May 2014

Urgent warning for debt management customers of failed companies

Three debt management companies ceased trading on 20 May, and the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is urgently warning customers who have debt management plans with them to stop making payments.

The companies are Debt Help & Advice Ltd and two affiliated companies, First Step Finance Ltd and Primary Business Solutions Ltd.  All are based in Stockport and have between 3,000 and 3,500 customers.

Debt Help & Advice Ltd used a number of different trading names, so the FCA is also warning that no money should be paid to these organisations either.

Payday lenders retreat as regulations tighten

A new analysis by the Financial Times on the current state of play with payday lenders has shown that up to half have pulled out of the short-term, high interest loan market in the past 18 months.

Researchers from the newspaper examined data from the Financial Conduct Authority and established that at least a third of the UK’s 210 payday lenders did not apply for permission to run their business under the new rules that came into force in April, when the FCA took over consumer credit regulation from the Office of Fair Trading.

Debt, anxiety and mental health

A new initiative by the Money Advice Service and NHS Choices has been designed to help people whose debt worries are beginning to impact on their mental health.

The aim is to help people get to grips with their debts and money problems by helping them set out a clear budget for themselves and work out exactly how much money is coming in and where it is going out.  They will also be able to access independent advice on debt problems.

Help at hand with running the family finances

The Money Advice Service has reported that more people than ever before are using its services – and, more importantly, taking action on the advice they receive.

This can only be good news - particularly since the figures also show that thousands more people are using their online tools to help manage their finances.

Interest-free mortgages - the debt that could ruin retirement

New research from AgeUK suggests that hundreds of thousands of people who have only been paying the interest on their mortgages will not be able to pay them off when they fall due – for many, because they have under-estimated the size of their pension savings.

AgeUK estimates that 40,000 interest-only mortgages held by people over 65 will become due every year from 2017 onwards.

How can you budget on a zero-hours contract?

New figures published by the Office of National Statistics (ONS) say that at least 1.4million workers in Great Britain are on contracts that don’t guarantee a minimum number of hours.  This number includes zero-hours contracts and some other forms which do not guarantee work.