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December 10, 2012

Insurers warn householders to keep Christmas gifts secure

by Jan Harris
Insurers warn householders to keep Christmas gifts secure
With UK households expected to spend around £8.5 billion on Christmas presents this year, according to a survey by Tesco Bank, insurers are warning consumers to keep their gifts secure. The Association of British Insurers (ABI) says that insurers received £35m of claims for the 23,000 burglaries which took place in December last year. Shoppers need to be vigilant about security ...




Banks still pushing sales despite mis-selling

by Jan Harris
Banks still pushing sales despite mis-selling
Consumer group Which? claims that bank staff are still under pressure to sell products to customers, despite the recent scandals over mis-selling. Mis-selling of Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) has cost banks over £10m in compensation to customers, but bank staff are still being driven by sales targets and incentives to sell products to customers. According to new rules, staff incentives should ...




December 7, 2012

Reform should increase availability of basic bank accounts

by Jan Harris
Reform should increase availability of basic bank accounts
Undischarged bankrupts should find in easier to open a basic bank account when changes are made to insolvency law. Barclays is the only bank still to offer basic bank accounts, which allow customers to pay in wages and any benefits but do not provide other services such as overdrafts. Basic bank accounts were offered by the Co-op until September, when they ...




Home owners urged to make winter property checks

by Jan Harris
Home owners urged to make winter property checks
With a severe winter forecast, insurers are urging home owners to carry out checks on their properties. Insurer Paymentshield estimates that only 45 per cent of home owners in Central England plan to check that their homes are ready to face the winter weather, while Northern Ireland homeowners are more prepared, with 75 per cent planning to carry put pre-winter ...




December 6, 2012

One in seven couples never discuss their finances

by Jan Harris
One in seven couples never discuss their finances
Insurance and financial services firm Prudential has found that 14 per cent of couples over the age of 40 never discuss their finances with their partner. In a study carried out by Vision Critical for Prudential, 15 per cent of the 2,000 people surveyed said they feel uncomfortable discussing financial planning with their partners. Many couples fear that talking about finances ...




Government to outsource tax credit debt collection

by Jan Harris
Government outsourcing tax credit debt collection
Government plans to outsource the collection of tax credit overpayments has raised alarm among campaigners. A pilot scheme will be launched, with private companies appointed to collect overpayments. These can often occur when a claimant’s income increases - when they move to a better paid job, for example. Claimants should report a change in their circumstance to the Tax Credit Office, but if ...




Little change in house prices next year says Halifax

by Jan Harris
Little change in house prices next year says Halifax
The Halifax reported a 1 per cent monthly rise in house prices in November to £160,879 but says the housing market is 'more unclear than usual'. According to the lender’s figures, average house prices across the UK have been on a downward trend for the past six months. Compared with the previous year, prices have fallen 1.3 per cent and ...




December 5, 2012

Government saving £1bn by cutting pensions tax relief

by Jan Harris
Government saving £1bn by cutting pensions tax relief
The Chancellor announced a cut in the tax relief it allows on people's contributions to company or private pension schemes, in his Autumn Statement today. George Osborne said that the lifetime allowance, which is the maximum amount which can be saved in a pension fund and be eligible for tax relief, will be reduced from £1.5m to £1.25m in April ...




Austerity measures extended in Autumn Statement

by Jan Harris
Austerity measures extended in Autumn Statement
Chancellor George Osborne is extending the government’s austerity measures until 2018, a year longer than expected, after the Office for Budget Responsibility revised down its forecast for economic growth. Last year, the OBR was optimistic that the economy would grow by 0.8 per cent this year, but it now expects it to contract by 0.1 per cent, partly due to continuing problems ...




December 4, 2012

Weak PIN may leave fraud victims without compensation

by Jan Harris
Weak PIN may leave fraud victims without compensation
Santander is introducing changes to its terms and conditions which could leave victims of card fraud without compensation if the bank can show they have been negligent. Santander’s customers must use a unique four-digit PIN number on each of their credit and debit cards. Using the same number for several cards can be considered ‘negligent’. The numbers used must not be ...




