30 Oct 2019 More than one in five (22%) people have fallen victim to fraudsters when shopping online, according to new findings from secure payments provider Shieldpay. This equates to some 11.5 million Brits who have, at some point in their lives, been defrauded when purchasing an item online.

The cost to people’s pocket is significant: on average UK shoppers are defrauded by £683 with 1 in 10 (11%) losing more than £1,000. For those who have been a targeted more than once, the value jumps to £1,460, more than double that lost by people who have been defrauded just once.

Online fraud is often associated with older members of society, but the Fraud Tracker research shows it’s actually younger generations who are frequently targeted and defrauded by larger sums. A quarter (25%) of millennials, those aged 18-34, have been defrauded while shopping online at an average cost of £767 and nearly one in six (16%) have handed over more than £1,000 to fraudsters.

Indeed, research by Lloyds Bank published last month revealed millennials are falling victim to all types of online fraud at a greater rate than any other age group.

Shieldpay’s patent pending payments process mitigates the risk of online shopping fraud by fully verifying the identity of all parties, holding funds securely and only releasing them once both parties confirm they are happy.

Tom Clementson, from Shieldpay, said: “It takes just moments to go online, order an item and see the money taken from your bank account. As we lead increasingly digital lives, this has become as normal as buying something over the counter. However, it also takes just moments for fraudsters to target unsuspecting consumers to part them from their hard-earned money and their methods are becoming more advanced by the day. The sky-high levels of fraud the UK is currently experiencing shows no sign of slowing down soon but this can’t go on. Fraudsters have had it good for too long.

“Initiatives like confirmation of payee and strong customer authentication have been kicked into the grass to the benefit of retailers but to the detriment of consumers. People must take their online safety into their own hands and there is technology already available to help. Alongside that, simple steps like only shopping on trusted websites, checking the website is secure and never clicking on links in unexpected emails go some way to keeping money safe.” 

29 Oct 2019 The nations’ parents may be worried about the future of the economy, but that’s not stopping them handing out increasing amounts of pocket money to their kids. National consumer confidence in the UK economy has been hit hard by Brexit uncertainty (currently at -9% quarter on quarter), but latest figures from RoosterMoney, the pocket money app, show no signs of that impacting kids’ wallets, as the average pocket money hits a new high of £4.38 a week.

The last three quarters of 2019 have seen the
average weekly pocket money received by 4-14 year olds steadily rise, whilst
the consumer confidence index has gone the other way:

  Weekly Pocket Money Consumer Confidence Index
Q1 £4.25 -8%
Q2 £4.27
Q3 £4.38

Percentages are Quarter on Quarter

The top earning chores helping kids reach
these figures are:

  1. Gardening – £2.97
  2. Washing the car – £2.34
  3. Cleaning the bathroom – £1.04

And the top things kids are saving for are:

  1. Lego
  2. Phones
  3. Nintendo switch

Kids are also saving an impressive 27% of
their pocket money, and have been doing so consistently throughout the year.
These savings, combined with a forecasted £44 injection of cash gifts over the
Xmas period (based on last year’s figures), offer a bright horizon when it
comes to money habits for the nation’s kids heading into 2020.

Will Carmichael, CEO of RoosterMoney says:

“Our quarterly Pocket Money Index provides a fascinating insight into the workings of the family economy, and highlights the opportunity to develop positive behaviours at a young age. It’s extremely encouraging that wider issues such as Brexit aren’t negatively impacting family pocket money routines. The research shows it’s these early routines that help kids develop strong money habits that stay with them into adult life, ensuring they’re prepared for their future”.

23 Oct 2019 The Association of British Insurers (ABI) is urging the Government in its forthcoming Budget due on 6 November to cut the rate of Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) to ease the squeeze on families and businesses who do the right thing by taking out insurance.

The standard rate of IPT has doubled since 2015, most recently going up from 10% to 12% in June 2017. It applies to the vast majority of policies sold, including property, motor, health (including cash plans), pet and business insurance.

