Money Box

Money Box

United Kingdom

The latest news from the world of personal finance plus advice for those trying to make the most of their money.

Episodes

Money Box Live: Renting a Home.  

Is our rental market working well? Adam Shaw wants to hear your views about rents, deposits, fees and tenancy agreements, whatever's on your mind, call 03700 100 444 between 1pm and 3.30pm on Wednesday 21 June. Standard geographic charges from landlines and mobiles will apply. Or e-mail moneybox@bbc.co.uk with your thoughts and experiences. Renting a home is the only option for growing numbers of people who are unable to buy a property. The number of privately rented homes has doubled over the last ten years and one in four are families with children, up from one in ten a decade ago, according to the English Housing Survey. Shelter and Generation Rent argue that the rental market needs to catch up with the changing needs of these long term tenants who want greater stability and security. Affordability is also an issue. On average, house buyers spend 18% of their household income on mortgage payments, social renters 28% and private renter 35%. Large deposits and additional fees add to the cost. On Wednesday's programme, Adam Shaw and guests explore the challenges facing private renters, ask how the system could be improved and find out about the overhaul planned in Scotland. On the panel will be: Seb Klier, Campaigns Manager, Generation Rent. David Cox, CEO, Association of Residential Letting Agents. Chris Town, Vice Chair. Residential Landlords Association. John Bibby, Senior Policy Officer, Shelter. We'd love to hear your views. Call 03700 100 444 between 1pm and 3.30pm on Wednesday 21 June. Standard geographic charges from landlines and mobiles will apply. Or e-mail moneybox@bbc.co.uk with your thoughts and experiences. Presenter: Adam Shaw Producer: Diane Richardson Editor: Andrew Smith.

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Financial help for Grenfell Tower residents  

More information on the stories featured in this week's edition of Money Box can be found in the related links section below. What financial help is available for the Grenfell Tower residents who survived the fire which destroyed their homes in the early hours of Wednesday morning? It's thought many of them didn't have contents insurance. Jolyon Maugham QC is among a group of lawyers offering free help to Grenfell residents and those who are raising funds to help them. In its annual review, the Financial Ombudsman Service noted a rise in the number of guarantor loan complaints. It's an unsecured form of high-cost credit which involves a second person, who is known to the borrower, agreeing to step in should a default occur. The Ombudsman says it's hearing more from guarantors who are being pursued by lenders to repay someone else's debt. Caroline Wayman, Chief Financial Ombudsman and Mike O'Connor, Chief Executive of StepChange debt charity discuss. One of the country's biggest teaching agencies has stopped using umbrella companies, which act as a third party between a contractor and an employee. It's advising workers to move back to PAYE instead. What behind the move and what are the wider implications for umbrella companies.

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Money Box Live: Tuition Fees  

The Labour Party manifesto pledge to abolish tuition fees in England and reintroduce maintenance grants has been credited with motivating young people to get out and vote in last week's General Election. So why are tuition fees and student debt such a concern? How does it all work, when do you have to repay and how could education be funded without them? Louise Cooper and guests explore student finance on today's programme and would like to hear your views. Louise Cooper is joined by: Sorana Vieru, Vice President, NUS Rachel Glover, National Association of Student Money Advisors Paul Johnson, Director, Institute of Fiscal Studies Ben Southwood, Head of Research, Adam Smith Institute Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute Plenty to discuss and of course you can join in by calling 03700 100 444 between 1pm and 3.30pm on Wednesday 14 June. Standard geographic charges from landlines and mobiles will apply. Or e-mail moneybox@bbc.co.uk with your thoughts and experiences. Presenter: Louise Cooper Producer: Diane Richardson Editor: Andrew Smith.

