Jun 19

According to the latest research from Zoopla, the average income required for a first time buyer to purchase a home has grown 9% since 2016.

According to the figures, this now stands at an average of £54,400, over £4,500 more than the amount needed three years ago. The average deposit currently required for first time buyers to purchase in one of these cities is currently £38,418.

Affordability increases in London, Oxford and Cambridge

The income required for first time buyers to purchase in the three most expensive UK Cities has fallen by an average of -5% since 2016.

First time buyers looking to buy their first home in London need an average income of £84,000, this is £3,250 less than the amount needed in 2016 which was a high point since the global financial crisis. This follows three years of weak growth and small price falls in the capital, where prices are now beginning to stabilise.

Cambridge and Oxford require the highest incomes of anywhere outside of London, however the income needed to purchase has fallen in the university cities by -5% and -3% respectively.

Aberdeen registered the largest percentage decrease in the income required to buy of all the UK Cities, this is a result of sharp price decreases in the city following the crash in oil prices since 2015.

Average income to buy ranges from £26k to £84k

The average income to buy a typical property ranges from £26,137 in Liverpool to £84,000 in London – a spread of over £57,800 which highlights the different challenges facing first time buyers looking to purchase their first home. Liverpool registered the highest house price growth of all 20 UK Cities analysed despite being the most affordable market for first time buyers to enter.

Deposit levels have increased since the global financial crisis – the average first time buyer deposit ranges from £119,000 in London to £18,449 in Liverpool. For the latest data, we assume a 15% deposit in regional cities and 25% in London, Oxford and Cambridge. The larger deposits for high value cities allow for the impact of loan to income limits. We assume the borrower can only take a mortgage that is up to 4x their income. In the highest value cities this means buyers must either buy a cheaper property or find a larger deposit.

The income to buy at a city level has grown fastest in markets where prices have been rising quickly. Leicester has seen the largest percentage increase in the income required to purchase since 2016, at 20%, followed closely by Birmingham and Manchester. Each of these cities have seen house price growth totalling 18% over the last three years.

Weaker city house price growth

Overall, house prices in UK Cities increased by 1.8% over the 12 months to May 2019. Price growth ranged from 5.0% in Liverpool to -4.2% in Aberdeen. Only three of the UK Cities (London, Cambridge and Aberdeen) registered average house price decreases, with price falls in London at -0.4%.

Richard Donnell, Research and Insight Director at Zoopla, comments: “Weakening city house price growth is a result of market fundamentals. Specifically, changing affordability dynamics for home buyers and the impact of successive tax changes since 2015. Together, these have impacted household buying power, and demand for housing, hitting high priced cities more than others.

First time buyers are an important group accounting for more than one in three sales. While the average household income to buy a typical home across UK cities has grown 9% since 2016, weaker price growth and recent price falls have led to a 5% reduction in the income to buy across the most expensive cities. It will come as a modest relief for would-be buyers although the income to purchase still remains relatively high. While it is a factor behind weaker house price growth it supports underlying demand for rental homes.

Affordability remains attractive in many regional cities where house prices have not registered the gains seen in south eastern England. Liverpool has the lowest income required to buy and has the highest rate of price growth at 5%. We expect prices to continue to increase in cities where housing is in reach of those on average incomes.”

Jun 19

Lettings platform, Howsy, takes a look across the UK to find where is home to the best rental market when it comes to the average cost of renting as a percentage of the average salary on offer.

Howsy looked at government data on rental costs across England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and ONS data on the average salary in each area to highlight which rental market is the most affordable when it comes to the level of disposable income left after putting a roof over your head.

The research shows that at the top line, Wales in the most affordable nation with rental costs accounting for just 30% of the average monthly salary while across the UK as a whole this increases to 34%.

The North East is the most affordable region after Wales 31% of income spent on rental costs. London is, of course, bottom of the affordability scale with the average cost of renting accounting for an eye-watering 65% of the average salary. On a local level, East Renfrewshire in Scotland is the UK’s best rental market for tenants with the average rental cost of £584 a month accounting for just 23% of the average wage of £2,509.

Copeland is the second most affordable with just ¼ of the average wage spent on renting, along with Rhondda Cynon Taf and Pendle.

Hartlepool and Darlington trail marginally behind with 26% of income spent on rent, while Allerdale, Carmarthenshire, Barnsley, and Country Durham are home to a rental cost accounting for 27% of the average income.

