This week's UK news: 21 March 2014
21 March 2014

New pound coin for UK

This week the government announced its annual Budget, talking about how it plans to spend and save money over the next few years. Measures included making beer a penny cheaper. There was also an announcement that was more surprising. The pound coin, which was introduced when pound notes were scrapped, is to change.

The new coin will have 12 sides and will be silver and gold colours. It will look like a coin called the "threepenny bit" (worth three pence) which was discontinued in 1971. The idea is to make the pound very difficult to fake. The new pound, which will not start to appear until 2017, will be the most secure coin in the world.

Buy one London house or 25 in Scotland

It has been much more expensive to live in London than other parts of the UK for a very long time. However, the differences seem to be becoming even bigger as international investors buy London properties and push up the prices.

A new survey shows that a three bedroomed house in the most expensive part of the UK (in a central London district) costs 25 times more than a similar house in the cheapest area, which is in Scotland. The London house would be GBP 1.8m, while the Scottish one would be GBP 72,500.

London districts account for 17 out of 20 of the most expensive areas to buy a house in the UK, and the other three were not far outside London in the South-East.

The report shows that in these 20 areas, families needed to earn more than GBP 100,000 to buy a three bedroomed house, and in 352 areas families would have to earn a salary more than the national average.

House prices are rising fast in many parts of the UK, particularly in London and the South East.

Divide between rich and poor in UK

The five richest families in the country are wealthier than the poorest 20 per cent of the population, a new report says. It finds that just five super-rich families have property, savings and other wealth worth GBP 28.2bn. The poorest 12.6m Britons have wealth totally GBP 28.1bn, which is an average of GBP 2,230 each.

The charity Oxfam, which produced the report, said the richest family in Britain had GBP 7.9bn, which meant they were worth more than the poorest 10 per cent of the UK population, whose assets were worth GBP 7.8bn. 

New paint job for the UK's most famous ship?

HMS Victory is the most famous ship in British history. It took part in the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar. Admiral Nelson, one of our most famous military heroes, died after the battle in the arms of his friend and colleague (The UK loved Nelson so much that he is the subject of our best-known statue, Nelson's Column in London's Trafalgar Square. Nelson is the figure on top).

The ship was saved from being broken up and is now on show at a museum in Portsmouth. Officially, it is still a commissioned warship in the British navy, even though it is more than 250 years old and needs GBP 40m worth of restoration.

Victory is painted in black and bright yellow/orange stripes which makes it very recognisable. These were supposed to be the colours the ship was painted on the orders of Nelson.

However, new analysis of the paint shows this story isn't correct. Two specialist paint analysts, Michael and Ian Crick-Smith, have spent time closely looking at 72 layers of paint used on the ship since its launch in 1760. They say the ship was mostly painted black, with some varnished woodwork, until Nelson took over. It was then painted in black and yellow, but a much paler shade than it is now. The Crick-Smiths say "that hideous orange" paint only arrived when the ship was being restored as a symbol of British sea power.


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