90s student loan borrowers to get refunds

April 23rd, 2014 1 Comment By Lucy Sweet

Did you go to university in the 90s? Did you wear tie dye and bad combat trousers and skin up on a copy of Dodgy’s first album?

90s raver 300x300 90s student loan borrowers to get refunds

WELL, here’s some good news for this generation of frazzled ravers. Due to a long running paperwork eff-up, thousands of student loan borrowers will be getting money taken off their loans, and in some cases are actually getting REFUNDS. Hurray!

58,000 former students with debts from before 1998 were affected by this long term correspondence error by the Student Loans Company, which was technically a breach of the Consumer Credit Act.

They sent letters to borrowers who missed two or more repayments saying their account was in arrears. They also should have sent individual statements of arrears to people with multiple loans, but instead combined their overall arrears in one document. This is against the Consumer Credit Act of 2008.

Since 2013 the SLC has been under the auspices of Erudio Student Loans, and there’s a lot of sorting out to do in order to rectify the mistake. So, if you’ve been affected, the SLC will write to you before the end of May. And if you were in arrears between 2008-13, you’ll be refunded any interest and charges paid since you received your arrears letter from the SLC. One person has already been refunded a staggering £816.

YAY! Let’s all pile into a camper van, go to Glastonbury and buy some acid off a guy called Spud!

If you want a mortgage, you’ll soon have to endure an intrusive THREE HOUR INTERVIEW with your bank, who will ask you a gazillion questions about your personal life, such as whether you’re trying to have children.
first time buyer mortgages Want to be a homeowner? Prepare for a Guantanamo grilling

The FCA has introduced a serious of tedious checks, which will apply both to first time buyers and long term borrowers, and the application process sounds like that tense scene in Green Card where Gerard Depardieu has to remember the name of Allie McDowell’s face cream. (What do you mean you haven’t seen Green Card??)

You’ll need to provide minute details of your income and outgoings, and you also have to prove whether you’ll still be able to afford your home if interest rates go up. Some banks will ask if you can afford a 1% rise – but if you’re borrowing big – up to £250,000, you’ll have to prove that you can cope with a whopping 7% rise – £500 more a month than you actually have to pay. So even if you could afford the actual mortgage repayments, you may be refused a loan.

Obviously, this test is an attempt to futureproof borrowers when interest rates inevitably go up, and to force lenders to re-examine the short term deals they offer. But it also seems like a cruel dashing of home owning dreams, especially if people can technically afford the repayments.

The new application process starts on Saturday. Apparently, you’ll also have to balance an orange on your head and walk on your hands in a straight line. Oh, and tell them what colour and texture your stools are.

Customers getting pay-outs from missold CPP

April 17th, 2014 6 Comments By Mof Gimmers

creditcards Customers getting pay outs from missold CPPA lot of people got insurance products that offered card protection or identity fraud protection from a business called Card Protection Plan (CPP).

Many obtained it through their banks and credit card issuers. However, the Financial Conduct Authority ruled that a lot of these products were mis-sold and fined CPP £10.5m in 2012.

Well, it seems like CPP are finally getting the cheques out to customers who put a claim in, and some of them are getting paid around £1,000 for their trouble.

If you haven’t put a claim in, you’ve still got until 30th August to get some money back.

You should’ve received a letter from CPP, which you may have thrown away thinking that it was a circular, but no worries.

You can get information about their compensation scheme by visiting cppredressscheme.co.uk or call them on a freephone number at 08000 83 43 93. If you’re outside the UK, then dial +44 1144 520 800. If you have had a form, but think you’ve completed it incorrectly, then call the number and ask for a new one, then complete it in black ink, in block capitals and send it back in the pre-paid envelope.

Separate letters are being sent if you happen to have been mis-sold card and identity protection. Fill out both forms to claim for your compensation.

As ever, with things like this, be wary of scams. If you have any concerns it is always best to ring CPP to make sure. Good luck, and give us a yell if you get some money from them!

15 million Britons on the breadline

April 11th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

You know how those cackling gannets in the House of Commons keep telling us the economy is improving? Well, instead, let’s hear from the 15 million households in the UK who are ‘living on the edge.’
Steptoe 2 15 million Britons on the breadline

That’s not living on the edge in an exciting rock and roll kind of way, like say, Jon Bon Jovi or Axel Rose. Instead, we’re barely making ends meet, and according to debt charity StepChange, it’s not just a problem for the scrounging, big screen telly-watching, Bingo playing underclass – millions of ‘hardworking families’ are falling behind on bills, relying on credit and suffering anxiety about job security.

