days, as well as a supplement providing high levels of minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids

Participants ate a FMD made up of plant-based soups, energy bars, energy drinks, chip snacks, and tea portioned out for five days, as well as a supplement providing high levels of minerals, vitamins, and essential fatty acids

Professor Valter Longo, a biologist from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, who developed the diet in the new study and is the lead author, said: ‘This is the first study to show that a food-based intervention that does not require chronic dietary or other lifestyle changes can make people biologically younger.’

The diet used in the study involved three cycles of five days on the FMD diet, with a 25 day break in between.

Day one saw the participants eat 1,100 calories, while days two to five saw them consume eat around 720 calories daily.

Their diet during these days also consisted of healthy chip snacks and tea.

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The diet is made up of 34 percent carbohydrates, 10 percent protein and 56 percent fat for the first day, and then seven percent carbohydrates, nine percent protein, and 44 percent fat for the other days.

Participants then got to eat their usual diets for 25 days. 

Both groups contained men and women aged between 18 and 70.

After three months, researchers analyzed blood samples from participants, which showed that patients in the FMD group had lower diabetes risk factors, including less insulin resistance and lower blood sugar levels.

Chronological age is how long you have  been alive, whereas biological age is how old your cells and tissues are. It is a significant metric because it shows how susceptible you may be to disease.

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MRI scans also showed a decreased in abdominal fat and fat in the liver, which are associated with a reduced risk of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes.

Previous research has suggested FMD cycles can even lower risk factors for cancer.

The FMD cycles also appeared to increased participants’ lymphoid-to-myeloid ratio, which is an indicator of a more youthful immune system.

Further analyses revealed that FMD participants had lowered their biological age – a measure of how well one’s cells and tissues are functioning, as opposed to chronological age – by 2.5 years on average.

Researchers believe the FMD has ‘rejuvenating effects on the immune system’. In previous studies in mice, the diet caused a ‘rejuvenation of the blood profile.’

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The FMD diet also switches cells throughout the body to a protected ‘anti-aging mode’ — an effect which endures beyond the fast.

The body has what is known as ‘nutrient-sensing’ pathways, which control autophagy – kind of ‘housekeeping’ of the body’s cells.

It is constantly going on in the body and removes unwanted byproducts of cell processes.

 

The more autophagy that happens, the better you feel and the lower the risk of future health problems.

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The FMD diet accelerates autophagy, so more byproducts and ‘bad’ cells in the body are disposed of that cause disease and aging.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

It is supposed to mimic the effects of a water-only fast while still offering essential nutrients.

A water-only fast is where you only drink water for a period of time and ingest no other food or beverages. People water fast for weight loss or to lower blood pressure.

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France launches anti-corruption push ahead of 2024 Paris Olympics

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Ahead of the Paris Olympics in July and August, French prosecutors are working on four enquiries into possible wrongdoing, but are the investigations a sign of problems or of genuine efforts to tackle graft?

Issued on: Modified:

3 min

Andy Spalding, an academic and author who studies corruption in sporting “mega-events” such as the Olympics or the football World Cup, believes French authorities are showing they are serious about delivering a clean Games.

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Three preliminary investigations are into possible favouritism in the awarding of around 20 contracts worth tens of millions of euros, while a fourth — revealed on February 6 by AFP — is scrutinising the pay of chief organiser Tony Estanguet.

In an interview with AFP, Spalding, a professor at the US-based University of Richmond School of Law, explained the troubled history of Olympic corruption and why he believes the Paris Games might spell the start of a “new era” of cleaner international sport.

Question: When did corruption in the Olympics first come to wide public attention?

“The Salt Lake City Winter Olympics in 2002 was the first time in which there was hard evidence of corruption that went public. Pre-2002, we know there’s corruption. But we can’t prove it and the world is largely resigned to corruption.

Then in the late 1990s, there’s something sometimes called the “corruption eruption” — a period of time in which all of a sudden the world starts paying a lot of attention to corruption issues.

