goldengirls 241x300 Boost your pension by 258% with this one clever trick No, it’s not a dodgy Facebook ad – it’s TRUE. People in their 50s and 60s can stand to triple their pension pot by joining new company pension schemes and boosting their contributions.

Many older people don’t bother with new pension schemes, thinking that they’re too old to get the benefits. But new pension reforms mean that they can up their contributions by 258% in just a few years and take out all their money without paying any tax. Woohoo!

Here’s how it works. In the last 2 years companies started automatically putting their employees on a pension scheme. Once you’re enrolled, your contributions are deducted from your payslip, your employer contributes something and you get tax relief from the government.

But people who were over 50 tended not to bother with it. WRONG.

If you do it, under the new reforms you can take all your wonga out of these schemes when you retire, rather than bothering with boring, stifling annuities.

Here’s the maths. (Theoretically.)

If you earn £24,000 a year this year, make an increase in contributions in 2018, and get a small pay rise every year – and there is a rate of 5 per cent annual growth – a 55-year-old could make £14,134 by the age of 65.

So get on it, silver foxes! That cruise ship buffet is waiting…

Insolvent arrangements on the up

July 30th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

cash 300x225 Insolvent arrangements on the upMore and more people are becoming insolvent in England and Wales, ringing alarm bells about how households will cope when interest rates rise.

There were 27,029 personal insolvencies in the second quarter, a 5.1% rise on a year earlier.

This was mainly due to a 20% jump in the amount of people entering into individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) to a new record high of 14,571 according to the Insolvency Service.

While some people, who know about this sort of thing, reckon it was showing that creditors were more confident about recovering debts, others claim it was evidence that families were on the brink after years of low wage increases (if any) and jolly government cuts.

Bev Budsworth, from The Debt Advisor confirms this: “Aside from all the talk of economic recovery, it’s clear that people are really struggling,”

“The acid test will be when the Bank of England starts to raise its base rate and people’s mortgage payments follow suit.”

She went on to say that hundreds of thousands of people were barely making debt repayments, as interest rates are still at 0.5%. Financial markets are likely to price in a rate hike before 2014 is up, due to economic growth.

Yet Matthew Chadwick, who is a business restructuring partner at BDO, thinks that with the economy looking healthier, those with bad debts were now more under pressure to pay them back, and so further gloom is ahead.

“A continuing rise in the number of personal insolvencies in the next 12-18 months is therefore likely. Today’s rise in individual voluntary arrangements is typical at our position in the economic cycle and need not be cause for alarm.”

Maybe not alarm, but not the best of news for families literally trying to get their financial head above the water.

Lloyds TSB 300x180 Lloyds Bank fined for being despicable arseholesLloyds Bank have been thrown a £218 million fine after ripping off taxpayers who helped it out.

The taxpayers had thrown the bank a lifeline to the tune of £25 billion when it was close to collapse.

Most of the fine was for short-changing the Bank of England which, at the height of the financial crisis, was helping to keep the firm afloat, the ungrateful arseholes.

Both British and US regulators demanded the massive cash penalty for what even the bank admitted was “extremely serious” rate rigging.

Lloyds had been taking advantage of taxpayer-backed funding schemes, but traders rigged rates on which a fee for using the lifeline was based.

Unsurprisingly, several of Lloyds’ staff have been suspended, and there’s talk of bonuses being rescinded.

And is if that wasn’t enough, the Serious Fraud Office is going to widen its investigation into 12 individual bankers to include Lloyds.

Bank of England Governor Mark Carney was all seriousface, saying: “Such manipulation is highly reprehensible, clearly unlawful and may amount to criminal conduct.”

Andrew Tyrie MP, chairman of the Treasury Committee, said: “The banks were manipulating Libor (the rate banks charge each other for lending money ) and the Repo rate, deceiving the Bank of England in its taxpayer-backed support scheme. This settlement is part of the much needed clean-up. Implementing the Commission’s proposals will be another.”

