People who bank through online and mobile platforms keep a much closer eye on their finances than those who don’t, according to research from Santander UK.

One in five (20 per cent) UK adults use online or mobile banking services to check their balance or look at what they have been spending once a day or more, and more than one in three (69 per cent) do so at least once a week. By contrast, people using paper statements are much less likely to scrutinise their finances regularly. One in five (20 per cent) haven’t checked their statement in the past three months, rising to nearly two in five (38 per cent) for those in the 18 to 34 year old age group.

Regular online and mobile banking usage is not just restricted to younger age groups. While three in four (76 per cent) 18 to 34 year olds check their online or mobile banking at least once a week, this falls only slightly to 68 per cent of 35 to 54 year olds and 65 per cent of those aged 55 or over, suggesting people of all ages are embracing and enjoying the benefits of digital banking.

A spokesman for Santander, said: “Our research shows that digital banking services are enabling people to keep a closer eye on their money in a way that suits their lifestyle.  And it provides a safe store of historic statements and documents that can be viewed or printed if needed.

“The ease and convenience of online and mobile banking has been embraced by people in the UK across all age groups. However, we do realise that online is not for everybody and we offer many ways for customers to keep on top of their money – we’re here to help if they need to speak to us.”

The living room is the UK’s favourite place when logging in to online or mobile banking, with 60 per cent of those who use these services doing so here. Other popular places include:

  • in bed – seventeen per cent                                      
  • at work – seventeen per cent                        
  • in the kitchen – eleven per cent
  • travelling to work – nine per cent
  • in the bathroom – seven per cent

As A-level results day approaches (17 August), millions of UK parents could be counting the cost as their children get set for university.

A study carried out by Aviva finds parents of university students typically give their children £3,446 per year (around £287 per month), to support them through their studies. This adds up to more than £10,000 on average over a three-year degree.

However, one in 10 parents give children at university least £9,000 a year (£750 per month), while a quarter of parents (23%) give studying children at least £5,000 per year (around £417 per month) to help cover all aspects of university life, including accommodation, living costs, fees, text books and travel.

The insurer commissioned a survey of 2,000 parents who have children at university or who have been to university in the last 10 years.

Eight out of 10 parents questioned said they had given their children some financial support while studying. However, only one in seven parents (14%) said they had saved a fund which would cover all university-related costs for their children.

To put this in context, figures from Aviva’s summer 2016 Family Finances report suggest that those who recently joined higher education could find themselves with £44,000 of student debt when graduating. Alongside this, Family Finance data also shows that the typical UK family has £3,134 in savings.

Students still work to support their studies

Even with support from parents, a significant number of students still work to support themselves while studying. Forty-three per cent of parents said their children had a job during term time, while 42% said their children worked during university holidays.

Worryingly, 37% of parents whose children had paid employment while at university felt that work commitments had a negative impact on their children’s studies. Of even greater concern, one in five parents said that they didn’t feel university was worthwhile for their children.

This echoes an Aviva survey carried out in 2016, which found that 37% of graduates regretted going to university, due to the resulting debts.

Financial help from the extended family

A third of parents said their children had also received financial support from other family members or friends. Grandparents were the most likely contributors, with more than a quarter (27%) giving money to their studying grandchildren. Siblings helped out 6% of students, and 2% of students received financial support from friends of the family.

Almost a third of parents surveyed (30%) have given, or plan to give, money to their children to help with student debts, although only one in 10 (9%) will pay off these debts completely.

Now successful current account switchers to The Co-operative Bank could be £125 better off and help give young homeless people a future by raising an additional £25 for the Bank’s charity partner Centrepoint.

