Latest figures from the Financial Conduct Authority reveal that almost 9 out of 10 mortgages were taken out on a fixed rate basis in the first three months of 2014.

The data showed fixed rate mortgage sales increased by 40 per cent between 2012 and 2013, making up 88 per cent of UK mortgage completions in the first quarter of this year.

Unsurprisingly the once popular tracker mortgage is no longer in vogue with the number sold down by almost 50 per cent over the same period.

Repayment mortgages continued to grow, increasing in popularity by 22 per cent between 2012 and 2013, however the much maligned interest-only mortgage has witnessed a decrease in sales of approximately 15 per cent.

The number of mortgages with a loan-to-value ratio of 90 per cent or greater is only marginally up on quarter one of 2013.

Customers of Lloyds Bank, buying a property for the first time or moving home will receive a free iPad when they sign up for a mortgage.

The promotion is open to those who successfully apply for a mortgage between 7 October and 27 November.
With homeowners reportedly taking up to six weeks to get internet installed in their new home, Lloyds says the iPad will help keep their customers in touch during the first few weeks of their move.

A spokesman for Lloyds Bank, said: “Our customers have told us about the inconvenience of being unconnected when moving into a new house.

“By providing customers with a connected iPad, we’re enabling them to complete those domestic necessities very quickly, such as setting up bills, transferring money or simply surfing the internet. This should make the transition of moving into a new house even more enjoyable.”

However, personal finance expert Andrew Hagger warned, that people shouldn’t be swayed by short term gimmicks when making important long term decisions regarding their finances.

“As much as people will want a shiny new iPad, it’s the total cost of the mortgage interest and associated fees that should be the focus when selecting the best home loan,” he said.

The Conservatives have thrown down the gauntlet to its rivals by announcing that it will raise the 40 per cent tax threshold from £41,900 to £50,000 if they win the 2015 General Election

This was the promise made by David Cameron at this week’s Conservative Party Conference, a surprise move viewed by political experts as part of a play for votes ahead of next year’s general election.

Currently UK consumers pay a 20 per cent basic rate of tax on the first £31,865 they earn above the personal allowance and then 40 per cent on earnings up to £150,000.

The pledge is in addition to increasing the tax-free personal allowance from £10,500 to £12,500 by 2020.
Cameron said the personal allowance changes would mean one million of the country’s lowest-paid workers do not have to pay income tax at all.

The announcement comes a day after Chancellor George Osborne said he would freeze working age benefits for two years after the election to save £3bn.

The Prime Minister admitted “The 40p tax rate was only supposed to be paid by the most well off people in our country but in the past couple of decades far too many have been dragged into it.”

Wonga has announced that it is to write off more than 330,000 loans which are more than a month in arrears following an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

On top of this around a further 45,000 customers who are up to 29 days in arrears will be asked to repay their debt without interest and charges.
The payday lender says it will be contacting all customers by 10 October to notify their particular loan is included in the above numbers.

A spokesman for the FCA, said: “We are determined to drive up standards in the consumer credit market and it is disappointing that some firms still have a way to go to meet our expectations. This should put the rest of the industry on notice – they need to lend affordably and responsibly.”

A notice on the Wonga website explained why the actions were being taken, it said: “You may have already read or heard in the news recently an announcement from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) regarding changes to our lending criteria.
“We have been working closely with the FCA to agree additional requirements to our lending criteria, which have been implemented as of the 2 October 2014.

“We have also today committed to a major customer forbearance programme for many existing customers whose loans would not have been made had they been subject to the new affordability criteria introduced today.”

 

Latest research from comparison site Uswitch.com shows that broadband speeds across the UK are at their fastest at 5am, but slow by more than a fifth by the time the majority of people are using their PC, laptop or tablet at 9pm.

The range between best and worst speed varies in different parts of the UK with Exeter, Chester and Bath amongst those that saw the biggest difference in speeds, with all three seeing a slow down by more than 50% from peak to trough.

London and Cardiff fare slightly better but still see their broadband speeds drop by around a third.

A spokesman from uSwitch.com, said: “It won’t come as a surprise that your internet is bright eyed and bushy tailed in the early hours when it’s not groaning under the weight of evening demand. What will surprise many people is by how much speeds drop.

“Given that most of us want to use our home broadband in the evening, it may be concerning to find out that the speed advertised when we sign up won’t necessarily be the speed we get at peak hours.”

Most customers are aware of a degradation in service standards with seven out of ten users saying they notice their broadband is sluggish at certain times of the day, with more than half pinpointing the window from 8pm and 10pm as the worst.

Many respondents say the slow speeds have seen them giving up trying to watch films or catch up TV online, while more than a third were frustrated that it had stopped them from working.

The USwitch spokesman suggests “If you think you could do better, consider shopping around for a new deal. People may also find that speedier fibre broadband is worth investing in – particularly for households with multiple connected devices.”

Dwindling levels of disposable income has led to almost a third of people in the UK having to raid their savings each month to help pay for household essential, according to the Scottish Friendly ‘Disposable Income Index’.