Global slowdown holding back UK growth

by Jan Harris
Global slowdown holding back UK growth
Economic growth is still too weak, the British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) says, although growth exceeded expectations in the last quarter, helped by the Olympics. The BCC expects the UK economy to contract by 0.1 per cent this year, an improvement on the 0.4 per cent contraction previously forecast. However, the organisation has reduced its growth forecast for 2013 from 1.2 ...




December 3, 2012

Nationwide lends £2.5 billion to first-time-buyers

by Jan Harris
Nationwide lends £2.5 billion to first-time-buyers
Nationwide Building Society lent £2.5 billion to 20,000 first time buyers in the first six months of 2012-13. This is double the amount it lent in the first half of the 2011-12 financial year and nearly as much as it lent to 24,000 first time buyers in the whole of the year. In proportion to its size, the building society would be ...




Households struggling with debt

by Jan Harris
Households struggling with debt
Nearly a third of people surveyed by consumer group Which? said they are struggling to manage financially, and the situation could worsen if further benefit cuts are announced in the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement this week. Which? surveyed 2,100 people in October and found that nearly 10 per cent of the 25 million households in the UK have defaulted on their mortgage, rent, loan ...




November 30, 2012

Coventry Building Society stops interest-only mortgages

by Jan Harris
Coventry Building Society stops interest-only mortgages
Coventry Building Society has stopped offering interest-only mortgages, following similar moves by RBS and NatWest, after demand for this type of product fell. Nationwide and the Co-operative bank stopped offering interest-only mortgages earlier this year. Colin Franklin, sales and marketing director at the Coventry, said: "Residential interest-only mortgages have declined to less than 2% of all residential mortgage applications. “We have therefore ...




Over 50s too optimistic over pensions

by Jan Harris
Over 50s too optimistic over pensions
A quarter of people aged between 50 and 64 years will need to save an extra £60,000 before they reach retirement age in order to receive the pension they expect. A new report from the National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) suggests that people are over-optimistic about their retirement income and many are "sleepwalking into their old age". NAPF is ...




November 29, 2012

UK banks must raise more capital to cover risks

by Jan Harris
UK banks must raise more capital to cover risks
UK banks need to raise £60 billion to meet regulatory risk standards and to cover fines and compensations for mis-selling, the Bank of England says in its Financial Stability Report (FSR). Banks will need between £5 billion and £35 billion to meet regulator risk standards the report said, while a further £4 billion to £10 billion will be needed ...




House prices stable says Nationwide

by Jan Harris
House prices stable says Nationwide
The average price of a house remained at just under £164,000 in November, the same as the previous month but 1.2 per cent lower than in November last year. The average house price is now 12 per cent lower than it was in October 2007 when it peaked at £186,044. The figures from the Nationwide’s latest monthly survey reflect a fall in unemployment ...




November 28, 2012

Interest to be capped on payday loans

by Jan Harris
Interest to be capped on payday loans
The government has agreed to give the incoming Financial Conduct Authority the power to take action against unscrupulous lenders. In the face of defeat on a proposed amendment to the Financial Services Bill it has also agreed to allow the interest rates charged for payday loans to be capped. The cross-party amendment was backed by Lord Mitchell, the incoming Archbishop of ...




Planning Minister calls for house building on open land

by Jan Harris
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Housing Minister Nick Boles suggested on the BBC’s Newsnight programme that more housing should be built on open land. Increasing the amount of developed land by a third to 12 per cent would "solve the housing problem” Mr Boles said. He said that in exchange for building on open land, greenbelt spaces would be defended. "The built environment can be more beautiful than nature and we ...




November 27, 2012

Nationwide confirms interest in RBS branches

by Jan Harris
Nationwide confirms interest in RBS branches
Nationwide Building Society, Britain’s biggest mutual lender, has told Reuters news agency that it is interested in purchasing the portfolio of branches being sold by Royal Bank of Scotland. The acquisition would support Nationwide’s plan to start lending to small and medium-sized enterprises. Speaking to Reuters, Nationwide’s chief executive Graham Beale said: “Strategically we want to enter into the SME space. ...