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News Summary: 30 November

Nov 30, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News  //  Comments Off on News Summary: 30 November

A round-up of the main news stories from this week. (And faux apologies to any distress caused by the mischief contained therein.)

Bank of England Appoints New Canadian Governor

Mark Carney has been appointed as the new governor of the Bank of England. The governor of the Central Bank of Canada and chairman of the Financial Stability Board, will replace Mervyn King next July. The 47-year-old Canadian national will become the first overseas governor in the Bank’s history. Chancellor George Osborne described Carney as “the outstanding banker of his generation” and “the most qualified person in the world to be the Bank of England’s governor.”

[Read more]

Affordable Flood Cover Under Threat, Insurers Warn

The government has denied that talks with insurers have collapsed over measures that will allow people in high-risk areas of flooding to insure their homes affordably. The news comes after another wave of flooding affected 800 homes, mostly in South-West England. The Association of British Insurers says that up to a quarter of a million homes could struggle to insure their properties next year when the current deal with the government to provide flood insurance expires.

[Read more]

Mortgage Approvals Reach Highest Level Since January

Mortgage approvals in October have reached their highest level since January. Figures from the Bank of England show that mortgage approvals for house purchases rose by 5% from September to just under 53,000. Remortgages also increased by 2.7% from the previous month. The figures suggest that the Bank’s Funding for Lending scheme is continuing to have a positive impact upon the housing market.

[Read more]

Payday Loans Charges To Be Capped (feat. “Where’s My Money!?”)

And finally: a U-turn by ministers will allow the new financial regulator to cap the interest rates charged on payday loans. Changes in the Financial Services Bill will allow the Financial Conduct Authority to set limits on how much payday lenders can charge. Lenders have been investigated by the Office of Fair Trading this year amid concerns that they are using aggressive debt-collecting methods and failing to undertake stringent checks before advancing their high-cost loans. Though such loans are usually short-term and are taken out over a maximum of 30 days, the annual interest rates can exceed 4,000%.

[Read more]

 

Also, on the Finance Blog this week:

  • Postcode Lottery? East Midlands Residents Struggle With Credit Applications (See article)

For the latest news and product updates, remember to visit us at Which4U.co.uk.

News Summary: 23 November

Nov 23, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News  //  Comments Off on News Summary: 23 November

A round-up of the main news stories from this week. Points to anybody who can name the film featured in the bulletin without help from a search engine.

Funding for Lending Blamed for Savings Crash

The scheme created by the Bank of England to kick-start the economy has been blamed for a slump in savings accounts rates. With banks able to access cheap sources of finance through the Funding for Lending scheme, they have had no need to attract deposits from savers. The best performing accounts in each major savings category on Which4U have fallen by between 14% and 20% since September. And with inflation rising again in October, it is becoming increasingly difficult for savers to make real-term returns on their deposits.

[Read more]

Payday Loans Could Affect Future Mortgage Applications

Borrowers who turn to payday loans could face problems in the future when it comes to larger lending such as mortgages. The Financial Ombudsmen Service says it has seen evidence that mortgage lenders have been discriminating against those who take out payday loans. Despite often proving a cheaper short-term option than bank charges, payday lending suggests to lenders that borrowers are struggling to manage their finances.

[Read more]

Credit Cards Recommended for £100+ Payments

Experts are recommending the use of credit cards for more expensive purchases as retailers continue to fail. With Comet becoming the latest stricken retailer to enter administration, experts are reminding people that payments between £100 and £30,000 made by credit card should be covered by the card provider – a form of protection that is not available with cash or debit card payments. Comet joins retailers including JJB Sports, La Senza and Clinton Cards to run into trouble this year.

[Read more]

Inflation Outpaces Pay in 21st Century

You know – I started on clean-up just like you guys. Now, see, I’m washing lettuce. Soon I’ll be on fries, then the grill. A year or two, I make assistant manager, and that’s where the big bucks start rollin’ in!

And finally: Brits have lost ground on the cost of living, with inflation having outpaced the rise in pay since the start of the Millennium. According to the Office of National Statistics, average pay for full-time workers has risen by 40% since April 2000, but retail price inflation has risen by 43%. The cost of living has risen by almost twice the average rate of pay since the start of the recession, though in the past year, the pay gap between men and women has reduced to below 10%.

[Read more]

 

Also, on the Finance Blog this week:

For the latest news and product updates, remember to visit us at Which4U.co.uk.