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There are new international conventions; there’s an explosion of scholarship. There are scandals and resignations, new enforcement initiatives.

What we saw in the ensuing Games was not just incidents of corruption, but systemic corruption. Russia with the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics was probably the most egregious example of this, where billions of dollars are estimated to have been embezzled in the course of the event.”

What has been the effect on the Olympics movement?

“The corruption scandals have damaged the International Olympic Committee brand enormously. That was most obvious in 2015 at the time of the awarding of the 2022 Winter Games, when the only credible candidate, China, was a country that had almost no winter sports tradition.

Other countries just didn’t want them because of the systemic corruption and the cost overruns.

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The IOC needs a sustainable business model, so they adopted reforms, attacking the two different components of corruption: one is the corruption at the IOC level, particularly with the executive committee, meaning they needed to reform the bidding process.

Then the second step was addressing corruption at the host level: the organising committee, the municipality, the National Olympic Committee.”

Part of that approach is a new “anti-corruption clause” in the contract with the Olympics host city. What is this?

“France is the first country to be under an enforceable contractual obligation to adopt anti-corruption compliance programs. Nobody knows what it means yet, but starting with Paris, moving forward to the 2026 Winter Games and Los Angeles in 2028, we will have these contractual obligations each time.

You start with a contractual provision. The next step is to provide some guidance on what that means. Then we need operations and some enforcement for breach of contract. When all of those steps are completed, then the clause will mean something.

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When any convention or statute is adopted, there is a lag before enforcement. The statute that was the catalyst for global anti-corruption enforcement, the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, was on the books for 25 years before we did anything with it.”

How else is Paris 2024 different?

“It’s really important to note that France was awarded the Olympics in 2017, the same year that it adopted a new highly innovative anti-corruption law, Sapin II. That created a freestanding requirement that companies adopt anti-corruption compliance programs to prevent things like bribery, favouritism or extortion. In most of the world, anti-corruption compliance is not legally required.

France applied all this to the Olympics. They put the organising committee under the jurisdiction of the new French Anti-Corruption Agency (AFA) whose sole purpose is to help companies build compliance programs.

And in reviewing the organising committee, AFA has uncovered issues that are potential red flags. It sends those red flags to prosecutors, and prosecutors are now investigating.

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What is that evidence of? Systemic corruption or an innovative anti-corruption initiative working really well? It depends on whether anything is verified. And if it’s verified, how serious it is.

I think Paris could mark the beginning of a new era of anti-corruption law enforcement and anti-corruption measures in the Games.”

(AFP)

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Crunch time for Messi and MLS: Inter Miami’s season starts tonight after a disastrous world tour… but now David Beckham’s all-star cast NEED success after spending big on Suarez and Co

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The last time we saw Lionel Messi face an MLS side in South Florida, the mood around Inter Miami was noticeably lighter.

The club had arranged a November 10 friendly vs. New York City FC to celebrate Messi’s eighth Ballon d’Or win, dubbing it ‘Noche d’ Or’ and putting a bow on what had been a promising 2023 for the team.

But when the reigning Leagues Cup champions returned to DRV PNK Stadium last week for a final tune-up vs. Newell’s Old Boys, it was hard not to feel as though some of the sheen had worn off, ahead of the club’s MLS opener on Wednesday.

Miami’s preseason was at best choppy, and at worst a disaster.

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Ignoring the results, which included just one win from seven games, there was a calamity of bad press as Miami cashed in with a journey taking them to El Salvador, Dallas, Saudi Arabia, Hong Kong and Japan.

