30 Apr 2019 Power of Attorneys allow people to appoint someone to make decisions on their behalf, should a time come when they lack the mental capacity to do so themselves. If the person has already lost mental capacity then the Court of Protection can appoint a deputy to make decisions on that person’s behalf.

Among adults who know of Power of Attorney, around three quarters (76%) are aware of a financial Power of Attorney. Yet only around half (48%) are aware of a welfare Power of Attorney, which covers things like end of life health care decisions. 

There is a clear gender divide amongst those who understand Power of Attorney with  a quarter (23%) of women saying they have discussed setting one up compared to just one in six men (17%). Men (18%) who haven’t discussed setting one up were also more likely than women (8%) to say that they did not think they would ever need to set one up.

The study also found there was a lack of discussion on the subject, with almost half (48%) of adults not thinking they are at an age when they need to think about it, despite three in 10 (34%) being over 55. One in five (19%) said the reason for not discussing it was because they did not want to think about being unable to manage their own affairs.

Mona Patel, consumer spokesperson for Royal London, said:

“It may be uncomfortable to think about not having the mental capacity to make decisions, but it is important to plan in case this happens. While official figures show nearly 800,000 registrations were submitted last year in England and Wales, it’s concerning that only a third of people who have heard of a Power of Attorney fully understood how it works.  Appointing a family member or trusted friend to make financial or welfare decisions on your behalf stops the responsibility falling to the state and loved ones then having to apply to the Court of Protection, which can be emotionally difficult, time consuming and expensive.” 

Royal London’s Power of Attorney guide explains how to set one up and goes through the key things people need to think about before deciding to act as an attorney.

30 Apr 2019 Anders Nilsson, spokesperson for weflip, said: “This decision by Ofgem which comes into force tomorrow, will not only provide financial compensation if something goes wrong, but will help to restore confidence in the switching process and the energy market as a whole, after a rocky few months of supplier failures and erroneous switches.

 “The energy price cap has left many households with little alternative but to take matters into their own hands to save money, and while most switches go smoothly, it’s good to see that customers have been provided extra protection, and suppliers have an incentive to ensure more switches happen without a hitch. .

 “Ofgem’s  longer-term plan to introduce further compensation for delayed switches and late final bills, along with the tightening of the rules on new suppliers entering the market, is all reassuring.

“But it goes without saying that the long-term solution to energy price rise frustration is to subscribe to an auto-switching service like weflip that can track prices and switch you automatically to a better deal, whenever it is possible to save money.”

For more information on how to save on your energy bills for life, visit: https://www.weflip.com/.

24 Apr 2019 Research from financial wellbeing experts Neyber found that one in five young people1 in Britain admit that their finances are out of control.

It also uncovered that an alarming 70% of people under-34 need to regularly borrow, either to pay their monthly bills or deal with day-to-day living expenses, and that payday lenders are more commonly used by the young (8% of 18-24 year olds had used one, compared with no one over the age of 65).

What’s more, according to the Money Advice Service, 18% of young adults have borrowed money from a friend or a family member to pay for necessities like bills and 61% agreed that their life would improve if they could manage their money better.

Heidi Allan, head of employee wellbeing at Neyber, says: “Whether it’s job uncertainty and fluctuating wages as a result of zero hours contracts, university loans or increasing property rental costs, many young people are seeking out unnecessarily expensive loans and other forms of credit just to support day-to-day living. One of the many impacts is that they aren’t able to create savings – for a buffer when they need extra financial support or a deposit on their own home. Good financial wellbeing is far too remote for far too many young people today.

“Employers can help. Being paid for the first time is one of life’s many milestones and the beginning of a lifelong relationship with earning, saving and spending money. Getting that relationship right from the start is the basis for good financial wellbeing, and employers have a unique opportunity to help young employees when they first join the workforce.

17 Apr 2019 Insurance customers are increasingly banking on credit to pay premiums with nearly one in three planning to use more credit this year, new research from Premium Credit, the UK’s leading premium finance company shows.

Its nationwide study found 31% of customers will borrow more in 2019 to fund insurance, with rising premiums the biggest reason for increased use of credit. Just 8% believe they will cut back on credit this year.

