05 Sep 2018  New research from Royal London reveals the average cost of a funeral is £3,757, with costs having stabilised this year (£3,784 in 2017).

The Royal London National Funeral Cost Index, in its fifth year, shows that London has consistently been the most expensive region in the UK for a funeral, with the average funeral costing £4,838.

Kensal Green, in London, remains the most expensive location, with the average cost of a funeral at £7,489. Burial funerals in Kensal Green have also increased and now cost almost £12,000. Northern Ireland also remains the least expensive region, with a funeral in Belfast costing an average of £2,950.

Funeral Debt

One in 10 took on debt to pay for a loved one’s funeral, with the average amount of debt taken on by individuals rising to an all-time high of £1,744. Of those who struggled with funeral costs, 28% of people borrowed money from friends and family and one in five took on debt. Sadly, one in 10(9%) continue to sell possessions to give their loved ones a decent send-off.

Families struggling with funeral costs could be entitled to help from the Government to pay for necessary costs but the research found that the support offered is inadequate. Funeral director’s fees, a coffin, hearse and collection and care of the deceased are not seen as necessary costs by the Government and only up to £700 is offered to bereaved families to cover costs. This leaves bereaved families with an average shortfall of £1,500 if they use the services of a funeral director.

Five years of funerals

In the fifth year of Royal London’s research into funeral costs, the average cost of a UK funeral has risen by 6%, from £3,551 in 2014 to £3,757 in 2018.

Individual funeral debt has increased at a much higher rate – 34% – in the last five years, with people now taking on an average debt of £1,744, compared to £1,305 in 2014.

Royal London’s funeral cost expert, Louise Eaton-Terry, said:

“High funeral costs have left many families taking on a mountain of debt, with our research showing a huge increase in the amount being borrowed by the bereaved over the last five years. More support needs to be offered to families struggling to pay for funeral costs, and as a result being forced into debt. 

“The funeral payment is seriously lacking, and it’s shocking that the government do not consider funeral director’s fees and a coffin to be a “necessary” cost. We want the social fund to cover the cost of a basic funeral, as no one should have to struggle to give their loved ones a decent send-off.”

Director of Quaker Social Action, Judith Moran, said:

“Funeral costs have risen way out of line with incomes but, understandably, people will do all they can to provide a decent send-off for a loved one. Funeral-related debt is at an all-time high and the cost of providing a decent send-off for a loved one comes with a heavy financial – and emotional – burden.

“Funeral debt can hinder the grieving process, and for many people the debt they take on may take months or even years to pay off. Everyone wants to be able to provide a meaningful, dignified funeral for someone they love. In a fair society, everyone should have access to a respectful funeral. “

04 Sept 2018 This September, children will go back to school each carrying an average of £242 worth of valuables in their backpacks, new research from home insurer Policy Expert has revealed.

There are over 8.7 million children aged between six and 16 at school in the UK – meaning there are more than £2.1 billion worth of valuables in school bags alone.

Breaking this down, parents admit to sending their kids aged six and under to school with an average of £245 worth of valuables, 59% more than those aged 6-10, who carry an average of £101. Children aged 15-16 carry the most amount of valuables to school, taking with them an average of £392, followed by those aged 11-14 costing an average of £247. 17-18 year olds in sixth form or college, carry an average of £652 in their bags.

Age Value of items (£)
Under 6 £245
6-10 £101
11-14 £247
15-16 £392
17-18 £652

Though parents seem to be happy to send children off to the classroom with expensive gadgets, the research also found that a third have lost an item taken to school, 8% have had something stolen, and 22% have damaged a valuable.

Despite this, 35% do not have away-from-home cover included as part of their home insurance, which would protect valuables financially if lost, damaged or stolen when away from the home. A further three in 10 aren’t sure if they do or not, and two thirds don’t have separate insurance for their gadgets, risking a potentially costly ordeal.

The study of over 3,700 adults revealed that 11 is the age when the majority – one in five (22%) – would let their child start taking a mobile phone to school, closely followed by aged 12 (20%).

Over two thirds of children aged under six will be carrying technology, such as a laptop, iPad or tablet, and handheld games consoles to school. Overall, sporting equipment topped the list of the most popular items in the playground this school term, with almost two-thirds (63%) carrying kit in their bags. This was closely followed by watches (42%), cash (41%) and mobile phones (38%). And it’s not just gadgets and games that parents need to worry about. The average school uniform costs parents £122, with well over a tenth of adults spending more than £200.