Lionel Messi said he was 'a little tired' and wanted to 'return home' from Miami's lengthy tour

Lionel Messi said he was 'a little tired' and wanted to 'return home' from Miami's lengthy tour

Lionel Messi said he was ‘a little tired’ and wanted to ‘return home’ from Miami’s lengthy tour

He was in happier spirits when he faced off against his old club, Newell's Old Boys, last week

He was in happier spirits when he faced off against his old club, Newell's Old Boys, last week

He was in happier spirits when he faced off against his old club, Newell’s Old Boys, last week

Messi posed with the Ballon d'Or trophy - his eighth - before a Miami friendly in November

Messi posed with the Ballon d'Or trophy - his eighth - before a Miami friendly in November

Messi posed with the Ballon d’Or trophy – his eighth – before a Miami friendly in November

The tour gained unwanted attention in just the second game vs. FC Dallas, as Messi and his teammates took the field in front of a largely-empty Cotton Bowl that was only one-third full.

From there, Messi injured his adductor muscle, angered the Hong Kong government and fans when he sat out of a friendly there, and admitted he was a ‘little tired from this whole tour’ before Miami faced Vissel Kobe.

The No. 10 also played just seven minutes in a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Al-Nassr – who were without Cristiano Ronaldo – while Sergio Busquets was taken off with an injury scare vs. Vissel Kobe. 

This is all to say: the happier days of Messi hoisting the Leagues Cup over the summer feel far away, as does the innocence of his family trip to supermarket chain Publix soon after arriving Stateside.

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Crucially, though, Messi is still Messi, and there are even greater expectations for these star-studded Herons after the addition of Luis Suarez. Any team with those names will at least be in the mix for its league title.

Luis Suarez (right) has teamed up with Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets (L-R) in Miami

Luis Suarez (right) has teamed up with Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets (L-R) in Miami

Luis Suarez (right) has teamed up with Messi, Jordi Alba and Sergio Busquets (L-R) in Miami

Messi and Inter Miami lifted the Leagues Cup over the summer, beating Nashville SC

Messi and Inter Miami lifted the Leagues Cup over the summer, beating Nashville SC

Messi and Inter Miami lifted the Leagues Cup over the summer, beating Nashville SC

The first full season of Miami’s ‘Big 4’ will commence tonight, at home vs. Real Salt Lake, and Suarez will not be the only new face.

Veteran wide man Julian Gressel joined after winning the league with the Columbus Crew, while Yannick Bright was added in the first round of the draft as well.

Meanwhile, defender Kamal Miller has departed after totaling the fourth-most league minutes on the team last season, while Josef Martinez and his seven goals have left as well.

The club will also be without midfielder Facundo Farias after he tore his ACL in the preseason, while highly-rated 18-year-old Benjamin Cremaschi will miss two to three months with a sports hernia, according to the team.

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So, there will be lots of pieces for manager Tata Martino to mix and match as he aims to get the most out of a squad whose best players are all 34 and older.

The positive news for Martino is his two best – and oldest – attackers are still quite good despite the mileage on them.

Messi, who wasted no time opening his Miami account with a stunning free kick vs. Cruz Azul, scored 11 goals in 14 appearances in all competitions after arriving in July.

Messi and Suarez will hope to channel the connection from their Barcelona days

Messi and Suarez will hope to channel the connection from their Barcelona days

Messi and Suarez will hope to channel the connection from their Barcelona days

Suarez joined Miami after starring for Gremio in the Brazilian league, scoring 17 goals

Suarez joined Miami after starring for Gremio in the Brazilian league, scoring 17 goals

Suarez joined Miami after starring for Gremio in the Brazilian league, scoring 17 goals

And the 37-year-old Suarez, creaky legs and all, still managed 17 goals and 11 assists in the Brazilian league this past season for Gremio.

Alba, too, remains a threat bombing up and down the left while Busquets is surely one of the league’s best passers, even if his severe lack of pace will at times hamstring him.

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The worry for those four, and Miami at large, is not winning a final or coming up with the goods in a big game.

It’s staying healthy and fresh enough to get there.

Miami could flirt with 60 games this season with the team set to play in four different competitions. What will it look like when Messi inevitably rests, as Martino has already planned?

The returns were discouraging in the six MLS games that Messi missed last season after his arrival, as Miami won just once, drew three times and lost twice. And Suarez, who has dealt with repeated knee issues, has not been the most durable of late either.

