Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Middle Aged turn to Insolvency

Figures from Experian show the overall number of personal insolvencies in 2010 fell slightly, but the biggest increase in new cases was among the middle classes
Married, middle-aged and middle-class Brits experienced the greatest increase in personal insolvency cases in 2010, according to research from Experian.

The credit information group said there were 157,741 personal insolvencies across England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland in 2010 – 1% fewer than in the previous year.
Experian used specialist software to split the statistics, which include bankruptcies, individual voluntary arrangements (IVAs) and debt relief orders (DROs), into distinct demographic groups.

"Heart Finance are dedicated to offering you sensible advice on debt issues and advising you of the most appropriate solution which will help bring relief from debt. Our advisors are expertly trained to talk you through various options such a  Debt management, IVA s,debt consolidation and mortgage repossesions. For more information on our services please click here" or emial

It found that the biggest increase in new cases occurred among mostly married, middle-class and skilled working-class people of middle age who live with their children – a demographic which makes up 13.2% of UK adults. This group, which Experian said often work in city centre office jobs, accounted for 10.3% of personal insolvencies in 2010 – 45 basis points (0.45%) higher than the corresponding figure for 2009. Experian says this marginal rise is "significant".

Young, single professionals and middle-income earners had the second highest concentration of insolvencies last year – the demographic accounting for 3.99% of UK adults but responsible for 6.36% of insolvencies, up slightly on 2009 levels.

Married people approaching retirement age who live in communities historically dependent on mines, mills and assembly plants for their livelihood saw their share of insolvencies increase by 41 basis points in 2010 to 9.5% of all cases.

But Experian said the number of personal insolvencies among the most disadvantaged sections of society fell last year. People brought up in families with a history of welfare dependency represented 4.5% of the UK adult population and accounted for 8.1% of new insolvencies in 2010 – still the demographic with the highest concentration of insolvency cases – but the number of new cases fell by 19 basis points (or 0.19%) on the previous year.                                                             

People on limited incomes who rent small flats from local councils or housing associations also saw their share of insolvencies fall in 2010, by 21 basis points to 5.92% of all new cases.

Scotland was the worst-hit area for new insolvency cases in 2010. In Glenrothes, 89 individuals in every 10,000 households became insolvent, twice the average rate of the UK as a whole. In Kirckcaldy the figure dropped to 87 individuals, and in Livingstone to 86 individuals. Livingston was also the area which experienced the biggest increase in new cases, up 32 percentage points from 65 individuals per 10,000 households becoming insolvent in 2009.

In England, the highest number of insolvency cases occured in Washington, Tyne and Wear (77 cases per 10,000 households), Weston-super-Mare (73), Torquay (72) and Boston (71).

Kensington, Wimbledon, Richmond and Chelsea in London all had the lowest concentration of personal insolvencies. New cases in each area were down significantly on 2009 levels, with fewer than 20 individuals in every 10,000 households becoming insolvent.

Experian spokesman Simon Waller said: "While it is encouraging to see a small reduction in personal insolvency levels across the UK, there are certain sections of society that continue to face ongoing difficulties. The recession hit different people and communities at different stages, and some are finding it harder to shake off its effects.

"Lenders that understand their customers' credit behaviour, how it might change in the future and are able to react rapidly to signs of financial distress are best placed to manage their books in a responsible and sustainable way."

Meanwhile, latest figures from the Consumer Credit Counselling Service said it made the most bankruptcy recommendations to clients in Northern Ireland (12.9%), followed by London at 11.7%, the south-east at 11.5% and East Anglia and the south-west at 11.3%. The CCCS said London had the highest percentage of recommendations for DROs at 7.6%, followed by East Anglia at 7.1%, Yorkshire at 6.9%, the north-east at 6.7% and the south-west at 6.6%.

Changes to the insolvency rules that will allow individuals with pensions to take out a DRO are to be introduced on 6 April. Currently, DROs are unavailable to those with assets valued at more than £300, debts of no more than £15,000 and surplus income of less than £50 a month.

So if someone has a pension fund worth more than £300 they are currently not eligible to apply for a DRO, even if it is not receivable for many years. It means thousands of people on very low incomes have had their applications rejected on this basis.
The new legislation will allow those with larger pensions to take out a DRO, which imposes a 12-month ban on creditors being able to take action to recover their money without permission from the court. At the end of the period, if their circumstances have not changed, debtors will be freed from the debts that were included in the order.

Monday, 28 March 2011

Mothers pay: How a mum's family chores would cost £30,000 a year

With Mothers' Day approaching it might be time to take note.
The daily chores that mothers do in their daily lives is worth a staggering £30,000 a year, a survey found.
Mothers without jobs put in on average 14 hours a day cooking, cleaning, and carrying out childcare.
Even with each job performed for the minimum wage of £5.93, the total figure amounts to £30,373.20 a year - higher than the average salary.
Incredibly, the figure could be as much as twice as high if higher rates of up to £10 an hour were applied.
When the work is done for seven days a week the figure comes to a total of 98.5 hours, according to the research by finance company Legal & General.
The time includes an average of 29 hours a week looking after the children, seven hours doing laundry and four hours as a taxi driver.
A further eight hours are spent cooking and cleaning, four hours shopping, five-and-a-half hours ironing and four hours doing household chores.
Seven hours are spent as a story teller,  two hours as a homework tutor and  three hours as a sports coach. Other weekly jobs include first aider, stylist, sewing,  tidying up, answering phones, gardening and serving tea and snacks.
And four hours a week are spent washing up and one hour is spent  as a counsellor listening to children's problems.
Incredible list of work that a mum does reveals the vast amount of time and money that is spent on children.
Earlier this month it also emerged that free labour from grandmothers saved a parents a combined £33billion a year.
'Mums have long known how busy their lives are. It’s great to be reminded of their value,' Katie O’Donovan, from parenting forum Mumsnet, told the Daily Mirror.
The survey found that while mums are worth more than £30,000, dads are only worth an average £21,306 for the work they put in.

