Rumours are swirling ahead of the Budget that Rishi Sunak will extend the stamp duty holiday by three months? The idea is that this would help stop the collapse of chain after chain as buyers pull out, renegogiate or have to find more money if they miss the deadline. The excuse being given is that conveyancing delays are holding up sales. But wouldn't a three-month delay just kick the can down the road by another 12 weeks and lead to another cohort of buyers potentially affected? Would it be better to just make the stamp duty holiday a permanent vacation? Cut the tax properly, with no time limit, accepting that high stamp duty tax is a barrier to people moving? On this week's podcast, Georgue Frost, Grace Gausden and Simon Lambert discuss the stamp duty break, whether it was a good idea and whether it should be extended or the tax cut altogether. Also this week, Grace fills us in on the latest Grace on the Case and Simon puts forward his idea for improving Isas. And finally, you might be bold enough to book an overseas holiday but would you be brave enough to start a travel company now?
Since the stamp duty holiday came in last summer, there has been a property market mini-boom despite the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Is it losing puff yet and if not, when is it going to run out of steam and will we see the tax holiday extended? The typical home added £20,000 of value in 2020 according to the Office for National Statistics, while prices of detached homes are growing far quicker than other housing stock. On this week’s podcast, Simon Lambert, Lee Boyce and Georgie Frost take a look at the latest property market data to dissect what it means. On 3 March, we will have a Budget. Will it give an indication as to how we could foot the huge bill linked to the pandemic? Will there be tax rises? And are there simple ways to protect your wealth? How many shares should you hold to diversify and is fund manager Neil Woodford really about to stage a comeback. Meanwhile, Lee gives a free wine course from Aldi a go as part of his consumer trends column – does he have what it takes to become a Master of Wine?
The double dip recession is off. The GDP figures are in for the final three months of 2020 and the UK economy grew by 1%, according to the ONS, despite widespread expectations that it would shrink again. This means that even if the latest – and hopefully last – lockdown shrinks the economy in the first quarter of 2021 then we will avoid the dreaded double-dip – as you need two consecutive quarters of negative growth (forgive the economics speak) for a recession. Of course, we don’t know when this lockdown will end or how heavy an impact it will have on the economy, so what happens in the first half of 2021 is up in the air. But why didn’t GDP fall in the final stretch of last year, is there any way we could we claw our way to growth in the first chunk of this year, and how bad was the coronavirus year of 2020 for the UK? On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, George Nixon and Simon Lambert dive into the GDP numbers to take a look at what this all means. Also on the show, are we finally going to see an end to the scam refund lottery from banks for those conned into sending money to fraudsters, George explains what people need to know about that and also the issue of disabled children child trust funds. Plus, why has Tesla bought bitcoin, what does it mean and what on earth is Elon Musk playing at with his crypto tweets at the moment. And finally, should you head for Oxbury Bank – the farmer-focussed lender with a new top savings rate?
Mistakes. We all make them, but whether we will admit them freely often depends on what they are and how we made them. Investing mistakes can be among those that are tough to swallow and own up to. Often the easiest thing is to brush them under the carpet and try not to think about it too much. But looking at where we went wrong and learning from it is an important part of long-term investing. On this week’s podcast Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert discuss investing blunders. Simon confesses some of his and what he thinks he’s learnt from them over the years, the team look at new research on why people give up investing and how big a part loss aversion plays in that. And This is Money invites listeners to get in touch and reveal their investing slip-ups to feature in a future show (no names need to be mentioned, of course). Also on this week’s show, is the Bank of England flirting with negative rates or just indulging in Maradona monetary policy? And what on earth is an estate rent charge on a prospective new home and should it put you off?
‘It’ll end in tears.’ How many times did you hear your parents sound that warning - and how often did you actually pay attention? The army of traders playing with fire in the GameStop stock market frenzy this week have had their warning from a plenty of those who supposedly know best. But it’s fun, they feel a common sense of purpose, they’re giving the big boys a bloody nose, and for now they’re winning. And so the game continues? But should it have been allowed to get this far? Should the trading platforms have tried to nip this in the bud, should watchdogs have stepped in, or in a free market should we just let people get on with stuff – even if it’s punting call options on ramped up shares? On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, Helen Crane and Simon Lambert discuss the Reddit-led rebellion, where small traders got together on the Wallstreetbets thread to take GameStop from a beaten-down and heavily-shorted stock to a cause celebre. The bedroom traders piling in realised that by combining forces they could make the share price rise and beat the hedge funds at their own game, putting them in a short squeeze. But is this really a rallying point for a financially disenfranchised generation still angry at the financial crisis and its after effects, or a get-rich-quick bandwagon that’s being jumped? Will those who hold the line win out, or as with any bubble will it be the little guys and girls who lose big? Also on this week’s show, the team discuss the property tech tricks that can help you get a hedgie-style edge when buying a home (or at least convince you that you know a little more than the next person) and whether a five-year fixed rate mortgage is a no-brainer. The latest Grace on the Case investigation that won £13,500 for a widow given the runaround by VW Financial Services over her late husband’s car is explained. And finally, just in case we are ever allowed to fly anywhere ever again, is it worth taking Nectar’s new Avios deal.
