It's nearly June, the sun is shining, and right about now people would usually be eagerly anticipating summer breaks they’ve booked, or planning where to go away. Meanwhile, the sunny weather over the past few months would usually have led to thoughts (and lots of features) on a staycation summer. But this isn’t any given year. Coronavirus and the lockdown means we are advised not to travel abroad, don't know when we will be able to, and might have to take an extra two weeks off to quarantine when we get back. That should means it’s Cornwall, Devon, Norfolk, Wales, or a week in Skegness on our minds, instead of France or Spain. Overnight trips are still barred though, the domestic holiday industry is unsure when it will be back up-and-running, and some locals are reportedly not too keen on visitors. So, will we get a holiday this summer and how can you protect yourself when booking and paying? On this podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost talk holidays: where to go, when you might be allowed to, and the all-important financial side involving booking, cancellations and refunds. There is also the thorny question of how travel will look in the future and whether the holiday industry will bounce back while people still have long waits and fights for refunds on cancelled trips fresh in their mind? And finally, what about opting for van life instead? Volkswagen revealed this week that quotes for its California campervans have soared in lockdown – and Simon fill us in on what it’s like to go away on a 2,000 mile road trip in one, having done so the summer before last. He’s also got an idea, involving buying a campervan and renting it out, so that it pays for itself and turns a profit. Classic man maths or solid money-maker, you decide?
The threat of negative interest rates is looming large for savers. This week, a government bond auction saw UK gilts sold at a negative rate for the first time, while Bank of England boss Andrew Bailey refused to rule out the base rate flipping below zero. But could you end up with a negative rate on your savings account? On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost look at the weird world of negative rates – an upside down where investors effectively pay to lend the government money, banks are charged interest for depositing funds with the Bank of England, and you’d end up being stung rather than rewarded for saving. Not that there’s much reward for saving in many places right now: a This is Money investigation this week revealed that 235 savings accounts now pay 0.01 per cent interest. That is 10p per year on £1,000 saved and some may prefer not to be insulted in that way and have their bank or building society join the six accounts where absolutely zero is paid. The best accounts pay just over 1 per cent and while that’s not much, at least savers are getting a real return on their money, with inflation at 0.8 per cent. But another warning has been sounded and it’s that the end game of through-the-looking-glass monetary policy could be inflation soaring. The team look at what the argument is and whether it stacks up. The base rate is at 0.1 per cent (and could go negative) and bond yields are on the floor, because of the economic destruction of the coronavirus crisis. The furlough scheme is one of Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s flagship efforts to combat this, but another This is Money investigation this week revealed companies that have taken advantage of the taxpayer’s offer to pay 80 per cent of their staff’s wages are now threatening to make them redundant anyway. And finally, on a lighter note, if you’re feeling brave then you might decide now is the time to buy a home, while house prices and confidence have taken a knock, but is the estate agent allowed to tell you what others have offered?
A This is Money investigation has revealed a string of women who have been underpaid their state pension, but are they just the tip of an iceberg? On this week’s podcast, our pensions agony uncle Steve Webb and pension and investing editor Tanya Jefferies tell the stories of the women paid thousands less in state pension over the years than they should have been - and discuss their probe into the matter. Steve estimates that there could be tens of thousands of women who have been underpaid state pension. This is Money has called for a full review, but the Department of Work and Pensions is reluctant to act other than on a case-by-case basis. Should more be done?
Also, on this week’s podcast Simon Lambert and Georgie Frost discuss the reopening of the property market, who might be brave enough to buy and sell now, and what the forecasts are for sales and house prices. Estate agents Knight Frank predict a 7 per cent drop, while the Bank of England says property prices may fall 16 per cent, but agents claim that lockdown has created pent-up demand. And, as the furlough scheme is extended, we look at the implications of 7.5million people having 80 per cent of their wages picked up by the state and how Britain weans itself off that.
