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Sky takes stress out of digital switchover

LEASE closes mediation service

LEASE announced in January that it has taken the decision to stop offering a mediation service (see page 16). Instead, LEASE will refer anyone who needs help to the National Mediation Helpline and the Leasehold Valuation Tribunal. Information on accessing alternative methods of dispute resolution

will be added to LEASE’s website in the near future. The decision to close the

mediation service has been taken in response to a lack of take-up by leaseholders. LEASE will now concentrate its resources on web, email and telephone advice and the field surgeries that are valued by vulnerable customers.

Insurance premium tax increases to 6%

In addition to the standard VAT rate increase from 17.5% to 20% which took effect from 4 January 2011, the government’s emergency budget also included an increase in the rate of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT). From 4 January 2011 the standard rate increased from 5% to 6% and

the higher rate applicable to travel insurance rose from 17.5% to 20% in line with the standard VAT rate.

The UK’s digital switchover is now underway, with many regions such as the West Country, Wales and Granada already switched, and the remainder to follow by 2012. However, research by Sky shows that many private apartment blocks are still not fully digitally ready. According to Sky Communal TV Solutions, some private landlords are still unclear on what they need to do, due to worries over cost and no obvious single point of contact who can manage the process. Pascal Wharton, Head of Sky Communal TV Solutions, confirms

that around half of blocks will need at least some work to get them ready for digital TV. Ideally this should take place a year or so in advance of switchover to avoid the pressure of working to a tight deadline, but in reality many private landlords are delaying decisions until the last minute because they believe the work will be costly and stressful. Wharton explains that Sky’s specialist switchover team are on hand to help: “landlords can be assured of a smooth and affordable switchover,” he says, adding that in many cases Sky offers substantial subsidies on its products, depending on the complexity of the installation and cabling work, to make the costs more manageable. For more information go to or call 08442 410 331 for a free estimate, and get in touch with the Sky Switchover Team.

Leasehold Knowledge Partnership launched by CarlEX

CarlEX (the Campaign Against Residential Leasehold Exploitation) has launched the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership, a consultancy that aims to inform and support leaseholders. The LKP’s first initiative is to establish its own accreditation scheme for managing agents, launched in January. According to the LKP web site, “For leaseholders, this accreditation scheme will be a measure of the quality of their managing agents. They will know from the publicised ‘approvals’ list exactly who passes the criteria and gains the CarlEX seal of approval as managing agents and/or developers, and therefore who has not been approved”. For more information go to

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