It claims that more than nine million people regularly dip into their savings each month to the tune of around £100 just to help cover everyday expenses.

This index is updated every three months and looks at the saving and spending habits of UK consumers.

It reveals that on average, people are left with just eight per cent of their monthly salary or wages as disposable income. This is a slight improvement on six months ago, but for many, it is still a struggle to make ends meet without raiding their savings accounts.

On average, the report suggests people have just £205 left over each month after bills and essentials have been paid for, with one in four saying that they have less than £100 in disposable income left over each month.

A spokesman for Scottish Friendly, said: “The latest index indicates that while the willingness to save is still present among the majority of people in the UK, the capacity to save is on the decline. As the monthly levels of disposable income have remained relatively stable, this suggests that some people in the UK are getting squeezed elsewhere.

“Housing remains the biggest expense for most, so, when rent or mortgage payments go up, disposable incomes naturally reduce. For example, demand for rental properties across the UK increased by around seven per cent since June, while supply fell. This has helped squeeze personal budgets leaving many to dig into their savings to make ends meet.”

Industry experts believe things may deteriorate during the winter months as people need to find extra cash to pay for higher fuel costs and Christmas spending.

 

 

A Building Societies Association survey revealed that one in four mortgage customers claim they will struggle to cope financially if rates increase.

The research in conjunction with Money Advice Trust said that 40% will have to cut back on holidays and meals out to cope with the additional monthly cost.

More worrying was the claim that one in five say that they will be forced to cut back on the basics including food, heating and clothing.

A spokesman for the Building Societies Association, said: “Many consumers are only used to a low rate environment which will change and whilst most mortgage rates are not linked quite so directly to the base rate as they used to be, rates will rise as it increases.

“Some of the actions borrowers say they would take may not be within their control, for example working additional hours. Our advice to those concerned about interest rate rises is to start thinking about how they will manage the increased costs.”

A spokesman for the Money Advice Trust, said: “Our message to borrowers is clear – interest rates will rise and that day is coming soon, so now is the time to prepare. Draw up a budget, speak to your lender, and if you do find yourself struggling to repay, seek free debt advice as early as possible.”

Premiums for car insurance are too high, the competition watchdog has said.

The competition commission’s investigation of the £11bn motor insurance market found it was not working well for motorists . Too many drivers were footing the bill for unnecessary costs that were needed during the claims process for accidents and that this is adding between £150m and £200m a year to motorists’ premiums. These costs are initially for the drivers who have been in the accident but always end up feeding through to everyone else’s policy.

The commission is deciding whether to make a driver’s own insurer responsible for providing a replacement vehicle or to give insurers that are at fault a greater opportunity to take control over managing claims.

There could also be caps on the costs of providing a replacement motor and on the costs the repair peoples cars. This goes along with compulsory audits of repair quality, this is after the watchdog found that many repairs have not been completed to the required standard.

Other findings where with the sale of add-on products it is hard for customers to find the best value products.The Association of British Insurers (ABI) said it hoped the commission’s work would lead to lower premiums for customers.

Its head of motor insurance, James Dalton, said: “As an industry we remain absolutely committed to improving the car insurance market for hard-pressed motorists.”

 

Barclays has just announced that its business customers will be able to access their accounts via high-tech finger-recognition technology from 2015.

By scanning their finger with a VeinID device, customers will be able to log on to their accounts instead of having to rely on PINs, passwords or secret log ins.

It is hoped the technology, which picks up a customer’s unique vein patterns, will reduce the level of identity fraud experienced by businesses within the UK.

Barclays claims that vein patterns are extremely difficult to copy, making it a far more secure and accurate method of identifying a customer correctly.

The state of the art technology is already used by banks as a password replacement system and at ATMs in Japan, the States and some areas of Europe.

A spokesman for Barclays said: “This solution is at the leading edge of innovation and is in direct response to client concerns about the threat of online fraud while making our customers’ lives easier through its convenience.

“We have shown the technology to a range of businesses and the interest and enthusiasm for the product is tremendous. The technology has also been tested by Hitachi for many years and it will be game-changing for UK businesses and consumers.

 

 

Two-thirds of workers approaching retirement intend to continue doing some form of paid or voluntary work once they are in ‘retirement’.

Two-thirds of workers aged 50+ plan to do some form of paid work during retirement, with nearly a third doing so because they enjoy working, rather than for financial reasons. A quarter of workers (26%) plan to do voluntary work in their retirement to help the local community or charities, according to a new report from wealth adviser Towry.

Retirement is no longer a point in time, but may be staggered, or phased. As such, some financial products that have historically been used to fund retirement, notably annuities, may have less relevance in this context.

A spokesman for Towry, said: “With people living and staying fitter for longer in retirement – in many cases well into their 80s – those who have carefully laid financial plans for their future now have the flexibility to choose whether they continue working during retirement.

“This survey has shown that many who have planned well for their retirement are keen to continue playing some part in the working world, be this in a paid or voluntary role. If you seek financial advice early, you may even be able to realise some lifelong dreams during retirement, pursuing the ultimate vocation that you always desired.”