As the new tax year begins, we’ve seen the introduction of large-scale pension changes that have a wide-ranging impact for many people, including our clients.
April has also seen the introduction of a new type of debt solution in Scotland to help people with lower incomes who are struggling with their debts. In other news, caps on hefty bills caused by unauthorised calls are set to be limited by mobile phone companies and the UK’s largest payday loan company Wonga has announced a significant profit loss and is considering a change of name.
And finally, find out how one restaurant owner’s act of kindness went viral on social media!
Pensions and debt
Last month we mentioned the new Government changes to the way that people access their pensions on retirement. In the past most people could take up to 25% of their pension as a lump-sum when they reached retirement, but the new rule changes mean many people will be given access to their entire pension pot when they reach the age of 55.
Having access to an entire pension pot up gives many people the option to use it to repay their debts. While this might be beneficial for some people, it’s important to get the right advice. You can read more on our pensions, debt and savings page.
New bankruptcy solution introduced into Scotland
A new type of debt solution, called minimal asset process (MAP) bankruptcy, was introduced to Scotland on April 1, to replace a similar solution called low asset (LILA) bankruptcy.
It’s a cheaper solution to sequestration (Scottish bankruptcy) available to people who have low incomes and a relatively low amount of debt.
To find out more information visit our MAP bankruptcy page.
Wonga in the red, weighing up new name
Last October the Financial Conduct Authority, which regulates the financial services industry, forced the company to write off £220m of loans to 375,000 customers, who it admitted should never have been given loans in the first place.
Our Chief Executive, Mike O’ Connor has welcomed the news on the tougher rules:
“Better regulation of the payday loan industry is positive news, and we are hopeful that the era in which firms were allowed to put profit before good outcomes for their clients is coming to an end.”
Caps on stolen mobile phone charges
Mobile phone users are to be protected from large bills if their phones are stolen in the UK or abroad as part of an agreement between EE, O2, Three, Virgin Media and Vodafone. The new ‘liability cap’ of £100 will activate when a phone is reported as lost or stolen and will help to protect around 27 million mobile customers, according to Moneysavingexpert.com. The cap should help to prevent the potential for huge bills and debts often associated with mobile phone theft.
Fines for nuisance calls and texts
Following the news that the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) had raided a call centre thought to be making millions of nuisance calls, the ICO now has extra powers to fine companies up to £500,000 for making unsolicited calls or texts.
The ICO, Christopher Graham, said “The change will help us make more fines stick, and more fines should prove a real deterrent to the people making these calls”.
We welcome the extra powers the ICO have to fine companies breaking the rules. Our Got Their Number campaign found that 39.6m Brits want to see more protection from telemarketers to help put a stop to the harm caused by nuisance calls.
Car owners caught out by tax disc loophole
The Guardian has reported that recent changes to car tax legislation and the scrapping of the tax disc has caused lots of confusion among drivers, some of whom have been hit with heavy fines from the DVLA. While most people know that tax discs are no longer needed, many have fallen foul to the change in vehicle excise duty, which is now automatically cancelled if a car changes ownership.
In the past motorists could sell their vehicles with valid tax until a particular date, but the new rules mean that when a car is sold the new owner has to tax it themselves immediately. This has caused a surge in the amount of vehicles being clamped, from 5,000 to 8,000 a month, along with fines for as much as £800.
You can read more about the new car tax rules over on the DVLA website.
The lighter side of the news
A restaurant owner’s gesture of goodwill has trended worldwide on social media after they posted a heartfelt note to someone they suspected had been taking food from their bins. Ashley Jiron noticed someone had been through her bins and decided to post the note which said: “You’re a human being worth more than a meal from a dumpster” and offered the person to come forward for a free meal, no questions asked.
The letter went viral and Ashley has now used the attention to start a “crowdfeeding” campaign called #sharethenuts where people can buy an item on her restaurant’s menu and donate it to someone seeking a free meal.
Keep up the good work Ashley!