There’s been more than £2 billion paid by banks to regulators over their deceit and manipulation, including £290 million by Barclays and £390 million by RBS.

What a bunch of shitheels.

PayPal toy with being a payday loan company?

July 24th, 2014 1 Comment By Mof Gimmers

paypal PayPal toy with being a payday loan company?PayPal – a company that people don’t exactly trust or like – have announced that they are going to start offering cash advances to small businesses in the UK. If you can’t get a loan, then PayPal want to ‘help’.

Of course, everyone’s problems with PayPal are well documented, but so too is the general irritation with loan companies and banks. It is basically getting a consumer to pick which illness they’d like.

The PayPal Working Capital fund will launch in the UK later in the year, but has been giving out loans in the USA since last September. And people are taking them up on the offer. Thus far, they’ve made £82m worth of advances to American firms.

They say they will provide “funding in minutes” after approvals and all that… but no credit check.  A one-off fee is required on the advance (like interest) and the fee you can receive is based entirely on sales history from the PayPal account, the amount of money being advanced and the schedule of repayment.

Businesses will pay back what they owe with a share of sales made using PayPal, so if you don’t sell anything on a given day, PayPal get nothing.

In America, there’s been glitches – a number of customers have noted that unauthorised payments have been taken out of their PayPal account as repayments, with PayPal clearing business accounts without much fanfare or explanation.

Would you trust PayPal to sort you out with a loan? Or are they no better or worse than any other loan company?

Student loans system in a right palaver

July 23rd, 2014 1 Comment By Ian Wade

student Student loans system in a right palaverMPs are calling for an urgent review of the student loans system, after it transpired that 45% of student loans will never be repaid.

It’s estimated that 45p in every pound shelled, the taxpayer won’t ever get back.

Under the current system, students can borrow to cover the full cost of £9,000-a-year tuition fees, and do not have to start paying back their loans until they have finished studying and are earning above £21,000 a year, and any outstanding debt is written off after 30 years.

However the sheer amount of students defaulting on their debt (ie: they haven’t got jobs or even if they have, they’re not paying enough), and the system looks in crisis as it will soon become financially unviable.

Originally, the government has projected that 28% of loans would have to be written off, but ministers have been continually shouting “HIGHER!”

The number has been revised because economists have downgraded their predictions of how much graduates are likely to earn in the future.

The National Audit Office predicts that student debt will increase from £46 billion in 2013 to about £330 billion by 2044.

Meanwhile, the Student Loans Company is supposed to have 98.5 per cent of borrowers in a repayment channel – which means they are either repaying on time or not earning enough to repay, but they’re allowed to include people in that total, even if they don’t have any information on them.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies has predicted that the average student will now leave university with about £44,000 of debt, in 2014 prices, compared to about £25,000 under the old system.

Although the lowest earners will pay back less, far fewer graduates will pay off their debt in full by the age of 40, and almost three quarters will never earn enough to pay back their loans in full.

Tuition fees are higher in England than in any other public university system on Earth, and when you throw in other expenses, the cost of studenting in England in general was the third highest in the world.

THE WORLD!

pensions 300x187 Osborne reveals new pension plans (not his, sadly)New rules for private pensions have been announced, allowing the retired greater freedom to fritter away their cash.

The rules were launched by Trouble-haired chancellor George Osborne, following his announcement earlier this year when he scrapped a rule forcing people to buy an annuity, and thus freaked out insurers the land over.

Osborne is keen to allow people to tap into the cash they set aside during their working life by reducing tax penalties imposed on those who withdraw their savings in a lump sum.

On Monday, the government confirmed its intention to go ahead with such plans, seen as the biggest reform of pensions in a generation, and added details to its proposals following a consultation with industry, employers and consumer groups.

Osborne said: ”It’s right to support hard working people that have taken the long-term decision to save for their future and I’m pleased that the responses we had to our proposals on making pensions more flexible have been overwhelmingly positive,”

“The government believes that the overall impact … is likely to be limited,” it said. “It is expected that there will still be a strong continuing demand for high-quality fixed-income assets, including government and corporate bonds.”