The Herons were not shut out in any of those six Messi-less games, perhaps surprisingly, though they failed to top more than one goal in half of them. 

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It was their defense that let them down in 5-2 and 4-1 losses to Atlanta United and the Chicago Fire respectively.

Young players like defender Tomas Aviles will hope to make Messi's life easier

Young players like defender Tomas Aviles will hope to make Messi's life easier

Young players like defender Tomas Aviles will hope to make Messi’s life easier

Having a full season of Tomas Aviles, a reported $9million arrival last summer, and newly-signed Pumas loanee Nicolas Freire, should help in that department. A full preseason under Martino should be beneficial as well.

Miami’s aging core is surrounded by some decent young talent, and the team’s brass deserves credit for its reshaping of its roster over the past year. 

Make no mistake about it, though – just as Apple TV’s new MLS Season Pass ad revolves around Messi, so too do Miami’s prospects this season.

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He’s playing alongside his best friends, for a coach he respects, and crucially, with a clean bill of health, according to reports from the eve of the season opener.

Miami and MLS both need Messi to explode, and the 36-year-old will soon show what kind of spark he has left.

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Norway’s PM says it is ‘not in Russia’s interest to engage war with a NATO country’

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Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre spoke to FRANCE 24 about the war in Ukraine ahead of the second anniversary this week of Russia’s full-scale invasion. The conflict has prompted senior Scandinavian defence officials to warn about the heightened threat of war with Russia; while Norway is a founding member of NATO, Finland joined the alliance just last year while Sweden is in the process of doing so.

“I don’t think it is in Russia’s interest to engage war with a NATO country,” the Norwegian premier told FRANCE 24.

“But being part of NATO, being part of a collective security, we need to strengthen our capacity,” he conceded.

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Speaking on the sidelines of the Munich Security Conference, Støre admitted that there was a “stalemate on the battleground” in Ukraine but insisted on the importance of supporting Kyiv. The recent fall of Avdiivka to Russian forces “should be a wake-up call to make the Ukrainians fit and able to defend themselves”, he said.

Støre added that Norway would agree a bilateral security deal to help Ukraine. Kyiv has already signed similar agreements with France, Germany and the UK. 

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International

Prime suspect: Shocking moment Amazon delivery driver steals 12-year-old boy’s bike left in the front garden in brazen daylight theft

Published

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  • Kyren Wheeldon was left heartbroken by the robbery of his mountain bike 
  • Had anything stolen from your garden? Email: dan.grennan@mailonline.co.uk 

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This is the shocking moment an Amazon delivery driver steals a 12-year-old boy’s bicycle which was left in a front garden.

Mother Beckie Wheeldon said her son Kyren was left ‘heartbroken’ by the brazen daylight theft on February 15 in Bulwell, Nottinghamshire. 

Kyren had cycled 20 minutes to a friend’s house and had left his Carrera in their front garden at around 4pm. 

Around half an hour later, the delivery driver is see on CCTV footage arriving with a parcel for the house, which he leaves behind a wheelie bin. As he walks back to the van, he glances at the bike before moving out of shot.

The Amazon driver drops off the parcel at the house

The Amazon driver drops off the parcel at the house

The Amazon driver drops off the parcel at the house

The thief glances at the bike after dropping the parcel off

The thief glances at the bike after dropping the parcel off

The thief glances at the bike after dropping the parcel off

The driver moves out of shot before returning to steal the bike

The driver moves out of shot before returning to steal the bike

The driver moves out of shot before returning to steal the bike

Had anything stolen from your garden? Email: dan.grennan@mailonline.co.uk 

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A moment later he is seen picking up the bike before calmly wheeling it to the Amazon van, which is then seen driving off. 

When Kyren returned a few hours later, he found his bicycle had gone and called his mother while ‘crying his eyes out’ about his lost bicycle.