Around 41% of insurance customers say they are relying on credit more in response to price rises on motor, home, pet, travel and life insurance premiums while one in five (21%) say they need to borrow as their disposable income is being squeezed.

However, 22% say they are using borrowing to spread the cost because the low cost of borrowing makes paying for insurance more affordable.

The bills they face are substantial – more than two out of five (43%) will put more than £500 of insurance premiums on credit with 13% borrowing more than £1,000, the research found.

The most popular form of credit to spread the cost of insurance is credit cards which are being used by 60%. However, 39% plan to use premium finance and pay monthly for insurance rather than in one lump sum.

Worryingly 13% are borrowing from family and 12% are borrowing from friends, while 4% are using high-cost credit including payday loans to ensure they can afford cover.

Premium Credit is warning that using high cost methods of credit is potentially risky and urges customers to consider premium finance; a purpose-built product, which for a small charge enables people to spread the cost of your cover monthly instead of paying for it all in one go.

Adam Morghem, Sfrom Premium Credit said: “The rising cost of insurance is driving increased use of credit to enable people to ensure they can afford the cover they need.
“With nearly one in three customers planning to increase the amount of credit they use to pay for their insurance, we encourage borrowers to ask about the premium finance option, a solution designed for this exact need and means customers are not underinsured and taking unnecessary risks.

“However, it is worrying that customers may be choosing to underinsure or borrow from family or friends- and in some cases rely on high-cost credit including payday loans.”
Its study found drivers are most likely to spread the cost of insurance cover with 84% of motorists using credit as the table below shows.

TYPE OF INSURANCE
NUMBERS BUYING ON CREDIT
Motor
84%
Home
76%
Pet
62%
Travel
57%
Life
45%

Premium Credit is the market leader in the UK and Ireland and the only premium finance provider accredited by BIBA. For more information, please visit: www.premiumcredit.com

15 Apr 2018 Wedding guests shell out over £300 for each wedding they attend, according to new research from home insurer Policy Expert which questioned over 6,000 people in the UK. Nearly half (49%) of people attended a wedding in 2018, meaning that Brits spent more than £8.2 billion1 watching their friends, family and loved ones say ‘I do’.

The summer months prove to be a popular time of year to tie the knot and guests will be totting up a total spend of £327 on gifts, food and drinks, outfits, accommodation and travel. For those lucky enough to enjoy the pre-wedding parties and attend the hen or stag do, the total cost of the wedding increases to £576.

When it comes to picking the perfect gift for the happy couple, the research found 40% of people give cash, 27% stick to the pre-approved gift list and 19% opt to gift money towards the honeymoon. One in five (19%) give gift vouchers and 5% of wedding guests go for a personal touch with a handmade or quirky gift. Wedding goers spend an average of £59 purchasing gifts to celebrate the day but those in the wedding party would be willing to spend £150 to treat the lovebirds.

Adam Powell, COO at Policy Expert comments: “If you or a family member is set to walk down the aisle this summer it’s important to check that gifts received from generous guests, as well as wedding rings and other valuables, are covered in your home insurance policy. While it may not be at the top of the checklist it’s an important consideration. The average gift costs £60, so even a modest wedding could bestow you with hundreds if not thousands of pound worth of presents. Policy Expert offers an additional 10% contents cover the month either side of your wedding as standard, meaning you can cross the threshold on your return from honeymoon without any nasty surprises.”

12 Apr 2019 New research from Direct Line Travel Insurance reveals British Passport holders have collectively lost 567 million days of valid travel since new rules came into effect that stop any remaining time on an old passport being carried over at renewal.  As a result of passport holders renewing before their passports ran out, often because countries demand six months validity to let someone into a country, the equivalent of 155,000 10-year passports have been wasted.

On average, passport holders have 159 days left on their travel document when they renew, or just over five months.  Analysing the money spent buying ‘valid travel time,’ reveals that collectively passport holders have wasted £13.3 million when renewing their documents in just six months. Prior to September 2018, any remaining months (up to nine) on an old passport would be automatically added to a new passport. Now, however, time left on an old passport will not be added to a new one.

