Wednesday, 19 February 2020 15:46

UK cash system is 'at risk of collapse'

The UK’s cash system will collapse without urgent legislation to protect it, according to a new study.

Panel members behind the Access to Cash Review, which published its final report a year ago, said action is needed to protect cash for as long as people need it.

They say that in the 12 months since their last review, significant issues within the country’s cash infrastructure remain.

The review was set up by ATM network provider Link to help understand how consumers use cash and how their requirements to access physical money will change over the next five to 15 years.

 

Source: https://uk.finance.yahoo.com/news/uk-cash-system-is-at-risk-of-collapse-100821647.html?guccounter=1&guce_referrer=aHR0cHM6Ly9uZXdzLmdvb2dsZS5jb20v&guce_referrer_sig=AQAAAFaPwxCVK4k3z-9fkowPJ57zWEIuKlKGp_-JVo928x4pfzA37j_-hSsJN1ZLCLE1S4sEON0KK2DkCs92bvIdwt2Y4mkUDQHEvQV9Fh7HoVb7aVi0A7xN71BRAwvOxrbSIgppswfPe0h8d_qYUK-NXS668LN9Gc4IV2j46Od3uaSr

Wednesday, 19 February 2020 15:41

Fuel prices push UK inflation to six-month high

UK inflation in January rose to a six-month high as petrol and house prices rose, official figures show.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) stood at 1.8% last month, up from 1.3% in December, the Office for National Statistics said.

"The rise in inflation is largely the result of higher prices at the pump and airfares falling by less than a year ago," the ONS said.

The rise is ahead of economists' CPI forecast of 1.6% in January.

CPI remains below the Bank of England's 2% target for inflation. Wednesday's inflation data pushed the value of the pound above $1.30. Versus the euro, the pound had started the day down 0.25% but rose back to trade flat against the single currency.

However, some analysts said that the new figures were unlikely to "move the dial" on the central bank's next decision on interest rates in March.

 

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51557550

Wednesday, 05 February 2020 11:59

Payroll: What we know for 2020/21

It’s been a tense few weeks for payroll software developers and tax agents who are trying to prepare employers for the new tax year. The software development cycle for the last 18 years has worked on the basis of having key pieces of tax information announced as part of an autumn statement, rather than being left to a spring budget.

This year was very different. When parliament was dissolved in November 2019, the civil service went into a period of election purdah until mid-December which prevented any discussions about next tax year taking place with policymakers.

If we’d had an early February budget, the timetable for revising software would’ve been tight, but just about deliverable. However, a Budget on the 11 March presents a problem.

 

 

Source: https://www.accountingweb.co.uk/tax/hmrc-policy/payroll-what-we-know-for-202021?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=AWUKPOW050220&utm_content=AWUKPOW050220+CID_1b1c3d68e35b3689bdc21d6ab20be165&utm_source=internal_cm&utm_term=Read%20more

Britain's blue-chip benchmark index finished down around 95 points lower, or 1.3%, at 7,286, going below 7,300 for the first time in seven weeks. FTSE 100 index closed decidedly in the red on Friday as January ended on a sour note and health fears continue to weigh on global markets.

Britain's blue-chip benchmark index finished down around 95 points lower, or 1.3%, at 7,286, going below 7,300 for the first time in seven weeks. Over the week as a whole, Footsie lost 3.9%.

The FTSE 250 shed over 148 points on the day to close at 21,143.  Over on Wall Street, the Dow Jones lost 382 points, while the S&P 500 shed around 40 points and the Nasdaq plunged 86 points.

Chris Beauchamp,  chief market analyst at online trader IG noted that few people would have suggested that  a ‘major virus outbreak’ would have been seen as a big risk for markets in 2020.

 

source: https://www.proactiveinvestors.co.uk/companies/news/911933/ftse-100-closes-down-13-as-january-ends-on-sour-note-911933.html

 

There are a few special days in my career that stand out because of the historical events I was privileged to live through and comment on – memorialize, perhaps – to my colleagues. The two that stand out most:  I remember the morning meeting I gave on 10 November 1989, the day after the Berlin Wall fell. Luckily in those pre-internet days I had a copy of Trotsky’s The Russian Revolution and so could get the quote right:  You are bankrupt, your role in history is played out. Go out where you belong – onto the dustheap of history. I remember the day Barack Obama was elected; choking back emotion, I quoted to my colleagues the words of Martin Luther King:  "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” I thought Obama’s election signaled that that day had arrived in the US. How wrong I was. 