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DUP policy on pensions and benefits plus 95% mortgages & tax-free childcare problems  

Now that Theresa May has lost her parliamentary majority, the Conservatives have opened negotiations with Northern Ireland's Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), to win enough support to give her a working Parliamentary majority. But there are significant policy differences between the two parties - on Universal Credit and the winter fuel allowance, for instance. We hear from former DUP Social Development Minister Nelson McCausland, what his party might demand before doing a deal. The 95% mortgage is back. There are now nearly 300 of them on the market - the highest number for almost a decade. While young people in particular may see them as a golden opportunity to get on the housing ladder, some experts are warning that first time buyers could find themselves in negative equity. We hear from mortgage expert Ray Boulger from John Charcol and Caroline Hamilton of the Money Advice Service. The government's new tax-free childcare scheme promises that for every £80 you pay to a child minder or nursery, the government will top it up with another £20 - up to a maximum of £2000 per child. The scheme launched in April, with parents of under-fours invited to apply first. By the end of the year it's due to be open to all parents with children under the age of 12 - as long as they're working at least 16 hours a week, are not getting Tax Credits or Universal Credit, and are each earning less than £100,000 a year. It will ultimately replace the employer-led tax-free voucher system. But parents and nurseries report problems registering and using the payment system. Some say their money is trapped in the system. One nursery told us that problems with the system could force it to shut down. Presenter: Paul Lewis Producer: Paul Waters.

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Money Box Live: Equity Release  

Equity release is a way that older homeowners can borrow against the value of their home or sell part of it in exchange for a cash lump sum or a regular income. Over £2bn was released from property in this way last year, frequently to clear a mortgage, pay off debt, provide a better retirement or to help children with a cash lump sum. But is this growing trend always a good idea or could it lead to future financial problems? Joining presenter Louise Cooper to explore the benefits, risks and costs of Equity Release on Wednesday 7 June will be: Dean Mirfin from Equity Release specialists Key Retirement. Annie Shaw, founder of financial advice website Cashquestions.com We'd also love to hear your questions and experiences. Call 03700 100 444 from 1pm to 3:30pm on Wednesday 7 June, standard geographic call charges apply. Or e-mail moneybox@bbc.co.uk now.

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Flight compensation - where do the stranded stand?  

Around 75,000 travellers were left facing long delays and cancellations after a British Airways computer system failed over the Bank Holiday weekend. Helen Dewdney, founder of the Complaining Cow consumer advice blog outlines how affected passengers should approach the compensation process. Ahead of next week's general election Chris Philp from the Conservative Party and SNP spokesperson for work and pensions Ian Blackford set out their personal finance manifestos. What might the policies mean for your money?

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Money Box Live: Releasing Cash from Your Pension  

There are many demands on the Bank of Mum and Dad these days. But if you don't happen to have spare cash ready when your children ask for financial support, how should you raise the funds? Could releasing cash from the value of our pensions be a useful way to give them a deposit to get on the housing ladder, pay off a mortgage, get rid of debt or provide a better standard of living? Or are we simply creating problems for the future? How we access our pensions was completely shaken up in April 2015. Instead of using your pension pot to buy an income for life in the form of annuity, you can now take the lot, from the age of 55. The Association of British Insurers say the majority of savers are taking a sensible approach but there are signs a minority may be withdrawing too much too soon and at rates that would see their money run out in a decade or less. There's also a growing number of people who are transferring out of final salary pension schemes, giving up an income for life in exchange for cash lump sums and the flexibility of other pension products. All these decisions need careful thought and discussion and on Wednesday's programme Louise Cooper and guests will look at the potential benefits and risks. Send us your questions and experiences by emailing moneybox@bbc.co.uk now or calling 03700 100 444 from 1pm to 3:30pm on Wednesday 31 May. Standard geographic call charges apply. Presenter: Louise Cooper Producer: Paul Waters Editor: Andrew Smith.