It all sounds quite good, but there are worries that the changes will allow pensioners to piss away all their savings while giddy in the first flush of freedom. Osborne, with his legendary charm, has rejected this idea.

It was all panic when Osborne first announced the shake-up earlier this year, it hit the share value of firms like Legal and General, Aviva and Standard Life who run annuities businesses. The shares have since recovered slightly, but remain below their pre-announcement levels.

The finance ministry said that after consultation, the industry estimated that only 10-20 percent of people in defined-benefit pension schemes would transfer out of them. Some pension schemes might need to hold more liquid assets as a result, however.

A summary of the consultation said the financial guidance provided to retirees would be provided independently and funded by a levy on regulated financial services firms.

All good news for anyone with a pension then. Oh.

payfriendz 300x300 Payfriendz allows you to, yes! Rob your enemies!Payfriendz allows you to do just that – pay your friends.

The new app allows you to transfer money via instant messaging, and goes beyond the current methods of other payment apps (Paym, PayPal, Barclays Pingit, etc) that don’t go beyond offering transactions.

It’s all very genius-sounding, and you wonder why it hasn’t been thought of before.

With an instant messaging network users can chat with their friends and talk about money matters without awkwardness or having to resort to threats.

Users can send and request money as quick as a chat message.

Money can also be spent comfortably via an integrated virtual MasterCard on online stores such as Amazon .

And as it works like a digital wallet Payfriendz makes it easy to split restaurant bills, collect money for a gift or share flat share expenses. Jolly!

That is if you actually have money to transfer, it doesn’t yet offer any tips on how to respond to “Pay your rent or all your shit is going into the skip out front sunshine”.

Let’s enjoy one of their promotional ads with the extremely irritating ‘Kimmy’!

“Ice cream” indeed. She’s clearly off to her dealer.

Deathwatch: Wonga puppets

July 15th, 2014 No Comments By Ian Wade

Wonga+TV+advert 300x199 Deathwatch: Wonga puppetsWonga, the unethical and dodgy payday lending company, is having an image overhaul.

They’re planning to ditch the “cuddly” puppets too. Which plays havoc somewhat with the definition of cuddly, but there you go. They’re off.

Incoming Wonga chairman Andy Haste, former chairman of insurance giant RSA, has said he didn’t want Wonga to be associated with ‘anything which inadvertently attracts children’.

Which is a relief, because the only children who’d be attracted to those puppets are the sort that need counselling.

Mr Haste added that he wants Wonga to become more ‘customer focused’ and change its business operations, even if that means it makes less money in the near term.

It’s all part of the government’s attempt to put a cap on lending and stop these asshats from rinsing the vulnerable for all they’re worth.  As of July 1, lenders must put ‘risk warnings’ on television adverts. They are also banned from rolling over loans more than twice and must check potential customers can afford to take out debt before giving them loans.

The Wonga news comes weeks after Wonga said it had agreed with regulators that it would pay £2.6 million in compensation after chasing struggling customers with fake legal letters to pressurise them into paying up. Classy.

Mr Haste said the company, must review rates, fees and charges and no longer be seen as targeting ‘the young and the vulnerable’. We can assume they’ll have to stop sponsoring Newcastle United then?

He said: “Wonga is a company that needs to go through significant change if it is to have a sustainable future. Some serious mistakes have been made. The company admitted those mistakes and it has apologised for those mistakes. Wonga has understandably faced a lot of criticism and I know that we need to repair our reputation and regain our right to be an accepted part of the financial services sector.”

Which is all waffle as you can imagine, but ultimately the godawful pensioner puppets are no more. Now if we can convince Dolmio and Compare The Market that the puppet thing isn’t working, we can have a lovely big bonfire.

bank sign 1 in 4 want digital banking, says inconclusive survey A survey says that one in four of us would use a purely digital bank. No ‘banking ambassadors’, no counters, no humans. Apparently, we don’t care. A large percentage of us wants everyone to leave us alone and shuffle numbers about on a screen and then forget about it.