Mother Beckie said: ‘This is heartbreaking for him. He was crying his eyes out on the phone to me telling me what had happened. 

‘I thought that it would’ve just been been a normal young lad nicking the bike to get a bit of money. 

The Amazon driver picks up the bike

The Amazon driver picks up the bike

The Amazon driver picks up the bike 

The thief calmly wheels the bike away back to his van

The thief calmly wheels the bike away back to his van

The thief calmly wheels the bike away back to his van

The Amazon drives off after the bike was taken

The Amazon drives off after the bike was taken

The Amazon drives off after the bike was taken

‘You’d never have thought it would be a delivery driver. He absolutely loved that bike. I was angry and upset for him.’

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Kyren was given the mountain bike as a Christmas present last year and Beckie said it was ‘his way of socialising’ as he used to ride it at the local BMX track near his home. 

An Amazon spokesperson confirmed that the delivery driver ‘will no longer be delivering parcels’. 

They said: ‘We have very high standards for the delivery service providers we work with and how they serve customers. 

‘We are taking this matter seriously and have contacted the customer to make this right. The delivery driver will no longer be delivering Amazon parcels.’

A spokesperson for Nottinghamshire Police confirmed they are investigating the bike theft on February 15. 

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Had anything stolen from your garden? Email: dan.grennan@mailonline.co.uk 

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International

EU targets nearly 200 entities with new sanctions over Russia’s war in Ukraine

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EU members approved a 13th package of Ukraine-related sanctions against Russia on Wednesday, banning nearly 200 entities and individuals accused of helping Moscow procure weapons or of involvement in kidnapping Ukrainian children. 

Issued on:

2 min

“EU Ambassadors just agreed in principle on a 13th package of sanctions in the framework of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine,” Belgium, which holds the rotating EU presidency, said on social media platform X, calling it “one of the broadest approved by the EU”.

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The new package will see 193 entities and individuals added to the list of those banned from traveling to the EU or doing business there, but no fresh measures against specific economic sectors, EU diplomatic sources said.


 

The sources said the focus of the listings is roughly split between entities and individuals that are part of Russia’s military industrial complex and those involved in trafficking and kidnapping Ukrainian children. One North Korean and one Belarusian firm were also added, the sources said.

The chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court said last March that Russia had transferred “at least hundreds” of children from orphanages and care homes in occupied regions of Ukraine, and “many” have been given up for adoption.

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Read moreEU sanctions on Russia: Increasing pressure on Putin as cost of living bites in Europe

 

The ICC indicted officials including President Vladimir Putin for abducting Ukrainian children, which it called a war crime. Moscow denies any crime and says it has taken in children from the war zone to protect them. Ukraine says Russia has removed more than 4,000 children.

The new measures also focus on the procurement network supporting Russia’s military, especially the supply chain to make drones. Twenty-seven companies were added to the Annex IV list, which means European firms cannot sell dual-use goods to them.

The companies added are mostly Russian and include three mainland Chinese firms and one Hong Kong-based company, the sources said.

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The package will be formally approved in time for the second anniversary of the start of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.

“We must keep degrading Putin’s war machine,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on X.

“We are also further cutting Russia’s access to drones.”

Ambassadors also renewed for six months the current sanctions regime that lists around 2,000 individuals and companies.

(REUTERS)

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International

Revealed: All 546 words that mean ‘drunk’ – from ‘trolleyed’ and ‘wellied’ to ‘hammered’ and ‘steampigged’… so which is YOUR favourite?

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  • Britons have 546 different words for ‘drunk’ according to researchers
  • Almost any word can be used to mean drunk as long as it ends with an ‘-ed’ 

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A study has found an astonishing 546 words that are formally defined as meaning drunk, including ‘trolleyed’, ‘hammered’, ‘wellied’ and ‘steampigged’. 

Linguistic researchers have discovered that virtually any noun can be transformed into a ‘drunkonym’ – a synonym for intoxicated – simply by adding ‘ed’ at the end.

