Santander offering cashback

November 12th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

santander logo Santander offering cashback Santander customers can now earn up to 15% cashback on spending at their favourite shops.

The Retailer’s Offer scheme is open to their debit and credit card customers, who can pick out their favourite stores from a list of 100 or so, such as Argos, New Look, Hertz, Patisserie Valerie and Heals.

There’ll be a handful of personalised offers each month, which will be based on what the get up to in the high street.

The move by Santander follows in the footsteps of Halifax, Lloyds Bank and Natwest, which also launched rewards schemes in recent months.

Santander already offers their 123 customers 1% for supermarket shops, 2% for department stores and 3% for TfL, National Rail and petrol.

It also pays 1% on water, council tax and Santander mortgage payments, a higher rate of 2% on gas and electricity bills and 3% on mobile, home phone, broadband and paid for TV packages.

The perk is offered to both new and existing account holders for free through their online banking so you can’t just shout “BUT I’M WITH SANTANDER!” at a shopkeeper and demand cash back. Click here to find out more.

Childcare and subsidies for families, say CBI

November 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

HAPPY FAMILY Childcare and subsidies for families, say CBIThe government has to upgrade living standards for Britain’s hard working families with £7bn of tax cuts and childcare subsidies, otherwise they will rescind the right to bang on about ‘hard working families’, according to the CBI.

The group reckon that some fairly radical ideas need to be dreamt up and implemented, as families and low-income workers are forever at the wrong end of the crap-stick, financially.

It is calling for changes to national insurance, an extension of free childcare and extended maternity pay as measures that would make an immediate difference.

In a new report called A Better Off Britain, John Cridland, the director general, said: “The financial crisis and the slow recovery have hit people’s finances hard. Living standards will gradually improve as the economy does. But growth on its own will not be the miracle cure.”

The CBI is also calling for a gradual increase in the threshold at which employees pay national insurance to £10,500 – bringing it line with the income tax personal allowance – over the next parliament.

It is estimated that this would bring in an extra £363 a year. While not staggering, it’s better than nothing.

The CBI is also calling for an extension of the 15 hours a week of free childcare for three and four-year-olds to all one and two-year-olds, saving the average family with a one-year-old £3,430 a year. As well as recommending statutory maternity pay be extended from nine to 12 months, closing the gap between when maternity pay ends and financial assistance for childcare kicks in.

Cridland went on to say that despite the expense to the Treasury – about £7bn over the next parliament – the measures did not amount to the government abandoning its deficit reduction plans.

“Tackling the deficit is an absolute priority, but I don’t think it’s an either/or debate. We need to be more ambitious about the ways we tackle the deficit. Deficit reduction doesn’t have to be cut and slash.”

The average couple with two children saw their real income fall by £2,132 a year between 2009-10 and 2012-13 according to the CBI. Inflation has outpaced wage growth for much of the period since 2008.

He also hit out at large companies who refuse to pay the minimum wage: “The National Minimum Wage is about ability to pay. The Living Wage is what people need to earn. Should companies pay the Living Wage if they are able to? Yes. I would encourage them to. Can it ever be more than an encouragement? No.”

New Queen on coins from next year

November 7th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

There is going to be a new Queen on the coins as of next year.

Well, strictly speaking it will be a new image of Queen Elizabeth “II”, rather than a brand new monarch, but you get the drift.

It’s the first new portrait since 1998, and only the fifth image to be commissioned during her 62 year tenure.

Designs have already been submitted by specialist designers for the new portrait, and the winner will be revealed by the Royal Mint Advisory in the new year.

The current portrait of the Queen was created by Ian Rank-Broadley and has been in circulation for 16 years.

In September, the Royal Mint launched a public design competition to find designs for the reverse side of the coins, with the winner to receive a ten grand fee for their design, which – lordy – will stay in circulation for around 30 years.

We hope they use the photo where she looks like a Sith from Star Wars.

o POUND COIN facebook 500x250 New Queen on coins from next year

child saving money 300x204 Child maintenance dodgers could be declined creditParents who neglect their child maintenance payments may end up being turned down for mortgages, credit cards and loans under new government plans.

The government wants to be able to share information with credit agencies, which will then be used by banks as back-up to determine whether they offer cash to the customer.