From today, Tuesday 1st August 2017, The Co-operative Bank is paying £125 to eligible customers who switch their account using the Current Account Switching Service1. For every switch that is made meeting the bank’s offer criteria, the bank will make a £25 donation to its charity partner Centrepoint, to go towards the valuable work they are carrying out around the UK in support of vulnerable 16-25 year olds. This new switch offer reflects 25 years of the Co-operative Bank’s customer-led Ethical Policy, which clearly defines how the Bank offers an ethical approach to high street banking. To read more about The Co-operative Bank’s Ethical Policy visit: our Ethical Policy webpage

The offer is available to those switching to The Co-operative Bank’s five star Moneyfacts rated Current Account2 and could also benefit from the Everyday Rewards feature which means they can receive up to £5.50 per month into their account from doing everyday banking arrangements. Customers can also choose to pay their reward to one of the Bank’s nominated charities: Amnesty International; Hospice UK; Oxfam; Refuge and The Woodland Trust. 3

For customers to qualify for the switching incentive, they need to:

  • Make a full current account switch using the Current Account Switch Service;
  • Make sure a minimum of four active Direct Debits are switched to a qualifying current account;
  • Choose from one of the five qualifying accounts: standard Current Account, Current Account Plus, Everyday Extra, Privilege and Privilege Premier;
  • Available to EU residents aged 16+.

The full terms and conditions of the offer are available here:

http://www.co-operativebank.co.uk/currentaccounts/currentaccount

 

Matthew Carter, director of products and communications at The Co-operative Bank said: “This new switching incentive is a way to thank our new customers for choosing to bank with us, and also enables them to help give young homeless people a future through our charity partner Centrepoint. Donations will help to fund the great work they’re doing to tackle youth homelessness across the UK, with their specific focus being on helping those young people aged 16-25 who are often the more vulnerable members of our communities.

Following an extended price freeze, British Gas has today announced that it is hiking the cost of its standard variable tariff for electricity by 12.5% or £76 a year for 3.1 million customers.

The increase, which takes effect from 15 September will add an annual total of £235.6 million to its customers’ energy bills. While it remains the cheapest big six standard tariff it is still £286 more expensive than the cheapest deal available today. British Gas has also announced that it will give a one-off credit £76 to the accounts of more than 200,000 vulnerable customers who receive the Warm Home Discount.

Commenting on the news, Claire Osborne, energy expert at uSwitch.com, says: “With these hikes set to kick in just before the winter, this is a body blow for consumers. At a time when living costs are rising faster than wages, this hike could push many families into the red. Customers should not be lulled into a false sense of security. The British Gas standard tariff remains the cheapest among the big six but it is still £286 more expensive that the cheapest deal on the market today.

“It’s time switch supplier and send a message that price rises like these just aren’t acceptable. Seven in ten households are overpaying for their energy on expensive standard tariffs, yet within ten minutes they could switch and save hundreds of pounds – as well as protect themselves against further hikes by fixing their tariff.”

Half of Brits opting to holiday in the UK this summer could be doing so uninsured, leaving thousands of pounds worth of valuables at risk of theft, loss and damage, according to new research from home insurance provider Policy Expert.

The study of nearly 2,500 people found that half (50%) admitted they didn’t have away from home cover included in their home insurance policy. Just one in eight (13%) holiday-goers said they would take out travel insurance for their ‘staycations’ in the UK.

The research also revealed that day-trippers and holidaymakers travel with an average £676 worth of valuables, potentially risking hundreds of pounds.

While one in four (25%) opt to holiday in the UK to save money, failing to take out insurance could result in an expensive ordeal if personal items are pinched by opportunistic thieves. Almost 1 in 10 (8%) Brits holidaying in the UK has fallen victim of theft, loss or damage, of which a third (31%) didn’t claim on their insurance. The most common items were mobile phones, cameras, wallets/purses and jewellery.

Other reasons for staying in the UK included it being an easier option (42%), more spontaneous (25%) and a love for the great British countryside or seaside (53%).