It confirms a theory first suggested by comedian Michael McIntyre, who said Britons could understand any word as meaning drunk if it is preceded by ‘I got completely…’

If you’ve ever felt ‘gazeboed’, ‘carparked’ or completely ‘cabbaged’ after a night out, this may come as no surprise. 

Professor Christina Sanchez-Stockhammer, of Chemnitz University in Germany, believes it may be due to Britain’s deeply-rooted culture of social drinking and Monty Python-style absurdist humour.

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Researchers have found that Britons have 546 words for drunk and that almost any word can be used so long as it ends with an '-ed'

Researchers have found that Britons have 546 words for drunk and that almost any word can be used so long as it ends with an '-ed'

Researchers have found that Britons have 546 words for drunk and that almost any word can be used so long as it ends with an ‘-ed’

She said: ‘In English, there’s an extremely large number of words that can mean drunk, and more can be formed simply by adding ‘ed’ to the end.

‘It means pretty much any word in Britain can inherit the meaning “drunk” automatically from the context.

‘This humorous modifying of words is only possible because of the way sentences are constructed in English, and because the British really enjoy witty wordplay. For example, it would not work in German.’

She said the funny effect of drunkonyms is often achieved through their indirectness, adding: ‘For example, “gazeboed” and “carparked” are funny because there is no direct relation between the base word and the meaning “drunk”.’

Prof Sanchez-Stockhammer said indirectness is also present in other types of playful language, such as Cockney rhyming slang, which includes drunkonyms like ‘Brahms’ and ‘Schindler’s’ – short for ‘Brahms and Liszt’ and ‘Schindler’s list’, both of which rhyme with ‘pi**ed’.

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If you've ever felt 'gazeboed', 'carparked' or completely 'cabbaged' after a night out, this may come as no surprise. Linguistic researchers have discovered that virtually any noun can be transformed into a 'drunkonym' ¿ a synonym for intoxicated ¿ simply by adding 'ed' at the end (stock image)

If you've ever felt 'gazeboed', 'carparked' or completely 'cabbaged' after a night out, this may come as no surprise. Linguistic researchers have discovered that virtually any noun can be transformed into a 'drunkonym' ¿ a synonym for intoxicated ¿ simply by adding 'ed' at the end (stock image)

If you’ve ever felt ‘gazeboed’, ‘carparked’ or completely ‘cabbaged’ after a night out, this may come as no surprise. Linguistic researchers have discovered that virtually any noun can be transformed into a ‘drunkonym’ – a synonym for intoxicated – simply by adding ‘ed’ at the end (stock image) 

She added: ‘We studied for a year in Great Britain and witnessed British culture first-hand. Drunkonyms fit in well with the humourous British outlook on drinking and life in general.’

The study, published in the Yearbook of the German Cognitive Linguistics Association, found that English speakers regularly use a range of alternative words for ‘drunk’.

By the time Britons reach adulthood, most will have experienced so many different drunkonyms that it allows them to recognise even unknown words ending in ‘ed’ as meaning ‘drunk’ in many contexts.

Even though excessive alcohol consumption may come with negative consequences, Britons commonly discuss drunkenness in a light-hearted way, the researchers added.

Explaining the list, Sanchez-Stockhammer said: ‘The following list combines material from the Oxford English Dictionary, Collins Dictionary’s thesaurus, Wiktionary’s thesaurus as well as synonyms for drunk collected by the audience of BBC One’s Booze programme. 

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The list is sorted, first in descending order by the number of resources in which the word occurs (indicated by a figure between 1 and 4 in parentheses), and then alphabetically within each frequency group.”

The 546 words for drunk 

Researchers have found that Britons have over 500 different word that we can use to mean ‘drunk.

They discovered that almost any word can be used to mean drunk so long as it ends in ‘-ed’ and follows an adverb like ‘very’, ‘totaly’, or ‘absolutley’

For example: ‘I was totally gazeboed last night’.