If that sounds a bit hardcore, even a missed or late payment on a mobile phone bill can be enough to cause somebody to be declined credit.

Child maintenance minister Steve Webb said: “For too long, a minority of absent parents have got away with failing to pay maintenance, leaving families without that financial support,”

Naturally the government being the government, they expect this move will also act as a deterrent to others from stopping child maintenance payments in the future.

“I would hope that we see this power used very little, because the deterrent effect of a possible negative mark on a person’s credit rating will convince those who have previously failed to pay towards their children’s upbringing to do the right thing.”

The record of a missed payment won’t appear on a credit record until a liability order is made against them.

Nationwide launch a smartwatch app

November 6th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

nationwide app 300x168 Nationwide launch a smartwatch appThe future has turned up at Nationwide, who are launching the first app for an Android smartwatch.

You can now – if you bank with Nationwide that is, if not then move along – check your finances while on the move, or on the run from muggers.

You obviously need an Android Wear watch running Android 4.3, but the app is free, so that’s a nice bonus.

The app is available now, and is apparently quite easy to setup, so soon you’ll be shouting for your balance at your wrist or sobbing loudly in toilet cubicles at your overdraft fees.

Chief Operating Officer at Nationwide Tony Prestedge said: “Providing customers with a variety of ways to manage their money, whenever and however they want is a priority for us. Giving those members who want and have the technology the ability to check their balance on their watch provides them with even more choice as to how they interact with us whether it is online, through an app, face-to-face or over the phone.”

Fnarr. He said ‘members’.

HSBC profits affected by crimes of the past

November 4th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

HSBC HSBC profits affected by crimes of the pastBank trouble again, with HSBC stepping into the spotlight with their tale of mis-selling woe.

The bank’s profits didn’t quite gain the heights that were expected after they’d put aside $1.8 billion (£1.5 billion) to pay back compensation to customers as well as a possible fine for rigging the currency markets.

This does however indicate that regulators are generally stepping up to the mark and shaming bad banks and banking. If only they’d been this tough, say, six years ago.

HSBC reckon they’d spent $700 million more this year on compliance and risk than a year ago, and that level of expense looked set to stay, meaning it would miss one of its main cost targets.

HSBC said its forex investigation provision covered “detailed” talks with Britain’s financial regulator about alleged manipulation in the $5.3 trillion-a-day forex market.

The talks were in relation to systems and controls in one part of its spot forex business in London, it said. Last month HSBC fired two traders in London, sources said.

Shall we see what excuses CEO Stuart Gulliver is bleating?: “The cost base of a global bank like ourselves is higher than it was before, because … it includes a significantly higher compliance and regulatory cost than historically the banks had invested in,”

“It reflects the fact that standards, foreign policy, etc, all evolve in a world that is a lot less certain than it was 10, 15 years ago.”

HSBC added 1,400 more compliance staff in the third quarter and now had 24,800 staff in risk and compliance, or one in 10 of its employees. That’s heartwarming really, that the growth sector of banking-based employment is down to the bank themselves ripping its customers off.

We look forward to all our terms and conditions being updated in the coming weeks across the banking sector while they all fiddle with more margins and charges to claw some money back from our accounts, to atone for their mess-ups.

tesco 1 300x200 Tesco Bank refunds customers theyve buggered aboutIt would seem that if it’s a day of the week with ‘day’ in its name, you can rely there’ll be another tale of Tesco woe.

This time, Tesco Bank are in a mess, after having to pay out £43 million in compensation, after a loan statement removed cash from 175,000 customers. The bank has issued an apology, wherein they claim a technical breach was behind the cock-up.

Online Tesco Bank went and admitted the breach of industry rules which breached the 1974 Consumer Credit Act – and those who accrued interest on loans during that time must now be refunded – with an average payout of £228. That’s a load of people having a nicer Christmas, eh?

Various customers have tweeted about receiving cheques for cash, because there’s nothing quite like an overshare on social media about personal finances. Under the Consumer Credit Act, failure to provide prompt ‘post-contractual’ information is viewed as a statutory breach. Any money vendor then has to refund any charges or interest incurred during the period the bank couldn’t be arsed.

