September’s money and debt news

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Top stories this month included the government announcing plans to increase general application court fees to £255. This is a jump of £100 from the current fee. Many people are questioning the fairness of this decision.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) wants to let millions of people know that they may be able to claim compensation on a range of card security products they may have purchased. Several of these products were deemed redundant because they offered things a customer is usually entitled to anyway, such as fraud protection.

We also voiced our opinion on the TUC debt report ‘Britain in the Red’, which explored the increase of families with problem debt. Read on for more details…

More cuts to tax credits on the horizon

It was announced this month that the chancellor George Osbourne was granted approval for further cuts to tax credits. This will see the earnings level above which they are withdrawn cut from £6,420 to £3,850 from next April. This move was approved by 325 votes to 290.

Osborne claims that his “national living wage”, which will be set at £7.20 an hour from next April, to rise to £9 by 2020, would give 2.7 million people a pay rise. It would also have a “ripple effect” for 6 million by delivering knock-on pay rises up the income scale.

The chancellor also said his plans would mean that five out of 10 families would still benefit from tax credits, down from one in six under the coalition.

You can read more about the upcoming cuts to tax credits on the Guardian website. If you’re concerned that the cuts will mean financial difficulty for your family, please get in touch with us. We can help you balance your budget and consider any realistic debt solutions that may be appropriate for you.

Ongoing pressure on bank staff to mis-sell?

A recent alarming Which? poll found that more than one in four staff working for the major banks sometimes feel they’re expected to sell, even when it’s not entirely appropriate.

Which? gained unique access to hundreds of bank staff for the research, in order to test whether banks’ public statements about scrapping sales targets have translated into real changes in staff behaviour and culture.

Compensation claims on card security products

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that millions of people may be entitled to compensation on various card security products, as Laura mentioned in an article written earlier this month. Claims can be made on one of the following Affinion products:

Card Protection; Sentinel; Sentinel Gold; Sentinel Protection; Sentinel Excel; Safe and Secure Plus.

The FCA had found previously that one of the features of the card security products was insurance to cover fraudulent use if a card was lost or stolen. This was deemed unnecessary because the card issuer was typically responsible for any transactions once cards are reported lost or stolen. Customers were actually only liable for unauthorised transactions in limited circumstances.

Brits owe £1bn in energy bills

A report from industry regulator Ofgem has revealed a big rise in the average household debt for gas and electricity. It also showed a sharp increase in people on prepayment meters.

By the end of 2014, nearly 1.4million electricity and almost 1.2million gas accounts were in debt. Many households owe money on both. Ofgem mentioned that an unnamed big supplier had seen “significant” rise in debts.

Read more about it on The Mirror website.

Worst water industry performers told to ‘close the gap’

Despite a drop in customer complaints for a seventh successive year, the gap between the water industry’s best and worst performers remains unacceptable, according to the Consumer Council for Water (CCWater).

The water watchdog’s Written Customer Complaints report has revealed that the majority of water companies are doing a good job in meeting aims to get more things ‘right first time’ for customers.This is reflected in a 13.4 per cent fall in written customer complaints to water companies in England and Wales during 2014/15 – down from more than 123,000 to fewer than 107,000.

Tony Smith, Chief Executive of the Consumer Council for Water, said: “We expect the water industry to continually try and improve its services to customers and many water companies deserve credit for rising to that challenge year after year. However the gulf between the best and worst performers remains unacceptable.”

‘Soaring toll’ of families in problem debt

The total number of UK families living with problem debt has risen to one in eight from one in ten in 2012, according to the Scotsman.

Compiled by trade unions, a study called Britain in the Red found that young people, the self-employed and low-income families have been the hardest hit by the rise in problem debt.

Trade Union Commission (TUC) general secretary Frances O’Grady said: “Rising household debt is not the sign of a healthy economy…The fact that more and more are getting into problem debt is particularly worrying given the prospect of interest rates going up.”

We also voiced our opinion on the Britain in the Red report in this article from The Guardian.

Singletons ‘dangerously naive’ over dating people in debt

A study by credit scoring site Noddle discovered that almost one in three people would consider breaking up with someone if they discovered they had a lot of debt. One in 20 said they would ‘definitely’ end the relationship. Meanwhile just one in five said they’d stick with someone who owed a lot of money.

Noddle voiced their concern about these findings, giving that the vast majority of people in the UK have some kind of debt. Older singletons may be carrying a mortgage or have been through an expensive divorce. Meanwhile, younger singletons who have been through university could amass debts of £50,000 by the time they graduate.

You can find out more by reading this article on AOL Money.

Teenagers better at money than twenty-somethings

According to this article from The Telegraph, teens are more “rational” when it comes to spending and saving than their older counterparts.

Those aged 10 to 16 were more savvy at saving money than young adults, revealed scientists from Duke University in North Carolina. Teenagers in a series of tests were found to be more analytical when weighing up the costs and benefits of each option available to them.

And finally…

A bank robber has been labelled ‘ridiculous’ after demanding that bank staff move stolen funds into his own bank account.

As this article from The Mirror reports, Paul Neaverson, 61, went into a high street branch of NatWest and approached the counter. He told the cashier, “put £500 in my account”, then produced a knife.The startled employee hit the bank’s alarm button and Neaverson turned and ran away. He pleaded guilty in court to two attempted robberies and possession of a blade, and was handed two years’ jail time.

Rachel Connor has been with the charity for over 8 years, starting in Helpline before joining the MoneyAware team in 2012. Rach enjoys travelling, video games, watching anime, reading and creative writing in her spare time (currently writing a Young Adult fantasy series). She had a previous life as head writer on Cartoon Network's Ed Edd n Eddy and as a copywriter for LivingSocial. She's also written comics and graphic novels for the animated series Regular Show.

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