Stepchange say that three million people are in ‘a spiral of debt’, borrowing to keep up their credit repayments. And a separate survey, by mortgage insurer Genworth, said that there are twice as many financially vulnerable households in the UK than solvent ones. Also, 41% of those surveyed said they were stressed about money.

And, Stepchange has also discovered that 13 million people would not have enough savings to last for a month, even if their income dropped by just a quarter.

*expires face down in a bowl of gruel*

It’s Meaningless Mortgage Stuff Day!

April 10th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

Notice anything different about today? Just an average Thursday, isn’t it? It’s not Black Friday, or Terrific Tuesday or Super Saver Saturday. Just an ordinary day.

mortgage paid 242x300 It’s Meaningless Mortgage Stuff Day!

Ha Ha – fooled you! Yes, the relentless trying-to-make-days-happen machine has been cranked up again, and today is MORTGAGE FREEDOM DAY!

Does that mean we don’t have to pay our mortgage and we can just sit in the park taking the air and kicking pigeons? Well, no. This particular day – made up by the Halifax – represents the day of the year when the average new borrower has earned enough to pay off the annual cost of their home loan. This is based on the average annual mortgage repayment cost of £6954, and the average earnings of £25603.

However if you live in London, you won’t get a mortgage freedom day until May 20 – or the end of time – depending on where you live.

Craig McKinlay, mortgage director at the Halifax says:
‘Our research shows that today, if people had put everything they’d earned since the start of the year towards their mortgage, the average homeowner would be mortgage-free for the remainder of the year, which is a reassuring thought.’

But nobody would be able to put everything they earn towards their mortgage anyway, because there are massive amounts of bills to pay. And is this really ‘a reassuring thought’? Or is it just a random and entirely hypothetical load of billy bollocks to try and allay our fears about the housing bubble?

There’s not even a cake or balloons. GO AWAY MORTGAGE FREEDOM DAY. YOU SUCK.

Do you remember what you spent your student loan on? Rent? Bills? Hydroponic equipment and Aftershocks? Well, even though the money is long gone, it will haunt you forever, according to a study by independent education group, the Sutton Trust.

students 300x300 You will be old and warty by the time you repay your student loan

It seems that three out of four students who took out a student loan while at college or university won’t pay off their loans until they’re 51. And if you managed to get yourself a decent job in the interim, you’ll be paying around £2,500 a year off during your 40s.

This follows changes to the system in 2012, when universities almost tripled their fees. But it’s OK. Many graduates will manage to escape penury by qualifying for it to be written off at the 30 year time limit, simply by not earning enough to pay it back.

Conor Ryan from the Sutton Trust explained:

‘There has been a lot said about the lower repayments that graduates make in their 20s under the new loan system, but very little about the fact that many graduates will face significant repayments through their 40s, whereas many would previously have repaid their loans by then.The new system will benefit graduates who earn very little in their lifetime.’

YAY! Let’s bum about and not earn anything! Anyone got a bag of weed and a bottle of White Lightning?

Here comes Atom, the bank with no phones!

April 10th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Bank 300x193 Here comes Atom, the bank with no phones!The co-founder of Metro Bank and First Direct’s former boss are planning to launch a digital bank.

Former Metro Bank chairman Anthony Thomson and Mark Mullen, who until last month was chief executive of First Direct, HSBC’s online portal are creating Atom, which they plan to launch next year to be an online only affair.

It will have a full range of services, including savings accounts, loan products and credit cards.

There will be a helpline for customers experiencing technical difficulties, but they will not be able to do bank things on it.

Talking about the reasons behind Atom, Thomson said: ”Telephony as a means of accessing bank accounts is in decline. All of the explosive growth is in digital generally and mobile in particular.”

“Designed entirely for the digital age and with none of the legacy issues of the past, Atom will be UK’s first real alternative to the established banks. Atom will be led and governed by an experienced and imaginative team who have a passion for people and know what it takes to put the customer at the heart of an organisation.”

There’ll be no physical branches and there will be an HQ based in the north east of England, should you become so angry you want to do a dirty protest around actual humans.

Wonga ad banned for glossing over 5,853% APR

April 9th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

Wonga is in hot water again, this time for an ad that claimed that their flabberghastingly high APR of 5853% wasn’t really that important and you should just forget about it – la la la.

wonga ladies 300x282 Wonga ad banned for glossing over 5,853% APR

The rubbery puppets of doom are shown ‘simplifying’ the terms of Wonga loans, thus: ‘Right, we’re going to explain the costs of a Wonga short-term loan. Some people think they will pay thousands of per cent of interest. They won’t of course – that’s just the way annual rates are calculated. Say you borrowed £150 for 18 days, it would cost you £33.49.’

BUT, 31 people complained to the ASA, saying that they were misleading customers with a confusing message which encouraged them to disregard their insane interest rates.