" Did you know? - Every day more and more mums are starting their own home based businesses to achieve flexible working hours, independence and more family time. Heart Finance agent opportunity is an exciting opportunity for you to work from home from as little hours as you can work . You can achieve a level of success with all the backing of a franchise, only without the massive investment. No skills, or experience required
As an agent of Heart Finance you will earn commission _up to 50% _  just for passing along  applications. You promote the services and let us do the rest.
For more information visit "

The staggering cost involved comes as last month it was found that the cost of raising a child is increasing faster than inflation and now totals more than £210,000.
The figure is up 4.5 per cent over the last year, ahead of the official inflation rate of 4 percent, with 78 per cent of parents making cutbacks to cope with financial pressures, the Cost of a Child Report from insurer LV  found.
But while mothers spend so much time with their children, a second survey by found that juggling all the tasks leaves mothers no time for fashion.
A quarter of mums wear the same five to 10 items of clothing day after day, 25 per cent only ever wear 5 per cent of their wardrobe and 25 per cent wear pyjamas all day long.

VAT rise has hit Shopping and spending habits

Shopping on Peters LaneThe VAT rise has had a "noticeable" impact on spending habits, with two out of five people cutting back on buying goods since the start of the year, according to a report out today.
A survey of over 2,000 adults by online sales giant eBay found that over half had less money to spend, blaming Government policies, although many held the previous Labour administration responsible.
Half of those questioned said there had been a noticeable impact on their cost of living because of the higher rate of VAT, and most feared that tomorrow's Budget will further hit consumer spending.
Clare Gilmartin, Vice President of European Marketplaces at eBay, said: "While the recent VAT rise only had a short-term negative impact on consumer spending, we know consumers are still feeling the pain as they are budgeting to ensure they can afford basic necessities.
" Check Heart Finance 's  Shopping with Cashback!  You can shop online from your favourites sites ( ebay, amazon and many many other ) and get rewarded with cash back  making the VAT rise much less painful. "

"The next couple of weeks will be crunch time for retailers who will be keeping a close eye on consumers' response to the Budget, and both small and medium sized enterprises and consumers alike will be hoping there are no surprises that could harm the fragile state of consumer spending.
"The Government should focus on measures that will boost confidence, and in turn spending."

Mortgage fees are being increased

Mortgage lenders have been increasing the fees charged on their most competitive mortgage deals, as many home owners look to switch to a fixed-rate loan in a bid to protect themselves against future interest rate rises.

Couple looking in window outside estate agents. Return of mortage securitisations can bring benefits for the economyAccording to inflation data just published by the Office for National Statistics, the cost of "miscellaneous goods and services" was being driven upwards by mortgage arrangement fees and foreign exchange charges.
Although interest rates remain at a record low, consumers are having to pay more in many cases to secure the cheapest home loan deals.
David Hollingworth, of mortgage brokers London & Country, said he had seen some lenders start to increase fees in recent months. Typically an arrangement fee will be in the region of £1,000, he said. "But we have started to see the odd deal come in with a £1,500 or £2,000 charge. These deals will typically charge lower interest rates, though," Mr Hollingworth added.
Leeds Building Society had recently launched a two-year discount deal with an upfront fee of £2,999, he said. This loan charges a current interest rate of 2.54pc, although the rate will rise as and when the Bank of England pushes up interest rates.
"At Heart Finance  we search the entire market in order to help you find the best deal you possibly can.
We are committed to offering our customers the highest possible standards of service
We recognise that both we and our customers have everything to gain if we look after your best interests and treat you fairly in all aspects of our dealings with you
Only recommend a mortgage or financial services product that we consider suitable for you and that you can afford – Our lenders charge the lowest fees of all - and always the most suitable from the available options."

Skipton Building Society has also increased its fees. Rather than charge one arrangement fee, it now levies an upfront "application fee" of £195, followed by a further "completion fee" of £995 once the mortgage is secured. This, Mr Hollingworth said, has pushed up the total fees paid by customers.
Kevin Mountford of said: "For those with larger mortgages it can make sense to pay a larger upfront fee if this secures a lower mortgage rate."
However, he said there was a growing trend for mortgage providers to charge a percentage fee, where the arrangement fee was 1.5pc or even in some cases 2.5pc of the amount being borrowed. Clearly this can be costly for those with larger mortgages.
He added: "In the past many lenders allowed people to add this fee to their mortgage. Now some require customers to pay it upfront. Clearly, given the economic situation, some people will struggle to find this money, so may end up going for a mortgage with a lower fee but higher interest rates as a result – which in some cases will cost them more over the long term".

Friday, 25 March 2011

Who will benefit from Budget 2011

Who can expect to be better off as a result of George Osborne's measures?

First-time buyers
First time buyers are to receive aid from the Government to the tune of £250m. Under a scheme called Firstbuy Direct, 10,000 individuals will be helped to get on the housing ladder, filling the gap in the market left by Labour’s Homebuy Direct initiative, which ended last year.
The new scheme will help individuals buy newbuild properties, which should also support the construction industry. First-time buyers will need to raise only 5pc of the deposit themselves. The Government will provide 10pc and the remaining 10pc will come from the house-builder.
The government aid, structured as a loan, will be available to households earning less than £60,000. The loans would be interest free for five years, with borrowers paying 1.75pc interest the year after and then 1pc above inflation.
After yesterday’s inflation figures revealed that the price of petrol and diesel was increasing at a rate of 15.6pc, drivers will welcome the Chancellor's cut in fuel duty. The fuel duty rise of 1p per litre has been scrapped, and it will be cut by 1p from 6pm.

Low and middle-income earners

The personal allowance, the amount that people can earn free of tax, is to rise by £630 to £8,105 – on top of the £1,000 increase announced in the Emergency Budget last summer.
The move will benefit 25 million people and take 250,000 out of income tax altogether. Unlike the previous increase, which comes into effect next month, it will benefit those paying higher rate 40pc tax as well as those on lower incomes. But those earning more than £115,000 will not benefit from the increase.


The Chancellor offered a small financial sweetener to travellers by freezing air passenger duty.