News Summary: 16 November

Nov 16, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News  //  Comments Off on News Summary: 16 November

A round-up of the main news stories from this week.


Inflation Rises to 2.7% in October

There was a blow for consumers after the consumer price measure of inflation leapt by half a percentage point to 2.7% in October. The rise was attributed to higher food costs and the increase in tuition fees, which rose to a maximum of £9,000 at the start of the university year. The rise means that increasingly fewer savings accounts now offer returns that match inflation after tax.

[Read more]

Retailers Take VAT Case to Court

Electronics giant Dixons is heading a legal battle worth £70 million to reclaim VAT that has been paid on false credit card transactions. Retailers are arguing it is unfair that they have paid VAT on credit card transactions that have been proved fraudulent because their reclaim does not always cover this cost. The case is set to go to the European Court of Justice for a decision to be reached in 2014.

[Read more]

Pushing Loans Could Lead to More Defaults

There could be more defaults on loans and mortgages if banks are forced to lend more, a Bank of England member said this week. Speaking in Bristol, Michael Cohrs, the head of the Bank’s Financial Policy, said that pushing too hard on the lending theme would lead to defaults because more of the borrowers will not be creditworthy. The number of lenders participating in the Funding for Lending scheme doubled from 13 to 30 in October.

[Read more]

Banks Facing Further Mis-Selling Scandal

Banks are facing yet another mis-selling scandal, this time for unnecessary credit card insurance. The Financial Services Authority issued a record fine to CPP, a credit card protection firm, for selling insurance products that customers didn’t need. Banks helped to sell 4.1 million of these policies between 2005 and 2011, and could now face a collective compensation bill of £213 million. Andrew Tyrie, Chairman of the Treasury Select Committee, said he would seek answers from the FSA as to how further scandals of this sort could be avoided in the future.

[Read more]

MPs Slam Companies for Tax Avoidance

And finally: MPs slammed Amazon for sending an executive to a hearing on tax who failed to provide answers to questions on tax and revenue. MPs also interrogated representatives from Google and Starbucks on the issue of tax avoidance, and unveiled more about the truth of their operations. Starbucks attributed the company’s tax position in the UK to poor performance, which left the committee distinctly unimpressed. The company has paid just £8.6 million in tax in 14 years despite revenue in excess of £3 billion.

[See original story here]

Also, on the Finance Blog this week:

  • What Happened to Humanity? The Controversy Behind Hardship (see article).

For the latest news and product updates, remember to visit us at Which4U.co.uk.

News Summary: 09 November

Nov 9, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News  //  Comments Off on News Summary: 09 November

A round-up of the main news stories from this week.


Campaigners Seek Minimum Standards for Bank Accounts

Campaigners have called for a set of minimum standards for basic bank accounts, after banks have withdrawn accounts and limited access to ATM machines. Barclays is currently the only bank to offer accounts to undischarged bankrupts. Meanwhile, the Royal Bank of Scotland has joined the list of banks to withdraw access to its Link cash machines for basic bank account holders.

[Read more]

Santander Clashes With Barclays and HSBC Over Reforms

The chief executive of Santander has clashed with the head of Barclays and the chairman of HSBC over UK banking reforms. Ana Botin told the Parliamentary Committee on Banking Standards this week that it would take time to implement reforms. Barclays chief executive Antony Jenkins and HSBC Chairman Douglas Flint disagreed, arguing that new rules on improving banking standards should be accelerated to allow banks to put them into place at first opportunity.

[Read more]

New Mortgage With “Waivers” For Emergencies

Mutual lenders have proposed new mortgages with built-in insurance that will allow repayments to be “waivered” in the event of incapacity or redundancy. The new mortgages would see lenders recovering the missed payments through insurance. Two major societies are ready to offer the mortgages from early next year if they receive approval from the Financial Services Authority in December.

[Read more]

Nationwide Waiting On IT Compatibility

And finally: Nationwide’s interest in buying up over 300 branches from the Royal Bank of Scotland could rest upon the compatibility of their IT systems, which is thought to be why Santander aborted its bid for the branches. Regulators have described RBS’ systems as antiquated, and the group suffered major problems in the summer following a software upgrade, which also affected customers at NatWest and Ulster Bank. It is thought that bidders may use the IT issues to try and lower the price, but RBS still hopes to be allowed to keep the branches.

[Read more]

Also, on the Finance Blog this week:

For the latest news and product updates, remember to visit us at Which4U.co.uk.