In 2017, research by the Social Market Foundation estimated that, if the standard rate of IPT had remained at 5%, its rate prior to 2011, then the savings per UK household could be significant. For the fiscal year, 2017/18, they estimated that households were directly paying about £50 per year more as a result of higher IPT.  If the business costs associated with higher IPT are ultimately borne by households (either through higher prices or lower incomes/dividends), then the additional cost per household could be as high as £105.

Total IPT revenue for government in the last five years has risen by 109%. In 2018/9 alone, IPT raised £6.19 billion., more than the taxes on wine, spirits or betting and gambling.

Huw Evans, Director General of the ABI, said: 

 “IPT has doubled to 12% since 2015, and responsible people deserve a break. This tax hits people on lowest incomes the hardest, as it applies to products most people need, or are required to have, such as home and motor insurance. Our rate of IPT is the 7th highest in Europe and hits our international competitiveness at a time when the UK needs to be making itself more globally attractive.”

22 Oct 2019 Three quarters (75%) of UK tenants are happy to rent, and a third of those (33%) are happy to rent forever, according to new research from buy-to-let focused marketplace lender, Landbay. The study questions 2,000 private renters in the UK, offering insight to landlords on the wants and needs of their tenants.

Men are more likely to be happy renting forever, (36% vs 31% for women), while for those in the 55+ bracket, nearly two thirds (64%) are also happy to remain tenants, versus less than a third of 35-54-year olds, who are more likely to want to own a home. Londoners also hanker more than most to own their own home with just 17% happy to stay renting, compared to 46% of Welsh tenants.

Of those who aim to buy a property, the average length of time tenants are prepared to wait is 4.1 years, with men content to wait 4.6 years and women 3.8 years.

Three quarters (75%) of tenants are happy renting, with 12% saying ‘they couldn’t be happier’ and 30% ‘very happy’. Just 15% are not happy, with the remaining 43% ‘reasonably happy’.

As for the motivations behind renting, the top three reasons are:

  1. I don’t want to/can’t make the financial commitment of buying a home – 46%
  2. I have fewer responsibilities than an owner (i.e. my landlord is responsible for most issues) – 40%
  3. I like the flexibility of renting – 33%

John Goodall, CEO, Landbay comments: “Renting affords significantly greater flexibility than home ownership and, at a time when house price growth is uncertain, remains the best option for a significant number of people. It’s clear from this data that those who choose to rent are happy doing so, and indeed would like to continue doing so forever.”

“The financial hurdle of home ownership is for many too great a stretch and frankly they don’t want to make the commitment. The reality is owning a home isn’t the right choice for many, which is why the private rental sector needs to be supported properly if we are to house this growing portion of private sector tenants.”

15 Oct 2019 Almost a third (29%) of UK adults spend an average of £120 a year paying for unwanted policies, subscriptions, and memberships that they haven’t cancelled, according to new research by online bank Marcus by Goldman Sachs. Online subscription services (32%) are the most frequently forgotten subscriptions and policies to cancelfollowed by gym memberships (26%) and magazine subscriptions (20%).

The research found millennials are the most forgetful, with 45% of 18 to 34-year olds confessing that they’ve failed to cancel services, at an average estimated cost of £232 over 12 months. This compares to 30% of people aged 35-54 who spend £53 more than necessary a year, and 16% of over 55s who only miss out on £7 a year.

Typically, forgetfulness (61%), confusing cancellation processes (30%) and laziness (22%) are the reasons we keep these memberships going, with more than a quarter (27%) doing so for more than four months before we cancel them. Potentially contributing to the effect, over two thirds (68%) pay for these services through direct debit.

This inaction has had a direct financial impact on more than nearly three fifths (58%) of adults, which jumps up to 70% of millennials. As a result, more than one in ten (12%) of the same 18-34 age group are being forced into their overdraft to pay for things they no longer use and almost a quarter (24%) are not able to save as much as they wanted that month.

Of those that have overspent in this way, half claim that simpler cancellation processes would encourage them to end unwanted policies or subscriptions in the future, and 28% simply require more personal admin time.

Managing Director of Marcus by Goldman Sachs, Des McDaid, said: “Many of us have stories of how we’ve taken out a subscription or policy and have forgotten to cancel it, but when it adds up over time, this can have a negative impact on our finances and savings goals.