In case you hadn’t noticed, bitcoin went on bit of a tear recently. And as the price of the leading cryptocurrency soared again, so did the number of stories written about it. Bitcoin is an interesting tale, a welcome diversion in a Covid-bound world, and the circus around cryptocurrency is the gift that keeps on giving for journalists. But the vast majority of those column inches focus on two things: bitcoin’s price and should you invest? A question that’s not so much asked is what should you do if you’ve reaped handsome profits on bitcoin or another cryptocurrency? Should you cash in those gains or – to combine a couple of crypto phrases - hodl on the basis that it really could go to the moon? (Where that moon is and when it’s been reached is as yet undefined.) On this week’s podcast, we dive into the story of a This is Money reader and listener who told us about what it’s really been like to hold bitcoin long-term and how although he’s not quite got Lamborghini money, he did buy a Skoda and pay off some of his mortgage. Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert also look at the rival cryptocurrencies to bitcoin and Argo Blockchain, the small UK listed company that’s come from nowhere to place among investors top recent share buys. On a more pedestrian note, the team also discuss inflation-beating savings accounts and where they can be found – spoiler alert, don’t get too excited – and property guardians: would you live in an empty building for cheap rent? And finally, there are some new concocted financial terms doing the rounds – how many can Simon and Lee guess correctly?
More than five years since pension freedom arrived a solution to take the pain out of investing in retirement is being lined up. Before pension freedom many savers were locked into buying an annuity with their personal pensions or defined contribution work schemes – and a lot of them felt they were getting a raw deal. That’s meant that keeping a pension invested and drawing on it as you choose in retirement has proved a very popular option. It is also a very tricky one to navigate – but now some simple help is at hand, so will it crack the conundrum of pension freedom without the pain? Tumbling annuity rates, an industry that failed to make sure people shopped around and the gamble on life expectancy that meant if you died early then you and your family would lose out, made annuities hugely unpopular. So, Chancellor George Osborne came up with a big bang approach that meant nobody had to if they didn’t want to anymore. The problem is that many people had simply opted for a ‘pay money into my pension while working and not think about it’ approach and so had no real idea how to invest for retirement. Now the industry has come up with a solution that involves savers being offered four ready-made investment deals when they first dip into their pension pots, if they do so without financial advice. On this week’s podcast George Frost, Tanya Jefferies and Simon Lambert, discuss whether this is the answer that savers need. They also look at the tsunami of pension and investment scams, what people can do to protect themselves and ask whether it’s the FCA or Google and the social media companies that should be doing more to crack down on it. Simon outlines his theory on why just as we are about to be able to get out and enjoy ourselves again, some big ticket inflation might hit. And the team look at another Santander 123 account rate cut – is it time for customers to finally give up, or is it a deal still worth having?
Happy new year, happy new lockdown. 2021 has seen off 2020, but schools and large chunks of the economy have shut down again and people have been ordered to stay at home, as across the UK the nations adopt their own version of lockdown. It’s probably been the gloomiest start to a year for as long as many can remember and a tough winter for people, businesses and the economy lies ahead. So what happened? The UK stock market jumped, of course. Contrary as this may seem, there is some logic to investors buying into the hope that better times lie ahead. We have Covid-19 vaccines being rolled out that will hopefully make this national lockdown the last people have to endure – and we also have a Brexit deal. On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert look at what the fresh lockdown means for the economy and why investors are choosing to look straight through it and develop a new appetite for buying British. Are UK shares undervalued and a great opportunity for 2021 and beyond – and will a strong consumer rebound once the economy is reopened prove the catalyst the FTSE needs? The team also discuss the potential implications of the Brexit deal for people’s finances and businesses. Meanwhile, the FTSE 100’s gains may have been substantial for a week on the stock market, but they are nothing compared to bitcoin’s continuing rise. The cryptocurrency cracked $40,000 this week: what’s going on, are people making real money out of this, and is there any idea what could happen next? Also, on this week’s podcast, the team talk moving home and getting your property looking attractive for a sale and with everyone stuck at home again, how to improve your wifi.
Making predictions can be a mug’s game and never has that proved more true than for any made at the start of 2020. It’s been an astonishing year, when the lives and freedoms we took for granted were dramatically disrupted – and one where ordering people to stay at home triggered the biggest economic crash in the UK since the Great Frost of 1709. While looking forward to what might happen in 2020 will have proved fruitless, looking back certainly provides a few things to talk about. On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert look back over 2020 and by popular podcast listener demand combine it with the return of a socially-distanced Zoom Christmas taste test. The team look at the low points, the high points and the bits in the middle of the year that has passed so far – and probably still has more to give. From the economic nosedive, to the flirtation with negative rates and the stock market and housing market’s surprising buoyancy, they pick through the main issues. And they look for the stories that provided some light relief, including Britain’s unlikely pandemic spending spree and hot tub boom.
Is buy now, pay later the demon it’s made out to be? Klarna, Laybuy and the rest of the delayed spending crew are coming in for lots of scrutiny at the moment. Shoppers love them and shops pay them, but there are concerns on over-spending and the cost of not meeting payments. Yet, surely spreading the cost of a purchase interest-free is a sensible financial move? On this week’s podcast, Georgie Frost, Lee Boyce and Simon Lambert discuss the rise of the buy now, pay later firms, how they work, how they make their money on interest-free credit, and why there are worries over what on the surface looks like a great deal. On the topic of shopping, the team also talk trying to avoid Amazoning everything this Christmas – and where to turn to get things from local shops with convenience. Also, the team looks at why the Bank of England held interest rates even as more tiers pain descended on Britain, the website that matches start-up ideas and the people who can do the work and finally Grace Gausden joins the show to discuss her Grace on the Case consumer column.