UK News

Insights from the UK and beyond

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.

This wasn’t the only hit taken by those on big salaries with restrictions on pension tax relief for those on over £150K and personal allowances for those earning over £100K. These changes will be of concern and mean that financial advisers will need to review the position of their affected clients. However, advisers will have breathed a sign of relief as the rumoured removal of all higher rate tax relief on pensions did not materialise.

There was better news though for savers. The rise in ISA limits is a welcome move and will be available immediately for those over 50, with everyone else having to wait until next year. Whilst I assume this is aimed at providing some immediate assistance to those who rely on their savings to generate income, with interest rates so low, the increase will not deliver much benefit. At least some pensioners will also receive additional tax credits though.

from The Great Debate UK:

Apocalypse Now: A return to high borrowing, high taxes and weak growth

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--Gerard Lyons is chief economist at Standard Chartered. Any opinions expressed are his own. --

Britain is clearly a Jekyll and Hyde economy. Or that at least is what the Chancellor would like us to believe. The bad news we are now seeing in the economy, public finances and across parts of the financial sector will not last. We are in the Mr Hyde phase. But, don't worry, we will soon be back to the normal Dr Jekyll soon.

from Global Investing:

A dish best served cold

Alain Grisay, the softly spoken CEO of F&C Investments, was in a wry humour at F&C’s annual press seminar for European journalists on Thursday.

Fresh from his bout with the UK’s Treasury Select Committee on the causes of the banking crisis, and enjoying a respectable set of fourth quarter figures, Grisay is in the rare position of having come through the storm with his house intact. “We have just gone through an unrequested market stress test that confirms our model works,” he said. “We were able to report resilient results for the year and took the market by surprise."

Has Brown lost the Spring in his step?

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Is the Labour Party going to regret not hosting a Spring Party Conference this year?

Yes, it is going to save them a lot of cash, and Prime Minister Gordon Brown has enough to worry about ahead of the G20 financial crisis summit in Britain in April.

from Global Investing:

Who gets the last laugh?

Public critisicm may be heating up against banking executives being rewarded with huge bonuses despite taking too much risk (especially ex Merill Lynch head John Thain who requested a bonus and spent $1,405 on a garbage pail during a $1.22 million renovation of his office).

However, there are smaller fish who are being rewarded after doing something similar -- taking too much risk and choosing the wrong bank in which to put their deposit. We're talking about those who deposited in the collapsed Icelandic bank Landsbanki.

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