“Before taking out subscriptions, remember to check the cancellation policy carefully and if necessary, set a reminder after a short period of time, or once the free trial is up, to make sure you are still happy to pay for it.

“It’s also worth noting down your subscription and policy costs on your phone or in an app, this will help you keep on track of what you’re paying for and manage your monthly budget with a realistic view of your outgoings. Wasting £100 can soon turn into £1,000 if you’re not careful, so doing little things like this can really help in the long term.”

14 Oct 2019 Seventy per cent of homeowners admit to ignoring property problems, because they’d rather spend their time and money on other things, according to new research from Aviva.

The recent study of 2,000 homeowners shows property maintenance is way down many people’s priority lists. Aviva found:

  • More than a quarter of homeowners (27%) ignore minor faults around the home until they become bigger problems that need to be addressed.
  • A fifth turn a blind eye so they can spend their money elsewhere.
  • Almost a quarter say they don’t have the time to deal with minor home maintenance issues.

While one in 10 homeowners deliberately overlook problems around the home, in the hope someone else will deal with them.

The research was carried out to highlight the importance of home maintenance and help homeowners to ensure their properties are ready for winter. Aviva has the following guidance for homeowners:

Aviva’s checklist for winter-ready homes:

  • Check your roof for missing or damaged tiles or slates and replace where necessary. Water damage can spread far and wide, so it’s important to prevent rain getting in.
  • Call out a chimney sweep. Unswept chimneys pose a greater fire risk, so as the weather gets colder, sweep before you light your fire or stove.
  • Clear out gutters and drains, removing any leaves, dirt and debris, so water can drain freely.
  • Secure any wobbly fences and broken gates to ensure they will withstand wind and stormy weather.
  • Get your boiler serviced by a professional. It’s also a great time to think about boiler cover in case of any break-downs.
  • Insulate on top of pipes: One of the main causes of freezing pipes is lack of lagging. Insulation should be laid on top of pipes rather than underneath them, as insulation laid below the pipes will prevent rising heat reaching them.  Wrap up water tanks and cisterns in insulating jackets.
  • Insulate your loft. When temperatures fall, this will help to prevent heat escaping from the top of your home.
  • Check your doors and windows and replace any damaged seals to prevent the wind whistling through.

·         Consider leaving the heating on: If you are going away for a few days or weeks, consider leaving the heating on at a constant low level, so water in pipes will remain at a constant temperature and should not get cold enough to freeze.

·         Check the taps: Repair any dripping taps and don’t forget to insulate outside taps in your garden or garage (or turn off the water supply to them altogether).

Adam Beckett, Product Director for Aviva UK General Insurance says: “A home is often the biggest purchase people will make, but homeownership also brings responsibilities and costs. Maintenance is a crucial part of owning a property, and as with many things, little and often is the best way to stay on top. By taking care of issues quickly, as and when they crop up, people can avoid small niggles becoming big problems.

“Now’s a great time to make sure homes are winter-ready before the worst of the weather arrives – so think about tasks like clearing out gutters, securing fences and dealing with any loose roof tiles. As ever, prevention is better than the cure, so it’s worth devoting some time to home maintenance now, to avoid issues in the future.”

Budgeting for home maintenance

The study revealed positive news about budgeting for home maintenance. The vast majority of homeowners (92%) hold some savings which could be used on their properties in the event of an emergency.

Faced with unexpected bill of £5,000 for home essentials due to wear and tear – such as roof repairs or new windows – most homeowners (58%) said they would be able to cover the cost from savings. Just over a quarter (28%) would use a credit card or loan and 14% would borrow from family or friends. A similar number (15%) would arrange a temporary fix until they could afford the full amount.

However, a number of respondents said they would claim on their home insurance to cover such a bill, indicating confusion amongst some homeowners. While home insurance is designed to cover unexpected events, damage caused through wear and tear is generally excluded.