The level of income tax relief for enterprise investment schemes (EISs) will increase from 20pc to 30pc from April 2011. The Government will also increase the size of a company that can qualify as an EIS and raise the limit that can be invested in a firm by 400pc

Thursday, 24 March 2011

First-time buyer scheme aims to open up housing ladder in Budget 2011

First-time buyers were thrown a lifeline by George Osborne in today's budget in the shape of a £250m assisted deposit scheme for new homes.
The First Buy scheme will be open to those with a household income of less than £60,000 a year who can put down a 5% deposit on a new home – but housing industry insiders claim it is "window dressing the wider problem" and will benefit the construction industry more than first-time buyers.
Those who qualify will be eligible for a loan worth up to 20% of the value of the property, jointly funded by the government and housebuilders. The loan will be interest-free for five years and only be repayable when the house is sold.
Osborne intends the fund to help first-time buyers who are currently only able access mortgages requiring much bigger deposits, as lenders tightened their criteria in the wake of the credit crunch and recession. The government hopes the fund will result in the building of 10,000 new homes and protect 40,000 jobs in the construction industry.
But Matt Griffith of first-time buyer pressure group PricedOut said the fund could be dangerous for potential borrowers: "When independent economists are predicting a 10% fall in house prices this year, having the government encouraging first-time buyers to get on to the ladder using a 5% deposit looks foolhardy at best and, at worst, pretty irresponsible.
"Osborne is behaving like a shopkeeper trying to shift overpriced stock by offering a clever financing scheme. Consumers would be wise to be sceptical and steer clear – the big problem is that prices are still far too high".
Griffith added: "It's main purpose appears to be to help bail out the house building sector – which is suffering from buying too much expensive land at the peak of the boom. We saw plenty of these schemes under the Brown government, and it is depressing to see the coalition continue to connive with the building industry and act against the best interests of consumers."
Nick Hopkinson, director of property company PPR Estates, was equally disparaging about the government's idea: "Any gimmicks around helping first-time buyers with temporary deposits on new homes will not make a meaningful difference.
"This kind of initiative should be funded through reduced selling prices by the builders or the private sector if they need to make their product more saleable. If the chancellor wants to really aid the housing market in a sustainable way I believe he should be forcing the taxpayer-owned banks to reduce their lending margins and offer fair and affordable mortgages to Britain's hardworking households as a first step.
"Anything that reduces the high transaction costs and taxes related to buying and selling property would also really help property market liquidity – specifically outlining a fairer stamp duty sliding scale approach would help, but I'm not expecting that to happen either, unfortunately."
The budget initiative is similar to the recent tie-up between 15 local authorities and Lloyds TSB to launch a fund to top up the deposits of local first-time buyers. The scheme, called Local Lend a Hand, allows first-timers to buy a home with a deposit of as little as 5%. But it will also only assist a small number of borrowers, while the local authorities have been criticised for using taxpayer money to encourage younger borrowers to take on debt at a time of uncertainty in the housing market.
Nicholas Leeming, business development director at, said first-time buyers currently pay an average deposit of £25,000, which would plummet to an initial £6,250 for those taking part in the scheme.
"This is a very appealing prospect, but Osborne's scheme won't go beyond scratching the surface of the problem faced by the vast majority of first-time buyers, as it is exclusively for new-build properties and only around 11,000 buyers will benefit – a fraction of the overall number of potential first-timers.
"While the availability of credit is slowly easing, it's not easing fast enough to help those borrowers who don't qualify. A step in the right direction these measures may be, but they're merely window dressing the wider problem."
Ian Ward, chief executive of Leeds building society, welcomed the support package for first-time buyers. Today announced it will increase its mortgage lending by 40% this year to £1.4bn – a significant percentage of which will be to first-time buyers. Its typical shared-ownership mortgages offer up to 95% of the borrowers' share, so the deposit required is smaller than with a traditional mortgage; if a borrower is buying 50% of the property, they only need to find a 2.5% deposit.
Ward said: "We know from our own experience that the biggest barrier to homeownership can often be saving for a deposit, and this scheme is a positive step by the government."
Richard Sexton, business development director of e.surv, added that the scheme would unlock the lower end of the property market and ultimately generate more transactions through the chain, "provided that other budget measures don't so severely curtail ability to buy that the effect is completely negated

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Yet more fears about Interest rate rise as inflation hit 20 years record

Families are being punished by the highest rate of inflation for two decades amid fears of an interest rate rise.
PhotoFigures published yesterday put the retail prices index (RPI) measure of inflation at 5.5 per cent, the biggest annual increase in the cost of living since 1991.
At the current level, inflation is higher in Britain than any other European country – except Estonia, Bulgaria and Romania.
The figures were released on a day of bad news for the economy, which included:
● The cost of fuel hitting a record average price of £1.33 for a litre of unleaded.
● The announcement that public sector borrowing was the highest ever for a February at £11.8billion.
The spike in inflation is being partly blamed on January’s sharp rise in VAT from 17.5 per cent to 20 per cent. This has increased the cost of food, fuel and clothes.
Expert say that pay deals are failing to keep pace with the soaring cost of living. The average worker is getting a rise of 2.1 per cent and state workers paid £21,000 or more are enduring a two-year pay freeze

To make matters worse, soaring inflation raises the prospect of the Bank of England hiking rates within months from the historic low of 0.5 per cent.
Around seven in ten home-buyers have a variable mortgage, which means their monthly mortgage payments will jump.

The biggest problem facing families is that the cost of ‘essential’ items is rising, which means they cannot escape. For millions, the biggest battle is finding the money to fill up their car.
The average price of petrol and diesel has never been higher

For example, a 50-litre diesel car now costs £70 to fill, compared with £59 last year.
Unions said the inflation figures from the Office for National Statistics show ‘how tough it is for working families struggling to afford the most basic necessities, like food and fuel’.
Dr Ros Altmann, the director general of Saga, described the inflation figures as ‘truly dreadful’. The consumer prices index (CPI), an alternative measure of inflation, also rose sharply, from four per cent in January to 4.4 per cent in February.
This is more than double the Government’s two per cent target, and the 15th month that it has stubbornly stayed above the target.
In a further blow, a key member of the Bank of England yesterday warned that the figure could ‘easily’ hit five per cent this year.
Andrew Sentance, who has repeatedly voted for interest rates to rise, acknowledged the ‘squeeze’ on family finances from high inflation.
But many experts urged the Bank to resist the temptation to raise interest rates at such a fragile time for the economy.
Andrew Goodwin, senior economic advisers to the accountants Ernst & Young’s Item Club, said: ‘It would further crank up the pressure on embattled households.’
For savers, the misery which has lasted for two years continues, with their nest eggs being gradually eroded by inflation.
The average instant access savings rate is a paltry 0.85 per cent, and there is not a single savings account which beats the cost of living.
Jason Riddle, from the campaign group Save Our Savers, said retired people are being hit by a ‘double whammy.’
‘Pensioners can’t squeeze meaningful interest from their savings, so they are forced to draw on the nest egg itself, which reduces what little interest they can hope to receive,’ he added.