Hackney is the least tenant friendly with a whopping 83% of the average salary in the borough spent on renting. While London does account for 70% of the top 10 least affordable, Oxford (70%), Brighton (66%) and Elmbridge 66%) also make the list.

Calum Brannan, Founder and CEO of Howsy, commented: “We tend to put a lot of focus on the negatives of the UK lettings market but while top-line affordability may be an issue for many, there are plenty of areas where renting isn’t such a financial burden.

Maximising your disposable income in any part of the UK is the key to living a happy life in the rental sector and it pays to do your research before making a move to ensure you can not only cover the cost of renting, but you aren’t left high and dry once you have.

These are the best areas to look to in order to do this, but we appreciate for those working in London, a commute from East Renfrewshire is probably a tad unrealistic. However, we wanted to highlight the diversity of the UK rental sector and reassure those looking to rent that there are plenty of relative pockets of affordability across the nation.”

Jun 19

The latest research from Cambridge & Counties Bank, has revealed that despite the seemingly never ending Brexit circus and challenging financial climate, around two thirds of UK landlords are optimistic about the outlook for the residential buy-to-let sector over the next three years.

Of this, more than one in 10 are “very” optimistic in terms of investment growth and yields.

The research highlights that a significant number of landlords are using the current market volatility to grow their portfolios: nearly a fifth (19%) are looking to grow their portfolios by a third and 11% want to double it over the next three years. The research found that just 19% of landlords are looking to sell.

Despite the strong level of optimism, Brexit remains a key uncertainty for property sector professionals with two fifths (40%) of landlords conceding that it is top of their list of concerns. Brexit is seen as a bigger risk than rising interest rates (cited by 32%), a lack of confidence in the stability of lenders (32%), and rising levels of tax (also 32%).

While the BTL sector is viewed most positively, a similar number (61%) of landlords are equally optimistic about student accommodation in terms of growth (with 16% being “very” optimistic). Office buildings and properties are viewed positively by two fifths (41%) of respondents - though almost a third are not optimistic.

In addition to growing their property portfolios, a significant number of landlords say they will be refurbishing their BTL and investment properties, with an average of £10,000 set to be spent. One in 10 (11%) of respondents to the Cambridge & Counties Bank study said they would spend more than £20,000, with 4% forecasting they would invest more than £50,000 in their estate.

As part of its property finance offering, Cambridge & Counties Bank2 provides refurbishment loans for experienced property investors, landlords and developers looking to upgrade or convert an existing property into a residential, commercial or mixed-use property for the purpose of either rental or sale.

Simon Lindley, Chief Commercial Director, Cambridge & Counties Bank, said: “In spite of Brexit worries, it is great to see that the overall outlook for the commercial property sector is one of optimism. At Cambridge & Counties Bank, we remain very much focused on supporting our clients with our comprehensive product suite and in doing so maintain our market leading level of customer satisfaction.”

One of the shocking results of the research was the growing concern among landlords with regards to the financial stability and strength of their banking partners. Just one in five (20%) said they were very confident of their lender’s stability, with 18% of landlords saying they are “not confident” in their lenders stability given recent announcements of funders going into administration or closing their books to new business.

Simon concludes: “Cambridge & Counties Bank has seen a steady stream of borrowers switching from other lenders, often recommended by the intermediaries and brokers we work closely with on a daily basis. We are actively focused on becoming the bank of choice for professional property investors and landlords, and will capitalise on the record set of results we posted for FY2018 and the momentum we have across the UK to grow our market share further.”

Jun 19

Specialist lender, Foundation Home Loans, has announced that it has launched a new portfolio landlord special product, with a minimum amount of upfront fees and costs to pay.

The product - an addition to Foundation’s F1 core buy-to-let range – is a 3.39% five-year fix, available up to 75% LTV. It comes with a 1.5% product fee, one free standard valuation and there is no £125 application fee to pay.

Foundation believes this product will appeal to portfolio landlord clients who want to minimise their upfront costs, especially those who are looking to make changes to multiple properties within their portfolio.

Foundation’s portfolio landlord criteria also includes: no limits to portfolio size - subject to maximum borrowing of £3m with the lender; no business plans or asset and liability statements required; and a bespoke stress test for the background portfolio.

The launch of this product follows the launch earlier this month of a five-year fix remortgage product suitable for portfolio landlords, limited companies and individuals. It is available at 3.59% up to 65% LTV and 3.89% up to 75% LTV and comes with a flat fee of £2,995 with stepped ERCs from 5% down to 1%. This product also comes with Foundation’s free standard valuation and £250 cashback upon completion.

