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UK car insurance prices drop 7.1 per cent in the second quarter

But men are still paying £110 more than women on average.

Driven by competition, the average cost of car insurance in the UK fell by 7.1 per cent to £797 in the second quarter of 2012, according to a new index compiled by the price comparison website and Towers Watson, a global consulting firm.

Despite the decline and impending gender directive implementation, men are still paying on average £110 more than women and drivers aged between 17 and 20 are being quoted comprehensive premiums of £2,491.

The average price for 17-to-20-year-old male drivers in Manchester/Merseyside is £5,394, while in central Scotland, they are quoted a more modest £2,999. Young male drivers aged 20 or younger in inner London can expect to pay an average of £5,330 per year.

Regionally, the west of England has seen the biggest fall in prices, as average premiums for comprehensive cover dropped by 10.5 per cent year on year. The largest year-on-year price drop of 10.5 per cent was recorded for 21-year-olds.

Gareth Kloet, head of car insurance at, said:

Competition between car insurance providers is currently very high, which means it’s a great time to get a deal on your car insurance. At we have more than 130 insurers competing for customers and so drivers can benefit from this competitive market by shopping around.

When it comes to men versus women, any gender differences have to be factored out of quotations after December this year and so other factors such as the type of car you drive and the distances you expect to cover will become more important in the quote process. We anticipate that drivers will continue to reduce their annual mileage as a result of high motoring costs and seek cheaper vehicles in their search for more affordable cover.

Photo: Getty Images
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How can Britain become a nation of homeowners?

David Cameron must unlock the spirit of his postwar predecessors to get the housing market back on track. 

In the 1955 election, Anthony Eden described turning Britain into a “property-owning democracy” as his – and by extension, the Conservative Party’s – overarching mission.

60 years later, what’s changed? Then, as now, an Old Etonian sits in Downing Street. Then, as now, Labour are badly riven between left and right, with their last stay in government widely believed – by their activists at least – to have been a disappointment. Then as now, few commentators seriously believe the Tories will be out of power any time soon.

But as for a property-owning democracy? That’s going less well.

When Eden won in 1955, around a third of people owned their own homes. By the time the Conservative government gave way to Harold Wilson in 1964, 42 per cent of households were owner-occupiers.

That kicked off a long period – from the mid-50s right until the fall of the Berlin Wall – in which home ownership increased, before staying roughly flat at 70 per cent of the population from 1991 to 2001.

But over the course of the next decade, for the first time in over a hundred years, the proportion of owner-occupiers went to into reverse. Just 64 percent of households were owner-occupier in 2011. No-one seriously believes that number will have gone anywhere other than down by the time of the next census in 2021. Most troublingly, in London – which, for the most part, gives us a fairly accurate idea of what the demographics of Britain as a whole will be in 30 years’ time – more than half of households are now renters.

What’s gone wrong?

In short, property prices have shot out of reach of increasing numbers of people. The British housing market increasingly gets a failing grade at “Social Contract 101”: could someone, without a backstop of parental or family capital, entering the workforce today, working full-time, seriously hope to retire in 50 years in their own home with their mortgage paid off?

It’s useful to compare and contrast the policy levers of those two Old Etonians, Eden and Cameron. Cameron, so far, has favoured demand-side solutions: Help to Buy and the new Help to Buy ISA.

To take the second, newer of those two policy innovations first: the Help to Buy ISA. Does it work?

Well, if you are a pre-existing saver – you can’t use the Help to Buy ISA for another tax year. And you have to stop putting money into any existing ISAs. So anyone putting a little aside at the moment – not going to feel the benefit of a Help to Buy ISA.

And anyone solely reliant on a Help to Buy ISA – the most you can benefit from, if you are single, it is an extra three grand from the government. This is not going to shift any houses any time soon.

What it is is a bung for the only working-age demographic to have done well out of the Coalition: dual-earner couples with no children earning above average income.

What about Help to Buy itself? At the margins, Help to Buy is helping some people achieve completions – while driving up the big disincentive to home ownership in the shape of prices – and creating sub-prime style risks for the taxpayer in future.

Eden, in contrast, preferred supply-side policies: his government, like every peacetime government from Baldwin until Thatcher’s it was a housebuilding government.

Why are house prices so high? Because there aren’t enough of them. The sector is over-regulated, underprovided, there isn’t enough housing either for social lets or for buyers. And until today’s Conservatives rediscover the spirit of Eden, that is unlikely to change.

I was at a Conservative party fringe (I was on the far left, both in terms of seating and politics).This is what I said, minus the ums, the ahs, and the moment my screensaver kicked in.

Stephen Bush is editor of the Staggers, the New Statesman’s political blog.