News Summary: 02 November

Nov 2, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News  //  Comments Off on News Summary: 02 November

A round-up of the main news stories from this week. [No audio this week. Sorry!]

UK Sees Surge in Credit

The UK saw its biggest surge in credit in over four years during September. Figures from the Bank of England show that net lending rose by £1.7 billion between August and September, driven by a rise in personal loans and overdrafts alongside higher credit card spending. The number of new mortgages for house purchase loans rose by over 4% from August to top 50,000. The demand for credit has also provided a boost for retailers, who recorded a better month in September after a chequered summer.

[Read more]

Funding for Lending Participants Soar in October

The number of participants in the Bank of England’s Funding for Lending increased from 13 to 30 lenders over the month of October. The new recruits include the Co-operative Bank, Clydesdale Bank, Metro Bank and supermarket bank Tesco, the latest to sign up this week. There are still concerns, however, that the value of loans advanced to individuals and businesses is not growing fast enough given the extra lenders on board.

[Read more]

Bank Staff Humiliated for Missing Sales Targets

Bank staff are being humiliated at work if they fail to deliver on demanding sales targets, says workers union Unite. Staff who struggle to meet these targets are made to stay late, named and shamed in front of colleagues, and threatened with the sack, it said this week. So far, only the Co-operative Bank and Barclays have changed their pay system to reward staff for customer service rather than for sales performance. Both the union and the Financial Services Authority will demand that others must follow.

[Read more]

Barclays Faces Further Huge Fine

And finally: it’s involved in yet another scandal. Barclays is facing a $470 million fine for attempting to manipulate the price of electricity in America. Four traders at the bank are suspected to have made a number of attempts to drive down the price of electricity at trading hubs between 2006 and 2008. This would, in turn, allow the bank to profit from other bets that were reliant on that outcome. Though the bank denies the charges, the US regulator has released transcripts of messages sent between traders which implicate them in this activity. Critics have condemned this as another example of the culture that was encouraged during Bob Diamond’s reign as chief executive.

[Read more]

Also, on the Finance Blog this week:

  • A “Banxious” Nation of “Financial Ostriches – Barclays (see article).
  • The Great Nostalgia Theme: Banks and their Music (see article).
  • The Hidden Costs of a Zombie Apocalypse (see article).

Have a safe firework filled weekend. Keep in touch with us at Which4U and our Finance Blog.

News Summary: 26 October

Oct 26, 2012   //   by Keith McDonald   //   Breaking News  //  Comments Off on News Summary: 26 October

A round-up of the main news stories this week. [Apologies for poor audio quality again!]

UK Economy Returns to Growth

The UK economy has emerged from recession after growing by 1% between July and September. The initial estimates from the Office of National Statistics show the UK to have reached its fastest rate of growth since 2007. Despite the uplift, critics have pointed out that the economy finds itself roughly where it was one year ago, and still some way below the level it achieved prior to the financial crisis.

[Read more]

High Street Banks Averse to Loans

High-street banks rejected 27,000 applications for loans from businesses in the first quarter of the year. Challenger bank Cambridge & Counties said that the applications were worth a total of £1.3 billion. The figures suggest that banks would rather overlook the incentives available to them; such is their aversion to lending.

[Read more]

Tougher New Rules on Mortgages

Tougher Rules on MortgagesTougher new rules on mortgages will force banks to make more stringent checks on applicants to make sure that they will be able to afford their loans. The new rules drawn up by the Financial Services Authority will come into place in 2014. The regulator has said that it wants to put “common sense at the heart of the mortgage market.”

[Read more]

Santander Reports 94% Fall in Profits

Spanish bank Santander has announced a 94% fall in profits between July and September as it set aside billions to account for toxic loans in Spain. Net income at the bank fell to just £100 million compared to £1.8 billion in the equivalent period last year. The bank’s recently aborted bid to buy 316 branches from the Royal Bank of Scotland cost it an estimated £52 million.

[Read more]

EDF Next to Hike Energy Prices

EDF has become the fifth major energy company to hike its prices after announcing a 10.8% rise, the largest of all suppliers so far. The company said that a typical standard variable dual fuel bill would rise by £2.35 per week. The announcement comes during Big Energy Saving Week, which aims to help people reduce their bills ahead of the winter months.

[Read more]

 

And finally, for a feast of Halloween fun over the next couple of days, keep a close eye on Which4U and our Finance Blog. You never know quite what we’ve got up our sleeves!