All Foundation’s products are available via its distributor network including all mortgage clubs, networks and key packagers.

Jeff Knight, Director of Marketing at Foundation Home Loans, said: “We are seeing a strong growth in demand from portfolio landlords and this new product is designed to support their activities, whether they are looking to purchase or seeking refinance. Minimising upfront costs is often a priority for such clients so with this new ‘special’ we have kept those costs purposefully low, while providing payment certainty over a five-year term. For professional landlords, and their advisers, using a lender that is immersed in the sector and understands their specific – and often complex – needs is absolutely vital. This is why we have the specialist knowledge and drive to deliver what landlords need in order to help them develop and grow their portfolios.”

Jun 19

The Tory leadership race continues to rage on with Rory Stewart, the latest casualty, dumped out of the contest on Wednesday evening.

While Bojo seems to be the frontrunner, London letting and estate agent Benham and Reeves has had a look at each candidate on a property price growth basis to see who has at least, been best for homeowners in their respective constituencies.

Benham and Reeves looked at the change in house prices across each candidate’s constituency since they’ve been elected and what this equates to on an average yearly basis to compare performance.

Interestingly, the data shows that Boris really could the best man for the job from a property point of view. During his time as MP for Henley between June 2001 and June 2008, house prices increased by 10.4% on average each year, 0.3% higher than Oxfordshire as a whole.

As the now MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip having secured the seat in May 2015, Boris has presided over a 5.7% annual rate of growth, which is 3.2% higher than London during that time.

That’s also an average annual increase of 8% a year across both constituencies and 3.2% higher than the average annual increase for London and Oxfordshire combined at 6.25%.

Now in their defence, the rest have also seen average yearly house price growth exceed that of the wider area, but none to the level of Bojo. In fact, Raab is the closest having seen an annual increase of 7.4% across Esher and Walton since May 2005 – irrelevant now but he has something to cling onto at least.

Jeremy Hunt is the next best candidate for homeowners with an increase of 5.9% a year in South West Surrey, while Michael Gove has seen prices increase 5.4% in Surrey Heath over the same time period.

Sajid Javid has seen an average annual increase of 4.6% in Bromsgrove since being elected in May 2010 and while an outside favourite for the actual role, house prices in Penrith and the Border have increased by just 1.1% since Rory Stewart was elected at the same time.

But what about Boris and his time as the Mayor of London?

Well over his two terms, house price growth in the capital soared by 58.4%, 43.9% higher than the UK as a whole. His time as mayor also saw four separate boroughs gain notable deprivation improvements. Of these four, house prices in Hackney and Haringey also outperformed the London average with an increase of 59% and 64.5% respectively, while price growth exceeded 40% in Tower Hamlets and 53.6% in Newham.

Investment in Lambeth’s via regeneration projects like Loughborough Junction, Southwark via the Elephant and Castle Project, Wandsworth via the Battersea Arts Centre and new homes in Islington also seem to have helped these boroughs achieve price growth above and beyond the London average during Boris Johnson’s time as the Mayor of London. Bojo’s investment in the Croydon partnership helped price growth hit 45.5% during his time in the role.

Finally, previous research by Benham and Reeves found that even the presence of Boris Bikes is enough to increase house prices, with areas to have benefitted due to a lack of public transport seeing a sharp increase in house prices.

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, had this to say: “One thing that certainly stands out is that investment into an area, whether it be London or any other constituency, is always going to bring additional benefits such as an uplift in the local housing market.

Whether Boris intended such an extensive CV of housing-related achievements is probably a matter of opinion, however, he seems to have done a good job in his local constituencies and he certainly nursed the capital’s through a tough time with the financial crisis.

With the market currently suffering from a Brexit induced lethargy, he could be the right man to kickstart it back into action, but we will have to wait and see who is left standing at the end of it all.”

Jun 19

Beleive it or not, summer is just around the corner. We might not get the record breaking temperatures of last year, but with 48% of us citing summer as the season we spend the most time in our gardens, it's time for some top tips to help us get the most out of our outdoor space.

Outdoor building manufacturer, Tiger Sheds, offer their top tips to help your garden flourish throughout June, July and August:

June - Priorities: lawn, weeding, harvesting vegetables, top up building paintwork

June is the official start of summer and with that, it’s time to take advantage of the longer days and stay on top of your garden maintenance. Why not spend some time cleaning out your shed to maximise space and make the most of the sunshine to top up any paintwork while the weather is warm.

