Spanish News June 2017

Housing Plan for First-Time Buyers and Struggling Tenants

Help is finally at hand to get young adults onto the housing ladder with grants of up to €10,800 available to anyone up to the age of 35 inclusive to use as a deposit and fees. Where the property is particularly cheap, however, the grant will be capped at 20% of the sale price.

Banks have tightened up mortgage-lending criteria since the start of the financial crisis and they remain out of reach to most first-time buyers who, even if they are approved for a home loan, will typically only ever be offered a maximum loan-to-value of 80% despite interest rates being at their lowest-ever in the Eurozone.

On top of the deposit, first-time buyers will, like all property purchasers, have to find 12.5% of the sale price to cover fees and legal expenses. The end result is that a cheque for €10,800 to get them started will be a godsend. They will be able to claim it any time between 2018 and 2021 as part of the State Housing Plan.
The cash is not only for first-time buyers and is not means-tested, but the applicant must be 35 or under and the property to be a main residence.

Rent prices in the provinces, even in large towns, are at their lowest-ever, but in major cities where the most jobs are found, they can be prohibitive and even exceed the average monthly wage. The maximum annual benefit to help with rent, currently €600 or €50 a month, will now rise to €900 or €75 a month. Where tenants are in extreme poverty, disabled or have had their homes repossessed through redundancy, or sickness, they will be able to claim between €150 and €400 a month towards paying their rent. 80% will come from the central government and 20% from the regional governments.

Driving Tests To Include Sat-Nav Instructions

The theory test will be computer-based rather than on paper to 'prevent cheating' or forcing candidates to try to memorise as many as possible of the 19,500 questions that could potentially be asked during the exam.

The practical driving test is expected to include simulations of high-risk situations drivers find themselves in to judge how candidates cope. Part of the test will involve students being given instructions via GPS to follow whilst at the wheel.

Reoffending Drink/Drug-Drivers Will Face Compulsory Health Checks

The DGT is also looking into ways of stopping drink/drug-drivers from repeat-offending. This emphatic stance was in direct response to the double tragedy on the N-332 highway in Oliva when two cyclists from a triathlon team in Jávea, were killed by a 28-year-old woman who was more than three times over the alcohol limit and had taken cocaine. Also a woman in Tarragona, who had consumed large amounts of alcohol, knocked down six cyclists.

Drivers caught over the alcohol limit, on drugs or both more than once in two years will face an automatic ban and compulsory health checks to see whether they suffer addictions.

Spain Picked As Venue for World's 50 Best Restaurants Awards

Next year will see Bilbao welcoming representatives from top eateries all over the planet and some of the best in Spain will be there.

Six Spanish restaurants will collect awards: El Celler de Can Roca, (Girona); four from the Basque Country, Arzak (San Sebastian), the Azurmendi (Larrabetzu), Asador Etxebarri (Atxondo) and Mugaritz (Rentería); and Tickets (Barcelona).

Valencia's First 'Cat Café'

Valencia's first-ever 'Cat Café' has just opened on the C/ Túria with a huge collection of rescued moggies seeking homes.

El Passatge dels Gats is home to felines rescued from the street by the Valencia-based shelter Asociación Adaana and all cats have been spayed or neutered, wormed, de-flead, vaccinated and given a thorough veterinary check.

To get a second chance at life and enjoy being spoilt rotten in a loving home, the cats need to be 'humanised' as non-domestic cats tend to be very scared and shy, but they quickly adapt and make friends with their fellow species if they are given lots of attention.

Customers can enjoy the added bonus of being able to relax in 'company' whilst they wind down with a drink. Studies have proven that stroking a cat relieves tension, increases dopamine and oxytocin levels and lowers blood pressure.

Customers cannot just walk in off the street as the cats may escape, so booking is required, by telephone or via the website elpassatgedelsgats.com All cats are up for adoption.

Spain Announces €500m Tax 'Contingency Plan' If It Fails To Meet National Debt Target

Nationwide taxes on sugary drinks and an 'environmental' levy will only be applied if Spain does not look set to meet its national debt target this year.

Spain has been ordered by Brussels to cut its deficit to 3.1% of its GDP, meaning if the GDP rises, the debt target will go down, but if it falls, the debt becomes larger and the government will have to increase tax income. The four-year plan will involve clawing back between €300 million in 'green' tax and €200m in soft-drink tax, but will be used as a contingency plan only rather than being applied automatically, as was originally the idea for this year.

Whale and Dolphin Sanctuary In Canary Islands

Spain's branch of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has handed in a petition with over 52,000 signatures to the national government calling for them to set up a whale sanctuary in the Canary Islands.

The global charity wants better protection in the east and south of the islands of Fuerteventura and Lanzarote for whales and dolphins, since a third of the world's species of both are regularly found there.
As well as being a fundamental feeding and migration area for whales in particular, it is home to 29 species of them throughout the year and 11 species year-round.

Rubbish dumped in the sea, especially plastic waste, plus noise and chemical or fuel pollution from ships and boats crashing into them, are some of the major threats posed to whales and dolphins in the waters off the archipelago. About 85% of beached whales found dead on Canarian shores have lost their lives through collisions.

A cordoned-off and carefully-monitored section of sea would ensure the safety of these animals and keep them away from hazards posed by human activity, particularly marine transport.