08/03/2014 Your Money


08/03/2014

Weekly round-up of news about mortgages, savings, credit cards, bank accounts and pensions, plus helpful tips and advice. With Declan Curry.


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Now on BBC News, it's time for this week's Your Money with Declan Curry.

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Hello and welcome to Your Money, your weekly guide to making the most

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of your cash, here every weekend on BBC News television and available

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all week on the BBC iPlayer. Five years of low interest rates.

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Savings expert Anna Bowes is here with tips on how to get more for our

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savings. All aboard! Nigel Cassidy looks at

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the new essential guide to travelling across Europe by train.

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And teaching school children about the dangers of loan sharks. The man

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from Trading Standards will tell us what adults should know, too.

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So how do we make our money work harder for us? Millions of people

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rely on the interest their savings earn at the bank to make ends meet

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and they've been getting next to nothing from their bank accounts for

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the last five years. Record low interest rates have cost savers ?117

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billion in lost interest over the last five years, according to the

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campaign group Save Our Savers. How does that affect you? If you had ten

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grand in life savings in the bank, you used to get ?240 a year in

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interest. Now you get ?100. Here's one reason the banks don't have to

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try too hard to get our money. After the big debt binge, we're saving

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again. The typical household saves just over 5% of their income every

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month. Savings expert Anna Bowes is here from the website

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savingschampion.co.uk. Welcome. Making your money work

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harder, that means what? You need to look for the best rates that are

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available, whatever those might be. Check they all appropriate for you

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is if you are locking them for the long-term, you will need access and

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that will cost you. You need to keep an eye on those rates because they

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do change. It is not a one-off thing, it is not about finding the

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best rate and relaxing, it is about watching like a hawk. If it is a

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fixed rate and a fixed term, it will remain the same. If it is variable,

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it will go up and down. Since 2012, or 2013, there have been several

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rate cuts. Even though there has been no official change to the

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interest rate, the interest rate has been cut for savers? Yes, and they

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may not be forthcoming in telling you. You need to be vigilant. We

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have a rate tracker service. You put in the name of the account and we

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will tell you what the rate is that you are earning and we will e-mail

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you when that changes and tells you what you could be earning elsewhere.

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There are accounts that have a special bonus when you sign up,

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which are tempting, but then that runs out. There are fewer of those

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at the moment and is a conditional bonus so if you have an easy access

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account, but if you make three or four withdrawals, the rate plummets.

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One way to earn more interest is to look at high interest current

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accounts. Santander is paying 3% but you have to do is put a certain

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amount in and have two direct debits. That is interesting about

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current accounts, but now they are back in vogue. They have made it

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easy to switch current accounts as well. Is there a penalty if you move

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money from one account to another, if your account has its rate cut,

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and you move to another, could you be penalised? If it is a fixed rate,

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you will not be able to move at all, they'll be heavy penalties was the

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if you do not have enough interest to cover that cost, they will take

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it from the capital. Check the terms and conditions. Earning more

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interest is one thing that another way to make your money work harder

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is to pay less tax because the less tax you pay, the more you keep for

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yourself. It is ice -- ISA season at the moment. Perhaps put more money

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in those. Thank you. The regular poll on interest rates and what we

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think will happen to them, suggests that people think that interest

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rates will rise this year by not by much all very quickly. Not that what

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we think matters. The only people that matter when it comes to

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interest rates are the nine people of the Bank of England who set

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borrowing costs. If you own a flat, but you pay a

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service charge for the upkeep of the building, this might interest you.

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The competition watchdog has launched an investigation into the

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service charges that some homeowners have to pay and the service they get

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for that money. The OFT reckons around five million people in

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England and Wales own the leasehold of their flat or house, but not the

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freehold, and have to pay that freeholder a regular fee. Rogue

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freeholders, or their agents, have been accused of overcharging, doing

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bad repair work, or not doing the work at all.

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If you prefer to pay that service charge or any other bill by cheque,

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the Government wants your ideas on how to make that quicker and easier

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to do. Here's one suggestion - banks should process photos of cheque

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rather than the actual slips of paper themselves. You've got a month

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to tell the Government what you think by sending a letter to or

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emailing the Treasury. Details on the Government website gov.uk.

