With next week's Budget (Wednesday 6th March) tipped to be the Chancellor’s last roll of the dice before a General Election, expectations over tax cuts are growing. But what taxes could Jeremy Hunt choose to cut and why – and is there hope that he will sort out the tax mess that Britain has got stuck in. The higher income child benefit charge creates marginal tax rates above 50%, meanwhile the removal of the personal allowance bakes in a 60% income tax rate between £100,000 and £125,140. Should these tax traps and painfully high stamp duty be removed? Simon Lambert argues that Mr Hunt needs to have a clear out, chuck a load of stuff in the stupid tax box and bin it. Simon, Georgie Frost and Lee Boyce look ahead to what could be in the Budget and what it would mean for you. Also, energy bills are due to fall as the price cap is cut: but how much will this save you? It’s not just tax catching people out, student loans are also proving difficult to shift as interest mounts up due to high inflation. Does the student finance system need a sort out too? And what is Simon’s triple lock for student loans plan? And finally, don’t get spear-phished or tap-jacked, Lee talks us through the new scams you need to know about.
It's finally happened. After months of will-we, won't-we speculation, the UK economy has finally succumbed to recession. The ONS revealed this week that a drop in GDP in the final three months of 2023 meant that Britain had racked up two consecutive of negative growth - and thus the dreaded R word is here. But is this a bad one, why does the term 'technical recession' keep being bandied about and do these backward-looking figures mask things already getting better? Georgie Frost, Helen Crane and Simon Lambert look at what recession means for the UK and you. Plus, who are the villains among big banks and building societies when it comes to sky-high standard variable rates for mortgage borrowers, and is it them or the customers themselves to blame if somone ends up paying almost 10% interest? Also — the customer turned down for a switching bonus by HSBC because they had a Midland account 21 years ago. And finally, electric car sales aren't growing as fast as the government or car makers want. Does that mean it's time to drive a bargain?
The Bank of England held base rate once again at 5.25%, the fourth hold in succession – but this time, it was a genuine split by MPC members. So, when will we start seeing rates fall – and will inflation really be at the target 2% by April? Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost discuss what another interest rate pause means for you – and what that means for savings and mortgage rates, along with investors. Where do you stand on the smart meter debate? With This is Money readers getting in touch to say they’re stuck with faulty devices, are they worth having? Lee says he still has no plans to get one of the marmite devices while Simon believes they can be worth it, especially for those who are rubbish at submitting meter readings. We also go back to school and have a maths lesson from Mr Lambert to reveal the six real world calculations you should have in your arsenal to improve your financial health. And we get on the money therapist’s couch to discuss the pitfalls of getting - and over-using - a joint bank account… should a partner ever be made to feel guilty for spending?
The Autumn Statement arrives next week and the rumour mill has gone into overdrive. The idea of it being a simple update on the economy seems to have been abandoned and instead there is talk of an ISA overhaul, tax changes, and even inheritance tax being cut from 40% to 20%. But if you were Chancellor for the day, what would you do? Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert look at what could be on the cards as Jeremy Hunt stands up and delivers his Autumn Statement next week. On their agenda: Stealth tax - will the income tax thresholds freeze end? Inheritance tax - will the rate be cut to 20%? ISAs - will the allowance be boosted and the system improved? Savings - could the personal savings allowance get a rise?
Have interest rates peaked? After an inflation spike rudely awoke them from their slumbers, the Bank of England and the US Federal Reserve have shown us that rate hiking can be a difficult habit to break. But 14 consecutive rate rises into an astonishing run from 0.1% to 5.25% for the base rate, the Bank of England suddenly paused six weeks ago. And then, on Thursday, it did it again. On both of those occasions, the Fed had also just done the same thing across the Atlantic. So, are we finally there? When does a pause become a peak? And if we have reached the top of the interest rate cycle, what happens next? Georgie Frost, Helen Crane and Simon Lambert look at the decision to hold rates again and what it means for savers, mortgage borrowers and investors. Plus, what are Andrew Bailey’s Bank of England and Jay Powell’s Fed telling us about their respective economies – and how divergent are the paths of the UK and US? Also on this episode, Crane on the Case digs into a how an entirely explainable and obvious error somehow led to a reader facing more than £8,000 of fines and Transport for London refusing to budge until we stepped in. Plus, some previous high-flying investment trusts are going cheap, so is this the time to invest? Simon takes a look. And finally, what have the Premium Bonds and a pop quiz on number one hits in 2000 and 2008 got to do with each other? Listen to the end if you want to find out why you need to know that the UK number one, in February 2008, was Duffy singing Mercy.