Mortgage fees increased by lenders

Mortgage lenders have been increasing the fees charged on their most competitive mortgage deals, as many home owners look to switch to a fixed-rate loan in a bid to protect themselves against future interest rate rises.

Mortgage Fraud
According to inflation data just published by the Office for National Statistics, the cost of "miscellaneous goods and services" was being driven upwards by mortgage arrangement fees and foreign exchange charges.
Although interest rates remain at a record low, consumers are having to pay more in many cases to secure the cheapest home loan deals.
David Hollingworth, of mortgage brokers London & Country, said he had seen some lenders start to increase fees in recent months. Typically an arrangement fee will be in the region of £1,000, he said. "But we have started to see the odd deal come in with a £1,500 or £2,000 charge. These deals will typically charge lower interest rates, though," Mr Hollingworth added.
Leeds Building Society had recently launched a two-year discount deal with an upfront fee of £2,999, he said. This loan charges a current interest rate of 2.54pc, although the rate will rise as and when the Bank of England pushes up interest rates.
Skipton Building Society has also increased its fees. Rather than charge one arrangement fee, it now levies an upfront "application fee" of £195, followed by a further "completion fee" of £995 once the mortgage is secured. This, Mr Hollingworth said, has pushed up the total fees paid by customers.
Kevin Mountford of said: "For those with larger mortgages it can make sense to pay a larger upfront fee if this secures a lower mortgage rate."
However, he said there was a growing trend for mortgage providers to charge a percentage fee, where the arrangement fee was 1.5pc or even in some cases 2.5pc of the amount being borrowed. Clearly this can be costly for those with larger mortgages.
He added: "In the past many lenders allowed people to add this fee to their mortgage. Now some require customers to pay it upfront. Clearly, given the economic situation, some people will struggle to find this money, so may end up going for a mortgage with a lower fee but higher interest rates as a result – which in some cases will cost them more over the long term."

Monday, 21 March 2011

Average household sees income fall by £365 in worst squeeze since the early 80s

The average British household has seen its real-terms income fall by £365 in the worst three-year squeeze since the early 1980s, research suggested today.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) found that the income of the median UK household had fallen 1.6% since 2008.
During the previous half-century, the average income rose by 1.6% each year.
The IFS study for the BBC also suggested that those among the poorest 10% saw real incomes fall by 2.1% between 2008 and 2011, a drop of £182 per year.
But the richest households fared even worse, with those in the top 5% of the income scale seeing a fall of 3.8% over the three years, equivalent to an annual decline of £2,230.
Families with children saw average income fall by 1.1%, or £233 a year. They would usually have expected income to rise by £1,060 a year.
People have been hit by earnings failing to keep pace with inflation and low interest rates.
Forthcoming tax and benefits changes are expected to increase real-terms incomes, with the median household being £120 better off, the IFS forecast.
But the think-tank's director, Paul Johnson, said it is likely to be 2013 until incomes start rising.
"Given what the Office for Budgetary Responsibility is currently forecasting about earnings, and given what we know about the Government's plans for tax rises and benefit cuts over the next couple of years, it certainly looks like it's going to be a couple of years before we start to see incomes rising," he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.
"If that's the case, it looks like we will have a five-year period in which incomes have not risen, which will be the first time we have seen that for about 40 years."

Power suppliers not 'playing fair' according to regulator

We urgently need alternatives to existing energy suppliesThe "big six" power suppliers should sell off up to a fifth of their electricity output in a move to "break the stranglehold" they have over the market, the energy watchdog said today.
The major suppliers "failed to play it straight" with consumers, according to regulator Ofgem, and have eight weeks to comply with a series of radical proposals to overhaul the industry or face a referral to the Competition Commission.
The reforms include reducing the number of tariffs suppliers offer to avoid confusion over price and improving transparency by appointing an independent accounting firm to investigate the suppliers' books.
An additional investigation into Scottish Power's standard credit prices has also been launched.
Ofgem launched its review in November after it emerged that price hikes had seen suppliers' profit margins soar by 38%.
Ofgem said that, for the first time, it had evidence that the big six - British Gas, E.ON Energy, EDF Energy, Scottish Power, npower and Scottish & Southern Energy - had pushed up prices in response to rising costs more quickly than they reduced them when costs fell.
The regulator found that average industry margins on a standard dual fuel tariff rose to £90 in November, from £65 in September.
The watchdog said it would look into the "facts behind the numbers" as companies claimed that rising prices in the wholesale market - where suppliers buy their energy - left them with no choice but to hike bills.
Following publication of the findings, Ofgem chief executive Alistair Buchanan said: "Consumers must have confidence that energy companies are playing fair at a time when they are being asked to foot the £200 billion bill to pay for the investment Britain needs to ensure secure and sustainable energy supplies."
The review found that competition was being "stifled" by complex tariffs, poor supplier behaviour and a lack of transparency.
The number of tariffs available has risen by 180 to more than 300 since 2008, leaving customers "bamboozled", Ofgem said

Half of Brits would switch polictical party to one committed to reduce fuel prices

It is a telling insight into the depth of public anger over the UK's increasing level of fuel duty.
Half of Britons would 'seriously consider' changing their political vote to a party committed to reducing tax on petrol and diesel, a survey has revealed.
More than three quarters believe scrapping the planned increase would 'not go far enough' to reduce the impact of the recent rise in the cost of fuel, according to the research.
Research shows almost half of Britons would 'seriously consider' changing their political vote to a party committed to reducing fuel duty
Research shows almost half of Britons would 'seriously consider' changing their political vote to a party committed to reducing fuel duty
A further 81 per cent of people questioned said the Government should cancel the planned increase to 'support ordinary families'.

The online poll, commissioned by campaign group FairFuelUK, was conducted by market research group ComRes and surveyed 2,013 British adults..
There has been speculation over whether Chancellor George Osborne will act to hold down fuel duty
Quentin Willson, leader of FairFuelUK said: 'This proves what we've been saying for months.
'People are deeply worried about fuel duty and it is the strongest domestic political issue of the moment.
'If the Government doesn't manage this emotive time bomb in the budget, national anger could spiral out of control.'
One in three people said they would be prepared to demonstrate against the planned increase.
Average UK petrol prices have risen from 128.81p a litre in mid-February to a new record of 132.88p in mid-March.
There has been speculation over whether Chancellor George Osborne will act to hold down fuel duty and cancel the 1p rise scheduled for April 1.
Peter Carroll, founder and organiser of the FairFuelUK campaign said: 'These shock figures are positive proof that fuel duty and fuel prices are the number one issue for millions of people and tens of thousands of businesses across the country.'
The FairFuelUK campaign is supported by the RAC, the Road Haulage Association and the Freight Transport Association and more than 140,000 members of the public..