An understandably nameless Tesco spokesman said: “‘As stated earlier in the year, we have put in place a redress programme to return interest and charges to customers who did not receive documentation in line with the requirements of the Consumer Credit Act.”

“This redress programme has commenced and we are writing to all of those customers affected. Customers do not need to take any action however if they do have questions they can contact us as normal. It’s not an incident of mis-selling. This is an industry-wide issue.”

The bank has already had to set aside £240 million for customers who were miss-sold payment protection insurance.

yorkshire building society Yorkshire Building Society fined for missellingYorkshire Building Society have been fined for mistreating its customers.

The building society has been slapped with a £4.1 million fine, for being shits to customers facing financial difficulties.

The findings were found after a City regulator noticed that call handlers at Yorkshire had failed to implement the right payment solutions, making it even worse for customers having a struggle.

The building society has agreed to refund all mortgage arrears fees, plus associated interest, charged to customers since January 2009.

This redress scheme, announced in February, is currently under way and about 33,900 customers will be repaid a total of £8.4m.

Those customers with an existing mortgage will have their loan credited, while former customers will be sent a cheque. Cor! A cheque. How modern. A Yorkshire spokesman named anonymous, reckons that all affected customers will be refunded by the end of 2014.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) had said that while Yorkshire viewed repossession as a last resort, it failed to recognise that delays in reaching long-term payment solutions meant that some customers incurred increased fees and interest.

These failures happened between October 2011 and July 2012 as is the company’s second fine for being devious arses.

The regulator noticed that in 64 out of 87 cases reviewed, showed that the consumer was treated shoddily.

Tracey McDermott, director of enforcement and financial crime at the FCA, said: “Customers in financial difficulty need to be treated fairly and sensitively. Firms must ensure that they are taking into account the particular circumstances affecting customers who find themselves in difficulty. Firms need to be dealing with these customers proactively, without delays, in order to ensure they are not losing out.

“By allowing cases to drift without agreement, Yorkshire’s actions meant that customers in vulnerable circumstances risked falling into further financial difficulty.”

Chris Pilling, chief executive of Yorkshire Building Society, apologised to customers using the ‘inflatable school’ joke as an apology. “We are very sorry for letting them down,” he said.

This is Yorkshire’s second fine in 2014. In June the FCA issued a £1.4m fine for exaggerating the returns that investors could expect from stock-market-linked bonds.

Lloyds Bank in further PPI debacle

October 28th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Lloyds Banking Group 001 300x180 Lloyds Bank in further PPI debacleTroubled horse-logo’ed bank Lloyds have paid out the most in PPI, confirming that their bill for the scandal has soared to a whopping £11 billion!

The tax-payer saved bank is said to have put aside £600 million to cover the PPI mis-selling shambles, which is on top of another £600m which Lloyds threw at it earlier this year.

Lloyds said at the time that, although the number of PPI claims is falling, it is still paying out around £200m a month to victims.

This is on top of the news that the bank was the worst performing UK bank in the European bank ‘stress test’ and the confirmation that there’d be 9,000 job losses over the next three years .

As PPI was designed to cover repayments on loans and credit cards, most loan and credit card companies sold the product at the same time as they sold the credit.

By May 2008, 20 million PPI policies existed in the UK with a further increase of 7 million policies a year being purchased thereafter. Surveys showed that 40% of policyholders claim to be unaware that they had a policy.

Several European banks fail ‘stress test’

October 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

bank sign Several European banks fail stress testA ‘stress test’ of banks’ finances has been failed by 24 European banks, the European Banking Authority has announced.

Fortunately none of them are UK banks. PHEW.

The 24 banks now have nine months to get their act together or face being shut down. The review was based on the banks’ financial health at the end of 2013.

Ten have already taken steps to bolster their balance sheets in the meantime. All the remaining 14 banks are in the eurozone. The health check was carried out on 123 EU banks by the EBA to determine whether they could handle another financial crisis.

The list of 14 includes four Italian banks, two Greek banks, two Belgian banks and two Slovenian banks.

The worst offender was Italian bank Monte dei Paschi, which showed a capital shortfall of €2.1bn. Bloody Nora. Admittedly banks are in a better place than they were in 2011, when the last stress test was taken. Although various analysts question the validity of these tests as they failed to spot the collapses in Ireland and Belgian bank Dexia.