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Here is the full list: 

bladdered 

inebriated 

intoxicated 

langered 

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legless 

mashed 

merry 

mullered 

pickled 

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pie-eyed 

plastered 

sloshed 

smashed 

tipsy 

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trashed 

wasted 

bevvied 

blasted 

blitzed 

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blootered 

blotto 

bombed 

cabbaged 

canned 

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fuddled 

hammered

langers 

lashed 

loaded 

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ossified 

paralytic 

p*****

rat-arsed 

ratted 

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screwed 

slaughtered 

sozzled 

squiffy 

steaming 

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stewed 

stoned 

tanked 

tiddly 

tight 

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well-oiled 

wrecked 

zonked 

Adrian Quist 

a********

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beered-up 

besotted  

blocked 

blottoed 

blue 

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bollocksed 

bottled 

buzzed 

clobbered 

c*****

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cockeyed 

corned 

corny 

crocked 

c*****

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cup-shot 

cut  

disguised  

ebriose 

ebrious 

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elevated 

faced 

fap 

flustered 

fluthered 

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fou 

fresh

fried  

f***** 

full 

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gassed

ginned 

glorious 

gone 

groggy 

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high 

honkers

inebriate 

jolly 

juiced 

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kaylied 

lamped 

leathered 

liquored up 

lit 

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locked 

looped 

lubricated 

lushy  

maudlin  

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mellow 

minging  

m*****

moppy 

mortal 

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muddy  

munted 

nappy 

obfuscated

obliterated 

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oiled  

owly-eyed 

parlatic 

peloothered 

pixilated 

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ploughed 

polluted 

potted 

potulent 

puggled

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razzled 

ree 

ripe 

ripped 

rubbered 

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sauced 

scammered 

schnockered 

screwy 

scuttered 

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shedded

shicker 

shickered

skunked 

slewed 

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snockered 

snuffy

soaked 

soaken 

sottish 

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spannered 

spiffed 

sprung 

squiffed 

steamboats 

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stinking 

stinko 

stocious 

stonkered 

strut 

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swacked 

swipey 

tanked up 

temulent 

tiddled 

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tippled 

top-heavy 

trollied 

trousered 

t*****

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twisted 

w*******

wazzed 

wellied 

wet 

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zoned 

adrip 

airlocked 

ale-blown 

alecied 

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ale-washed 

ankled 

annihilated 

askew 

babalas 

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bacchic 

badgered 

baked 

banjaxed 

barley-sick 

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battered 

beery 

befuddled 

befuggered 

beliquored 

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bent 

Bernard Langered 

besotten 

bibacious 

bibulous 

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bingoed 

bitch fou 

blathered 

blatted 

bleezin 

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blind

blocked-up 

blown away 

blucked 

bluttered 

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boiled 

bonkers 

boogaloo 

boozed 

boozed-up

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boozy 

bosky 

bousy 

Brahms 

broken 

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buffy 

bumpsy 

bungalowed 

bungfu 

burlin 

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burlin’

caned 

cap-sick 

chevy chased 

clear 

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cocktailed 

columbered

confuddled 

cooked 

crapulous

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cup-shotten 

dagged 

dead-oh 

decimated 

destroyed 

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dot cottoned 

drink-drowned 

drinky 

dronkverdriet 

druck-steaming 

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ebriate

ebriated 

elephants 

elephant’s 

elephant’s trunk 

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etched 

fairish 

falling-down 

far gone 

fecked 

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fershnickered 

fighting-tight 

flashy 

fleemered 

flooey 

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floored 

fluffy 

flush

flushed

fluted

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fly-blown

flying 

foggy

footless

foxed

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frosted 

fu’ 