Unsurprisingly, the survey, by Accenture, found that folks between the ages of 25 and 34 are the ones most in favour of digital only banking, and are happy to only access their bank via the internet. And 80% of the 3600 current account holders surveyed are using internet banking regularly – however, the figure using mobile banking is just 27%.

BUT, there’s a bit of paradoxical confusion going on, too. It also found that there was a rise in customers using branches – up to 52% from 45% in 2012. And the biggest rise of all was between 18-25 year olds – the people you might assume would be all over digital banking like a rash.

‘This year’s survey underscores the growing complexity in how consumers want to interact with banks in the digital age,’ said Peter Kirk, from Accenture’s financial services group.

So what do we want? People or machines? Or both? Or do we just want that thing that seems so elusive – a bank that doesn’t annoy the crap out of us?

barclays atms iPad wielding Barclays ‘Community Bankers’ to replace cashiers This is the modern world, as Paul Weller once snarled, so instead of having people who sit behind desks and actually know stuff, Barclays is re-assigning 6,500 cashiers to act as roaming banking concierges, who will try and encourage you to use a machine.

Yes, a person’s job will actually be to encourage you not to talk to them, thus eventually rendering their job obsolete. But it’s okay – they will have an iPAD!

They’ll be called Community Bankers, and it’s all part of Barclays’ obsession with becoming ‘counterless.’ Most people don’t mind counters – at least they’re something to lean on when you’re wearily putting your head in your hands – but Barclays appear to be dreaming of an automated future free from cumbersome, awkward humans who want to be paid wages.

Barclays said the move ‘reflects the radical way banking is changing with customers increasingly choosing to conduct basic transactions through a digital platform and instead using branches for more in-depth conversations with staff’

Of course, this doesn’t take into account the idea that some transactions DO involve an in-depth conversation with staff. Instead, though, we will all be airily waved through the banking hall by Bank Waiters.

But what about the elderly, who would rather overdose on Senokot than deal with a machine? Well, you might have also heard of their ‘Digital Eagles’ project, which is pathetic in a way that only financial services blue sky thinking can be. They’ll also be encouraging old people to use technology so their jobs can become obsolete, too.

If they keep going like this, by this time next year Barclays won’t have the expense of paying any staff at all – which is presumably what they’re aiming for…

london houses Mortgage deals will ruin homeowners if prices fall Homeowners with small deposits and big EFFING mortgages are the most vulnerable to a slump in the property market.

According to a survey by ESurv, in June there were was ‘glut’ of teeny tiny 15% mortgage deals (hello, Help to Buy!) which has pushed the number of at-risk homeowners to levels not seen since the financial crisis.

The number of households with a high Loan to Value rate is now 10,898, which now accounts for 1 in 5 new mortgages, compared to 1 in 9 a year ago.

There’s also a regional divide – the majority of high LTV mortgages are in the North, where more than a quarter of people have them. Meanwhile, in That London, only 7% of mortgages have a high LTV. That’s probably because in the North, you’ll be lucky to earn enough to feed the whippet, fill the tin bath and have enough left over for a latte – let alone save up an enormous deposit for a house.

All this means that if house prices suffer any kind of slump in the future, that these householders will be plunged into a graveyard of negative equity, because their mortgage will cost more than the house is worth.

Seem to remember that happening back in 2008…

money jar 300x300 Couples with 2 kids have to earn £40,600 a year to live Ever wondered why you’re walking around in a knackered daze with moths flying out of your pocket, wondering how to make ends meet AND keep up with the endless demands of children, who want things like water, food and new shoes?

Well that’s because the amount of money required for an acceptable standard of family living has gone up by 46% since 2008, according to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation. And we’re not talking about trips to Legoland or booze and hookers for Dad. We’re talking BASIC NEEDS.

Despite the fact that the amount of money needed for staying alive has risen by almost half, wages have gone up by a piffling, paltry, perfunctory 9%.