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The cost of driving while divorced  

A Money Box listener tells how her best buy car insurance renewal quote jumped from £582 to £919 after she changed her status from married to divorced while keeping her former husband as the named second driver. Graeme Trudgill, Executive Director of the British Insurance Brokers' Association explains the so-called "divorce premium." A tax which is added to many insurance bills is set to rise on June 1. Insurance Premium Tax which covers pets, cars and home contents will increase from 10% to 12%. There will be no extra on travel insurance which is already taxed at the higher rate of 20% and life insurance is exempt. Hywel Williams from Plaid Cymru, Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato and Sir Vince Cable from the Liberal Democrats outline their party's personal finance plans ahead of the General Election. Manifesto pledges include a living pension, a universal basic income and ending the married couples' tax allowance. As new figures suggest that London rents have fallen for the first time in eight years - what's happening to prices beyond London and if that fall continues, will people who rent notice any difference financially? Johnny Morris, Research Director at Countrywide and John Bibby, Senior Policy Adviser with Shelter, discuss. Presenter: Paul Lewis Reporter: Vivienne Nunis Producer: Charmaine Cozier Editor: Andrew Smith.

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Money Box Live - Problem Gambling  

John Hartson was a premier league superstar, and he got paid a premier league salary. But that didn't stop him spending it all on his gambling problem. Six years clean, with his life and his finances back on an even keel, he's on a mission to raise awareness about the risk that gambling poses to personal finances. He talks to Louise Cooper about what a gambling addiction really costs. Meanwhile the gambling industry continues to grow. Punters lost over £13 billion last year, and an increasing share of that has come from online gambling. Some experts are worried this could spark a rise in problem gambling. Are they right? And are we doing enough to protect a new generation of problem gamblers from emerging? Presenter: Louise Cooper Producer: Matt Bardo Editor: Andy Smith.

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Tax, pensions and manifestos  

Peter Dowd, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, outlines Labour's manifesto pledges including the party's plans for tax and pensions. Can it afford to stop more state pension age rises and what does it plan to spend to help women affected by the decision to equalise the age by 2020, which means they have to wait longer? A US investment firm which manages around three trillion pounds in assets around the world has launched a service to sell its funds directly to UK personal investors. Vanguard's charges are significantly lower than its rivals - what does it's arrival mean for the UK investment industry. Sean Hagerty, Head of Vanguard Europe and Alan Miller, True and Fair Campaign Founding Partner & Chief Investment Officer of SCM Direct discuss. Lloyds Bank is preparing to contact and compensate thousands of customers who were mis-sold complicated investments. Known as structured products, they were sold as "low risk." Financial services specialist Dominic Lindley explains how structured products work, The energy regulator Ofgem is delaying its launch date for a central database containing details of customers who have been on a standard tariff for more than 3 years. It would allow rival companies to make contact with details of cheaper deals. In an email to suppliers Ofgem said the original April 2018 won't happen because more time is needed for testing. No new launch date was provided.

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Money Box Live: The Bank of Mum and Dad  

According to some estimates, the Bank of Mum and Dad will hand out around £6.5bn this year, slightly less than The Yorkshire Building Society lent in 2015 to help their children buy a home. Most of the money will go towards deposits with parents giving an average of £21,600. Legal and General, which produces the research say parents want to help children get on in a tough housing market but that one generation helping another is not without its risks. Less than 40% of parents are able to provide equal financial support to siblings. So a desire to create intergenerational fairness can lead to a feeling of unfairness within the next generation and the financial demands may be unsustainable for parents. In today's programme, Paul Lewis finds out how to avoid the financial and legal problems of running the bank of mum and dad. What should families think about before offering mortgage help, loans or even generous hand outs to children? And what happens to the money if the child forms or ends a relationship? Joining Paul will be: David Hollingworth, London & Country Mortgages. Jo Edwards, Head of Family Law, Forsters. Rachael Kelsey, Director, SKO, Family Law Specialists, Edinburgh. Claire Walsh, Chartered Financial Planner, Aspect 8. E-mail moneybox@bbc.co.uk now with your experiences and comments or call 03700 100 444 from 1pm to 3:30pm on Wednesday 17 May. Standard geographic call charges apply. Presenter: Paul Lewis Producer: Diane Richardson Editor: Andrew Smith.

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Property prices - long dip or blip?  