Adam Powell, from Policy Expert commented: “Many holidaymakers are opting to stay in the UK for a variety of reasons, but whether you’re venturing to the other side of the world or to a seaside break on the coast, it’s important to ensure you’re covered. A fun family holiday could quickly turn sour if your valuables are stolen, lost or damaged. If you don’t want to take out a separate travel policy, check the small print of your home insurance to see if you’re covered when away from home. Having that small amount of extra cover now could go a long way should the worst happen.”

Tips from Policy Expert on preventing theft while on staycation:

  • Keep purses secure and don’t put wallets or mobile phones in your back pocket
  • Zip up hand and shoulder bags – carry bags in front of you with flaps against your body
  • Don’t display jewellery or money – keep it safely in a pocket out of sight
  • Always use your phone’s security lock or PIN number
  • If you’re camping, make sure you don’t leave any valuables in your tent
  • If you’re using a cash machine, be wary of who is around you and make sure your pin is covered.
  • Thieves often work in groups, so try not be distracted by commotion or attention which could be a ploy
  • Finally, check whether your home insurance policy includes away from home cover so if the worst does happen, you at least know you are covered financially

The average premium quoted for a comprehensive car insurance policy is at its highest ever level according to the AA’s benchmark British Insurance Premium Index.

Confirming the chorus of concern expressed by many commentators and the financial pain felt by families, the average ‘Shoparound’ quote rose by 8.3% over the three months ending 30 June and an eye-watering 19.6% over 12 months.

The average Shoparound* quote at the end of the second quarter is £690.35 according to the Index, compared with the first quarter’s £637.51 and £577.22 a year previously.

Regionally, East Anglia has seen the biggest jump, rising by 11% to £677.14 over the three months.  The smallest increase was in Northern Ireland, up 3.5% to £952.92.

Young drivers have taken the brunt of the premium increase, with a 10.6% rise to an average quoted premium of £1,770.92.

Michael Lloyd, the AA’s insurance director says: “This is depressing news for drivers and it’s completely unnecessary.

“The main culprit is the change in the government’s so-called ‘Discount Rate’ that applies to injury payments.  For many years the rate was set at 2.5% but in March this year it was reduced to minus 0.75% which has significantly increased the value of compensation payments.  The discount rate is based on returns from Government bonds and was overdue for review, but it was slashed by a much larger margin than anyone expected.

“The increase in compensation applied immediately to both lump sum pay-outs which can run to millions of pounds for very serious injuries, as well as to lifetime Periodic Payment Orders for life-changing injuries. As a result many insurers found themselves facing immediate financial losses because of the much larger reserves needed to meet future claims.

“Because young drivers are responsible for the greatest number and highest cost of injury claims, their premiums have taken the brunt of the rises.”

Lloyd also points out that increases in Insurance Premium Tax and the continuing scandal of false whiplash injury claims, encouraged by cold-calling law firms, has also contributed to the rises.

“Despite these increases the insurance industry remains extremely competitive and, to a certain extent that has also contributed to the sharp rises we see today.  The culture of comparing prices online – which is the subject of a Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) investigation – has led insurers to offer unprofitable introductory rates to attract new business.  That that has been underlined by expert research last month** suggesting that for every £100 taken in premiums, insurers are now paying out £109 in claims and costs.

Nottingham Building Society is adding seven new branches to its portfolio in 2017 (ex Norwich and Peterborough Building Society) a strategy that has seen the mutual double its branch network over the past five years.

It is amongst only a small number of providers bucking the trend when it comes to assessing the value of an expanding branch network.

By delivering something different to the vanilla service offered by high street banking giants The Nottingham is able to offer a service that’s commercially viable whilst also providing a shot in the arm for local communities.

Digital banking may be the future and a cheaper operating channel but many people still value face to face contact and personal reassurance, particularly when it comes to dealing with complex financial matters such as arranging a mortgage.

While the established banking names continue to trim the size of their branch networks, innovators such as The Nottingham, Handelsbanken and Metro Bank still see the branch as a key part of their customer offering.

