Helen Nugent

Pensions, borrowing, gambling and credit cards

Pensions, borrowing, gambling and credit cards
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Fears that workers’ savings have been put at risk in unsustainable and potentially fraudulent pension schemes have prompted the Government to rush through tougher rules designed to tackle rogue operators.

After revelations by The Times, the Pensions Schemes Bill has been introduced to address concerns that the biggest change to workplace pensions in generations could be undermined by a mis-selling scandal.

Operators of 'master trust' schemes will face stricter rules after the pensions regulator lobbied the government to bring in new rules.

The measures are designed to prevent weak or dishonest providers from exploiting the introduction of auto-enrolment in workplace pension schemes. The policy was designed to address the number of workers not saving enough for their retirement.

Government borrowing

UK government borrowing hit £10.6 billion in September, £1.3 billion higher than September 2015. That's according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

Paul Hollingsworth at Capital Economics said: 'Even before the vote to leave the EU, the Office for Budget Responsibility’s fiscal forecasts were looking optimistic. But the weaker economic prospects over the next few years as a result means that these forecasts are likely to be revised substantially in the Autumn Statement next month. Indeed, we think the OBR will present the Chancellor with forecasts for borrowing that are about £25 billion higher in 2019/20 than the previous forecast.'

Online gambling

Bookmakers will be brought before the competition watchdog to explain why the industry has been cancelling winning bets and refusing to pay out money to punters, The Times reports.

The Competition and Markets Authority will announce an inquiry today into terms and conditions for online betting accounts that, critics say, allow bookmakers to act with impunity.

Customers say that betting companies have been using the small print of contracts to deny them promotions, alter odds on successful bets and place unfair curbs on winning accounts.

Claims have also emerged that the industry has been using the excuse of money laundering rules unfairly to refuse withdrawals from winning accounts without applying the same checks to customers who lose.

Credit cards

Over nine out of ten adults do not know how long it takes to clear £1,000 on a credit card when making minimum payments at the typical interest rate of 18 per cent APR. 

Research carried out for SavvyWoman.co.uk, found only 3 per cent gave the correct answer of 17 years. It takes someone 17 years to pay off a balance of £1,000 entirely if they only make the minimum payments, which are typically 2.5 per cent of the balance. They would also pay an extra £1,200 in interest – more than the original debt. 

The survey shows that people seriously underestimate how long it takes to pay off credit card debt, with 40 per cent of adults believing it takes three or five years to clear the £1,000 of debt – a fraction of the 17 years it would actually take. 

Official figures show that 1.6 million people are repeatedly making minimum payments on their credit card.

Funeral provision

SunLife’s annual Cost of Dying research shows that while the cost of dying is the fastest rising of any fixed cost in the UK, the number of people making at least some funeral provision is the highest on record.

The cost of a funeral soared by 5.5 per cent to £3,897 in the past year - double what it was when SunLife first started tracking funeral prices in 2004 – however, more than three in five now put at least some money aside, a 5 per cent rise since 2009. But, despite a rise in the number of people leaving provision, due to the rising cost of funerals, 19 per cent had not left enough to cover the full amount. One in seven of those left to cover the bill admitted it caused them notable financial concern with the average shortfall standing at £2,334.


Latest research from the Council of Mortgage Lenders’ long-running series on attitudes to housing tenure confirms that home-ownership remains firmly in place as the nation's overwhelming preference and aspiration - and not purely for financial reasons.

More than seven in ten of adults want to be home-owners in two years' time, and eight of out ten hope to own in ten years' time, broadly in line with the 30-year average sentiment.