House price data released this week from two of the UK's biggest mortgage lenders point to lower prices for April, although still higher than a year ago. Estate agents from around the UK give their views and property analyst Kate Faulkner discusses what it might mean for buyers and sellers. A new law which allows the financial affairs of missing people to be managed by close relatives was passed just before Parliament was dissolved ahead of the general election. What are the issues that people in this situation face and how will the Guardianship (Missing Persons) Act help them when it comes into force? We hear from Eddie whose son Carl has been missing since February last year and Susannah Drury, Director of the charity Missing People. The Conservative Party says it plans to cap energy standard variable tariff prices if it wins next month's general election. A draft of Labour's manifesto is also promising a cap to keep domestic dual fuel bills below £1000 a year. Last year a report into the energy sector by the Competition and Markets Authority found that around seventy percent of domestic customers with the six largest energy firms are on default standard variable tariffs. It also rejected the idea of a widespread cap, instead recommending a temporary one for prepayment customers. Steve Thomas, Emeritus Professor of Energy Policy at the University of Greenwich and David Pike Co-founder of People's Energy discuss. Presenter: Paul Lewis Producer: Charmaine Cozier Editor: Andrew Smith.

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Money Box Live: Changing life-expectancy  

Life-expectancy is no longer increasing as rapidly as it did at the start of 21st century, according to recent figures. How can we plan for a post-work life when we don't know how long we'll live, especially when trends are changing? Join Adam Shaw and panel as they discuss the impact of life-expectancy on financing your retirement. Email us with your experiences and comments: moneybox@bbc.co.uk now or call 03700 100 444 from 1pm to 3:30pm on Wednesday. Standard geographic call charges apply. Presenter: Adam Shaw Producer: Matt Bardo Editor: Andrew Smith.

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Bank of Mum and Dad, New car Personal Contract Plans, Child Maintenance Service  

BOMAD - the new acronym for the (allegedly) ninth biggest mortgage lender in the UK - the Bank of Mum and Dad. Of course Mum and Dad normally provide a deposit rather than the whole amount, but that is a double benefit because the bigger the deposit the less the loan and the lower the interest rates charged on the money that is borrowed. However, when you give or lend money to your grown up children, how do you avoid the many legal traps? In Scotland they even have a tri-partite pre-nuptial agreement. PCPs - When is buying a new car not actually buying a new car? When it's a Personal Contract Plan or PCP. Despite the word "purchase", the customer does not actually buy the shiny new vehicle they drive off in. They pay an upfront fee, then a monthly fee (usually very modest), and after three or four years they can upgrade to another car. But the vehicle is owned by a finance company. And if you do too many miles, keep too many dogs or kids in the back, or have too many minor paint exchanges with nearby vehicles the £199 a month you pay will only be a small part of the cost of ownership. Are PCPs an accident waiting to happen? CMS - Is the Child Maintenance Service not a good service and not maintaining children adequately? Those were the questions considered by MPs on a Commons committee in a recent scathing report. We hear from a single parent struggling to get any sense out of the CMS about why her seemingly well off ex was assessed to pay only £5 a week to keep her teenage son. The single parent group Gingerbread says its failings mean a growth in poverty among single parents. Presenter: Paul Lewis Producer: Paul Waters Editor: Andy Smith.

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Money Box Live: Energy pricing  

Despite record numbers of people switching energy provider last year, 66% of households are still on more expensive 'default' standard tariffs. It's a market that's been described as 'broken'. So how best to fix it? Join Louise Cooper and panel as they discuss possible solutions as well as bring much needed clarity to the opaque world of standard variables, standing charges and why we are so stubborn about switching. If you have a question about the cost of your energy or how energy prices work, email us: moneybox@bbc.co.uk now or call 03700 100 444 from 1pm to 3:30pm on Wednesday. Standard geographic call charges apply. Panel: Catherine Waddams - Professor of Regulation, Norwich Business School Greg Jackson - Octopus Energy Jamie Stewart - energy market analyst for ICIS Richard Neudegg - Head of Regulation at uSwitch Presenter: Louise Cooper Producer: Alex Lewis Editor: Andrew Smith.