Item Child under 6 Child 6-10 Child 11-14 Child 15-16
Laptop 3% 1% 3% 8%
iPad/tablet 3% 1% 4% 8%
Wearable tech (e.g Fitbit) 2% 4% 6% 6%
Mobile phone 2% 2% 19% 14%
Jewellery 3% 4% 6% 8%
Watch 8% 17% 10% 7%
Handheld games console 3% 2% 3% 4%
Cash 5% 10% 14% 12%
Kindle 2% 2% 3% 5%
Purse/wallet 6% 8% 11% 11%
Musical instrument 8% 15% 7% 5%
Sporting equipment 20% 23% 11% 9%

 

Adam Powell, Operations Director at Policy Expert, commented: “Hidden on the playground this September will be £2.1 billion worth of valuables. While it’s common to see kids carrying a mobile phone or laptop, some parents might be surprised at the actual value of the contents of their child’s backpack. If you are sending your child to school with high cost items, it’s best to make sure you have away-from-home cover included in your home insurance policy. Doing so will not only help avoid tears on the playground but will soften any financial loss as well.”

03 Sept 2018 They may have a reputation for being more concerned with planning big nights out on the town than getting down to serious study, yet according to new research money is the single biggest cause of stress for the current crop of students.

For the majority of students an overdraft is essential, with around two thirds (65%) of students living off them, as they balance studies, socialising and surviving on a diet of pasta and beans on toast.

But when it comes to overspending, the poll from Nationwide FlexStudent – the UK’s only completely fee-free student account – reveals four in ten (44%) parents cover their children’s overdrafts as a student, either in part or full, with boys twice as likely to be bailed out by the Bank of Mum and Dad when they finish university. One in five boys get their parents to pay off the entirety of their overdrafts versus just one in ten girls.

The survey of 1,000 students also shows that since money management is new to them, close to two thirds (62%) think of their overdraft as an extension of their bank balance.

However, students are also savvy when the going gets tough, with nearly half of those surveyed having missed out on social activities to cut back on spending, while more than a third (38%) have got a job to stave off further borrowing.

The national poll reveals money as the biggest cause of sleepless nights for students, ahead of workloads, social life and relationship issues. Around two thirds (64%) listed money as one of their biggest burdens, with workload bothering just over half (53%), accommodation preoccupying just over a quarter and social life impacting just over one in five (22%).

The top five biggest university causes of stress are:

Top 5 stresses at University % worrying
1 Money and Finances 64%
2 Workload 53%
3 Accommodation Issues 28%
4 Social Life 22%
5 Relationship Issues 20%

When asked why students find their finances so hard going, a lack of experience was the main theme. One in five (20%) confessed to not being prepared to manage their money, while more than half admitted having no idea where to find financial help while away from home.

Around two thirds of students wish that they had been taught how to budget more effectively before moving to university, and more than a third didn’t realise how much it costs to live away from home. Worryingly, almost a quarter (23%) had failed to budget enough to cover their basic household bills.

Carl Burke, Nationwide’s Head of Current Account Products, said: “Starting university can be a daunting time without the added pressure of managing money on your own. As our research shows, money is the single biggest worry for students, with many not having had experience of budgeting.

“That’s why Nationwide has created a student current account that is simple and flexible to use, with an interest-free and fee-free overdraft that allows students to stay in control and help relieve one of the main pressures of student life.”

28 Aug 2018 As many UK holidaymakers gear up for late summer holidays in September, new figures reveal they are returning home with an average £57 each of foreign currency jingling in their pockets according to Sainsbury’s Bank.

Across the UK, those from Belfast return with the most foreign currency (£74), followed by Edinburgh (£67) and Nottingham (£66). Cardiff residents are the biggest spenders, coming home with just £43.

Top three cities with travellers returning with the most and least amounts of unspent holiday money:

Top three cities with most unspent holiday money(1)

Average (£)

Top three cities with least unspent holiday money(1)

Average (£)

Belfast

£74

Cardiff

£43

Edinburgh

£67

Southampton

£50

Nottingham

£66

Plymouth

£51

When it comes to purchasing their foreign currency over a quarter (27%) of holidaymakers think ahead and purchase their travel money a week in advance. This is followed by a fifth who sort their money out two weeks before and 19% tick currency exchange off the to do list a month before. 

Simon Taylor from Sainsbury’s Bank said:  “September is one of the busiest months for travel money with many customers buying currency. Leaving it until the last minute, especially at the airport can be costly, so it’s wise to make the most of your money and get the best deal by organising it in advance.

“And for those who like to stick to a tight budget, a pre-loaded holiday money card is a good idea. It can be used worldwide and can be loaded with additional money while you’re away.  It comes with an app so that you can keep track of transactions.”

