15 Mar 2018 Save Water Save Money (SWSM), the global business which specialises in helping people save water, has launched a new energy switching tool, enabling consumers become more sustainable while cutting down their bills across the board.

The free tool compares current usage to price plans offered by all gas and electricity providers, giving customers an unbiased and simple overview of all options available. Once they’ve selected the best deal for them, it will complete the switch, so they’ll never be paying more than they should. In addition, consumers who switch their energy through SWSM will be offered a free water savings kit (usually £14.95 plus P&P), saving on average 30,000 litres of water and £100 off their bill each year. For consumers who do not want a water saving kit, SWSM will donate £5 to a charity of their choice.

Over five million customers switched their electricity supply and four million switched their gas in 2017, putting energy switching at a nine year high, on average saving £250 a year.

This tool comes following the successful launch of the aqKWa Savings Engine™ which so far has helped more than 170,000 households save water, equating to £88 a year on average. The Engine provides a detailed breakdown of your water usage, and tailored advice on saving water, bespoke to each individual.

Tim Robertson, CEO of Save Water Save Money, commented: “Our mission is to build awareness of water and energy efficiency in the UK, and help consumers make small changes that can have a profound impact on cutting down their bills, as well as benefiting the planet too.

“The aqKWa Savings Engine™ puts consumers back in control of their bills, water and energy usage, making for a more sustainable lifestyle. Society is starting to wake up to environmental challenges like never before, and becoming increasingly aware about the potential benefits of switching energy providers. We’ve already helped over 170,000 households save water, and now we’re excited to further this with gas and electric bills.”

To see how much you could save, visit: www.aqKWa.co.uk

14 Mar 2018 New research from Charter Savings Bank reveals multiple Cash ISAs are not adding up for savers, who are risking leaving their money to stagnate in low interest rate paying accounts.

Its study found one in five of savers aged 55 plus have five or more Cash ISA accounts, but less than half (48%) know exactly how much is in these accounts and actively check and manage their savings. Women over 55 are more aware of the amount they have in savings than men (54% compared to 44%).

The amount of money sitting in low interest rate paying accounts is substantial. A fifth of those who don’t know how much is in their Cash ISA accounts, estimate that they have between £10,000 and £30,000 sitting in them. An average of one in seven estimate that they have more than £30,000 in inactive accounts, of which 18% are women compared to 13% of men.

Over a third of those who have opened more than one ISA, did so because they had different rates. For others, however, the number of ISAs they hold has increased because they’ve opted to open a new account each tax year.

Charter Savings Bank is offering more choice with its Mix & Match ISA, enabling savers to open as many different types of Cash ISAs as they want within one wrapper, and is using the industry’s eISA system to ensure most savers switching providers will benefit from a fast transfer.

 

Table one: Reasons for holding multiple Cash ISAs

Reason Percentage of over 55s who have multiple ISAs for this reason
ISAs have different rates 36%
The number has built up as I have tended to choose to open a new ISA account for each new Tax Year 27%
ISAs have different product features 26%
I forgot I had some 5%
Too complicated to transfer them to one provider 2%

Source: Charter Savings Bank 2018

One of the reasons savers over the age of 55 do not have multiple ISAs, is because it can be difficult and frustrating managing multiple accounts with different providers. Nearly three in ten find it annoying managing different rates, while a similar number find managing multiple fixed-term maturities frustrating.

Around a quarter (24%) do not like managing the administration side of multiple accounts and remembering various log in information, while two in five struggles to remember bonus expiry dates (22%) and different notice periods (21%).

Charter Savings Bank’s research found 59% of savers would like the option to split their savings across a range of different accounts to suit their needs.

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank says: “It can be easy for savers to lose track of accounts once they’ve been opened, and the longer they’ve been open the more likely it is that something might have changed. Savers could be missing out on better returns if they forget about their accounts.

“With ISA allowances increasing over the years, it’s possible for savers to have substantial deposits in them so it makes sense to take action. It’s easier than ever to transfer Cash ISAs and so it makes sense to make the most of the simplicity to bag a better rate.

“Our Mix & Match ISA enables customers to split their allowance among different types of accounts so they can fix the rate on some of their ISA allowance while leaving the rest in easy access, all with highly competitive rates.”

13 Mar 2018   When it comes to planning your retirement, the idea of living abroad is a dream for many. To help bring those fantasies one step closer to reality,  credit experts TotallyMoney have ranked the places Brits should really be considering to retire abroad, making it easier than ever to find a destination that is both budget-friendly and accommodating.