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Tax changes blocked by the election, millions of 'smart' meters may have to be replaced, plus ethical banking  

More than half the clauses in the original Finance Bill (which enacts the Budget measures) have been dropped to ensure its passage through parliament before the snap general election. Anything contentious disappeared so that important measures - like raising Insurance Premium Tax from 1 June - could be passed into law before the April 27 deadline. Making Tax Digital, cutting the tax free dividend allowance, reducing the amount that can be paid into a pension, and a lot of anti-tax avoidance measures were binned. Will they return if the Conservatives win the Election on 8 June? Six million first generation smart electricity and gas meters installed in homes since 2012 may have to be replaced to make them work with a new communications network which was switched on in November but is still not being used. Despite that, energy companies are busy installing more of these early models to meet a government target to get one in every home by the end of 2020. The new design is still being tested with the new network and are not expected to be installed until later this year. DCC, the company responsible for the network, will shortly begin a consultation on how the old meters might be connected to it. A spokesman agreed it was possible that they would all have to be replaced. We get an expert view. Would you pay £3 a month for a current account that offered you nothing for that money but a nice warm glow that you were paying a fair price? That is the sell for Triodos, an ethical bank which says there is no free banking - it is only possible for some because they are subsidised by other customers who pay a lot through overdraft charges. It also has ethical lending policies. The boss explains his pitch. Presenter: Paul Lewis Producer: Paul Waters Editor: Andy Smith.

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Money Box Live: The Listeners' Manifesto  

Financial phone-in.

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Why is Joan trapped in her home?  

Joan was among thousands of people who took out shared appreciation mortgages in the late 1990s. Older borrowers used them to release cash worth up to 25 percent of the value of their homes. On the sale of the home the bank would get the loan amount back plus 75 percent of any increase in property value. Years later Joan is in her eighties with mobility problems and her home has risen sharply in value. She tells Money Box she can't sell up to downsize because the amount owed to her banks won't leave enough to buy a suitable property in her area. The Prime Minister's call for a snap general election raises questions about the future course of pension policy. Tom McPhail, Head of Policy at Hargreaves Lansdown and Steve Webb, former pensions minister now Royal London's Director of Policy, discuss what it might mean for pensions tax relief, the triple lock and the state pension age. This week shadow chancellor John McDonnell defined rich people as those earning above £70,000 to £80,000 a year, during an interview where he suggested that they could be asked to pay more tax under a Labour government. Professor Donald Hirsch, Director of the Centre for Research in Social Policy at Loughborough University, shares insights on people with that level of income, including where they're likely to be found. Plans which would have seen increases of up to 20 thousand pounds for a charge that's payable for sorting out the affairs of someone who has died have been halted. From May probate fees in England and Wales were due to rise from a flat fee of £155 or £215 to a sliding scale which would charge up to £20,000 for estates worth over 2 million pounds. The general election means there's not enough time for the legislation to go through parliament.

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Money Box Live: Are leaseholds fit for purpose?  

Is the leasehold system fit for purpose? Louise Cooper and a panel of experts answer calls and discuss issues such as new houses being sold leasehold, problems with buying your freehold, escalating ground rent, extending your lease and restrictions on what you can do with your property. Louise's experts include: Beth Rudolph - Director of Delivery at the Conveyancing Association Paula Higgins - Founder of the Home Owners Alliance Sebastian O'Kelly - Trustee of the Leasehold Knowledge Partnership charity Andrew Bulmer - CEO of the Institute of Residential Property Management Presenter: Louise Cooper Producer: Paul Waters Editor: Andrew Smith.

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The Care Fee Trap  

If you need long term care when you get old, you can expect it to cost over £30,000 a year; every year, until you die. Money Box investigates the companies that offer a solution: put your assets into a trust and you can protect your home and savings from care fees. But can these companies really beat the system? Presenter Michael Robinson discovers why these schemes may not work and asks if the sale of care fee protection strategies is another symptom of a crisis in funding for social care. To find out, he speaks to Andrew Dilnot, who recommended the Government cap care fee liability six years ago. Is Dilnot right that all of this would come to an end if his reforms were introduced? And is he right to call the means test for care fees, the most pernicious in the whole welfare state? Producer: Matt Bardo Reporter: Michael Robinson Editor: Andrew Smith.

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