Wages are up, but inflation is — the same. What does it all mean for mortgage rates, the state pension, benefits and the economy generally? One thing we know won’t be affected by the latest figure is income tax bands. Just how much is the big freeze – AKA fiscal drag - going to cost us? That’s on the agenda for Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost this week as the latest CPI reading stuck at 6.7%. At the start of the year, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak set the target to halve inflation by the end of 2023. And it was looking promising. But this latest inflation figures might have thrown a bit of spanner into the works. What’s going on at Royal Mail? Some households say they are only receiving their post once a week. Hospital appointment letters, birthday cards, parcels and important bills have all gone missing in delays caused by a staffing crisis. In Brighton, households say they’re receiving mail as infrequently as just once a fortnight. Picking an estate agent to sell your home is so important. A good agent will make finding your buyer seem like a breeze. Choose the wrong one and it can cause untold stress, drag the whole process out and you could end up being forced to reduce your asking price and ultimately sell for less. So how do you pick a good ‘un? And just what is gazundering – and why is it back with a vengeance? The new Tesla Model 3 arrives on our fair shores in January - but how much will it cost and is it any good? If it proves to be out of your budget range what about Citroen's new e-C3, set to start from around £17,000. And — range anxiety is real: so would you take an EV on a continental road trip? Paul Barker, motoring journalist of decades, gave it a go and diarised it for you.
Every child could receive a pot of £1,000 at birth to be channelled into long-term investments in UK growth under proposals to give the young a leg up and revive a ‘stagnant’ economy. The idea of a ‘New Generation Trust’ is part of a package of reforms that could add £225billion to the economy, says a report by the City of London Corporation. A £1,000 payment to all newborn children would need to be invested - and it is claimed this could provide long-term capital for UK PLC. It revives memories of the Child Trust Fund scheme launched by Gordon Brown two decades ago, and later scrapped by George Osborne – and that hasn’t exactly been a roaring success. Lee Boyce, Simon Lambert and Georgie Frost discuss the merits of the idea – and why whether this happens or not parents should start building a pot for children as early as possible. It’s been another exciting week for savings – Santander has a new best buy easy-access deal, Moneybox has launched a top cash Isa and First Direct is offering five prizes of £12,500 for those who switch current account – including a £175 bonus for doing so. Bank of England Governor Andrew Bailey has been speaking in front of MPs at the Treasury Select Committee about base rate – are we close to the peak? House prices saw their biggest slump since 2009 according to Halifax, with the average home falls £14,000 in a year – chiming with similar data from Nationwide. And finally, electric cars are slumping in value – many models have lost 30% or more in a year. Is now the time to buy, and what on earth is going on?
Inflation falling, wages rising, mortgage rates fall back a bit and fixed savings rates seem to be peaking at 6% - all without a recession (yet)! Is the oasis in sight, or is this a mirage? Georgie Frost, Simon Lambert and Helen Crane review the prospects looking forward. Also, Rishi Sunak vows to keep the 'triple lock' on pensions, but can we afford it?
The Bank of England’s bumper 0.5% rate hike this week was the 13th rise in a row. After sitting on their hands for more than a decade, ratesetters have been shaken out of their slumbers by an inflation storm. By historic standards 5% is not high for interest rates, but unfortunately for borrowers we also started from a historic low and have gone from 0.1% to here in just 18 months. The belated headlong rush into raising rates is also the exact opposite of what the Bank of England spent years assuring homeowners would happen: the party line used to be ‘gradual and limited’. The Bank is hiking rates to try to crush inflation but at the same time this affects a much smaller slice of homeowners than it once did and rapid rise in mortgage costs is crushing a generation of homeowners. So, was another rate rise a wise move? How bad is the pain for borrowers? Is this not a patch on the '80s, or just as bad? Has the Bank of England even given its rate rises long enough to take effect? On this rate rise special podcast, Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert tackle all that and more.
Universal basic income is a controversial idea and not just because it's money for nothing. Paying everyone a set amount every month as a baseline level of income has intrigued economists and central bank geeks for years. Supporters say it has the power to improve physical and mental health and the economy and society, but critics say it's the start of a slippery slope to state dependency and control. A new proposed trial for 30 people in the UK to get £1,600 a month has put the topic back on the agenda. So — is universal basic income a good or bad idea? Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert discuss it on this episode. Also — why aren't our energy bills lower if wholesale prices have plummeted? What can you do if you are caught in the mortgage storm? And finally, which UK shares have done best and worst so far this year?
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