The latest Santander 123 account rate cut, trying to turn a profit on mortgage holidays, how we pay for the coronavirus crisis and furlough scheme and the crash in car sales all feature on this week’s This is Money podcast. Once upon a time, Santander’s 123 could lay claim to being the king of the current accounts. As banks battled to customers to switch, Santander’s cashback and 3% interest-packing deal was one of the main challengers for the crown. The shine came off slightly when that interest rate was chopped to 1.5% in 2016, but now the 123 account has been doubly dented with a rate cut to 0.6% announced on the very same day the rate was already being cut to 1%. In all but name it’s now the Santander 1, 2, 0.6 account and that doesn’t quite have the same attraction. But when letters are coming through the post telling you that your savings account has been chopped to 0.01%, perhaps it is still worth bagging a current account paying 0.6%. On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert and Georgie Frost look at why Santander has chopped again, if the deal is still worth taking regardless, and whether the great current account switching push has fizzled out. Next up on the podcast is mortgage holidays. Figures show almost 2 million people have taken up the option of a break from their mortgage payments, but some who don’t need to take one have been wondering if it might be a financially savvy move to do so anyway. Could you save or invest the skipped payments and make money in the long run? And even if that is possible, is it ethical? Plus with 6.3 million people furloughed, can we really expect the mortgage holidays to end in June – and how does the nation pay for the colossal coronavirus rescue package? And finally, Britain’s best-selling car in April was Tesla’s Model 3 but astonishingly it wasn’t the most sold vehicle. That accolade went to a van, the Mercedes Sprinter, but will the motor industry be changed by all this?
It’s been called the Fomo rally, as shares picked themselves up off the floor after a diabolical March and bear markets turned bullish. The FTSE 100 closed a notch below 5,000 on 23 March, the day it was announced Britain was going into lockdown, but somehow managed to bounce 23 per cent to the middle of this week before slipping back. In the US, April was even more astonishing – the S&P 500 had its best month since 1987. So, what’s going on? Is this the stock market signalling the start of a coronavirus recovery, or have investors merely been piling in driven by Fomo – the fear of missing out. The big US tech names’ star turn has helped drive confidence and in the UK it has been the big names hit hard that have rebounded over the past four weeks, including housebuilders, Next, Cineworld, ITV and the FTSE 100’s top riser is cruise ship firm Carnival – up 63 per cent as brave investors buy in. But are investors getting ahead of themselves and simply all chasing in the same direction like kids with a football? On this week’s podcast, we look at the rally, what’s driving it – beyond Fomo – and the history of false dawns in stock market crashes, known as the dreaded dead cat bounce. Simon Lambert and Georgie Frost also discuss how Britain gets back to business and how the plans might shape up for getting us back into factories, offices, shops, pubs, restaurants and everywhere else. Plus, would you dare book a holiday now? If so, the podcast duo discuss what you need to consider. And finally, the clock has have passed by quickly for a generation of cars that some of us grew up with and the Metro, Fiat Panda and early Vauxhall Astra are now 40 years old, tax exempt, and theoretically classic cars… but are they?
Should you save cash and accept low interest rates, or invest and take the risk that you could lose money? This is the perennial dilemma for those with some money to set aside, who are looking to build their wealth. And it’s not been made easier by a rollercoaster 20 years. Since the turn of the millennium, we’ve had three hefty stock market crashes, but we’ve also had the past decade of historically low interest rates. In response to paltry savings rates, more people have been encouraged to invest in shares for a better return, but the coronavirus crash has left the UK’s flagship stock market index, the FTSE 100, below its level on 31 December 1999, and burnt the fingers of many recent investors. So, is it worth investing, or should you just stick with the relative stability of cash? On this episode of the This is Money podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost look at our exclusive statistics on who is investing, who is bowing out of the market, and what the new generation of younger investors are doing. They also dive back into the question asked last week: how long do you need to invest for to avoid losing money? With some charts and data sent through to the team by Duncan Lamont, head of research and analytics at Schroders, they compare how putting money into either cash or the stockmarket fared over the past 150 years against inflation – and what the likelihood was of losing money over varying time periods. The team also look at what might happen next to house prices after the coronavirus lockdown put the property market into a deep freeze. Simon dives into the varying predictions of how much property prices could fall – and the bullish suggestion of one estate agent that it’ll all be fine. And finally, we discuss the businesses that we spoke to this week who are fighting veteran insurer Hiscox, because they believed they should be covered against coronavirus with policies that cite infectious or contagious disease… but it says they are not.