But what am I to say to my colleagues today, Brexit Day? A day nearly as heavy with historical import, but for me, totally bereft of the hope and vision of a new, better future that these other landmark dates were imbued with. On the contrary, this seems to me to be a country rejecting the future and turning to a mythical past, and in the process committing economic and political suicide:  the impoverishment of the people leading, most likely, to the dissolution of the centuries-old alliance among the several nations of the United Kingdom. This time the map is being redrawn out of fear, not out of hope.

 

 

Source: https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/bye-bye-britain%3A-pain-ahead-for-the-uk-and-gbp-2020-01-31

 

 

 

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Donald Trump said they looked forward to continued close cooperation and the negotiation of an “ambitious free trade agreement” during a phone call on Monday, Johnson’s Downing Street office said.

“The prime minister spoke with President Trump, who congratulated him on the result of the general election,” a Downing Street spokesman said in a statement.

“They discussed the huge importance of the relationship between the UK and U.S., and looked forward to continued close cooperation on issues such as security and trade, including the negotiation of an ambitious free trade agreement.”

 

 

source: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-britain-eu-trump/johnson-trump-look-forward-to-ambitious-trade-agreement-downing-street-idUKKBN1YK1HV

 

 

 

As the country contemplates the election results, people's thoughts will turn to the potential effect on their finances.

Money matters are often to the fore at this, expensive, time of year. The December election is likely to mean some changes to the pound in your pocket before the winter is out, with other changes more long-term.

Here are some of the key issues, based on the Conservative Party's manifesto, its plans before the campaign and its promises during it.

Overseas Christmas holiday boost

Those who are heading abroad for Christmas will see their holiday money go a little further.

The value of the pound improved against the US dollar and the euro when the Conservative victory became clear, and this will now have fed through to the rates at bureaux de change.

However, travelling overseas at this time of year can be very expensive, so this will only bring a little relief.

A Budget within 100 days

The big set-piece financial event of the year had been planned for November, but was postponed as the prime minister pushed for an election.

During the campaign, Boris Johnson promised a Budget within 100 days of the polling day if the Conservatives were elected. This is likely to mean a Budget in February or March, setting any changes to taxes, benefits and allowances in time for the start of the new financial year in April.

Mr Johnson promised that a tax break for workers, through a change to National Insurance, would be confirmed in that first Budget.

The current threshold sees workers paying National Insurance contributions once they earn £8,628 a year. The Conservatives said this would rise to £9,500.

Economists at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) calculated this would be worth about £85 a year for all those with earnings above £9,500 a year.

This Budget - and any subsequent ones during this five-year Parliament - will see no income tax or VAT rises (nor any National Insurance rises), according to a promise in the Conservative Party's manifesto. However, this was described as "ill-advised" by the IFS owing to the potential lack of room for financial manoeuvre it creates.

 

source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50778312

 

 

HSBC is to bring in a single overdraft rate of 39.9% for UK customers from March 2020, as much as quadrupling the rate it charges some customers.

However, the bank is removing a £5 daily fee for going into an unarranged overdraft and introducing an interest-free £25 buffer on some accounts.

It follows a similar move from Nationwide Building Society in July.

The new annual rate comes in response to tough new rules from regulators designed to protect consumers.

But one analyst warned that steep overdraft rates could now become the "new normal".

HSBC UK currently charges rates of 9.9% to 19.9% on arranged overdrafts, but the higher rate will be applied across its whole range of accounts except for its student bank account.

The £25 buffer will apply to Bank Accounts and Advance Bank Accounts, providing leeway for those going slightly overdrawn.

HSBC said that as a result of this and the removal of the £5 daily fee for unarranged overdrafts, seven in 10 who use an overdraft would be better off or the same as a result of the changes.

But that suggests around a third could end up worse off. The bank has eight to nine million current account holders in the UK.

Madhu Kejriwal, HSBC UK's head of lending and payments, said: "By simplifying our overdraft charging structure we are making them easier to understand, more transparent and giving customers tools to help them make better financial decisions."