A pre-paid holiday card like Sainsbury’s Bank’s Multi-currency Cash Passport can be loaded with holiday cash weeks in advance, on the day of travel or even once the holiday has commenced enabling better holiday budgeting.  The cardis chip + PIN protected and there is no direct link to your bank account, giving peace of mind when you’re on your holiday.

For travellers  exchanging money, cash remains king with over half (54%) of travellers taking their currency in notes, while carrying a debit card or credit card that can be used abroad come second and third (15% and 12% respectively).

Sainsbury’s Bank continually looks at ways to strengthen the rewards for its customers and now Nectar customers will receive more value for their money, through receiving 10 Nectar Points per £100 spent in bureaux and five Nectar Points per £100 spent online  This is available across all currencies.

Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money offers 0% commission on foreign currency, consistently competitive exchange rates and has over 50 currencies available to order. Open seven days a week and with convenient parking, customers can also purchase a Sainsbury’s Bank Multi-currency Cash PassportTM and collect travel money while shopping.

23 Aug 2018  A surprising number of British adults are living with secret debt, concealing it from their partners, new research has revealed.

The survey of 1,003 UK adults carried out by the UK’s largest personal insolvency practice, Creditfix, found that more than a half of Brits are keeping their debts secret from their partners.

Of those who kept debt concealed from their other halves, 45% admitted they had kept credit card debt a secret, followed by loans (42%), overdrafts (38%) and university fees (22%).

When quizzed on the reasons for this, 1 in 3 said they were worried about causing arguments.

This was followed by more than 1 in 4 (27%) who said they felt embarrassed about their debts. Meanwhile, a similar number of 22% felt it would put added stress in their relationship if they were to admit to having financial woes.

Almost 1 in 5 didn’t want to lose their partners by discussing their debts, whilst 13% didn’t feel the need to divulge this information to their other halves.

Taylor Flynn, Marketing Manager at Creditfix said: “The research just shows how common it is to hide debt and money woes from partners and loved ones. There are some touching reasons for this – many don’t want to cause their loved one’s stress or additional worry, but many adults are also embarrassed about their debt. However, people needn’t suffer in silence. These debts can easily be solved by seeking help and advice at the earliest opportunity, in order to prevent embarrassment and causing further stress. By taking control of debt and creating a plan to tackle these financial woes, it can also feel a lot easier for people to discuss them with their partners.”

According to the survey, those aged between 25-34 were most likely to conceal their debt from a partner.

23 Aug 2018 An investigation by Which? has revealed inconsistencies are rife across price comparison sites, with mismatching details found in six out of 10 of the policies listed.

The consumer champion looked at the policies offered on four of the biggest price comparison websites and can reveal a picture of inconsistencies and a lack of real choice that could be leaving consumers at risk of purchasing policies that simply don’t meet their needs.

With the Competition and Markets Authority finding that over four fifths (85%) of internet users have used price comparison sites, Which? is concerned that millions of consumers are not getting a clear picture from the websites they visit.

Which? cross-checked policy descriptions for 21 brands across four popular price comparison sites against the policy information provided on insurance brands’ own websites and in policy documents. And Which? found that for six in ten policies at least one detail published on the price comparison site was different to that posted in policy documents.

Looking into price comparison websites Which? found examples including:

  • Ten claims that a courtesy car is guaranteed should your car require repair, whereas the policy document made no such guarantee.

  • Claims about sunroof cover being included that weren’t reflected in actual policy wording.

  • Unreliable levels of cover for personal accident. In one case, for broker Autonet Plus, GoCompare described cover up to £5,000 for disability, but the limit in the policy document was only £2,500.

  • Incorrect information about cover for loss and theft of keys.

Investigating the choice on offer across price comparison sites, Which? discovered that in one scenario the top 30 results were being sold by as few as 12 providers. In some cases this was down to the same provider offering different levels of cover. However, in other cases it was trickier to spot that the choice on offer was more limited than it appeared.

Although many policies appeared identical, there were clear differences in price. The biggest coming between apparently identical Aviva policies. Motor Quote Direct on Go Compare was £71 more expensive in a scenario featuring a London based driver, than the cheapest offer on Compare The Market (via broker Autonet) for what appeared to be the same policy.

Which? is encouraging people not to rely entirely on the policy details published on price comparison websites. Consumers are advised to make a list of the policy features that most matter to them, before checking the policy documents on the relevant provider’s website to ensure they get the right product.

Harry Rose, Which? Money Editor said:

“We were staggered to see such a high amount of errors across the policies listed on price comparison sites. Millions of consumers visit these websites, hoping to find all the information they need to make an informed decision in one place – yet our findings cast real doubt on their ability to do so.