But now that’s all changed, as the profits that banks are allowed to make through a future financial crisis are capped. Net income is slashed by 20% and there is greater transparency around how the data is used, giving more certainty to investors.

Also, the introduction of the Asset Quality Review looks at banks’ loans and their governments debts, which has lead to a more sturdy assessment.

The banks that still need to raise capital:

Austria: Oesterreichische Volksbanken
Belgium: AXA Bank Europe, Dexia
Cyprus: Hellenic Bank Public Company
Greece: Eurobank Ergasias, National Bank of Greece
Republic of Ireland: Permanent TSB
Italy: Banca Carige, Monte dei Paschi, Banca Popolare di Milano, Banca Popolare di Vicenza
Portugal: Banco Comercial Portugues
Slovenia: Nova Kreditna Banka Maribor, Nova Ljubljanska Banka

The best and worst UK hotels revealed!

October 27th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

hotel 300x300 The best and worst UK hotels revealed!A survey by Which!!! to find out Britain’s best hotel chain has revealed Sofitel as the winner. The upmarket version of Novotel has rooms at £144 a night and only has three branches in the UK.

The runner-up Premier Inn, offers 650 hotels in the UK, and is more the hotel of choice for those on a smaller budget.

Eligible hotel firms were judged in nine categories, including cleanliness, customer service, food, and value for money. The rest of the Top five were Warner Leisure Hotels, Hampton by Hilton and Q Hotels.

However at the other end of the chart lurk Travelodge, Britannia Hotels and Old English Inns/Hotels. Shall we have a look at the chart in full?

Yes, let’s:

Name                                    Average Price    Customer score

Sofitel                                     £144                       83%
Premier Inn                          £61                         82%
Warner Leisure Hotels    £128                       80%
Hampton by Hilton           £80                         78%
Q Hotels                                £102                        78%
Marriott Hotels                  £110                        73%
DoubleTree by Hilton      £112                         72%
Holiday Inn Express         £72                          72%
MacDonald Hotels            £124                        72%
Novotel Hotels                    £97                          72%
Radisson Blu                       £111                         72%
Holiday Inn                         £88                          71%
Ibis                                           £63                         71%
Crowne Plaza Hotels        £107                       70%
Ramada                                  £75                         69%
Best Western                       £92                         67%
Hilton Hotels                       £110                       67%
Ibis Budget                            £32                        67%
Copthrone Hotels              £86                         64%
Mercure Hotels                  £93                         64%
The Hotel Collection        £109                       63%
Jurys Inn                               £87                         62%
Days Inn/Hotel                   £55                         61%
Thistle Hotels                      £101                       61%
Travelodge                            £44                        60%
De Vere Hotels                    £115                       58%
Principal Hayley Hotels  £120                       55%
Old English Inns/Hotels £70                         50%
Britannia Hotels                £56                         33%

Poor old Travelodge. But hey, with average price of £44 a room, it’s good for romps with your secret lover or somewhere to be sick in and crash after a work’s party.

Facebook: still not paying tax

October 23rd, 2014 3 Comments By Ian Wade

Bitterwallet Facebook censorship Facebook: still not paying taxFacebook didn’t pay any UK corporation tax again in 2013 – the bloodclots. It’s the second year in a row that the social media company have side-stepped the ol’ tax.

Facebook reported a pre-tax loss of £11.6m in the UK last year, despite its US parent company reporting a net profit of $1.5bn (£900m).

The company’s UK revenues rose from £34.6m to £49.8m, according to Facebook UK’s latest financial filing at Companies House published on Wednesday.

According to Facebook, its turnover is classed as “marketing and engineering services”, due to much of their ad revenue being sifted through Ireland because lower tax rates.

Facebook also made £371m in advertising revenue last year, which is a 67% rise from £222m in 2012. Facebook UK have however incurred a corporation tax charge of £3,169, as well as receiving a credit of £182,000.

Also, the UK end employs 172 staff, who were paid £40.8m last year, almost double of 2012′s £21m. Most of this could be laid at the door of the £15.5m payment cost for share-based payments, as UK staff received 1.52m free Facebook shares worth $118m at their current share price of about $78.