Handelsbanken has opened more than 180 branches in the last decade; Nottingham has doubled its branch presence to 67 offices in the last five years whilst Metro Bank has opened 51 branches since first launch in 2010 with up to 250 on the cards as a longer term target

A combination of a smart digital service backed up by a face to face option is a model that’s working for these players – each is offering the customer something a bit more than the norm.

The differentiators can vary – The Nottingham offers a one stop shop for whole of market mortgage searches plus an in house estate agency, Handelsbanken offers a local business banking expertise with flexibility to offer tailor made solutions and Metro Bank stands out by offering a 7 day per week service, instant debit card printing and safety deposit boxes as part of its highly customer centric strategy.

Branch closures can have a devastating knock on effect on our high streets and local communities as the closure of a branch means fewer visitors and less money being spent in the area.

We are quick to criticize big banks for the seemingly never ending programme of closures however even though post offices now offer a counter service to most bank customers, it’s too soon to write off the value of face to face banking.

This certainly rings true for many elderly UK consumers who are not comfortable using online channels due to a lack of understanding and/or an element of mistrust and apprehension due to the rise in cybercrime, phishing and financial scams.

As the summer holiday season heats up, new research from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money (www.sainsburysbank.co.uk/travel/money)  reveals people plan to take around £836 million more in spending money – or £34 per holidaymaker – than this time last year. The reason for this is to offset the fall in Sterling’s value against popular holiday currencies.

The pound is currently worth around three per cent less against the Euro than it was a year ago, and one per cent less against the US Dollar.

The sum of the top five currencies bought from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money in the first five months of this year was 26 per cent higher than the same period in 2016.

To help their money go further on holiday, the findings indicate  9 per cent of people have specifically chosen all-inclusive vacations this summer, and 6 per cent have booked self-catering breaks for this reason.

Nearly one in 20 people (4 per cent) say they will go on fewer excursions whilst on holiday abroad, and 3 per cent have decided to take their summer vacation in the UK this year.  In total, just over one in five (22 per cent) plan to make one or more changes to their summer holidays to ensure they get the most out of their money.

Simon Taylor, head of Travel Money at Sainsbury’s Bank said:  “A fall in Sterling against popular currencies has made holidaymakers shop around for the best deal. Sainsburys shoppers can benefit from better rates when they use their Nectar card to purchase instore and online from Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money.”

Sainsbury’s Bank Travel Money’s findings reveal 21 per cent of people claim they have bought on average £455 of foreign currency at an airport travel money bureau over the past 12 months, despite offering some of the least competitive rates.

M&S Bank is urging holidaymakers to check their car insurance policy before hitting the roads this summer as research reveals that nearly a quarter (23 per cent) of those planning to drive their car in mainland Europe believe they either aren’t, or don’t know if they are, insured to drive in the EU.

When it comes to breakdown cover, more than a third (34%) either don’t know, or say they wouldn’t be covered, if they broke down on one of mainland Europe’s roads this summer. While many policies will offer some form of cover when driving in the EU, the level of protection offered may not be the same as when driving in the UK.

M&S Bank research into car insurance amongst British motorists planning to drive on the Continent this summer revealed that, of those planning to drive in mainland Europe, the vast majority (96 per cent) said that their main purpose for taking to these roads was for a holiday, mini-break, or to visit friends / family.

Paul Stokes, Head of Products at M&S Bank, said: “As British holidaymakers get ready to take to Europe’s roads this summer, it’s important that they check whether they have adequate car insurance, but also breakdown cover in place, before they go on holiday, as some policies don’t offer like-for-like cover outside of the UK; only then will they have total peace of mind, should the worst happen.”

In addition, more than a quarter (26 per cent) either don’t plan to, or don’t know if they will familiarise themselves with the driving rules and regulations of the country they are in, with more than one in ten (11 per cent) saying they don’t have time and six per cent believing that driving in the mainland Europe is the same as driving in the UK.

