UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

The reform that breaks the camel’s back?

Trade union leaders have been warning for some time now that it would be pensions reform — not pay freezes or job cuts — that could prove the trigger for widespread public sector strikes this year.

Now activists, eager to punish the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, have all the ammunition they need in the Hutton pension review.

Few can argue that pensions do not need to be reformed. People in Britain are living longer, making it more expensive for the government and taxpayer to fund pension payments.

And private sector workers have long grumbled that the public sector has it too good when it comes to retirement.

from The Great Debate UK:

Rubbish rates – what is a saver to do?

-Rachel Mason is PR manager at Fair Investment Company. The opinions expressed are her own.-

The base rate is going to be stuck at 0.5 percent for years to come, according to experts, so where does that leave savers?

Satisfied bank customer?

Unicorn

We’re wondering who is.

We see bailed-out banks returning to profit at the same time as headlines about others still refusing to lend. The personal finance pages are bristling with stories about mortgage famine . Big businesses may have been overcharged for banks’ services in raising new equity capital;  lending to smaller businesses is down, and the interest offered on savings is so derisory, would-be savers are being pushed into taking more risk to try to preserve their capital.

What are we missing? What is the magic ingredient that makes you as a customer happy with your bank? Or are we right in thinking “customer satisfaction” is a figment of executive imagination? Tell us your stories.

What do you think of the bank charges ruling?

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courtBanks have won a two-year court battle, dealing a major blow to hundreds of thousands of customers seeking to claim back billions of pounds of what they say are unfair overdraft charges.

The new Supreme Court found that the Office of Fair Trading cannot use customer protection rules to investigate whether the fees were levied unfairly.

Merry Christmas, Unhappy New Year

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santaIt may be the longest recession in history, but for many Britons it hasn’t felt too bad.

Unemployment has risen and the days of easy credit are gone. But for those people still in employment, there’s been a big fall in mortgage costs, and food and energy prices have come right back down.     

from The Great Debate UK:

Budget boost for savers

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--Fay Goddard is chief executive of the Personal Finance Society. The opinions expressed are her own.--

As predicted, Budget 2009 was heavy on figures and forecasts and hard on the highest earners. Unsurprisingly it is the latter that the press has picked up on. We all knew that there would be a new top rate of income tax – though some were taken by surprise at the rate of 50 percent and the speed at which it will be introduced.

from The Great Debate UK:

The devil will be in the Budget detail

fay-- Fay Goddard is chief executive of The Personal Finance Society. Any opinions expressed are her own. --

Though it’s a cliche to say that a budget is eagerly awaited you can be forgiven for saying so this time around. This year all eyes and ears will be focused on the Chancellor’s economic figures and forecasts. The big question is how will he balance the books – cut public spending or raise taxes? In the run up to an election cuts are ideal but needs must. What will it mean for personal finances?

from The Great Debate UK:

Deflation? It’s inflation you need to watch

-- David Kuo is a director at the financial Web site The Motley Fool. The views expressed are his own. --

david-kuo_motley-foolWhat are consumers supposed to make of the latest inflation numbers? Do we have inflation, deflation or a bit of stagflation?

How to make the most of discount car prices

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The motoring industry has been hit hard by the recession (as demonstrated by the cancellation of the 2010 British Motor Show) and consumers have struggled to secure the credit they need to buy a new car. But for those in a position to make a move, there has never been a better time to do a deal.

Car buying website Parker’s has named March 23 as the best car buying day of 2009. Price cuts, stock availability and dealers desperately chasing bonuses make it the optimum time to buy a car before prices on new and used vehicles start to go up again in the summer.

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