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.
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.
Nine years after the near collapse of Equitable Life, pensioners and savers are still unsure if they see any compensation despite the long-awaited report by the parliamentary ombudsman, described by commentators as a “damning indictment of UK financial regulation.”
Borrowers might be under the cosh, but savers have never had it so good. Historically, when the Bank of England (BoE) base rate changes, mortgage and savings rates follow suit. But amidst the current credit crunch, those with spare cash and prepared to move their money around can take advantage of banks’ and building societies’ eagerness to attract retail funds.
The dust has settled on Alistair Darling’s first Budget and consumers have been given little reason for celebration. The Chancellor, though announcing various measures designed to increase housing affordability, has done nothing to help the masses.