So yes. All a bit uncool, especially given that Mark Zuckerberg is splashing out $100m on his own island. He’ll probably set a bank up on it so Facebook can ‘rest’ funds there too.

Violent stock market crash imminent

October 16th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

stock market Violent stock market crash imminentA stock market crash so violent that it can probably bend time is being mooted.

The state of the world’s financial markets suggests that a break is about to happen at any point! We’re doomed!

The Bank of International Settlements said that suspiciously low levels of volatility in the markets seen this year, suggest a lack of liquidity that could trip up investors who assume they can dispense of assets when a sell-off begins.

These remarks follow as the FTSE 100 index suffered another day of losses, dropping 2.8% and mirroring falls across Europe. Guy Debelle of BIS said global investors were buying assets on the misguided presumption of liquidity that does not exist and that in a possible sell-off, volatility and price movements “will be exacerbated by the reduced capacity and inventory of market makers”.

Despite the world issues flying around causing markets to wobble, the BIS observed that volatility in fixed income, equity and foreign exchange markets has fallen to historically low levels.

Debelle, who is also an executive at Australia’s Reserve Bank, said: “While there is more forward guidance from central banks in place than in the past, investors do not have to believe it. I find it somewhat surprising that the market (in aggregate at least) is willing to accept the central banks at their word and not think so much for themselves”.

Referencing the US bond crash of 1994, Debelle warned that exits in the present bonds market could be even more violent in future with “a fair chance that volatility will feed on itself”.

It’s all somewhat worrying isn’t it?

In his speech, Debelle also referred to tightened regulation in the sector introduced in the wake of the financial crisis, adding: “Regulatory changes have, as intended, increased the cost of market-making, and hence shifted some liquidity risk to end investors. There have also been some strategic decisions taken by institutions and internal constraints have been imposed which have reduced capacity”.

Crush your car with MoneySuperMarket!

October 8th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

cars 300x200 Crush your car with MoneySuperMarket!Price comparison website MoneySuperMarket are offering everyone the option to crush their cars!

The website wants to get people across the country thinking about ‘crushing’ car insurance quotes by giving them the opportunity to crush a real car.

You there, in social media land, can use The Car Insurance Epic Car Crusher, which is a 6000 kilo robotic hand over the next two days.

Controlled from MoneySuperMarket’s Facebook page, it will offer four entrants an hour the chance to crush a car. And if you’re unlucky there, in the waiting hub you will also be able to play a car racing game, watch a live feed of cars being crushed and view the gallery of cars destroyed previously.

This is too much for a Wednesday, no?

David Harling, head of digital at MoneySuperMarket, said: “We wanted to demonstrate in a very ‘real’ way just how powerful our price comparison site is in crushing car insurance quotes and this activity was the perfect fit, playing to every driver’s secret desire to obliterate a car in true movie villain style.”

“The execution is in keeping with the ‘epic’ tone of our creative executions and gives car drivers across the country a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they’ll be bragging to friends about for weeks.”

‘Engagement and destruction’. It’s like Ballard or something.

PPF step away from new rule laying

October 7th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

pensions 300x187 PPF step away from new rule layingThe Pension Protection Fund has stepped away from laying down new rules.

The company which acts as the UK’s safety net for company pensions, had suggested a stricter approach to the levy it imposes on employers that use “Asset Backed Contribution” structures.

Some suspect employers had included intangible assets such as trademarks and copyrights, in a bid to lower pension scheme deficits.

It also showed that in most cases these assets were being overvalued and gave employers the opportunity to hoodwink their staff.

However, to prevent companies getting away with lower levy payments, the PPF proposed in May that only ABCs backed by UK property would be recognised for the purposes of calculating the levy.

Instead on Monday, the PPF had changed their minds following information from industry stakeholders.

Explaining himself David Taylor, director of strategy and legal affairs with the PPF said: “Following discussion with the industry, we are now moving to a position where we are less concerned about underlying assets in these vehicles,”

“However, in order to be able to recognise a wider range of assets we will require more from the schemes in terms of how they certify to us the valuations on insolvency.”

This news has gone down reasonably well with the pensions industry.

The PPF announced these concessions as it confirmed that it would collect about £625m from employers in 2015-16 – about 10% than the previous year. also appeared “likely to fall further rather than rise”, the PPF said.