Spanning across the majority of European hotspots, the research explores a number of different key decision-making factors including the average property price; the average year-round temperatures and the happiness index of your new home. Other important influencing aspects that have also been factored in, with everything from the number of shopping centres and restaurants, to the number of other British expats within the area included in the ranking.

The only question left is: which destination is the best for you?

Look Out Spain: The Top 5 Best Locations to Retire

  1.  Lanzarote, Spain – Lanzarote takes the top spot as the best place to retire abroad. The easternmost  Canary Island boasts beautiful beaches and national parks, a sunny climate (the only one in our top 5 that offers winter sun) and a low average property price (£245,572),  a variety of entertainment with 350 activities to choose from.
  2.  Tenerife, Spain – Ranking second only to Lanzarote, Tenerife is listed as the best destination for shopping with 28 shopping centres, while also offering an average property price of £435,294 and 4,404 restaurants to enjoy.
  3.   Malaga, Spain – Located in the famous Costa Del Sol, Malaga ranks as the third best destination. With warming temperatures of 26.5°C in Summer, 152 museums and activities, and 1,754 restaurants, you’ll never be short of things to do. 
  4. Alicante, Spain – Ranking as the second-largest Valencian city, Alicante comes in fourth due to low property cost (£435,172) and offers Gothic architecture, natural landmarks and sunny weather (29°C).
  5.  Tuscany, Italy – A tourist favourite, Tuscany is home to sensational landscapes and filled with Italian traditions and culture. With 219 museums and activities to experience, and 2,114 restaurants to experience the local cuisine in, Tuscany ranks as the fifth best destination.

Planning your retirement can often be a stressful task, one that requires a lot of research” said Joe Gardiner, TotallyMoney’s Head of Brand and Communications, “It’s important to consider all of the factors before making the move, but we aim to make this easier and alleviate some of the pressure when making such an important financial decision.”

For the full breakdown of the best locations to retire abroad, you can view the full 19 destinations here.

Thousands of UK adults are completely perplexed by how credit scores are calculated, actually finding it easier to explain how a rainbow is formed or indeed the offside rule.

According to a new study from Amigo Loans, almost a third (31%) of Brits believe they can confidently explain how a rainbow is formed compared to just one in ten (11%) who could explain how a credit score is calculated.

In fact, it appears that people find it easier to explain why we put the clocks back (43%), the workings of a pension (18%), the possible existence of ghosts (13%) and even the Big Bang Theory (12%).

Things people feel most confident explaining:

  1. Why we put the clocks back in Autumn – 43%
  2. The offside rule – 35%
  3. How a rainbow is formed – 31%
  4. Pensions – 18%
  5. The possible existence of ghosts – 13%
  6. Annuities – 12%
  7. The Big Bang – 11%
  8. The workings of an internal combustion engine – 11%
  9. The existence of UFOs – 11%
  10. Credit score –11%

In fact a credit score is about as easy to understand as the workings of an internal combustion engine.  The research also found that men (13%) are more clued up than women (9%) when it comes to discussing how credit scores are determined.

A credit score is a number that helps lenders decide whether or not to approve a loan, and what types of loans to offer. The score is created by taking your credit history data from a credit reference agency (lenders will use different credit reference agencies) and then added to a set of variables determined by every lender, each completely unique to that lender. For example, a customer may score more points for being age over thirty, than a twenty year old.

Kelly Davies, Chief Communications Officer at Amigo Loans, says: “Credit scores are confusing for people because there isn’t one central source, which means we don’t have one single credit score. This means each credit reference agency could score you differently, meaning some providers will consider you risker than others.  This is plain ridiculous.  With such a convoluted system, it’s no wonder people find credit scores difficult to understand.  The fact is, if people don’t even know what a credit score is, how can we expect them protect it from being inadvertently damaged?

“Once a credit score is damaged, it takes years to repair.  And if people need to improve them, it’s better to do it sooner rather than later. An Amigo loan can help build or improve a person’s credit score.’

You can check your credit score for free with TotallyMoney and Clearscore.