Of those who haven’t renewed their passports in the last two years, 1.5 million (five per cent) have less than six months remaining. These people may be in for a nasty surprise if travelling to the Schengen area of Europe in the event of a no deal Brexit, as current travel advice suggests that Schengen countries will require a minimum of six months left on British passports from the date of arrival. This includes countries like France, Italy, Spain and Germany.

Tom Bishop, Head of Travel Insurance at Direct Line commented: “The changes to the time carried over onto new passports have taken many people by surprise.  In many cases a 10-year passport is only useful for nine and a half years as so many countries require six months validity to let someone in.  It is a difficult balancing act, passport holders won’t want to waste remaining time on an old passport by getting a new one too early, but in many cases, holidaymakers will need to ensure they have at least six months validity before travelling.”

27.4 million people (53 per cent of UK adults), are planning a trip to a country that would require more than six months remaining on a passport in the coming year, with over a third (36 per cent) planning to visit a Schengen EU country, where they would need six months passport validity in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Why six months passport validity matters

In the 12 months leading to October 2018 46.3 million trips4 abroad were made by Brits on holiday, of which 77 per cent (35.7 million) were to the Schengen area. Over the last five years, the number of trips made by Britons to the Schengen area on holiday has increased by 7.3 million, or 26 per cent, while there has been a 290,000 increase (six per cent) in trips made to other countries requiring a minimum of six months on a UK passport to enter.

Between October 2017 and October 2018, 5.1 million holidays were made by Brits to non-European countries requiring a minimum of six months on a UK passport to enter, with the USA (2.2 million), Turkey (one million), UAE (560,000), Thailand (305,000) and India (213,000) being the most popular destinations.

Under the new rules in event of a no deal Brexit, nine of the top 10 countries visited by Brits last year will require a minimum of six months validity on a passport.  The Republic of Ireland will be the only destination that does not require six months on British passports to allow entry.Table one: Passport validity for top 10 visited countries by British tourists

Rank Country Number of visits from UK tourists from October 2017-2018 Require six months validity on UK passports
1 Spain 13,824,626 Yes
2 France 5,899,321 Yes
3 Italy 3,044,293 Yes
4 Portugal 2,270,122 Yes
5 USA 2,196,351 Yes
6 Greece 2,194,233 Yes
7 Netherlands 1,604,202 Yes
8 Germany 1,185,145 Yes
9 Irish Republic 1,160,424 No
10 Turkey 1,025,378 Yes

Source: Direct Line Travel Insurance, 2019

Bishop continued: “With the Brexit process and timeline continually changing, the best advice for anyone going on holiday this year is to make sure they have at least six months remaining on their passport. Even just popping over to France on the Eurostar could require six months validity in the event of a no deal Brexit so it’s better to be safe than sorry. It is always sensible to make sure a passport has enough time on it before even booking a holiday, just in case.

“With all the changes happening due to Brexit, it has never been more important to make sure you have a comprehensive travel insurance policy that covers you for any health-related concerns, as EHIC card will not be valid under a no-deal Brexit.”

For a full list of passport rules in relation to Brexit, visit the Government website https://www.gov.uk/guidance/passport-rules-for-travel-to-europe-after-brexit

Other travel changes in the event of a no deal Brexit include:

  • At border control you may need to show a return or onward ticket, show you have enough money for your stay and/or use separate lanes from EU, EEA and Swiss citizens when queuing
  • Your European Health Insurance Card which entitles you to state provided healthcare may not be valid so comprehensive travel insurance becomes even more important
  • If you are taking your vehicle abroad, you will need a green card from your car insurance company, a GB sticker for your car and an International Driving Permit (IDP)
  • If travelling with a pet, contact your vet at least four months beforehand as current EU pet passports will not be valid. A blood test will need to be carried out with results verified by an EU approved laboratory and owners must wait three months from the date of a successful blood sample taken before travelling 

10 Apr 2019

Removing the worry of extra charges makes it that little bit easier for holidaymakers to relax. Here are our eight top tips for using a credit card abroad and making your holiday cash go further. 

