A round-up of the main news stories this week. [Transcript provided below]
Barclays Acquires ING Direct UK
Barclays has agreed a deal to buy ING Direct UK, and will take on its deposits and its £5.6 million mortgage book next year. 1.5 million UK customers will transfer to Barclays, as well as 750 employees of the Dutch bank. ING Direct has been a strong competitor in the market for savings accounts in recent years, and the takeover raises concerns about the lack of competition for consumers while savings rates continue to fall.
OFT Investigates 68 Payday Lenders
The Office of Fair Trading visited 68 payday lenders in the first half of 2012, investigating concerns that firms were taking advantage of the financially vulnerable. The OFT used a formal power of entry request to assess the lenders, checking to see whether they were handing out loans without suitable checks and whether they were rolling over loans at massive rates of interest to those unable to repay them. The OFT has already revoked the credit licenses of Yes Loans and MCO Capital so far this year.
Tesco Reveals Current Account Loyalty Scheme
Tesco has spoken up about its new much-anticipated current account this week, as it prepares to rub shoulders with the UK’s big banks. The supermarket says that the new account will be linked to the company’s Clubcard loyalty scheme, and that points would be available for use of the account’s debit card. The head of Tesco Bank, Benny Higgins, said that he could not confirm whether or not the account would be free, but he promised transparency as a cornerstone of its new banking service.
British Gas Announces 6% Rise in Prices from November
And finally, British Gas has announced a rise of 6% on its gas and electricity prices with effect from mid-November. The company said that it accepted the rise was an “unwelcome” piece of news for customers, but said that the price rises were necessary owing to higher wholesale prices and the costs of upgrading the national grid. It also said that with the North Sea supply running out, the company had to pay the going rate for gas, and that the price was outside of its control. The increase is expected to add £80 to the average dual fuel bill per year.
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