Top tips for improving your credit score:

  1. Double check you’re on the electoral register. Lenders use the electoral register to confirm an individual’s address and location and fight against identity fraud.
  2. Try not to have a high balance on your credit card. Lenders may view this as excessive debt and think you have an inability to repay.
  3. Make sure to pay your bills on time, or ahead of time, a good credit score will be built up over time.
  4. Do not make multiple applications for credit as this can impact your record negatively.
  5. If you notice anything unexpected on your credit report you could be a victim of identity fraud, i.e. someone could have applied for credit in your name, contact the credit reference agency who will try to resolve the issue, alongside the lender.
  6. Only apply for credit which is necessary – applying for more than four a year can lower your score.
  7. Cancel old credit card agreements and out of date credit cards, such as store cards you no longer use, as this will still show on your file. Lenders will be cautious about the possible size of your debt.
  8. If you are divorced or separated, cut all financial ties and make sure your former partner’s details are eliminated from any joint accounts. The credit history of anyone you are financially associated with, such as a joint bank account with a spouse, can affect your credit rating.

06 Mar 2018 Home movers looking to make the most of current low interest rates could be missing a trick by not porting their mortgage, says Yorkshire Building Society.

Brits move on average eight times in their lifetime but according to data from the mutual, only 6% of the Yorkshire’s customers who moved house applied to port their mortgage in 2017.

Porting may sound technical but it simply means transferring your existing mortgage deal from your old home to your new home, and adding to it with a new mortgage if you need to borrow more overall.

Figures from a survey of homeowners conducted by the Yorkshire revealed that a competitive rate is the main driver for borrowers, with 73% of those surveyed indicating the amount of interest they will pay is the most important feature when it comes to choosing a mortgage.

Almost one in two (47%) respondents who do not intend to port believed they would get a better interest rate if they took out a completely new mortgage.

However borrowers may end up paying more by disregarding porting their mortgage without looking at the facts as it could be a good money-saving option, especially if a borrower is part way through a mortgage deal that has exit fees or early repayment charges.

In addition the costs incurred with getting a new deal, including product fee, valuation fees and legal fee charges, may mean it is more cost effective to stay with your current lender and port your mortgage.

Porting also allows a borrower to keep their current interest rate, on the amount they transfer, which could be beneficial if interest rates rise.

Chris Irwin, Senior Mortgage Manager at Yorkshire Building Society, said: “It’s clear that borrowers are keen to secure the best rate, especially when they move home, but getting a lower rate than your existing mortgage may not always mean you are getting the better deal overall.

“We are seeing a growing trend in borrowers locking into longer term deals, perhaps due to recent political and economic uncertainty plus a potential upward trend in interest rates.

“However life never remains static, so porting could be a good option for people looking to move either up or down the property ladder and retain their current mortgage deal.

“The majority of our mortgages are portable, however borrowers should contact us before making any decisions on moving as individual circumstances may affect the ability to port.”

03 March 2018  A third (32%) of UK holidaymakers say they struggle to get travel insurance and of these, 60% say this is due to a pre-existing medical condition, according to a new study released today by the Co-op.

Cancer (21%), diabetes (18%) and high or low blood pressure (18%) are the most common conditions that UK sightseers say are to blame for the lack of cover.

Of the 60% of Brits who can’t get insurance due to a pre-existing medical condition:

  1. 21% were previously diagnosed with cancer
  2. 18% have diabetes
  3. 18% have high or low blood pressure
  4. 15% suffer from chronic pain
  5. 13% take prescribed medication
  6. 12% previously suffered a heart attack
  7. 11% have high cholesterol and so take statins
  8. 10% have arthritis
  9. 9% have asthma
  10. 9% have angina

Furthermore, travellers aged 65 plus are the most affected, with over four fifths (83%) saying they find getting travel insurance difficult, due to their pre-existing medical condition.

In terms of how UK tourists overcome these difficulties, a third (32%) of those who are unable to get cover say they now just travel without it.

Over a quarter (28%) use specialist providers, which they explained made their insurance at times more expensive. A fifth (19%) take out insurance, but refuse to declare their medical conditions, in order to keep costs down.

The study also reveals however, the number of holidaymakers who are now limited when it comes to their choice of destination. Over a quarter (27%) changed their holiday plans and a fifth (21%) cancelled their trip entirely, when they became aware of their travel insurance struggles.

What do travellers struggling to get insurance do?

  • A third (32%) now travel without having insurance in place
  • A third (28%) use specialist providers
  • A quarter (27%) changed their holiday plans
  • A fifth (21%) cancelled the holiday
  • A fifth (19%) took out insurance but didn’t declare their medical condition

Of the UK jet-setters who travel without insurance, a third (30%) just hope that nothing happens to them whilst they’re on holiday and a tenth (10%) say they avoid riskier activities.