Sunday, 20 March 2011

Buddget Cuts are going to hurt

No matter what happens in the budget, families on incomes around £45,000 will be hit hard on 6 April
Dominic Ceraldi and family don't quite fit the stereotype of middle-class high earners in the capital. Originally from Blackburn, Lancashire, Ceraldi and his family now rent a small home in Silvertown, east London. Every day he travels across the city to south London where he works as an HR manager for a plumbing company. He's been feeling the squeeze for some time now – last year he got rid of his car as he could no longer afford it – yet from 6 April Ceraldi will be deemed to be a higher earner, forced to pay 40% tax.
Last year he earned just below the threshold for higher rate tax, which was set at earnings above £43,875, but from 6 April the point at which individuals start paying 40% tax will drop to £42,475. He is just one of 750,000 people who will suddenly find themselves in the same tax bracket as the well-off. If, like Ceraldi, they also have children, they will be squeezed even harder by the withdrawal of the £545 tax credit for families that earn more than £40,000.
But it doesn't stop there. The rate of national insurance the Ceraldis will pay is also going up, from 11% to 12%, and though the bands in which it is charged are changing, he will still see a hit on his pay packet.
The cuts come at a time when many families' finances are already stretched by rising food, petrol, gas and electricity prices. "Over the past year we've really felt it," says Ceraldi, 40, who works for Pimlico Plumbers. "Paula, my wife, is not working, and we've had to get rid of my car. I bought a new VW in 2008 but I'm saving a few hundred pounds a month now after selling it."
From 6 April he will pay 40% tax on any overtime, which, he says, will make it less worthwhile.
"I suppose I'm a Labourite sort of guy, and to say we're now in the same bracket as the middle classes doesn't seem to make sense. We are working-class people working hard to try to have a decent standard of living. I really think the tax rises are unfair. We'll also be losing child benefit next year, yet if we were a couple where we were each earning £40,000 we'd still get it. I'm very disillusioned with what the Tory/Liberal alliance are doing."
In this Wednesday's budget, the chancellor George Osborne need make no mention of the rise in income tax and NI, and the cut in tax credits, as they were all announced in the last budget. But the squeeze on the middle – while bankers continue to be paid multimillion-pound bonuses – is likely to stir political controversy.
Shadow Treasury minister David Hanson told Guardian Money this week that families across the country were already feeling the impact this year from Osborne's VAT increase, rising inflation and record petrol prices.
"But next month they face a Tory triple whammy of tax rises, cuts to tax credits, and cuts to child benefit. Inflicting all this pain in this way is a political choice by the Conservative-led government. They are cutting the deficit too deep and too fast – faster than any other major economy in the world. And they're doing it in an unfair way by hitting families with children the hardest, while giving the banks a tax cut this year.
"As he prepares his budget, George Osborne needs to urgently rethink the speed and scale of cuts which are hurting families on low and middle incomes, and holding back our economy. He should help hard-pressed families by reversing their VAT rise on fuel. When we were in government we regularly postponed planned duty rises when world oil prices were going up, as they are now."
A Treasury spokeswoman defended the changes. "Increasing the personal allowance by £1,000 from April will remove 880,000 low-income taxpayers from tax altogether. Anyone earning up to £35,000 will be better off as a result of changes to income tax and national insurance contributions. In total, 23 million taxpayers will benefit by up to £170 each per year."
She added: "The government's priority is to deal with the unsustainable deficit. The government has made the necessary tough choices, but has always been clear that those with the broadest shoulders should carry the greatest burden."
Money asked two firms of accountants, BDO and KPMG, to crunch the figures to see how much individuals and families really are losing.
• A man on £43,500 with two children under 18 and a non-earning wife will be £645 worse off from 6 April.
• A couple where one earns £28,000 and the other earns £16,000 who have one child will be worse off by £109.
• A single person on £50,000 will see his or her tax take rise by £202.
• A couple where one earns £40,000 and the other earns £12,000 who have one child will be worse off by £56.
Stephen Herring, senior tax partner at BDO, says: "The figures demonstrate that the tax policy of both the coalition government and the previous Labour government of reducing the basic rate tax band to partially fund increases in personal allowances produces increasingly anomalous results. It is not right that middle earners with incomes below twice the UK's median income now pay tax at a marginal rate of 40%. The chancellor needs to demonstrate more imagination if he is to fund further increases in the personal allowance towards the coalition government's target of £10,000 per annum."
The figures underline the impact on families if there is just one main earner, with a partner staying at home to raise children. David Kilshaw, chair of private client advisory at KPMG, says: "The analysis shows how the change to the higher rate threshold affects families where there is one main breadwinner in that bracket. Our family on £43,500, where there is a single income, is £645 worse off next year, whereas a family with a combined income of £44,000 is £22 better off."
At the top end of the spectrum, anyone earning more than £150,000 has had to pay tax at 50% since last April. But, as a TUC report entitled Unfair to Middling reveals, this followed a long period in which middle and lower earners have been under pressure. It found that wages as a proportion of GDP have fallen steadily from a post-war high of 64.5% in 1975 to just 51.7% in 1996. They have recovered slightly, standing at 53.2% in 2008.
The same report recorded that while earnings for the top 10% of earners have doubled over the past 30 years, real median earnings have risen by only 56%, and real earnings for the bottom 10% have risen by just 27%.'s Martin Lewis thinks many households facing a steep rise in living costs have been saved by the UK's super-low interest rates. "Many of those on tracker mortgages at minuscule rates working for growing private companies will still, almost, be in the position of 'never having had it so good'," he says. "While their income has been cut at the edges, they should still be smiling overall.
"However, the budget measures coming into force could see their numbers dwindle. The removal of tax credits and NI hikes, combined with short-term mortgage deals ending, and petrol price hikes, are definitely leaving more across in the 'it's grim' camp."