Adam Beckett adds: “We know from our research that there’s some confusion about what is or isn’t covered under home insurance. For example, 30 per cent** of UK adults think home insurance would cover “anything” that happens in their home, while one in 10 believe it covers wear and tear – but this is not the case. Home insurance is usually designed to cover sudden, unexpected events.

“No-one wants to be in a situation where they think they’re insured, only to be disappointed if they try to make a claim. We’d urge all customers to read their policy documentation and check with their insurer, to make sure they have the cover which best fits their needs.”

07 Oct 2019 With half term fast approaching, Caxton, the international payments and foreign exchange specialist, is urging customers to buy their currency early and avoid the Halloween horror exchange rates at the airport.

Exchange rates can prove confusing, but some people don’t appreciate exactly how much impact their last-minute currency purchase can have on their holiday spending kitty.

Holiday Cash £ Bureau rate Euros per £* Euros received Caxton rate Euros per £** Eurosreceived Difference
250 0.7933 €198.33 1.1018 €275.45 €77.12
500 0.7933 €396.65 1.1018 €550.90 €154.25
1000 0.7933 €793.30 1.1045 €1104.50 €311.20

Alana Parsons from international payments and foreign exchange firm Caxton comments; “Unfortunately not all travellers appreciate just how much poorer the exchange rates are at the airport compared with buying your travel money in advance.”

“If people knew that they would get 77 Euros less on a £250 currency purchase for example, then I’m sure they’d be annoyed and would definitely think twice about leaving it until the last minute in future.”

Alana adds “It’s no secret that buying or selling currency at the airport is a costly financial mistake, yet it’s still commonplace to see people queuing to use the airport bureau, so the message isn’t getting through.”

30 Sep 2019 Just 23% of UK employees have made a current will, according to the Financial Wellbeing Index from Close Brothers. This means that up to 25 million UK workers may not have taken this crucial step to protect their financial health and to provide for their loved ones. This number rises to almost half (44%) of those approaching retirement (aged 55+) and is higher in men than women (26% vs 20%). Regardless of the value of your estate, a current will, and careful estate planning is the best way of ensuring that the people you want to inherit your money, property and possessions actually do, whilst paying the least amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT).

More generally, those with a current will are more positive about their finances; 65% are happy with the state of their finances as opposed to around half of those without (47%).They are also twice as likely to feel financially prepared for retirement than their counterparts without will provision (57% compared to 30%), and much more confident that they will be able to afford to retire at the age they want than those that without a will – 61% vs 37%.

Preparing for later life goes hand in hand with being prepared for emergencies. Only 9% of those with a will don’t have the savings funds to pay for an emergency, drastically fewer than the quarter (26%) of those without a will. Consequently, those with a current will are nearly twice as likely to feel financially prepared for unexpected financial costs or a significant reduction in their income than those without (59% vs 35%).

Having a will however, is not a silver bullet. Despite taking the steps to plan for after their death, almost half (44%) of those with a current will admit to not having a financial plan in place to help them achieve their financial goals while still alive. A quarter (26%) also admit that they don’t budget their finances, only one in six (16%) have purchased a critical illness protection product, and one in ten (11%) an income protection product. Concerningly, a mere 4% of employees have registered a lasting Power of Attorney, a job which is often left until it’s too late.

All of these signs explain why protection comes in as one of the lowest scoring areas of financial wellbeing across the UK; at 43 (out of 100), leaving UK employees exposed and anxious.

Jeanette Makings, Head of Financial Education at Close Brothers said: “All too often people put off writing a will or are unaware of the benefits of having one. Although not a cheery subject, a will is an essential part of financial planning, ensuring peace of mind for you and your loved ones no matter what your age or wealth level. To help us reach our financial goals, we are encouraged to plan, invest, and manage our money during our lifetime. Making a will and planning your estate is a natural extension of this. Anyone who has dealt with the estate of a family member or friend who has died without a will can confirm just how difficult, distressing, time consuming and expensive it is to get everything sorted out. Making a will can be straightforward and inexpensive and there’s nothing to be gained from putting it off. It is recommended that you seek professional advice; the laws are complex, and errors and omissions often don’t come to light until after death and can be extremely distressing, time consuming and costly to try to resolve”.