Colin Butler, Head of Travel Insurance at the Co-op commented: “It’s really quite worrying to think that people who find it difficult to get suitable travel insurance product are resorting to not declaring important details about their medical conditions or are ignoring travel insurance completely.

“The average travel insurance claim stands at £2000 and so it’s really important that people take out appropriate cover that’s right for them. We want to help bridge this gap to ensure that everyone is able to get appropriate cover. It’s for that reason that we’re offering travel insurance for any ages and any medical conditions.”²

Dr Dawn Harper, GP & TV personality commented: “A large population of the UK live with conditions such as diabetes and high blood pressure, the risks of which sadly increases with age.

“However, many people in their 60s and over are still very active and want to live out their later years travelling. For this reason I’m delighted to see that the Co-op are offering an affordable travel insurance product for the thousands of people who currently struggle because of pre-existing medical conditions.”

Ends

Top 5 countries UK holidaymakers travel to without insurance

  1. 59% would travel within the UK
  2. 21% would holiday in Europe
  3. 11% would holiday in America
  4. 5% would holiday in Asia
  5. 5% would holiday in Australia

28 Feb 2018    BRITS BRACE THEMSELVES FOR COSTLY SNOW STORM DAMAGE

  • One in ten UK adults have had to make a claim on their insurance policy due to storm damage, a survey of more than 4,000 adults has found
  • This is includes damage to roofs, fences and outbuildings, as well as burst or damaged water pipes
  • With the average claim estimated to be £905, total damage caused by the Beast from the East could add up to millions of pounds across the country
  • When it comes to burst or damaged water pipes, 14% admitted they wouldn’t know what to do, while one in four would be confident they could fix it themselves. Three quarters of those surveyed would have to call an expert to repair the damage
  • Furthermore, people underestimate the cost of an emergency plumber by nearly £30 per hour
  • People assume an emergency plumber costs an average of £63 an hour, whereas it actually costs approximately £90; an additional, unexpected cost that can further inflate the cost of storm damage

Adam Powell, Head of Operations, Policy Expert commented: “It’s essential people are aware of the potential costly damage a storm could throw at them this winter. Cold and stormy weather can ravage buildings and pipes so we would urge all homeowners not only to protect their homes but to invest a bit of time and money in ensuring you have the correct level of home insurance. For example, check the small print – some policies may not cover sheds and outbuildings, and others won’t cover damaged boilers if they haven’t been seen by a registered plumber. It’s also important to remember that your home insurance policy isn’t a maintenance policy. If a problem has been caused or exaggerated by general wear and tear, or poor upkeep of your property, it’s highly likely you won’t be covered – so make sure you’re taking the necessary precautions just in case.”

Top tips from Policy Expert on protecting your home from winter weather:

  • Check your boiler and heating system – If you haven’t done so already this year, get your boiler checked and/or serviced by a Gas Safe registered plumber.
  • Roof tiles – Check for any cracked, missing or loose tiles and replace them. If a roof is in disrepair the weight of snow or high winds can prove to be hazardous.
  • Keep the central heating on – Set the central heating to a minimum of 14 degrees Celsius throughout the winter. It helps prevent pipes freezing and frost damage.
  • Repair damaged chimneys – Look for cracks around chimney pots and at the roof join, also for loose render and render that’s come away from the stack. High winds and heavy rain can damage chimneys even further, make sure they’re properly stable before extreme weather happens.
  • Windows – Take a look at your window frames and fill any cracks and put on a coat of paint if needed. Extreme temperatures and wet weather can cause untreated wood to expand and rot, treating the window sills helps prevent water and frost damage.
  • Insulation – Lag any pipes and water tanks in exposed areas such as lofts, garages and utility rooms to prevent pipes freezing and bursting.
  • Guttering and drains – Clear your guttering and drains of any debris such as leaves, mud and stones; they can block easily and freeze up.
  • Walls – Check the pointing in brickwork both on the main house, all outbuildings and garden walls, look for any loose stone or areas that are in need of repair.
  • Fuse box and electrics – A home’s electrics are a major source of insurance claims. If you haven’t done so in a while, get a registered electrician to check your home’s fuse box and wiring.