 

22 Aug 2018 New research by credit experts TotallyMoney has revealed the best average credit score locations across the UK, with Greater London soaring to the top, and Hertfordshire following close behind.

http://www.totallymoney.com/credit-map-of-the-uk/

The Free Credit Report company looked at credit scores for all available postcode areas, to calculate the average score for that district. TotallyMoney then ranked them in order: from highest average area, to lowest.

Taking the lead

Kingston upon Thames was the town to soar to the top of the table, with the highest average credit score of 547.

Greater London areas are shown to be the best performers, with seven locations ranking in the top 20.

As well as Kingston upon Thames, Greater London areas Harrow, Twickenham, Sutton, Slough, Enfield, and Ilford all rank in the top 20, taking places 1st, 3rd, 5th, 10th, 11th, 13th, and 16th respectively.

The second-best performers were areas in Hertfordshire, with three locations ranking in the top 20. Watford, Hemel Hempstead, and St Albans took places 2nd, 7th and 12th respectively.

Aberdeen (14th) and Wick (17th) were the only areas in Scotland to feature in the top 20. No areas in Wales ranked in the top 20.

Trailing behind

Although Cleveland took last place with an average credit score of 513, Yorkshire was revealed to be the worst performing county overall, with six locations taking places in the bottom 20.

Second from last was Yorkshire’s Doncaster, which has an average credit score of 514. Hull also ranked in the bottom five, with an average credit score of 515.

Midlands’ Wolverhampton also featured in the bottom five, one spot below Hull.

Two areas in Scotland, Dundee and Kilmarnock, ranked in the bottom 20. Although locations in Wales didn’t rank in the top 20, they didn’t rank in the bottom 20 either.

Based on the scores, TotallyMoney has created an interactive map showing the average credit scores across all areas of the UK. People can look at the map to see the average credit score for their location and compare this with their own, to see whether they are above or below the average for their area.

TotallyMoney Head of Brand and Content Joe Gardiner said: “Your credit score gives you a handy snapshot of how well you’re managing your money. And the credit ‘haves’ in the South East score higher than the credit ‘have nots’ in the North. But whether you’re in Lands End or John O’Groats, you can check our interactive map to see if you’re a better borrower than your neighbours.

“Of course, for the full picture of your financial fortitude, and to find out how to improve your score, you’ll need to check out your credit report. Get yours free from TotallyMoney, and it’ll be the Kardashians who are trying to keep up with you.”

For more information, please visit:

http://www.totallymoney.com/credit-map-of-the-uk/

20 Aug 2018  With the UK experiencing record breaking temperatures this summer, new research from American Express shows over 40 million* UK adults (77%) will stay at home over the August bank holiday weekend and plan to spend £104 each – equating to £4.2 billion across the UK.

While Brits hoping for a sun-filled staycation are set to treat themselves to a spot of shopping and meals out, tackling some home improvements will also be a popular choice over the long weekend.

Top five activities for the August bank holiday Average spend
Going shopping £19
Going to a restaurant for a meal £19
Home improvements £17
Going out for drinks (pub, bar, etc.) £12
Going to a theme/amusement park, zoo, outdoor activity centre etc. £10

Stephen Steinhardt, Director at American Express, says: “It’s the last bank holiday before Christmas, so it’s great to see that so many people will be making the most of the extra day off. Whether it’s a long weekend fixing up the house or enjoying a barbecue in the sun, it’s also wise to make the most of bank holiday spending. Putting costs on a credit or charge card that offers rewards or cashback for spending means more treats can be enjoyed when it comes to the festive season later this year.”

Tips to help people to enjoy the bank holiday weekend:

  1. Earn rewards to use when the weather cools down: With Brits preparing to spend hundreds this bank holiday, use a card that gives rewards and points that can be redeemed in the run up to Christmas. The American Express Platinum Cashback Everyday Credit Card offers up to 5% cashback on spend in the first three months (up to £100 cashback)
  2. Explore what’s on your doorstep: If there’s a park, a wood or an open garden near where you live that you’ve never explored, make a plan to tick it off your list this weekend. Pack a picnic and a blanket and enjoy a free and fun adventure on your doorstep.
  3. Check activities and events in your local area: Often there are free or cheap activities or festivals taking place over the long weekend. Check the internet or your local paper to see what’s happening near you.
  4. Rewarding research: While there may be no such thing as a free lunch, doing your research can certainly make your money go further when it comes to eating out. Look online for restaurant vouchers and discount codes. If you use a credit card that offers rewards check what deals are available through your card.
  5. Share the cooking: To make the most of the extra day off many will be planning on catching up friends and family, help spread the cost of hosting by asking everyone to bring their favourite dish or drinks to ensure everyone gets to enjoy the day.

