David Cameron calls for action to cut energy bills

The government needs to work ‘harder and faster’ to bring down energy bills, the prime minister said ahead of a recent summit on gas and electricity prices.

The energy secretary had invited the six biggest power firms to meet consumer groups and the regulator Ofgem.

Mr Cameron had said they wanted to work out how to create a ‘trusted, simple and transparent’ market.


Source:  bbc.co.uk

Pensioners £4,000 a year worse off as inflation and low interest rates take their toll

The Bank of England’s attempts to prop up the economy have cut typical pensioners’ incomes by more than £4,000 a year and sliced almost £10,000 off the real value of their savings.

Drastic cuts in interest rates and the Bank’s policy of printing new money have delivered a triple blow to pensioners:

  • their income from savings has been sharply reduced
  • inflation is eating away at their capital
  • annuity rates, which determine the income from private pension pots, have fallen significantly

Read the full article at telegraph.co.uk


Simpler energy tariffs on the horizon

Gas and electricity providers are to be forced to introduce simple tariffs, clearer bills and annual statements under radical reforms proposed by Ofgem.

The aim of the proposals is to enable all consumers to compare prices easily and allow those seeking more innovative tariffs to be free to choose them.

Consumers wanting a no frills tariff will get a simple unit price and a fixed standing charge which will be set by Ofgem.

The announcement comes at the same time that the regulator revealed profit margins at energy firms had risen to £125 per customer per year, up from £15 in June.

Read the full article at moneyfacts.co.uk


Do you know what your bank does with your money?

A study by Tridos Bank has revealed that 85% of UK savers want more information on what banks actually do with their money – indeed 25% of savers have never received any information from their bank about how their money is being used.  74% of savers said that banks should do more to proactively help society, while 54% said they would consider changing providers if they found their savings were being invested in industries such as tobacco or weapons production.


Source:  Credit Action October 2011 edition


20% fall in secret borrowing

Couples have become much more willing to divulge to their other half about exactly how indebted they are in recent years.

The stigma associated with debt appears to be lessening, according to a CCCS study (the Consumer Credit Counselling Service).  The figures revealed that only 14,071 people who had turned to the charity for help in 2010 had not told their partner about it.  This represents nearly a 20 per cent decrease when compared to 2008.


Quality of life in the UK now worst in Europe

The UK is now officially the worst place to live in Europe, while France and Spain come out on top, according to the latest uSwitch.com Quality of Life Index.

Despite enjoying the fourth highest income in Europe, people in the UK are getting a raw deal compared with their European neighbours.  And things are getting so bad that one in ten are seriously considering emigrating.

  • Households in the UK struggle with a high cost of living with food and diesel prices the highest in Europe.  Unleaded petrol, alcohol and cigarettes all cost more than the European average.
  • Those in the UK now have the lowest holiday entitlement in Europe as well as having one of the highest retirement ages.
  • ‘Broken society’ is the biggest concern for people in the UK (59%).  Other key concerns include the cost of living (49%) while crime and violence comes third (47%).

UK household budgets ‘face 10 year squeeze’

Household budgets could be squeezed for the next 10 years as the impact of tax rises and cuts is felt, the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has warned.

Its survey suggests families have seen the biggest fall in living standards in 30 years in the last financial year.

It warned those on lowest incomes were likely to suffer a significant reduction in their spending power.

The Treasury said plans to cut the deficit had maintained low interest rates and helped struggling families.

Read the full article at bbc.co.uk