28 Feb 2018  The latest Government review into pensions auto-enrolment shows 9 million employees are now enrolled into a workplace scheme and employer contributions have been on the rise reaching a record 61% in 2016-to-2017. However, new data from online pension planning tool, Pension Monster, suggests women are still lagging behind when it comes to saving for retirement.

The findings show only a third (32%) of consumers currently using Pension Monster to review their pension options are female suggesting men generally take more active interest in their savings. And worryingly this lack of engagement appears to correlate with their pension pot sizes, with women accumulating just £70,000, less than half the male users’ £192,000 average pot size.

The career breaks and part-time jobs many women take during their working lives all contribute to this pensions shortfall. As it stands women need guidance to bridge the pensions gap. Significantly, data from Pension Monster shows women with access to professional financial advice have a significantly bigger pot size of around £125,000 compared to those earning a similar salary and who are unadvised.

Employers can help their employees engage more with their pensions by hosting online tools like Pension Monster within their workplace websites. This can provide a tailored report to show what their options are and how much is needed to save to meet their retirement goals.

Peter Bradshaw, National Accounts Director, Pension Monster commented:

“Despite the initial success of auto-enrolment, efforts to maintain this level of engagement are necessary. Women in particular will benefit from early and ongoing planning and guidance. Considering women will likely take career breaks for child care, and the fact life expectancy for women has reached 83 years old, they have the most to benefit from early and ongoing planning and guidance.”

28 Feb 2018 Research by Moneynet Awards winner Yolt, the money app backed by ING, reveals that 22% – nearly 1 in 4 – of the public now know what Open Banking is.  This represents a significant increase from the identical question being asked in Which? research in October 2017, when the same question revealed that 92% of the public didn’t know what Open Banking was.  In the Yolt study, only 39% of consumers had absolutely no idea what Open Banking is – whilst 30% knew it had something to do with banking online or via a smartphone but couldn’t be more specific than that.

Leon Muis, from Yolt said:

“Just over a month since the Open Banking process started in earnest, the dial has really moved in terms of consumer understanding of what the Open Banking reforms are all about, which is great to see.  If we can move from 8% to 22% in just a few months, it suggests that consumers are receptive to the possibilities Open Banking can offer.”

Additional findings from the Yolt research included:

  • 1 in 5 people (20%) said that seeing all their bank accounts in one place is a key benefit of Open Banking
  • Only 16% of women knew what Open Banking was, despite research from Allianz showing 51% of women saying they are the ‘Chief Financial Officer’ in their household. This is compared to 28% of men who knew what Open Banking was.
  • 20% of consumers would consider using Open Banking if it meant that the products and services offered were tailored specifically towards them. This figure increases to 28% of Londoners and over 30% of millennials

Leon Muis, from Yolt, added:

“Open Banking has come such a long way in such a short space of time.  As the process progresses and more and more customers start to engage with Open Banking, users will be able to access more genuinely personalised products and services.  Only when you have all of your different accounts and products in one place – such as Yolt – can you really start to manage your money properly.

“Yolt is a great example of how Open Banking works in practice, and with more than 100,000 users we hope that more users will embrace the ease, choice and control that it will bring.”

23 Feb 2018 The ABI’s ‘Britain Uncovered’ study has revealed that over a quarter of households – 7.5 million – have no contents insurance, leaving possessions worth over £266 billion unprotected and at risk.

Commenting on the findings, a spokesman for GoCompare said: “Unlike buildings insurance, which is compulsory with a mortgage, contents cover is completely optional and for many, particularly those in their 20s and 30s, getting it doesn’t appear to be a priority. When you consider that for one in seven private renters half their pay packet goes straight to their landlord, it’s not a surprise people are looking at where they can cut their out-goings.

“But consider this – pick up your home, turn it upside down, and give it a good shake – everything that falls out, plus your floor and wall coverings, are your ‘contents’. It’s not just your phone, TV or other high-value items. Could you afford to replace everything in the event of a burglary or severe damage, such as after a fire or flood?  For most of us the answer is no.

“Good quality contents insurance can be pretty inexpensive too but make sure the cover is right for you, don’t just head straight for the cheapest policy on offer. Consider whether you need accidental damage protection, cover for your items outside of the home – particularly useful for bikes, gadgets and jewellery – and check if you already have cover elsewhere first, such as through a packaged bank account or from your phone provider, for example.

“Shopping around to compare prices and cover levels is easy, and free, so you may as well have a look around to see if it’s something worth your while to invest in.”

For more information on home insurance http://www.gocompare.com/home-insurance