However, many drivers may be surprised to find that driving regulations can differ widely across many EU countries. For example, if you are travelling in France, vehicles driving through Paris, Lyon and Grenoble must display a ‘Vignette’ (sticker) in the windscreen due to recently introduced low emission zones; failure to purchase and display the vignette when driving in these areas could result in fine between €68 and €135.

In addition, if you are travelling in Austria or Croatia, you would need to carry a first aid kit and warning triangle at all times, while those who require glasses for driving must always ensure they carry a spare pair with them when driving on Portuguese roads.

Paul Stokes continued: “Self-drive holidays are a popular option for many British tourists, so we would urge motorists to do some research into the driving laws of all the countries they will be travelling to before setting off.

“As part of their research, drivers should also consider the length of time they will be away; while some insurance policies include extended EU travel cover as standard, drivers should not assume this is always the case. By taking the necessary precautions before setting off, motorists can help to avoid unnecessary stress and further delays on the roads.”

Top tips for driving overseas this summer:

  • Check the car before setting off, ensuring the oil, screen wash, coolant and tyre pressures are at the correct levels
  • Plan your journey beforehand so you know exactly which regions / countries you’ll be travelling through and then familiariseyourself with the local driving laws
  • Have a travel guide to hand that contains local phrases in case you need to ask for directions or for recommendations of places to stop
  • Make sure you have some local currency to pay for toll booths etc.
  • Bring games / entertainment when travelling with children to ensure they are kept occupied and do not distract the driver
  • Have refreshments in the car to avoid dehydration in the heat

 

The UK’s smaller businesses are facing a total bill of £2.16 billion to chase overdue payments, according to Bacs Payment Schemes Limited (Bacs), the company behind Direct Debit and Bacs Direct Credit in the UK.

That’s in spite of a dramatic drop in the overall late payment debt, with new figures showing that UK small to medium size enterprises (SMEs) are owed £14.2 billion in contrast with five years ago when the total was double that, at £30.2 billion.

Out of the 1.7 million SMEs in the UK, almost 640,000 say they have to wait beyond agreed terms for payments. Scotland has the highest percentage of SMEs reporting late payment issues (46 per cent), followed by Northern Ireland (39 per cent), England close behind (37 per cent) while just over a third of Welsh SMEs (34 per cent) say they experience late payments.

Thirty nine per cent of companies are spending up to four hours a week chasing late payers, while 12 per cent of SMEs employ someone specifically to pursue outstanding invoices.  But there is light at the end of the tunnel – more than two thirds of those who don’t have a late payments problem say being paid by Bacs Direct Credit helps, while 29 per cent say the same about collecting monies owed by Direct Debit.

Almost one in five (19 per cent) of SMEs affected by overdue settlement admit that being owed between £20,000 and £50,000 would be enough to drive them into bankruptcy, with seven per cent of businesses saying they are already in that danger zone.

Of those facing late payments, some 16 per cent struggle to pay their staff on time, while 28 per cent of company directors reduce their own salaries in order to keep essential working capital inside their businesses. And nearly a third (32 per cent) say that overdue invoice settlement forces them to pay their own suppliers late. A quarter (25 per cent)  rely on bank overdrafts to make essential payments, and  15 per cent find it difficult to pay business bills like energy, rates, and rent when they’re due.

A significant issue for SMEs is the amount of time they are being kept waiting beyond their previously agreed payment terms. Almost a third of companies face delays of at least a month beyond their terms and nearly 20 per cent are having to wait more than 60 days before being paid.

Mike Hutchinson, from Bacs, said: “Falling late payment totals is welcome news for small to medium size businesses and for the wider economy. It’s good to hear that relatively simple measures like collecting money by Direct Debit or insisting on payment by Bacs Direct Credit are helping to keep SMEs out of the late payments trap. We’d advise all businesses to investigate if automated payments can help them control their cashflow more effectively.”