What will change on 6 April?

40% tax The starting point for 40% tax will come down from £37,400 to £35,000. But you only pay tax on your earnings above the personal allowance, which is going up by £1,000 to £7,475.
The net effect is that people will start paying 40% tax once they earn more than £42,475 a year, compared with £43,857 previously.
Note that your personal allowance may not be exactly as above – the level for over-65s is higher, while those in work may have theirs reduced to take into account benefits such as private medical insurance. You can see what your allowance is from your tax code. For example, 572L on your tax form means you are allowed tax-free pay of £5,725. After that you will pay tax at 20% on the next £35,000 of earnings, then 40% on earnings above that.
Tax credits The income limit for child tax credit is going down from £50,000 to £40,000. This change means that if your income is over the new limit, your basic child tax credit payment of £545 will be reduced progressively.
The extra amount of child tax credit for babies under the age of one (£545) is also being stopped. If you were getting this payment for the last tax year you won't get it any more, even if your child is still under the age of one.
The rate at which tax credits are reduced as your income goes up – "withdrawal rates"– will also increase to a flat rate of 41%, which means your tax credits payments may go down.
Separately, the amount of help you can get with childcare costs drops from 80% to 70% of the maximum eligible weekly costs: £175 for one child and £300 for two or more children. This means that the maximum help you can get through tax credits for childcare in 2011-12 will be: £122.50 a week for one child, down from £140 in 2010-11; and £210 a week for two or more children, down from £240 in 2010-11.
National insurance This is also going up from 6 April. Currently, you pay NI at a rate of 11% on everything you earn between £5,715 and £43,875, then 1% on everything earned above that.
From 6 April the starting point for paying NI will rise to £7,228, but you will pay 12% on everything you earn above that up to £42,484. On earnings above that you will pay 2%.
Child benefit This is being frozen at £20.30 a week for the eldest/only child, and £13.40 a week for each other child. From April 2013 child benefit will be withdrawn from households with a higher rate taxpayer

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Interest Rate could stay lower after Japan Disaster

The Bank of England could put off interest rate hikes as the Japanese disaster hammers confidence around the world.
City analysts yesterday said the risk of nuclear meltdown in the world’s third biggest economy was a serious threat to the stability of the global financial system.
The disruption could persuade the Bank’s monetary policy committee to leave interest rates in Britain lower for longer as it assesses the damage.

Heavy losses: The Nikkei lost more than 16% of its value due to concerns of a nuclear catastrophe

Rates were cut to 0.5pc two years ago but with inflation now double the 2pc target at 4pc and rising it was thought a hike could come in May. Philip Shaw, chief UK economist at investment bank Investec in London, said: ‘Events in Japan may have implications for interest rates here.
‘The scale of the disaster adds to uncertainty over the British economy, while at the same time commodity prices have fallen, justifying the MPC keeping rates on hold for longer.’
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development threw its weight behind low rates yesterday. It said rates should ‘rise only slowly’ from the middle of the year and warned that aggressive increases risked snubbing out the recovery. It came on a dramatic day on global stock markets as investorsfretted about a possible nuclear disaster in Japan.


The Nikkei 225 gained 5.7pc to 9,093.72 in Tokyo in the early hours of yesterday morning having lost more than 16pc of its value on Monday and Tuesday. But the FTSE 100 index was down 97.05 to 5598.23 in London while the Dow Jones Industrial Average lost more than 150 points in New York.
The heavy losses in the West were blamed on a gaffe by a leading Eurocrat who warned that a ‘major disaster’ may be on its way after the market in Tokyo closed. ‘The site is effectively out of control,’ said EU energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger. ‘In the coming hours, there could be further catastrophic events.’
It created panic before Oettinger backtracked and admitted his remarks were based on media reports. Howard Archer, chief UK economist at IHS Global Insight, said: ‘At this stage it looks like the horrific Japanese situation will only have a very limited impact on the UK economy. But this could change.
‘Events in Japan do add to the uncertainties surrounding the outlook and the fact is that the UK economic situation is pretty fragile and vulnerable to shocks.
‘So events in Japan do support the case for the Bank of England keeping its finger off the interest rate trigger in the near term at least and seeing how the economy performs.’

Thursday, 17 March 2011

Rising fuel price and taxes add up to 5% rise in income tax for poorer families

Tesco UK chief executive Richard Brasher describes cost of fuel, utilities and taxes as a 'real challenge' for his supermarket's customers
Tesco's UK chief executive, Richard Brasher, has claimed that the "inexorable rise of fuel prices", as well as other rising household costs, add up to a 5% rise in income tax for poorer families.
Filling up at the pumps, as well as higher utilities bills and taxes, is estimated to be costing households £12 more a week than last year and Brasher said the squeeze on disposable incomes was a "real challenge" for Tesco's customers. He said shoppers were now "paranoid about debt", with financial tips websites like Martin Lewis's attracting a "biblical" following.
Brasher is Tesco's first dedicated UK chief executive and his comments were made at one of his first public appearances at the Retail Week conference in London.
Also speaking at the conference was Alliance Boots chief executive Andy Hornby, who predicted: "We are not going to see consumer spend growing in the next two years." Hornby joined the Boots the Chemist owner in 2009 just nine months after he left HBOS, the bank rescued by Lloyds in a government-brokered takeover.
Higher taxes as well as rising food and fuel prices are forcing consumers to change their shopping habits, but Brasher said consumers were not reacting in a uniform manner, with Tesco seeing both "trading up and trading down" in its stores. He said there was "no single soundbite" that described how consumers were reacting to straitened times.
The cautious comments were in keeping with a survey last week showing that UK retail sales in February fell at their fastest annual pace in 10 months. The chief executive of Debenhams, Rob Templeman, said consumers had pulled in their horns since the turn of the year: "The consumer mindset has changed. They're looking at what they need to have, not what they want to have."