The warm weather may be a blessing for your garden, but all that quick growth means your lawn will need weekly haircuts, and your weeds will need regular weeding to stop the greenery from getting out of control.

Now is also a great time to harvest vegetables such as broccoli, peas and early potatoes, and start sowing carrots so they will be ready for autumn/winter time.

July - Priorities: watering, trimming, hedges, weatherproofing

With the sun shining it’s important to give your plants a much-needed drink. To encourage growth and flowering throughout the warmer months, monitor the soil for dryness and keep your plants hydrated.

British summers often mean unpredictable weather which can be tough on your garden buildings. Make sure to treat your shed with preserver to prolong the life of your outdoor building and keep an eye on any leaks which could cause serious damage.

Now birds have finished nesting, use July to spend some time trimming your hedges to get your garden looking neat again.

August - Priorities: deadheading, building maintenance

Summer is now in full force which means many of your plants will have flowered by August. Keep on top of deadheading to ensure your plants not only look tidy but will be able to focus their energy on their remaining flowers.

As the nights start to get cooler towards the end of August, close the ventilators and doors of your greenhouse to keep in the day’s warmth. When it comes to other garden buildings, keep an eye out for birds or any other wildlife that may have visited your shed or outhouse as they may need help to find their way back out again.

And it doesn't stop there. The experts at Tiger Sheds have created a 12 month gardening calendar to help you get the most from your green space for the entire year.

The calendar, which can be downloaded to sync with your Google calendar, includes handy tips on how to care for your garden month-by-month so you can enjoy your outdoor space all year round.

Sam Jenkinson, Head of Marketing at Tiger Sheds, said: “Our previous research has highlighted that we’re a nation who loves to make the most of our gardens in the summer, but we tend to forget about them in the winter.

That’s why we’re proud to present our gardening calendar so people can get stuck into their gardens while the weather is brighter, and follow our tips right through into the colder months, to keep their garden in tip-top condition all year round. We hope this will allow homeowners to truly make the most of their outdoor space.”

Jun 19

The latest data released by Moneyfacts has revealed that the number of buy-to-let products available on the market has risen to the highest figure seen since the start of the financial crisis in 2007.

According to the figures, 2,396 BTL products are now available, increasing by 21% since June 2018.

Meanwhile, average buy-to-let mortgage rates have also risen over the past 12 months, with the average two-year fixed rate increasing by 0.17% from 2.88% in June 2018 to 3.05% and the average five-year rate rising by 0.11% to 3.54%.

Both rates still stand significantly lower than in October 2007 however, when the average two-year buy-to-let fixed rate stood at 6.36% while its five-year counterpart stood at 6.39%.

Darren Cook, finance expert at Moneyfacts, said: “The buy-to-let market has experienced a number of regulatory changes during recent years, however, it seems that product competition within this specialised mortgage area is continuing to grow. A 21% increase in availability to 2,396 products over the past 12 months indicates that providers are keen to offer potential buy-to-let investors plenty of choice within the sector.

Despite this increasing competition in terms of the total number of products available over the past year, average rates have unfortunately not fallen, and have instead followed suit, with the average two-year fixed rate increasing by 0.17% to 3.05% and the average five-year fixed rate increasing by 0.11% to 3.54% over the same period.

The largest concentration of buy-to-let product choice can be found at the maximum 75% LTV tier, where there are currently 352 (44%) two-year fixed rate products available and 374 (48%) five-year fixed rate products available. Coincidently, the average fixed rates at the 75% LTV tier for the two and five-year sectors are currently 3.05% and 3.55% respectively, equalling or near-equalling the average rates for both terms across all tiers.

The increase in the buy-to-let average rates contrasts with the downward trajectory of their residential mortgage counterparts, where product competition seems to have instead resulted in rates falling. This disparity in trends is likely to be attributed to the different approach lenders take to risk between these two sectors, and that economic uncertainty may be having a more adverse influence on the buy-to-let mortgage market than it is having on the residential mortgage market.”

Jun 19

The latest data and analysis from Halifax has revealed that average house prices in May edged up to £237,837 - a rise of 0.5% on the month as the first signs of stability return to the market.