The JRF have said that even if wages start to rise, the gulf between income and cost of living is so huge that families still couldn’t hope to catch up.

‘People have talked a lot about wages falling behind the cost of living but this really lays bare the challenge to make up lost ground.’ Said Katie Schmuecker from the JRF. ‘This isn’t just falling short, it’s falling behind.’

So that’s why you feel like you’re running to stand still ALL THE TIME. No wonder our heartless moneybags overlords call us ‘hardworking families’, eh?

*sells kids*

Payday lenders told to behave themselves

June 30th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

wonga ladies 300x282 Payday lenders told to behave themselves The clampdown on payday lenders starts tomorrow, which means they won’t be able roll over loans more than twice – plus there’ll be tighter restrictions to your bank account, so Wonga won’t be able to drain all your wonga.

July 1st will also be the day they’ll have to start being more transparent in their advertising. They’ll have to slap warnings all over the big rubbery face of Earl and his old lady friends, telling people about the risks of late repayment, with a link to the Money Advisory Service in case people need help.

The exact wording? This:

‘Warning: Late repayment can cause you serious money problems. For help, go to moneyadviceservice.org.uk.

Things are looking a bit shaky for the payday loans industry as a whole. A massive investigation is currently being conducted by the Competition and Markets Authority, following the billions of complaints and debt from its customers and critics. The FCA is also looking into capping the overall cost of a payday loan.

So could these new regulations mean that payday loans will soon be a thing of the past? Or are we all so skint and desperate that we’ll do anything to borrow a quick buck?

Barclays accused of ‘dark pool’ fraud

June 26th, 2014 No Comments By Lucy Sweet

barclays bank limited 300x300 Barclays accused of ‘dark pool’ fraud Everybody hates Barclays. They’re not at all nice and they charge you 75p a day on an authorised overdraft.

And this time the Attorney General of New York State has weighed in on the bank. Eric Schneiderman and the state of NY have filed a lawsuit against them for giving an unfair advantage to high frequency, ‘predatory’ trading clients in the US – despite telling everyone else that they were trying to protect other customers against such traders.

‘Dark pool’ trading allows investors to trade without influencing the market.

Barclay’s dark pool system was called LX Liquidity Cross, and was supposedly set up to get customers the best possible prices for their shares. Instead, they – whaddya know? – maximised their own profits. Nearly all trading was done through LX, rather than through other exchanges that would have offered a better price.

‘Barclays grew its dark pool by telling investors they were diving into safe waters,’ Schneiderman said. ‘Barclays’ dark pool was full of predators – there at Barclays’ invitation.’

*cue theme from Jaws*

Cheques are going digital!

June 19th, 2014 2 Comments By Lucy Sweet

cheque flat 1 Cheques are going digital! Don’t you just love a cheque? The best cheques are from grans, with ‘£5.00’ in very spidery writing, or those massive ones that people carry around on Postcode Lottery adverts.

Most people don’t pay by cheque any more, but even so, they often show up, as if BACS was never invented. And it’s a drag to go into branches to cash them.

Soon, though, you’ll be able to take a picture of your cheque on your smartphone and pay it in either via email or your mobile banking app. It’s called ‘cheque imaging’ and next week the government is expected to give the go-ahead for legislation allowing banks and building societies to use it.

It’s great news for us, because electronic cheques will speed up the interminable clearing process involved with all those bits of paper. At the moment you have to wait up to a week for a cheque to clear because it has to go from your bank to a clearing centre. But cheque imaging bypasses all that antiquated messing around, and it will only take 2 working days for your money to appear in your account.

However, it’s bad news for branches. Take away the need to cash a cheque, and you could see nothing but tumbleweed and unemployment. But, the hardy paper cheque might not be phased out entirely. Even if the legislation goes ahead, the Cheque and Credit Clearing Company says: ‘Customers wouldn’t have to do anything different if they don’t want to. They would still be able to pay cheques into their accounts at branches.’

But if it only takes 2 working days to clear a photo of your cheque, what’s the betting that we’ll all be doing it via email instead?