The Government is planning a major crackdown on fake reviews. Under proposals, it will become illegal to pay someone to write, or host, bogus online ratings. How much weight should we put behind buying decisions when it comes to reviews and ratings, and what exactly are the plans to prevent this kind of consumer manipulation? Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost discuss this, along with the others measures the Government is planning, including on subscription traps and Christmas savings clubs, and how it'll be enforced. How much are you saving? You might think a lack of a rainy day pot is solely an issue for those on low incomes, but you'd be wrong. A quarter of Britain's wealthiest households do not have one - why is this the case? That comes as fixed-rate deals nudge higher, but Lee warns listeners not to get too excited. Are you paying for too much mobile phone data? And would you take part in a home swap in order to save on your summer holiday?
Just when you thought that you could book to go back in the water. As if sorting a holiday, ensuring the country you want to go to is okay for long enough to get there, or dodging quarantine roulette wasn't enough, now car hire inflation is biting. In a sign of the inflationary times, the cost of renting a car has rocketed to about three times the price of last year and it's being blamed on the semiconductor shortage. How can a lack of computer chips drive up costs so substantially at the car hire desk? And what on earth has this got to do with the price of a bag of crisps? Georgie Frost, Grace Gausden and Simon Lambert look at holidays and inflation and the points where supply and demand are intersecting to create very odd scenarios, plus Simon expands on his crisp-based inflation explanation. Also, Grace investigates unpaid Dartford Crossing charges that spiralled into a £3,000 bill and Simon looks at what happens if you want to give your house to your child and whether that's an inheritance tax risk.
The triple lock has always been a hot potato but things have stepped up another gear as it could deliver a bumper 8% state pension increase due to a statistical quirk. The state pension pledge means that payouts rise by the greatest of inflation, wage growth or 2.5%. Yet, wage growth numbers are being skewed this year because the Covid crash a year ago saw millions put on furlough on a maximum of 80% of earnings, workers suffer temporary pay cuts, and many lose their jobs. Job cuts disproportionately hit the low paid and continue to do so, taking them out of the figures and bumping up the average wage, workers coming back from furlough are seeing pay go back up to their full amount, and short-term pay cuts have been reversed. All this makes average wage growth look artificially high, despite many public and private sector workers suffering pay freezes or negligible rises. The Office for Budget Responsibility forecast that distortion could lead to an 8% wage growth figure in the month the triple lock reading is taken from, delivering a £14 weekly increase to the state pension and £3billion bill. Is it fair for pensioners to get a bumper increase based on a distortion caused by the pay pain suffered by workers in lockdown? Some say ‘no’, others say ‘stick to the deal’. Tanya Jefferies, Georgie Frost and Simon Lambert look at what is causing the triple lock anomaly and what the Government might do. Will they pay up or fudge it? Also this week, the painful cases of those who cannot afford funerals for loved ones, the return of gazumping to the property market, and finally, the crazy NatWest banking rule that has forced a reader to have their employer’s bank accounts mixed with theirs in online banking
Yet more people caught up in the underpaid state pension scandal have been unearthed by This is Money – and tragically, in the two cases we highlight this week, they weren't alive to see justice. Two bereaved daughters received sums of £42,000 and £71,000 because their mothers were underpaid state pension for more than a decade before dying in their 90s. The payouts are all thanks to the intrepid work of investment and pensions editor Tanya Jefferies and our pensions agony uncle Sir Steve Webb. They join deputy editor Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost to talk about these latest cases, and what it means in terms of inheritance tax and care fees – could you, a family member or friend have been caught up in the scandal? We also talk about pensions in more details – do you know what yours is invested in and what it's worth? It will matter even more than usual if the Chancellor gets his way and taps into our retirement pots and parcel it out to fast-growing businesses, transport projects, real estate and carbon-friendly investments. We also discuss the new green savings bonds from NS&I: how long is the term, what's the rate and just how green are they? There's a chink of light for easy-access accounts and if you leave Georgie and Lee to organise the podcast, they will inevitably add a section in about sport - we talk about this booming trend during Euro 2020.
Home buyers are engaged in a last minute race to beat the stamp duty deadline – with some facing a potential double false economy. House prices have bounced over the past year meaning that the £15,000 maximum saving of a year ago would now come on a property that potentially costs £50,000 more. That has led to claims of a false economy, but it would be doubly so for any buyer who then missed the deadline too and ended up with an extra £12,500 tax bill, as they only get the tapered bit of the stamp duty holiday - not the whole thing. Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert look at the last minute stamp duty rush and what might happen next to the property market, with Simon outlining that it’s not just a tax cut driving the pandemic boom. At the other end of the property ladder, the team look at how to make sure you don’t end up paying off a mortgage in retirement and what you can do if you are approaching your pension years or in them with a home loan still to clear. It’s likely that those borrowers could face higher rates than the rock bottom mortgage ones now too, but will rising inflation send interest rates up sooner than people think? Meanwhile, what can a new £50 note and what happened to the value of the last one introduced in 1981 tell us about inflation? And why is continental Europe so much happier about taking big notes. And finally, if you wanted to beat inflation, you wouldn’t usually buy a nearly new car; but there are some now six-year-old motors out there that have held their value better than others and amazingly some that are worth more now than they were in 2018. We reveal which.