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

UK unemployment total hits 17-year high

Job seekers queue outside a Jobcentre Plus branch in London Bridge on March 18, 2009 in London. The number of people out of work in the UK in January 2009 stands at 2.03 million, the highest has been for the past 11 years. Both the British Chambers of Commerce and CBI have predicted UK unemployment will exceed three million during 2010.UK unemployment rose by 27,000 in the three months to the end of January to 2.53 million, the highest since 1994.
The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said the jobless rate was now 8%, the highest since 1996.
However, the ONS figures also showed that the number of people claiming jobseeker's allowance fell by 10,200 in February to 1.45 million.
Another record high was reached in the unemployment rate for 16-24 year olds, up by 0.8% to 20.6%.
This figure, however, does include students who are looking for work.
The unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds was also at an all-time high at 18.3%.
The ONS report also shows that average earnings in January were 2.3% higher than a year ago, mainly driven by bonus payments in the finance and business services sector.
Wage growth, although higher than expected, is well below the level of growth the Bank of England finds concerning and is unlikely to put pressure on the Bank to raise interest rates.
Average pay including bonuses was £453 a week.
Public sector cuts
The jobs data showed that number of people in work increased by 32,000 to 29.16 million, the highest figure since last autumn.
A record number of 50-64-year-olds were in work - their numbers rose by 25,000 to 7.3 million.
Public sector employment fell by 45,000 in the final quarter of 2010 to 6.2 million, even before the full impact of the government's spending cuts started to take effect.
Local government employment fell by 24,000, central government by 9,000 and Civil Service by 8,000, while employment in private firms increased by 77,000 to almost 23 million.
There were almost half a million job vacancies in the three months to February, up by 24,000 over the previous quarter, although without the 29,000 temporary jobs needed for this year's census, the number of vacancies would have fallen.
'Broad change'
The Employment Minister, Chris Grayling, said: "Clearly any increase in unemployment is unwelcome and a disappointment and it underlines the need for a Budget next week which focuses on growth, on creating an environment where businesses are growing and developing and creating jobs. But it is a mixed picture."
He said the data underlined the need to press ahead with policies to stimulate growth in the private sector.
The TUC general secretary, Brendan Barber, called the figures "shocking".
He said: "Over a year after the recession technically ended, unemployment is now at its highest level since the mid-1990s, with 2.53 million people out of work.
"While the fall in the numbers claiming the dole is welcome, the number of jobs available in the economy has also fallen and there are over a million people in part-time work seeking permanent jobs."
Graeme Leach, chief economist at the Institute of Directors, said: "The good news is that there doesn't seem to be any evidence of a wage price spiral developing, with the underlying growth in average earnings (excluding bonuses) actually falling from 2.3 to 2.2 per cent. This clearly helps reduce the upward pressure on interest rates. "
The level of unemployment rose in Wales by 2,000, by 4,000 in Northern Ireland and by 38,000 in England. However, unemployment dropped by 16,000 in Scotland.

First Time Buyers! Local council offered to pay up to £70,000 deposit.

First-time buyers who are unable to call on the bank of mum and dad to boost their deposit may now be able to turn to their local council instead.

Fifteen local authorities, including East Lothian, Blackpool, Newcastle-under-Lyme and Warrington, have agreed to put money in a Lloyds TSB scheme to top up the deposits of first-time buyers trying to buy a home in their area. The scheme, called Local Lend a Hand, allows first-timers to buy a home with a deposit of as little as 5%.

Raising a deposit is one of the biggest hurdles for first-time buyers since the 2007 banking crisis, with many lenders refusing mortgages to those whose savings are less than 20% of the value of the property they want to buy, and offering the lowest rates to those with deposits of 25% or more. The requirement for a big deposit has relaxed recently with more lenders willing to provide mortgages worth 90% of a property's value, but only two – Yorkshire Bank and Skipton building society, via its estate agency subsidiary Connells – will lend up to 95%.

The need for a big deposit combined with high house prices and higher rates of unemployment among younger people combined to push down the number of first-time buyers by 13% in the 12 months to January, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders. First-time buyers are recognised as the driving force behind house price increases, and earlier this month the Nationwide building society admitted this low number was "casting a shadow" over the housing market.

Lloyds TSB already offers a mortgage which lets parents boost the size of their children's deposit, but until now prospective buyers without wealthy parents to fall back on have had to build up their own savings. The average first-time buyer deposit in 2010 was £28,489, according to the Halifax.

Stephen Noakes, commercial director of mortgages at Lloyds TSB, said: "Helping people to buy their first home is crucial in achieving and maintaining a sustainable housing market. With Local Lend a Hand we are taking our existing Lend a Hand product to another level and addressing the real challenges first-time buyers face."

Buyers will have to pay interest on the full amount borrowed, including the local authority loan, but will benefit from slightly lower interest rates than they would normally pay for a 90% loan: a loan being set up now would cost 5.09% with a £895 fee or 5.79% with no fee fixed for three years, compared to 5.99% with a £895 fee fixed for three years.

Although Lloyds TSB is willing to lend from £25,000 up to £350,000 per property, local authorities may set lower maximums depending on the amount they want to put into the scheme and the price of typical first-time buyer properties in their area. The buyer must put down a deposit of at least 5% and the local authority will provide a cash-backed indemnity of up to 20%. Unlike shared ownership, the buyer will own the whole property.

Buying homes, buying time

East Lothian council has agreed to put £1m into the scheme. Councillor Stuart Currie said he hoped that helping more people buy their first home would reduce the waiting list for council homes – which has 4,000 people on it – and buy the authority time while it builds more social housing.

"The typical one-bed first-time buyer property here costs between £80,000 and £100,000, so you would [normally] need a £25,000 deposit. That's a big deposit to build up." he said.

A repayment loan for £95,000 through the Local Lend a Hand scheme is likely to cost about £566 at the lower 5.09% rate, and £618 at the higher 5.79% rate.

The interest rate of 4.25% paid to local authorities on money deposited in the scheme is about the same or slightly more than they would earn in a standard bank account, but they will carry most of the risk of loss should properties fall into negative equity or the borrower defaults on his or her loan.

Paul Campbell, a councillor with Warrington council, said normal checks would be conducted on prospective borrowers by the lender, and the risk of default to the council's proposed investment of £5m has been calculated at just 0.3%, or £15,000 over five years. "We hope the money will help 250 people on to the housing ladder, which in turn would release other people to buy bigger homes and boost the local economy," he said.

Housing minister Grant Shapps called a summit of mortgage lenders in February to discuss the issues preventing first-time buyers securing their own homes, and what could be done to help them. He said: "I am delighted to see that those on the front line of building homes and providing mortgages are stepping up their efforts to help aspiring first-time buyers get a foot on the ladder.

"These new and innovative mortgage products are welcome because they are tailored to meet the challenges faced by first-time buyers, and can help get the housing market moving again."