May’s annual change figure of 5.2% comes against the backdrop of a particularly low growth rate in the corresponding period in 2018, which has had an impact on year-on-year comparisons.

HMRC Monthly data shows UK home sales remaining steady. April saw 99,420 home sales which is close to the 5 year average of 101,249 and follows a similar result in March. Sales in February to April fell 0.2%, against the levels in November to January. April home sales were flat against the previous 12 month average of 99,322.

Mortgage approvals rise back above the 12 month and 5 year averages. Bank of England industry-wide figures show that the number of mortgages approved to finance house purchases – a leading indicator of completed house sales – rose 5.9% in April to 66,261. The April rate is just above the 5 year average monthly approval rate of 66,066, and is 1,118 above the previous 12 month average of 65,143. While this is a notable change on a monthly basis, the approval level is still very close to the longer term averages.

Demand for and supply of housing remains subdued for another month. The RICS UK Residential Market Survey again showed a subdued result for nearly every measure. The sales to stock ratio dropped slightly to 30.7% and is, as last month, at its lowest rate since September 2013. Price expectations and sales expectations showed a small improvement, for the third month running, but both expectations remain firmly negative.

Russell Galley, Managing Director, Halifax, said: “We saw a slight increase in house prices between April and May, but the overall message is one of stability. Despite the ongoing political and economic uncertainty, underlying conditions in the broader economy continue to underpin the housing market, particularly the twin factors of high employment and low interest rates.

This is supported by industry-wide figures which suggest no real change in the number of homes being sold month to month, while Bank of England data show the number of mortgages being approved rose by almost 6% in April, reversing the softness seen in the previous month.

While current conditions may help those looking to make their first move onto the property ladder, existing homeowners will doubtless be considering long-term house price growth which continues to look subdued in comparison to recent years.

Looking ahead, we expect the current trend of stability based on high employment and low interest rates to persist over the coming months, though clearly any downturn in the wider economy would be keenly felt in the housing market.”

As ever, the property industry was quick to react. Here's what they're saying:

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, commented: “I think this week, in particular, we’ve been reminded that Brexit isn’t the be all and end all and this is a mentality that’s been returning to the UK housing market over the last few months.

All in all, we’re in a very good spot right now. High employment and steady wage growth are bringing an overarching air of stability to the market, subdued house price growth and low-interest rates are giving first-time buyers an additional leg up, but we’ve also seen the largest rate of annual house price growth in the last year which is positive for existing homeowners.

On the face of it, the clouds of political uncertainty seem to be lifting from the UK property market, although it remains unclear as to whether this is a brief respite or this positive movement will remain.

Shepherd Ncube, Founder and CEO of Springbok Properties, commented: “We’re starting to see the strong uplift in mortgage approvals seen throughout the start of this year translate into some pretty consistent house price growth and while the market isn’t moving at full speed, it is certainly building up a head of steam.

This positive growth continues to be driven by the nation’s more affordable regions but it’s only a matter of time before the likes of London and the South East follow suit.

While the rate of house price growth hasn’t quite returned to full form, some might argue that these are ideal conditions for the cultivation of the UK property market and a slow but steady rate of growth is far healthier than the exuberant increases of previous years, or of course, the sharp declines.”

Tomer Aboody, director of property lender MT Finance, says: "With an annual rise in values based on the same period last year, along with a steady increase in transactions, the housing market is continuing to show signs both of recovery and confidence. Buyers have come to the conclusion that enough is enough, and the uncertain conditions which have been facing them could carry on for a while still, so that shouldn't hold them back from getting on the ladder or moving up or down it.

Fewer homes are on the market since sellers feel that they either don't have to sell when values are still down on 2016 or with the stamp duty levels being so high they can't afford the step up so are staying put for now. We don’t see this changing anytime soon."

Jun 19

The latest research by independent London estate and letting agent, Benham and Reeves, takes a look at where across the UK and London offers the best buy-to-let investments when it comes to rental return and the speed at which annual rent will repay the original average house price.

The estate agent looked at average house price plus the cost of buy-to-let stamp duty and annual rent and ranked each area on the number of years it would take for this annual rent to recoup the cost of buying in each area and paying stamp duty.

Across the UK, Scotland offers the quickest return on investment with the annual rent returning the original asking price in 17.7 years. Northern Ireland was the second quickest at 18.9 years, followed by England (25 years) and finally Wales at 26.4 years.

In the capital, Tower Hamlets is the best buy-to-let investment for the fastest return, with annual rental income taking 21.4 years to return the average house price and stamp duty costs of £452,821.