Wonga said that they were only trying to give a transparent example of a typical Wonga loan but they regretted confusing customers.

However, the ASA said they understood that APR did not apply for the time period for a short term loan, but banned it anyway, because it irresponsibly encouraged people to take out loans without considering the APR. They said:

‘We considered that, though it attempted to clarify the costs associated with a Wonga loan, the ad created confusion as to the rates that would apply. On that basis, we concluded that the ad was misleading.’

Maybe if Wonga are looking for an example of a representative loan, they could show the puppets struggling to make ends meet and turning to rubbery prostitution to pay it back?

money 300x168 FCA say financial advisors are pulling a fast oneA financial advisor’s job, is to advise you about your money, and which ways are best to maximise it, right? Well, looks like this might not be the case as it transpires that customers may well be getting misled by around three-quarters of financial advisors who are failing to give the necessary information about the cost of advice.

This is according to the regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), who note that new rules say that advisers must quote fees up-front and explain charges to customers.

These reforms are known as the Retail Distribution Review, which also state that advisors and sales staff aren’t allowed to be paid commission by the firms whose policies they were flogging and that businesses must be honest about whether they’re really independent or restricted to only selling policies from certain financial groups.

The investigation shows that 58% of companies failed to give clear information on the cost of advice, with 50% of advisors not giving clear confirmation of how much advice would cost. Meanwhile, 58% did not explain extra details about charges and 31% of firms sold a restricted range of products without telling the customer. 34% of businesses weren’t clear with their explanation about the service they offered for a fee and customers’ right to cancel.

Private banks and wealth managers were the worst according to the FCA.

“While we have seen a lot of positive progress and willingness by advisors to adapt to the new environment, I am disappointed with the results of our latest review,” said Clive Adamson, director of supervision at the FCA. ”These results are a wake-up call and we expect the industry to respond.”

savings 300x235 ISAs  a practical guide to what happens between now and the 1 July NISAsNew ISAs (or NISAs, as they are ‘nicer’ than the old ones) come into effect on 1 July 2014. The delay between last month’s announcement and introduction will allow providers to get their systems and processes in order before the new rules kick in, but where does that leave you if you have an ISA wedge burning a hole in your pocket, ready for 6 April when the new tax year starts?

So how much can I pay into my ISA on 6 April 2014?

On 6 April, the old rules will still apply. This means the maximum amount that can be contributed to a stocks and shares ISA is £11,880 and £5,940 into a cash ISA. However, on 1 July the limit will increase to £15,000 for both stock and cash ISAs, so you can then whack  in the extra £3,120/£9,060 on that date.

But I pay into my ISA monthly?

A few years ago the ISA limit was adjusted so it always fit roundly into a monthly figure, and from 6 April the monthly figure works out at £990. You could contribute £990 for three months and then pay £1,366 to reach the £15,000 contribution limit, or you could just start paying the new monthly figure of £1,250 from this month, as you would not exceed the old annual limit before the limit was increased in July.

Am I still limited to one provider?

You are still limited to one provider per tax year, for each of a cash and stocks ISA, but as before you can transfer previous ISA balances to another provider- something that has been particularly useful for cash ISA holders who found  themselves lumped with a rubbish rate of interest. Note that you can now transfer both current and old stock ISA balances into new cash NISAs- if you have found the stock market too volatile for your delicate risk/reward balance for example.

As always, remember that you must always complete the required ISA transfer forms when moving ISA cash- as otherwise it will count as a new contribution.

Anything else?

Many of the stocks and shares ISA supermarkets have announced new charges following the changes to platform charges and commission – even if your previous provider has been good value it may be worth looking at alternatives to make sure it is still the best one for your circumstances. There are some comparisons out there- like this one- and the best choice will depend on how much you have to invest, your choice of investment, how many trades you are likely to make and how much pretty apps mean to you.

Do you know how much you’re worth?

March 28th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

How much money do you think you’re worth? 25p and a piece of fluff? Well, according to a survey by solicitors Irwin Mitchell, the average Briton is worth quite a healthy £150,000. But half of us have no idea about the sum total of our assets, with 42% saying that they’re probably worth less than the price of a packet of Wotsits.
last will and testament Do you know how much you’re worth?

But. When you add up pension pots, mortgage equity, current account balances, cars and home contents, the figure comes to £147,134. That’s assuming that on average we have a £30,000 pension, £75,000 mortgage equity, £1,348.16 in our current accounts (HAHAHAHA), £5608.98 in a savings account (LOLZ) and £3,712.65 in an ISA. (You are JOKING.) When you add on the average worth of your car (£6706.55) and your home contents (£15,077.90), then you’re worth a pretty penny.