1. Select a travel-friendly card

Choose a credit card or prepaid currency card with perks for overseas spending. Start your search by looking at the TotallyMoney travel cards section. A trait of all these cards is that they have lower fees and charges when used abroad, so are ideal for a jetsetter lifestyle. Once you’ve got a travel card, keep it with your passport so it always gets packed and you’re not tempted to use another.

2. Pay in the local currency

Always choose to pay in the local currency rather than pounds sterling. This usually crops up when paying for goods or services using a card machine. Paying in the local currency is usually cheaper, because paying in GBP means the overseas retailer or ATM has to use the local exchange rate to convert the transaction, which tends to work out more expensive than Visa or MasterCard exchange rates. You may hear this referred to as ‘Dynamic Currency Conversion’.

3. Avoid buying or selling currency at the airport

If you need to exchange money, avoid doing it in the airport. Although it’s convenient, it’s also costly. Buying and selling currency at the airport could lose you an extra £10 for every £100 you exchange. Only use airport currency exchanges in absolute emergencies. 

4. Order online to get the best rates

If possible, order you currency ahead of time through an online currency exchange service. These are usually cheaper in terms of exchange fees and it’ll be posted to you. (So that’s one less thing to worry about.) The minimum sum you need to order to avoid additional charges is typically £500-£750.

Defaulting to your bank to buy currency is tempting, but they don’t always have the best deals. Shop around if you can. In fact, supermarkets are often very competitive rates for holiday travel cash — Tesco, Sainsbury’s and Asda, in particular — and will post your currency for free if you order £500 or more. (Below this Tesco and Asda will charge you £3.95 and Sainsbury’s £5.00.)

5. Save on your travel insurance. Arrange in advance.

In the pecking order of ‘what you get excited about before going on holiday’, organising travel insurance is way down the list. Unfortunately, leaving it to the last minute is costly.

To save money and avoid potential disaster, organise your travel insurance as soon as possible after booking your holiday. This way, if you have to cancel your trip for some unforeseen reason, you’re already covered.

6. Don’t be fooled by ‘commission free’ currency deals

Currency advertisements offering ‘commission free’ or ‘fee free’ look tempting. But when it comes to currency conversion, these deals might not be all that great. Why? Even though there are no fees, the exchange rate is poor.

And it’s the exchange rate that’s the critical element when buying foreign currency. That 0.1 or 0.2 on the rate can make a big difference to the amount of foreign currency you get for your money.

Most competitive mainstream currency providers don’t charge a commission fee anyway. Instead, they rely on giving customers an excellent exchange rate to attract business.

7. Book your car hire early to save money

Paying for your overseas car hire on your credit card? Like with insurance and ordering currency online, the earlier you book the cheaper it’s likely to be. What can be £18 per day if booked months ahead could cost £30 per day just before you go. And even more once you arrive at your holiday destination.

8. Be prepared in case you lose your payment cards or Passport

Sun. Beach. Lunchtime cocktails…slipping into holiday-mode is wonderful. But, it can cause us to lose track of our belongings — either because we misplace them or worse, they’re stolen.

Before you travel, make a note of all the relevant contact details and overseas phone numbers for your credit card’s lost and stolen services.

In regards to your passport, it’s good to keep a photocopy that you can keep with your travel documents. Or, if you’re super modern, take a picture and store securely on your phone.


09 Apr 2019 Research
 carried out by financial advice website Moneycomms.co.uk and commented on by credit experts TotallyMoney reveals that certain credit cards used abroad can cost consumers as much as £50-£60 in charges.

This Easter, Britons travelling overseas and hoping to use their credit card to cover holiday spending, are urged to carefully consider which card they pack.

The variation between cards for cash purchases and ATM and transaction fees is staggering. For example, Virgin Money and Creation charge a 5% ATM fee whereas Santander, Halifax and Barclaycard have credit cards that waive it.

Commenting on the findings, Alastair Douglas, CEO of credit experts TotallyMoney said: “With the Easter break fast approaching, many will be looking forward to a bit of time away. But packing the wrong credit card could easily cost a lot more than you anticipate.”

Douglas warns: “Some credit cards are ultra-expensive when used outside the UK, causing havoc with your holiday spending budget, because we’re not just talking about a few pounds. In some cases it can set you back an extra £50 or more.”

