December 2012

Putting customers first?

The tweet about Which?’s campaign Big Change arrived just as I was discussing basic bank accounts with a colleague.

The tweet read:  “Sales incentive culture is still damaging the banking industry, says Which?. Join the #BigChange today”.

The Campaign’s top line is:  ‘Bankers should put customers first, not sales.’

Energy price rises to push 300,000 into “fuel poverty” this winter

Energy price rises averaging seven per cent over the past year are set to push thousands more households into fuel poverty.  The prediction comes from the Fuel Poverty Advisory Group, which is funded by the Department of Energy.

Fuel poverty is defined as spending more than 10% of household income on heating costs. The average direct debit bill for energy is now almost £1,250.

Google to impose strict new rules on short-term lenders

The search engine giant Google is imposing new rules on short-term lenders which will force them to show "prominently" on their websites their interest rates and charges, debt collection methods, whether policies will be renewed automatically,  how credit scores will be affected and what will happen if payments are missed. 

Companies which do not follow the new rules will be banned from appearing on Google Adwords – the ads which appear down the side of search results and on many websites.

Poor financial education "costs UK £3.4billion a year"

New research into the cost of poor standards of financial education in schools estimates that the UK could save £3.4 billion a year if all children were taught how to manage money.

The research looked at the cost to the country of the mis-selling of financial products, poor retirement planning, personal debt and unemployment.  The report has been launched twelve months after a high-profile campaign by Martin Lewis of resulted in a parliamentary debate on the subject.

Tax credit overpayments to be outsourced to debt collection agencies

As the details of the Autumn Statement continue to emerge, concerns are being expressed about a pilot scheme that will see the collection of tax credit overpayments become the responsibility of debt collection companies.

The contract will be outsourced on a payment by results basis, and campaigners have called for the Government to ensure high standards are maintained by debt collectors working in this field. 

Making the Autumn Statement make sense in your family budget

Here at Debt Advice Foundation we spend much of our time talking to people who are struggling with unmanageable debt.  Sometimes they are plunged into debt by catastrophic circumstances – redundancy, illness, divorce  - and sometimes it is the relentless pressure of trying to make ends meet.

What all these cases have in common is that people’s financial circumstances are never simple.  And they certainly do not divide neatly into “hard-working people with jobs” and “workshy people on benefits”.

Online shopping records expected to be smashed on Mega Monday

Apparently we are all going to log on today (Monday 3 December) and do our Christmas shopping.  £465million of it, according to the people who crunch retail spending numbers.  And most of us will be spending in one frantic hour, between 8 and 9pm.

Shopping via mobile is predicted to be ten times higher than last year, and despite flat high street spending during November, credit card companies are expecting Monday 3 December to be the busiest online shopping day ever.