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Travelling across Europe by train. For some, it's a happy if somewhat

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distant memory. For others, it's a dream yet to be realised. Small

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spanner in the works - Thomas Cook stopped publishing the European Rail

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Timetable last summer. Well, now it's been brought back by one of the

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people who used to gather all the facts and figures. Here's Nigel

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Cassidy on the book that takes the strain out of using the train.

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Thomas Cook may have ditched the role ways for the plane but for

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generations of interrailers, the train was the only way to travel.

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With all of the time stacked into your backpack, the world was your

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oyster. These guides have been out for 140 years, breaking only for

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World War II. You can find routes that work on only certain days and

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avoid missing that last connection. The hardest part is deciding where

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to go. Take Estonia, in the old Soviet Union, where the train is the

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preferred means of transport. There is a lot to see from these new

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trains. Keeping up-to-date with routes and times from every corner

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of Europe is a task best suited to true rail enthusiasts who gain

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satisfaction from enabling people to find and plan journeys like this

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from their armchairs. John Potter was so upset that the potential loss

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of the timetable, he spent redundancy cash and remortgaged his

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house to continue his life's work. This book has 50,000 trained

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journeys in. Each two pages takes several days to compile. It takes

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three months to finish off. In each figure here, it is compiled by

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hand. Every single page compiled by hand. One man who is pleased to see

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the Time tells bag is Marc Smith, a one-time senior rail manager who

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runs a website for people who want to use trains to get where they are

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going. The Internet is great but doing repeated specific enquiries

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online is sometimes like looking at a light scale map down the wrong end

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of a telescope. It is easier and nicer to have it laid out for you in

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printed form in a book like this. The Paris to Moscow express runs

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three times a week in winter, five times a week in summer. If you

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looked online at the wrong day, the might not find it at all but it is

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easy to find in here. Finding connections on the move can be

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tricky and data roaming is expensive. For those yearning for

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the romance of train travel, the book might be the answer.

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Schoolchildren in England are to get lessons, warning them about the cost

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and dangers of loan sharks. They'll get their info from a branch of

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Trading Standards called the Illegal Money Lending Team. Tony Quigley

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runs that across the whole of England. He's in Birmingham.

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Welcome to Your Money. This is about money management and debt. What are

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you telling children about the loan sharks? It starts off really at the

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very basic level about what money is about and needs and wants. As the

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plans are rolled out to older children, then we start seeing more

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sinister tales about real-life events where victims of loan sharks

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tell their story. You go into the detail about the costs of loan

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sharks and some of the unsavoury approaches that they may use to get

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their money back. Definitely. It tells real-life stories and some of

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the stories that are in there are quite horrific. Mike borrowed ?250

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from a loan shark when he was 17 and he worked out that he was still

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paying him at 36 years of age and he paid him in the region of ?90,000.

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What you are dealing with there is just extortion. The problem is that

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people who use loan sharks tend to do it because they have nowhere else

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to go, they do not feel they have an alternative. From our perspective,

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the lesson plans will talk about the differences between a day loans and

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credit unions, for example. And also savings but we start off with the

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emotional side of money as well as where money comes from and what we

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use money for. But we are hoping that even if we just stop one person

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from using a loan shark in a later generation, then this will have been

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worthwhile. For the benefit of adults who are watching now, if you

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are in trouble with a loan shark, what should you do? First, you

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should contact us. We have a national hotline where you can

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report it through the Internet. You can speak to one of the

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investigators because we know that loan sharks really a private

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pressure to people and one judge summed it up when he said, " being

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in the clutches of an loan shark is like murder of the soul. " The irony

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of this is that we take the money from the ill gotten gains from loan

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sharks through the proceeds of crime and we use that money to put that

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back into this education programme so that it is loan sharks who are

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paying to try and stop the next generation from using loan sharks.

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Thank you very much. That's all from Your Money for this

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week. News about savings, mortgages, pensions, loans, spending and saving

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are on the Your Money pages on the BBC's website - bbc.co.uk/money

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Thanks for watching this week. You can also follow on Twitter. More

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next week. Hope we'll have your company then.

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Weekly round-up of news about mortgages, savings, credit cards, bank accounts and pensions. Helpful tips and advice on how to get the best deals, consumer rights and making your money work harder for you. With Declan Curry.


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