fubar 

FUBARed 

f***** up

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f*****-up

f******* up

f***faced

funked up 

funny 

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fuzzy-headed

fuzzy-minded

gatted

gattered 

gee-eyed 

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genevered 

gesuip 

gished 

goat

goosed 

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grogged 

groggified 

guttered 

half channelled over 

half cut 

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half lit 

half polluted 

half seas over 

half-and-half 

half-cocked 

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half-cut 

half-seas-over 

half-shaved

half-shot 

hamboned

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hammer-blowed 

happy 

hazed 

heady 

hearty 

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high-flown

hooched up 

hosed 

hot 

howling 

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impaired 

incapable 

inebrious 

insober 

insobrietous 

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intoxicate 

jagged 

jahalered 

jaiked up 

jaked 

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Jan Hammered 

Jan’d 

Jaxied 

jazzed 

Jeremied 

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jingled 

jug-bitten 

juiced up 

junked-up 

Kaned 

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kisky 

kylied 

lagered up 

lagged up 

langerated 

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laroped 

larruped 

larrupt 

lash 

liquefied 

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liquory 

lit up 

lit-up 

loo la 

loopy 

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loose 

lumpy 

lushed 

maggot 

maggoted 

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mandoo-ed 

mangled 

manky 

Maudlin-cupped 

mauled 

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mazed-headed 

medicated 

meff’d 

Merl Haggard 

messed up 

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mettled 

minced 

ming-ho 

miraculous 

mizzled 

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moccasined 

moired 

mokus 

molo 

monkey-full 

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moon-eyed 

moony 

motherless 

mottled 

muddled 

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muggy 

muntered 

mused 

mustulent 

muzzy 

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nase 

nazzy 

near 

newcastled 

newted 

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nicely 

obliviated 

oiled-up 

Oliver 

Oliver Twist 

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orey-eyed 

overcome 

overrefreshed 

overseen 

overshot 

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overtaken 

paggered 

paid 

palintoshed 

para 

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paraletic 

paralysed 

paralyzed 

parro 

peelywally 

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peevied 

pepst 

pifflicated 

pinko 

piped 

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pipped 

p*****

pissy-arsed 

plonked 

plotzed 

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plowed 

poleaxed 

pollatic 

potable 

pot-shaken 

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pot-shot 

pot-shotten 

pot-sick 

pot-valiant 

pounded 

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primed 

queer 

quisby 

raddled 

rat-legged 

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ravaged 

reek-ho 

reeling ripe 

rendered

rocky 

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rolling 

rosined 

rosy 

rosy glow 

rotten 

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rotto 

rouzy-bouzy 

ruined 

rummy 

sat 

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scattered 

schickered 

Schindlers 

schloshed 

schnookered 

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scratched 

semi-bousy 

sewed up 

shaved 

shellaced

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shellacked 

sherry 

s***faced

s****-faced

s***housed 

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s***** 

shot 

shwasted 

skimished 

slammed 

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slap-happy 

slarmied 

slued 

slug-nutty 

snatered 

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snobbled 

snookered 

snozzled 

sodden 

soft 

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sotted 

souped-up 

soused 

sozzly 

spanceled 

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spancelled 

spangeled 

speechless 

spiflicated 

splashed 

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spongelled 

spongy 

spreeish 

squizzed 

steamed 

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steamin 

steampigged 

stiff 

stoated 

stonkin 

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stotious 

stukkend 

stung 

stunned

swizzled 

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tap-shackled 

tashered 

temulentive 

throwed 

tightish 

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tilted 

tin hat 

tin hats 

tipsified 

toasted 

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toddied 

top-heavyish 

toping 

toppy 

tore up 

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tosie 

touched 

tow-row 

toxic 

tozy-mozy 

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trolleyed 

troubled

tuned 

t***faced

used up 

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warped 

wastey 

wazzocked 

well-corned 

well-cornered 

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well-liquored 

well-sprung 

whiffled 

whift 

whiskeyfied 

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whiskified 

whiskyfied 

whistled 

whittled 

whole-seas 

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whole-seas over 

wineful 

wine-sprung 

wiped 

withered 

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wobbly 

woozy 

zigzag 

zombied 

zooted 

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zorched 

zotzed

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