However, out of the 2000 people surveyed, six in ten didn’t even have a will, while a third had no plans to make one.

Still, although we’re gung ho about our personal assets, someone out there must be doing very well indeed to make those the average figures. Because when we die, surely quite a few people will be leaving behind overdrafts, credit card bills, Wonga loans, a 1990 Mazda and a rented hovel with black mould on the ceiling…

Co-op Bank needs £400m

March 25th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

co op bank 300x187 Co op Bank needs £400mThe Co-op, good with food perhaps. Maybe not so hot on banking.

The beleaguered bank is hoping to raise money by issuing a new round of shares, after discovering that their finances are in a bit of a state, according to the BBC.

The Co-op blames this on misconduct and poor documentation, as well as PPI mis-selling and mortgage palavers.

The bank said the discovery meant it would make a loss of £1.2bn to £1.3bn for 2013, when it releases its full accounts next month.

“The starting capital position of the bank for the four to five year recovery period is weaker than in the plan announced last year,” said a possibly deeply embarrassed chief executive Niall Booker.

The bank had to be rescued last year, when it was left with a £1.5bn capital shortfall, and a lot of the bank’s troubles began when they merged with Britannia building society in 2009. And then in November, it announced that a group of private investors, made up mostly of hedge funds, would inject nearly £1bn into the bank in exchange for a 70% ownership stake.

Then of course there was all that business with chairman Paul Flowers and the meth and rent boys. To hopefully help matters, the bank is cutting staff and selling parts of its business to try and survive. But can it?

Argos and Homebase to pay back PPI

March 14th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

argos logo 300x230 Argos and Homebase to pay back PPI

Home Retail Group, the owners of Argos and Homebase, have put aside £25 million to compensate customers who were mis-sold PPI on household purchases such as tellies, kitchens, you name it.

Shoppers who bought items on credit, would’ve been offered PPI cover through the company’s financial services.

The group has made similar provisions in the past, but this is the first time they’ve been made public. Home Retail is writing to affected customers, it said.

Home Retail’s outgoing chief executive Terry Duddy – the managing director of Argos, John Walden, is due to take the reins on Monday – said there was no certainty this was the end of the problem but added it was not in the same league as at the banks which together had paid out £22bn.

This has taken a bit of the shine off the company’s recent set of figures, which saw like-for-like sales at Argos rising 5.2% in the eight weeks to 1 March, while underlying sales at Homebase jumped 9.3% as both chains benefited consumer confidence picking up. The shares closed up 5% at 215.4p.

If you feel like you were mis-sold products by these companies, get in touch with Home Retail Group or call them on 0845 603 6677.

FCA to tackle insurance add-ons

March 11th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

mobile phone 300x200 FCA to tackle insurance add onsThe Financial Conduct Authority is going gunning for the insurance add-on market, worth £4bn, because they think it is a closed-shop, so we all need greater competition.

The FCA are going to tell insurers that add-ons for things like mobiles, holidays and home emergencies aren’t currently competitive, so therefore, not at all working in the best interest of consumers.

This means that the regulator is all set to announce new rules after they investigated competition rules around insurance companies. For us, as well as cheaper offers (you’d hope), this means these add-ons will now be explicitly explained to us and up-front, rather than tucked away behind vagueness.

These new rules may seem like small fry, but if you consider that some motor insurers generate around a third of their profits from add-ons, this will change the way they do business for fear of big fines. Of course, last year, Swinton was fined by the FCA to the tune of £7.4m fine, with a further £11m paid out to customers who had been mis-sold add-ons.

Unveiling the initial review, the FCA said: “People are being made to feel they have to have these products when they don’t really need them. Our concern is that the products are generally poor value, and, by and large, people don’t pay too much attention to the terms and conditions. We are saying there could be anti-competitive behaviour.”

Moneysupermarket to start trading in YOU

March 5th, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

zzzzfd1 300x180 Moneysupermarket to start trading in YOU

If you think you weren’t being exploited enough by advertisers, think again.

Moneysupermarket.com are hoping to develop a new revenue stream worth millions, by selling consumer data from approximately a third of the UK.

Advertisers will have access to a wealth of personal data, if these plans go ahead. Moneysupermarket revealed that their financial growth over the next 12 months would be driven by the exploitation of the company’s data and users.

“The data asset in Moneysupermarket is a real foundation for growth,” said Peter Plumb, chief executive. “I don’t think there’s any other business out there that has the breadth and depth of quote data that we have.”

The company, whose revenue passed £225 million in 2013, expect that they can rake in around £10 million from this, but stress that it wants to offer trend data rather than sell off individual customer data.

Now throw your internet into the sea.  We’re all for sale basically.