15 Aug 2018  Millions of UK adults do not feel financially resilient and would not be able to manage a financial shock or loss of income, according to a new report from Zurich UK. Developed with neuroscientist Dr. Jack Lewis, the Cost of Resilience examines the impact that money, including having products designed to protect and insure against loss, have on feelings of resilience.

According to the research, one in three (34%) adults, the equivalent to more than 17.6 million adults across the UK, say they would not be able to recover quickly from an unexpected financial shock, such as an unanticipated period without household income or a sudden need to spend a significant sum. A further one in seven (15%) have no idea whether they would be able to cope or not.

Yet, the report found that almost a quarter (24%) of UK adults have no savings to fall back on and almost the same number (26%) do not feel in control of their life.

Feeling resilient is defined as the ability to recover from shock, emotional and financial. The study found that to feel financially resilient:

  • Nearly two in five (37%) said it required them to have savings
  • A quarter (22%) said they would need to not be in any debt
  • One in seven (17%) said they would need a secure job
  • A third (33%) said that earning between £1,000-£2,000 a month would help them to feel financially resilient. This increases to £2,000-£4,000 for almost a fifth (18%)

According to ONS, the average net UK individual income is £1,278 meaning that adults could be earning slightly less than the amount needed to feel financially resilient. This combined with people not being in a position to overcome a financial shock or loss of income – should they have to take time off work due to sickness – means many would struggle significantly if disaster was to strike.

While a third said they would struggle to recover from a financial shock or loss of income, only one in ten (11%) have Income Protection, a financial product that shields your pay against illness, injury or being unable to work. Instead, people are more likely to have insurance for their home (71%), holidays (70%) and mobile phone (18%).

There are misconceptions with products such as income protection, often with the price being too expensive being the most common.  For a 35 year old professional earning the average salary of £27,000, wanting to protect 50% of their net income, it can cost as little as £9 a month –  less than one medium coffee (£2.50) a week over the course of a month. The policy holder would benefit from a payout for up to two years if they were unable to work due to illness or injury.

The report also found that should an individual experience a financial shock or loss of income, UK adults would struggle to make financial sacrifices, with giving up the family home (51%), car (37%) and holidays (23%) proving the most difficult. More than one in ten (11%) have no idea of the impact a financial shock would have on their household income and they wouldn’t know what sacrifices they’d have to make.

  1. Giving up my home – 51%
  2. Giving up my car – 37%
  3. Not going on a family holiday – 23%
  4. Buy less/ no birthday/ Christmas presents – 23%
  5. Not buying any ‘luxury’ food items – 14%
  6. Not buying lunch when out – 13%
  7. Giving up weekly nights out (e.g. going out for dinner, drinks etc.) – 12%
  8. Giving up my cinema / movie subscription (e.g. Netflix) – 8%
  9. Giving up my gym membership – 7%
  10. Giving up my magazine subscription – 5%

 15 Aug 2018 Cifas, the UK’s leading fraud prevention service, has released new figures showing that identity fraud has fallen for the first time since 2014.

Cifas members recorded 84,463 cases in the first six months of the year, a 5% drop compared to the same period in 2017 (89,199).  Despite the reduction, identity fraud still represents over half of all fraud recorded by the UK’s not-for-profit fraud data sharing organisation, with 87% of identity frauds perpetrated online.

The latest figures show there has been a reduction in the volume of bank accounts being targeted by identity fraudsters, with cases falling by 12% (2,882 fewer cases), and a 34% reduction in attempts to obtain mobile phone contracts (3,096 fewer cases).

However the figures reveal a sharp rise in identity fraudsters applying for plastic card accounts, with cases increasing by 12% (3,454 more cases). The figures also show identity fraud against online retail accounts has risen by 24% (1,232 more cases).

The vast majority of identity fraud happens when a fraudster pretends to be an innocent individual to buy a product or open an account in their name.  Victims may not even realise that they have been targeted until a bill arrives for something they did not buy or they experience problems with their credit rating. To carry out this kind of fraud successfully, fraudsters need access to their victim’s personal information such as name, date of birth, address, their bank and who they hold accounts with.

Fraudsters get hold of this in a variety of ways, from stealing mail through to hacking; obtaining data on the dark and surface web, exploiting personal information on social media, or though ‘social engineering’ where innocent parties are persuaded to give up personal information to someone pretending to be from their bank, the police or a trusted retailer.