Sneaker investing – those in the know don’t call them trainers, apparently – has become a big thing in recent years and as values have risen, so has the volume of fakes. It’s not just knock-offs aping standard sneakers anymore, some of the counterfeiters are dabbling in shoes that could go on to be worth thousands of pounds. Can anything be done, does it matter and what’s the attraction if investing in sneakers anyway? This is Money’s Grace Gausden went behind the curtain with eBay, which has its own crack team of fake sneaker spotters, to find out more and tells podcast listeners all about it here. Alongside, Georgie Frost and Simon Lambert, Grace discusses the tests that can spot a fake and why eBay is cracking down. Meanwhile, Simon looks at the comparisons between sneaker investing and other more established alternatives, such as art, wine and classic cars and, of course, the new kid on the block, crypto.
Also, the team discuss the courses for those who haven’t driven in years and the best cars to insure new drivers on. Simon looks at why smart Chancellors can’t help inflating house prices and why the holiday part was the problem with the stamp duty cut. And back on an investing tip, if sneakers are a bit too down to earth for you, how about backing a space investment trust?
Does loyalty pay, or is it just a bizarre concept we have allowed businesses to convince us might exist while they take advantage? As banks and building societies hint at better rates for those who have stuck by them and insurers find themselves forced at regulatory gunpoint to at least not sting existing customers, we look at the loyalty reward and penalty. At what point does the corporate idea of loyalty rewards meet the reality of whether it’s worth sticking with the same provider? Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert discuss loyalty, its rewards and its drawbacks on this week’s podcast. Plus, Britcoin, a new idea for the Bank of Mum and Dad and beach huts - are they a cheap property goldmine?
Another week, another house price index stating record growth. This time it was the turn of Nationwide, which said prices had risen 10.9% in the year to April, reaching a new high of £242,832 - up by £23,930 compared with 12 months earlier. Most experts say this is down to people's changing lifestyles during the pandemic and the incentive provided by the Government's stamp duty holiday. But are there other forces at play? Fred Harrison, a British author and economic commentator, successfully predicted the previous two property crashes years before they occurred - and his 18-year property cycle theory says that house prices should continue to boom before crashing in 2026. His theory is based on analysis of 300 years of data, and suggests that the underlying force behind rising prices in the property market is the finite supply of land. This, he says, combines with greed and speculation to turbo-charge sentiment and send prices spiralling before a bubble bursts. Given that early predictions of a house price crash during the pandemic were wildly inaccurate, does his model provide a better idea of what might really happen? Georgie Frost, Tanya Jefferies and Helen Crane also look at the other factors shaping the housing market, including tantalisingly cheap mortgages with two-year fixed rates as low as 0.99%. But aside from these headline-grabbing rates, the typical mortgage has actually become slightly more expensive in the last year - so why are experts saying locking in for five years is still a good idea? One group that isn't so happy about this year's house price increases is first-time buyers - especially those who took out Help to Buy loans a few years ago and are now paying back inflated sums into the Government coffers based on their homes' increased values. Helen discusses whether they should hold off paying back the loans in the face of spiralling interest - and whether today's first-time buyers should still consider using Help to Buy at what is widely tipped to be the top of the market. Do you want an 'essential', comfortable or luxurious retirement? New research explains how much you will need to put away to get the lifestyle you want in your later years. Away from housing, we talk about the latest research telling us how much we need for a decent retirement - depending on whether we want an 'essential', comfortable or more luxurious time of it in our older years. Tanya explains how much people should be putting away, and how that changes if you are single rather than part of a couple. We also discuss controversial comments made by Paul Johnson from the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), who said most people don't need to worry too much about saving into their pension until they are in their 50s. Is it really wise for younger people to push pensions down their list of financial priorities? Finally, we answer a question from a reader who took £20,000 out of their pension pot to deal with Covid cashflow issues - but is now worried that their tax-free annual allowance has taken a hit.
Tamara Gillan, Founder & CEO of WealthiHer Network chats with Tracy Browne, Director at Tilney Investment Management about the importance of bringing everyone on the journey to make finance more equitable for women, ensuring the financial futures of all.
Have Premium Bonds turned you into a savings winner, or are you one of the losers who have been missing out on prizes for years? We dive into Britain’s beloved savings lottery, looking at who holds the most Premium Bonds, who wins and who doesn’t. NS&I revealed exclusively to This is Money this week that an astonishing 43% of bonds are held by just 4.3% of savers – that’s £56billion out of the £107billion total. Or to put it another way every £2 out of £5 saved belongs to less than one million savers out of a total £21.4million. That may go some way to explaining why close to 75% of Premium Bonds savers haven’t won a prize in 14 years. Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert dig into the statistics, deliver a theory on how much you might need to hold to bag at least one prize a year, and look at whether Premium Bonds are worth having. They are certainly popular and that’s why Nationwide has launched a savings lottery – is that worth signing up to as well? In crypto-corner this week, we discuss the crash, the rebound and the slump again, along with banned adverts and Chinese crackdowns: is this the end of the recent hot phase or just another average week for bitcoin to take in its stride? Also, paying bills with commemorative coins – and what legal tender really means, why self-storage is the latest thing in short supply and who's investing Czech Sphinx?