To avoid budget-impacting credit card charges, Alastair recommends consumers, “Sign up for a ‘overseas’ credit card, prepaid currency card or Debit Card (if you’re prepared to switch bank account). Keep this dedicated overseas card in a drawer with your passport as your foreign spending card of choice.”

04 Apr 2019 Rising uncertainty is driving a financial flight to safety as savers look for security in the face of worries about living costs, reveals new research from Charter Savings Bank.

Its study shows that more than half of adults have either started to or are considering saving more than in previous years. And it’s 18-30-year olds (71%) who are the most likely to be saving more, whilst 38% of over-75s are also looking to save more than before.

Just over a quarter of British citizens are thinking of cashing in investments such as shares and bonds as they look to reduce risk, with more people turning to fixed-rate savings accounts. Around 44% say they are considering fixed-rate accounts, whilst 38% are willing to sacrifice higher rates for easy access.

Younger savers aged between 18 and 30 are the most likely to open fixed-rate accounts with 55% looking to lock in rates, although 49% are considering easy access accounts and 56% are considering opening a range of savings accounts to have a balance between the two. However, 43% of all adults are looking to increase their savings in a wider mix of accounts to maximise returns and flexibility.

Charter Savings Bank’s Mix & Match ISA could provide such flexibility for savers, enabling them to split their £20,000 ISA allowance across multiple accounts with competitive rates, so they don’t have to choose one type of account over another – they can have the best of multiple worlds.

They can, for example, open an Easy Access Cash ISA with £5,000 and then deposit £10,000 in a 1 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA product. If they have more money available, they could open a third Cash ISA product using the remaining £5,000 of their annual allowance.

With living costs and economic and political uncertainty all on the rise, more than one in five adults (22%) have been left feeling pessimistic about their finances for the year ahead, and more than one in ten (11%) of 51-60 year olds say they are considering pushing back their retirement date.

It’s day-to-day costs which are worrying people the most, with nearly three quarters of adults naming rising energy bills (73%) or rising food costs (72%) as a financial concern for the year ahead.

However, rising political uncertainty is the primary financial concern for young people, with over three quarters of 18-30-year olds (77%) worried about what political changes in 2019 might mean for their finances.

People’s biggest financial concerns for 2019

Financial concerns How many are worried about this?
Rising energy bills 73%
Rising food costs 72%
Political uncertainty 66%
Rising inflation 63%
Economic uncertainty 61%
Interest rate rises 43%
Currency markets 38%
House prices 34%
Stock market volatility 33%

Paul Whitlock, Executive Director, Charter Savings Bank says: “Uncertainty seems to be a way of life currently, with political and economic concerns rising in tandem with living costs.

“It’s reassuring to see so many people, particularly young people, taking their savings seriously in such a volatile climate. With even small amounts of money growing over time, saving from an early age is a great way to ensure financial resilience.

“Though savers are increasingly looking for safety, it can be difficult to decide on the right home for your cash and whether to lock in rates or opt for the flexibility of easy access.”

01 Apr 2019 From today, millions of households will be met with additional squeezes on disposable income. With Sky customers facing paying up to £84 a year more for bundles including broadband, TV and phone from April 1st .

Alistair Thom, Managing Director for free to air satellite TV provider, Freesat said: “Worryingly, homeowners with expensive TV and broadband subscriptions are facing yet another price hike come April 1st.

In this time of economic uncertainty, the impact of hefty monthly bills, long contract terms and steep early termination charges is unignorable. With people’s finances already being squeezed – more needs to be done to ensure customers assess whether their TV subscription is really up to scratch.

Whether they are signed up to pay-TV or not, we know that 95% of the most watched programmes are available free to air. This begs the question why more aren’t taking action to switch to a free service, saving money without having to change their viewing habits in the process.

Freesat customers aren’t required to sign any contract or set up a subscription. As long as you have a satellite dish, you can access a great selection of live TV and On Demand players including BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub and YouTube with a single set-top box purchase, without sacrificing on the quality of entertainment provided.

Viewers can enjoy all of the box-sets and movies they love via optional streaming services like Netflix and Rakuten TV without spending a fortune, and free from the burden of long-term contracts and unexpected price hikes.”