Elite London schools draw foreign home buyers to capital

Students from University College London (UCL) celebrate with friends and family following a graduation ceremony on the Southbank in London, Britain, September 6, 2018. (Reuters)
Updated 06 September 2018
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Elite London schools draw foreign home buyers to capital

  • Property prices in London have long been swelled by foreign investment, making living in the city unaffordable for those on lower incomes
  • Overseas parents spent about 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) on prime property near London schools over the past year, a report said

LONDON: Wealthy foreigners are spending billions of pounds on homes near London’s top private schools, even as demand for prime property in the British capital falters, new research has found.
Overseas parents spent about 2 billion pounds ($2.6 billion) on prime property near London schools over the past year, according to a report published on Wednesday by global property firm Knight Frank. Most were from China or Russia.
“Our analysis shows just how important the standard of top London schools is to wealthy international individuals and the demand this contributes to the London property market,” said Liam Bailey, global head of research at Knight Frank.
Property prices in London have long been swelled by foreign investment, making living in the city unaffordable for those on lower incomes, although price growth has slowed since Britain voted in a 2016 referendum to leave the European Union.
Anthony Breach, analyst with the British think-tank Center for Cities, said foreign ownership was exacerbating a broader lack of affordable housing in Britain’s capital.
“We need to build more housing, then more people could benefit from London’s strong economy and schools,” said Breach. “The supply of housing is not matching the demand.”
Knight Frank said political pressures coupled with an increase in taxation on high-value properties had put significant pressure on London’s luxury housing market.
But parents were still purchasing property in the capital while their children attend school. “Education is the driver,” Bailey told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
“This is a sector which in terms of its appeal to a global market appears to be pretty much unaffected by Brexit ... and has remained very robust,” he said.
Prices have fallen by between 10 and 20 percent over the past three years at the top of the London market, according to Knight Frank’s report.
Bailey said lower property prices and a weakened pound may be attracting foreign parents to buy in London.
“Given the potential 10-year span of education for children that come over as young as 11 or 13, many of these parents are looking at a longer term commitment as opposed to a short term investment,” he said.
Knight Frank said the motivations for parents included the quality of education in Britain and the perceived boost to university and job prospects offered by attending prestigious London schools.
The most popular countries to send children to school after Britain were the United States followed by Canada and other European Union countries, the report found.
London Mayor Sadiq Khan has set ambitious targets to tackle a chronic housing shortage, undertaking a London-wide house building scheme of 650,000 new homes by 2029 — more than double the current rate. ($1 = 0.7732 pounds) (Reporting by Adela Suliman, Editing by Claire Cozens. Thomson Reuters Foundation)


India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

Updated 19 April 2019
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India suspends Kashmir border trade with Pakistan

  • Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries
  • India said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency”

NEW DELHI: India has suspended trade across its disputed Kashmir border with Pakistan, alleging that weapons and drugs are being smuggled across the route, as tensions simmer between the nuclear-armed neighbors.
Kashmir has been on edge since a February suicide attack that killed 40 Indian paramilitaries and brought the two countries to the brink of war with cross-border air strikes.
On Thursday, India’s government, which is in the middle of a tough national election, said it had reports that trade on the border was being “misused by Pakistan-based elements for funnelling illegal weapons, narcotics and fake currency.”
It also said many of those trading across the Line of Control, which divides Kashmir into zones under Indian and Pakistani control, had links to militant organizations.
The home ministry said trade would be suspended until a stricter inspection mechanism is in place.
The cross-border trade is based on a barter system, with traders exchanging goods including chillies, cumin, mango and dried fruit.
It began in 2008 as a way to improve strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad, who have fought two of their three wars over the disputed region.
The Indian Express newspaper said Friday that 35 trucks carrying fruit traveling from the Indian side of the border had been stopped after the government order.
Trade on the border has been suspended before, including in 2015, when India accused a Pakistani driver of drug trafficking.
The latest move comes after India withdrew “Most Favoured Nation Status” — covering trade links — from Pakistan after the February attack, which was claimed by the Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed Islamist group.
Islamabad has denied any involvement in the attack.
India’s Hindu nationalist Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made national security a key plank of his re-election campaign, pointing to the recent flare-up of violence as he battles the center-left opposition Congress party.
He is seeking a second term from the country’s 900 million voters in the mammoth election which kicked off on April 11 and runs till May 19. The results will be out on May 23.