The idea for extending the scheme was developed by Sector Treasury Services, part of the Capita Group, which will be paid commission for each Local Lend a Hand scheme borrowed.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Not Worthwhile to fixing your mortgage until Interest rate reaches 2.75


The Bank of England would need to push interest rates up to at least 2.75 per cent to make it worthwhile home owners fixing their mortgage, figures suggest. 

facing an increasing dilemma about whether or not to guard against future interest rate rises by locking into a fixed rate deal.
Rising inflation is putting the Bank of England under pressure to increase rates sooner than expected.
But economist warned yesterday that borrowers are taking a “pretty big gamble” on a sharp increase in rates.
Figures calculated by Capital Economics found the Bank Rate would need to climb to 3.25 per cent in two year’s time for fixing your mortgage now to be cheaper than the average existing variable rate.
It showed a £150,000 mortgage costs £921 for a new fixed rate or £84 extra a month than a new variable rate deal at £834 or £110 more expensive than the existing variable-rate at £811.
Melanie Bien, of mortgage brokers Private Finance, said: “With a significant gap between the pricing of variable and fixed rates, there has been much analysis as to how much interest rates need to rise to make a fix worth your while. But while predictions and forecasts are all well and good, the truth is nobody knows when interest rates are going to rise and by how much.
“Home owners must therefore look at their own situation and assess whether their finances could cope with a 1, 2 or even 3 per cent increase in the Bank Rate over the next couple of years. If they would struggle, there is a strong argument for a fixed rate, which will bring peace of mind.”

Monday, 14 March 2011

Post Office ... use it or lose it !!!!

How often do you go into your local Post Office? As Britain's banks continue to close branches, you may be needing it more than you think, as somewhere to deposit money, take it out and check your bank balance. A Government decision last week, however, placed the future of many Post Office branches in jeopardy. The message seems clear – use your Post Office, or lose it and maybe your banking services as well.
Sub-postmasters, who operate most of Britain's rural Post Offices, said the "bitterly disappointing decision" to remove the contract for processing benefit cheques from the Post Office and give it to PayPoint and Citibank could lead to closures across the 1,200-strong network.
"Sub-postmasters need significant volumes of work in order to survive, including regular repeat transactions such as benefits payments. Ministers have to deliver new government work to Post Offices, not more broken promises," said George Thomson, general secretary of the National Federation of Subpostmasters. "The combination of changes in technology and customer behaviour, falling income and rising running costs have left many sub-postmasters struggling to keep running their business for the benefit of their community.
"The Government must now deliver on its pledge and make better use of its own network by offering more government and financial services at post offices for the public to use, rather than withdrawing contracts. Otherwise, the downward spiral will continue for our post offices, further jeopardising the future both of individual branches and the entire national network."
Sub-postmasters are small businessmen and women, not Post Office employees, and if they don't get enough customers, they will sell. Post office closures represent a vast problem in areas where banks have already shut, increasingly leaving Post Offices as the only option for banking. According to Derek French, head of the Campaign for Community Banking Services, many banks are now closing the last bank in town, despite repeated pledges not to leave areas without services.
According to his figures, Barclays closed 22 banks last quarter, of which 12 were the last, or the last bank but one, in a town. In one case, the bank wrote to residents urging them to use the local Post Office, but this had already closed. HSBC closed nine branches, of which six were the last or last but one. Seven of the nine Lloyds branches that closed in the same period were the last one in a town.
"The pattern as to the type of place now being attacked is obvious," Mr French warned, saying banks were now cutting communities loose without banking services. "Post offices can be really important in those areas, although not everyone can bank with the Post Office."
It is estimated that about 60pc of current accounts can now be accessed through the Post Office, although most are with the state-backed banks, such as RBS and Lloyds Banking Group. The Government will look to extend the service to 80pc of all current accounts. The graphic shows which banks allow you to operate a current account through a Post Office branch.
The latest banks to come on board and offer customers Post Office access are Royal Bank of Scotland and NatWest. Customers will be able to use Post Office counters and computer screens to withdraw cash and check balances – and in some cases deposit cheques into accounts. However, those with an HSBC current account or Santander account (unless they hold accounts that were formerly with Alliance & Leicester) cannot use their Post Office – unless they have a basic bank account that does not offer overdraft facilities. Since the Government rejected calls for the Post Office to run its own bank, customers must rely on their own banks' relationship with Royal Mail in order to receive services.
The Government also pledged not to reduce the Post Office branch network, with Vince Cable, the Business Secretary, saying there would be "no closures on our watch".
But it has little control over whether sub-postmasters choose to close and whether others want to take their place. The decision to move benefit payments to a rival firm may hasten the departure of some sub-postmasters.
Martin Moran, the commercial director of the Post Office, said: "The Post Office is committed to providing free and easy access to bank accounts for the 20 million customers who visit branches every week. More than 60pc of UK debit card holders can service their accounts over the counter at branches and we are working towards a position where all UK current account holders can use the Post Office. With a network of almost 12,000 branches, larger than all the banks combined, we are in the unique position of offering customers unrivalled access to services."
A spokesman added that 151 million bill payments were made each year at Post Offices. ''We also offer a range of government services, including the Post Office Card Account, passport applications, driving licence applications, car tax and so on,"
he said.
The Post Office also sells financial products through its joint venture with Bank of Ireland. Some of these can be opened and run in Post Office branches. Others, such as its insurance and mortgage products, are applied for and run remotely, via telephone or the internet.
Savings accounts offered by the Post Office in conjunction with the Bank of Ireland are now covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme. This means that a maximum of £85,000 of a person's savings would be protected by the Government in the event of the Bank of Ireland or its UK-based subsidiary
going bust.
Despite all of this, and the vital role the Post Office plays in communities, the decision to pay benefits elsewhere suggests that the Government may not deliver on its promise to keep its local Post Offices as "the front office for government".
"If the Government is serious about maintaining a national network of Post Offices, it must ensure that all future tenders for government services take account of the full range of factors alongside cost," Mr Thomson said. "The Post Office provides guaranteed availability of cash through its comprehensive infrastructure, unrivalled local access and trained, trusted staff able to undertake specialist transactions in a safe, secure and professional environment."
As a banking service for those rapidly losing their branches, the Post Office is vital, but we can't bank on its survival, unless we bank with it now.