Morning papers: Osborne aims for budget surplus by 2020

George Osborne on Monday paved the way for another six years of austerity, vowing to carry on squeezing welfare and other public spending to meet a new fiscal objective: that Britain should run a budget surplus by 2020, reports the Financial Times.

Mr Osborne told the Tory conference that his new fiscal straitjacket was intended to “secure sound public finances”, helping to hold down interest rates and leaving open the prospect of tax cuts at the end of a second Tory term.

His speech raised the stakes in a battle with Labour on fiscal credibility; some had expected the chancellor to ease back on austerity after 2018 when he hopes to have eliminated Britain’s structural budget deficit.

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House prices ‘to rise by 25% in five years’

The average price of a home in Britain will jump by a quarter in five years to reach a record figure of nearly £280,000, a report predicted today, reports the Daily Mail.

Experts warn a generation of young people are being frozen off the property ladder by the crippling cost of homeownership at a time when the average full-time salary is £26,500.

Disaster for savers as rates hit 0.4 per cent

Prudent savers have been hit by a “catastrophic” fall in interest rates over the past year with accounts paying an average of just 0.44 per cent, reports the Daily Mail.

A Bank of England report yesterday laid bare the pain being inflicted on Britain’s savers. With a nest egg of £1,000, the average account would earn interest of just £4.40 a year – which would then be taxed.

Foreign funds pour into UK

Flows of money from overseas investors boosted funds at British asset managers to a record £5.4trn last year, it has emerged, reports the Independent.

Roughly £2trn came from foreign clients, meaning the UK now accounts for more than 8 per cent of global fund management assets.

Hedge funds move out of shorts with eyes on bull run in markets

Hedge funds’ bets on falling share prices have dropped to their lowest level in years as traders predict an extended bull run for equities over the coming months, reports the Financial Times.

According to data from Markit, the overall value of short positions on European shares has dropped to $144bn (£88.6bn), the lowest level since the data provider began monitoring in 2006.

Green levies on energy bills ‘unfair’, says Michael Fallon

Michael Fallon, the energy minister, has said it would be “unfair” to add further costs and green levies onto consumer bills, reports the Daily Telegraph.

The comments are the strongest indication yet that the Conservatives may pledge to scale back existing green policy costs, as the party scrambles to counter Ed Miliband’s energy price freeze plan.

Energy giant takes on Labour over price freeze pledge

SSE, the country’s second-biggest energy supplier, yesterday added fuel to the controversy over Labour leader Ed Miliband’s plan to freeze prices by declaring that its retail division made a loss in the six months just ended, reports the Independent.