The economic destruction of the coronavirus crash was laid bare in reports from the Office of Budget Responsibility and IMF this week. Lockdown has already wiped £50billion off the UK economy and is costing the nation £2billion a day, said the OBR. Meanwhile, the IMF warned the global economy would take the biggest hit since the Great Depression in the 1930s, with advanced economies shrinking 6.1% this year and developing countries by 1%. But although the OBR forecast an astonishing 35% slump in UK output in the second quarter of this year - with a three-month lockdown - the other side of its chart showed a substantial bounce-back. What will we need to do for that recovery to happen – and what will it look like? On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert and Georgie Frost look at the reports on the economic impact of Covid-19 and at the potential bounce back, along with which sectors and businesses could seize the day when it comes. They also discuss the big tech firms that have benefitted from lockdowns and working from home around the world. The lofty valuations of these companies marked the top of the previous stock market boom, but their shares have fared better than most in the coronavirus crash. Can the FAANG stocks (and Tesla) pick up where they left off? And finally, investors are told to think long-term with the minimum investment period traditionally cited as five years. But have the events of the past 21 years on the stock market shown that now we need to think in decades instead?
It can be tough to find good news at the moment but on this special Easter podcast we go looking for some. And amid the coronavirus gloom, there are some good news stories to tell, from how Britain has adapted to working from home, to the appreciation shown to our valued frontline workers and NHS staff, and those volunteering to help others. On the podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost discuss this and tell the stories of some of the small businesses that have been sought opportunity in adversity. From the pub doing meals and pints to go, to the garden centre that has stared delivering and the milkman who has seen business boom, these are inspiring stories of entrepreneurial spirit and helping out the local community. The team also reveal how you can visit the world from the comfort of your sofa – it’s not a real holiday but you can at least do some sight-seeing. Meanwhile, Lee goes on the trail of the apps keeping us social in the lockdown: from Slack at work, to Zoom video chats, and Houseparty fooling around with friends, which are the ones worth trying? And finally, if you are feeling really brave maybe you could peruse a cheap French manor house while you are stuck at home and weigh up your own move to a chateau.
Every year Collins Dictionary chooses its word of the year and just three months into 2020, it feels like coronavirus might be a shoe-in for the title. But among the other words likely to be picked as high-fliers, it seems that furlough will also be in with a shout. Until a few weeks ago, it's unlikely many people had ever considered what being furloughed would mean, but now it's the topic on many workers’ minds. The concept of asking workers to go on furlough lies at the heart of the government’s coronavirus jobs rescue scheme – as it seeks to stall firms making people redundant and offers to pay 80% of their wages up to £2,500 a month. But is picking up the wage bills of big businesses a wise move, will it help save jobs and is the price worth paying because the cost of not doing it is worse? On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost discuss what it means to be furloughed and whether the emergency plan can work. They also look at the travel industry chaos and how airlines attempts to dig themselves out of a hole by dodging cash refunds is backfiring. Why aren’t people getting money back for cancelled flights – and is there a way forward that could help airlines and customers? Also on the agenda are the household bills rising at just the wrong time – and finally, at the opposite end of the scale, how did Agent Million deliver this month’s Premium Bond jackpot news to the lucky winners while still managing social distancing?
Britain is on lockdown and so is the property market. The Government has told people not to move home while the coronavirus lockdown is on, and the property market has been frozen as estate agents are instructed not to do viewings and valuations and surveys can’t happen. Meanwhile, banking giants Barclays and Halifax have axed a big chunk of their mortgage ranges – only offering new deals through brokers to those with the largest deposits – and the industry says it has been overwhelmed with requests for mortgage holidays. Amidst all this, many are asking the inevitable question: ‘What will happen to house prices?’ On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost look at what buyers and sellers can do, how the freeze is affecting those due to move, and explore what could happen next for the property market. They also discuss Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s rescue package for the self-employed and why it is a welcome measure that seems to have some glaring gaps. And finally, among all this coronavirus chaos, the team remind listeners not to forget the tax deadline and why in troubled times it’s even more important to use the tax-friendly investing and saving that pensions and Isas provide. We won’t send a drone round to make sure you do it, but you’ve been warned.