Barking and Dagenham (22 years), Newham (23 years), Greenwich (23.5 years) and Enfield (25.7 years were also amongst some of the best options in the capital.

With Scotland and Northern Ireland home to the quickest return on a top level, it’s no surprise that they account for the top three quickest areas in the UK, with Glasgow the quickest of them all at 13.3 years followed by Belfast at 15.8 years and Aberdeen at 17.8 years.

Nottingham was the quickest area in England to see rental income recoup the cost of buying a property at 18.4 years, followed by Newcastle at 18.5 years.

Marc von Grundherr, Director of Benham and Reeves, commented: “Buy-to-let investment is a complicated business, even more so given the changes to the sector of late, however, the primary indicator of a good investment is always going to be the rental yield available.

While a buy-to-let investment includes all sorts of additional concerns such as contingency budgets, capital growth and so on, we wanted to highlight on a more digestible level where offers a good investment option when it comes to recouping the cost of that investment via your rental income.

What this research demonstrates is that while buy-to-let remains a lucrative business despite the Government’s attempts, it should be viewed as a long-term one and not a method for making a quick buck. For those serious about the sector whether it be as a professional or amateur landlord, it’s important to understand the commitment before diving in if you wish to see a profit.”

Jun 19

Homebuilder, David Wilson Homes North West, is encouraging people to make their garden a haven for our fuzzy friends, by planting flowers to attract them and making small changes to their garden to give bees somewhere to shelter.

There are over 250 bee species in the UK, and most face threats such as loss of habitat, climate change and disease. They are vital to the food chain, with one in every three mouthfuls of food consumed by humans dependent on pollination, including apples, pears, onions, potatoes, cherries, chilies, carrots, margarine and herbs.

Lynton Dudgeon, Sales Director at David Wilson Homes North West, said: “We want to raise awareness of the threat faced by bees and by all doing our bit to plant nectar rich plants to benefit them we can help combat some of the issues faced by bees.”

The homebuilder's top bee-friendly tips are:

1: Sow the seeds for bees

Certain types of plants are more attractive for bees than others. Bee-friendly plants produce high levels of nectar and pollen, and include poppies, lavender, heathers, geraniums, foxgloves and fruit trees. David Wilson Homes North West plants a range of nectar and pollen rich plants at its developments across the county to help boost the population of bees around its new homes.

2: Water is the bees knees

Like all creatures, bees need to drink too. Adding a pond, water feature or bird bath to your garden will give them a hydrating boost in the warm summer months, as well as benefitting other wildlife in your garden too.

3: Build a bee B&B

Many of the UK's bee species are solitary which mean they do not create a bee-hive and opt to nest either in the ground or in small holes found in wood. Provide nesting sites for solitary bees in a specially made bee hotel. These can be purchased ready-made or constructed from bamboo cane make a collection of small wooden tunnels for bees to nest in. All you need to do is put your shelter in a warm sheltered spot, close to nectar rich flowers.

4: Keep an eye out for tired bees

Bees can struggle in both hot and cold weather, and if you see a bee on the ground finding it difficult to fly it could be suffering from exhaustion. When out and about in your garden this summer look out for tired bees which may need reviving.

Never give a bee honey to revive it, as they can catch viruses if the honey is from a neighbouring hive. Instead make a solution of two tablespoons of white granulated sugar with one tablespoon of water and place near the bees head on a plate or spoon. Once it has had a drink it should regain its energy and fly back to its hive.

5: Hold off on pesticides

While it can be tempting to reach for chemicals to keep pests such as aphids at bay, these can be harmful to all species of bees. Avoid spraying open flowers with pesticides and instead combat pests by planting certain plants such as marigold or garlic to repel them.

Lynton continued: “These small steps can create a welcoming environment for bees. As bee numbers decline in the UK it is more important than ever that we take action to help the critters out wherever we can.”

Paul Stephen, Biodiversity Advisor for the RSPB, said: “We are asking everyone to help give nature a home as even a few small touches can make a big difference for wildlife. Gardens can be a fantastic space for families to relax or play and we would like to see people feel inspired to do something for nature.

Sadly, the UK's bee populations are in decline, but planting the right mix of flowers, shrubs and bushes will help reverse this. And plants rich in nectar and pollen will not just be welcoming to bees, but will look great for anyone looking to enjoy a garden full of life and colour.”