A Nationwide branchImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Image captionNationwide has also raised its overdraft rates

The move comes in response to Financial Conduct Authority's plans to shake up the "dysfunctional" overdraft market - including stopping banks and building societies from charging higher prices for unarranged overdrafts than for arranged overdrafts.

The new rules, which come into force next April, will require providers to charge a simple annual interest rate on all overdrafts and get rid of fixed fees.

But there have been concerns that banks will hike authorised overdraft charges to claw back some revenue lost from unauthorised overdraft fees.

In July, Nationwide also unveiled a new single rate of 39.9% across its adult current account range. Its changes came into force in November.

Helen Saxon, banking editor at MoneySavingExpert.com, said: "With both of the first banks to announce changes moving overdraft interest rates to around 40%, we have to wonder if this is the new normal."

Overdrafts in numbers chart

The FCA has acknowledged banks may look to increase their arranged overdraft prices as a result of the new rules.

But it argues the net effect will still be better for consumers - and increased competition between providers as a result of the changes will constrain any price increases.

Rachel Springall, a finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, said: "It's disappointing to see such a hike in overdraft charges but there may be more brands coming out in the coming weeks to announce changes too.

"This shake-up is designed to make things fairer and more transparent to consumers.

"Borrowers would be wise to scrutinise any changes to their current account and look to switch elsewhere if they find that the account has lost its shine."

 

source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50666812

Marketing of high-risk investments - known as mini-bonds - to regular savers is to be banned by the City regulator.

Armchair investors have been tempted by the returns promised on these speculative bonds, which were often much greater than mainstream products.

But they have been at the heart of scandals, such as the collapse of London Capital & Finance (LCF) when 12,000 people lost money.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) marketing ban starts in January.

The ban will last initially for 12 months, while the FCA considers permanent rules.

What is a mini-bond?

A mini-bond is described by the FCA as being a kind of IOU issued by a company to an investor. In return, the investor receives a fixed rate of interest over a set period of time. At the end of this period, the investors' money is due to be repaid.

The return on investors' money entirely depends on the success and proper running of the issuer's business. If the business fails, investors may get nothing back.

The ban applies to arrangements where funds raised from a mini-bond are used to lend to a third party, invest in other companies or buy properties.

The FCA only has power to intervene in marketing - not in the sale of the products themselves.

The regulator said they could still be marketed to "sophisticated investors", who could declare themselves able to understand the risks, or high net-worth individuals with an annual income of more than £100,000 or net assets of £250,000 or more.

Why have they been in the spotlight?

Earlier this year, people lost money on two investments involving mini-bonds.

Almost 12,000 people who put a total of £236m into a high-risk bond scheme marketed as a fixed-rate ISA with London Capital & Finance (LCF), lost their money.

LCF promotional materialImage copyrightLCF PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL
Image captionLondon Capital & Finance marketing promised high returns

LCF advertised itself as a low-risk ISA, but in reality the fund did not qualify as an ISA.

Then last month, investors who put money into two businesses started by Grand Designs presenter Kevin McCloud were warned they could lose their investment.

HAB Land Finance and its owner HAB Land called in liquidators after a period of "difficult trading".

Potential investors were pitched mini-bonds with 8% returns to crowdfund two projects.

'Inappropriate'

Andrew Bailey, FCA chief executive, told the BBC's Today programme: "This is the sixth piece of intervention we're doing this year. We are also in close discussions with the internet service companies, because we want to limit the marketing of these things through that channel.

"We think it is inappropriate to market the complex versions of these instruments to retail customers, not to the high net-worth individuals, but to retail customers.

"We want to see more action. I'm keen that the legislation that the government proposed on online harms - which I know addresses really important issues which are outside our world - can also include financial harms.

"I also want more action from Google - I think they can play a big role because it is the major channel now and we find these things just popping up all the time."

Moira O'Neill, head of personal finance at Interactive Investor, said she could understand the attraction of mini-bonds.

"Savers are now in the unfortunate position where even if they can lock their money away for four years, they will only get 2%. So the prospect of lending money to a company via a mini-bond for a similar period and getting four times that amount, or more, is tempting," she said.

"But mini-bonds are paying higher rates than bank accounts precisely because they do contain an element of risk - essentially the risk that the company could go out of business.

"And it's often too difficult for customers to assess if are they paying enough to take that risk."

 

source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-50556476

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