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First Direct halts new lending

First Direct has suspended new lending after applications soared to five times their normal volume.

The lender says the suspension means it can focus on processing the backlog that has built up in recent weeks. Chris Pilling, chief executive of First Direct, says: “We have seen unprecedented demand for our mortgages since January thanks to our competitive pricing and the decision of other lenders to raise their rates.” Drew Wotherspoon, spokesman for John Charcol, says: “First Direct’s pricing has been around 0.5% better than its rivals recently. Many borrowers wanting two-year fixed rates will have ended up at its door, so this move was on the cards.”

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Deposit scheme disputes are rare

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White paper — recording sickness absence

The latest figures from the Department for Work and Pensions illustrate that sickness absence is still a major cost to businesses, with an annual bill for sick pay and associated costs to employers of £9bn. This paper from Jelf Employee Benefits looks at the importance of recording sickness absence for any employee health strategy and how this can be carried out in an efficient manner to reduce absence, improve employee engagement and drive up profits.

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