‘Nationwide lowers in-credit rate but no change on overdraft rate’

January 29, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Nationwide has joined the ranks of providers who have decided to lower their in-credit interest rate and yet have made no move to reduce the rate charged on customers’ overdrafts.

Recent figures provided by show that, in the last eleven months, interest rates on current accounts have been reduced on average by 1.46% and yet rates on overdrafts have increased by an average of 0.71%. Kevin Mountford, head of’s banking department, describes the discrepancy as “hard to justify”. He explains that whilst it is no surprise to find that in-credit rates have fallen, given the movement in the base rate over the last year, it is nevertheless disappointing to see that some providers have “used base rate cuts to widen the margin”.

Practically every household in the country has a current account so the movement has a highly significant effect on the country’s finances. As a nation we have overdrafts amounting to £600 million meaning that the banks are receiving a £13 million boost to their coffers. With the huge pressures on the banking system and the Office of Fair Trading challenging the question of bank charges in court, it is no doubt a welcome means of recovering some of their losses.

Nationwide’s customers have been hardest hit since February 2008 with overdraft rates increasing by 3% and in-credit rates being decreased by 3.5%. It will be interesting to see in the light of this news whether Nationwide is able to repeat its success of the last two years when it was voted the UK’s most trusted provider.

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‘Taxpayer saved UK economy’

January 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm

World War II – and the years of rationing that followed the conflict – is widely regarded as one of the most tumultuous periods in British history. The government fought for years to reunite the fraying threads of civilisation whilst a whole generation of people struggled to adjust to life outside the trenches.

In 2009, almost sixty-five years after Hitler blew his head off in a small Berlin bunker, media outlets all over the world began predicting a period of protracted recession that could rival the bitter aftermath of the Second World War.

The financial crisis of 2008 is set to go down in history as one of the most preventable crises of the twenty-first century, but despite months of investigation and the injection of billions of pounds into failing banks, the financial sector was saved from meltdown by the lowly taxpayer.

A recent documentary commissioned by the BBC revealed that escalating house prices (evident from as early as 2003) were the first indicators of the maelstrom that threatened to topple HBOS, the Royal Bank of Scotland, and the Bank of America.

Gordon Brown has been accused of exacerbating an already critical matter by failing to understand the severity of the situation. An estimated £37 billion of public money has since been used to rescue Britain’s banks from the brink of insolvency.

Unfortunately, despite now owning a large majority of HBOS and RBS, prudent taxpayers are being forced to entertain a low interest rate in order to ensure the continuing survival of ruined capitalists and feckless bankers.

The Year Britain’s Bubble Burst, a Panorama special on the financial crisis, is available for viewing at the BBC iPlayer website.

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‘Contactless debit cards’

January 23, 2009 at 1:29 pm

Barclays bank is yet again leading the way in introducing contactless cards. After the introduction last September of the OnePulse combined oyster, credit, and contactless card, it is now rolling out an exciting new contactless debit card.

From March, the large majority of debit cards issued or re-issued will have the contactless technology. By the end of 2009, the bank expects approximately three million customers to be using contactless debit cards. The technology enables customers to pay for purchases under ten pounds without the need for a PIN or inserting the card into a machine. Occasionally the customer may be asked for the PIN as a means of checking on their ID.

A spokesman for Barclays describes the cards as safe, quick, and convenient and also said that he expects them to be highly popular with their clients. Over eight thousand UK retailers, both independent and chain stores, accept the cards. This is, however, a relatively small number and you may have difficulty finding retailers who accept them outside London and the other large cities in the UK.

Barclays had hoped that by this April twenty thousand outlets would accept the cards. If you are interested in using these cards, you should watch out for the “ripple” logo which indicates where the cards can be used.

Contactless cards were rolled out in America in 2005 and in Asia and parts of mainland Europe in 2006. So far there have been no reports of contactless card fraud although customers have been advised to check their statements carefully and report any erroneous transactions despite the fact that the amounts are likely to be small.

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‘British reserve no longer an issue over financial talk’

January 14, 2009 at 1:54 pm

The typical British reserve has historically meant that very few of us feel comfortable talking about our personal finances to friends or even close family members but it looks as though the credit crunch has made us more likely to spill the beans.

According to recent research conducted by, over half of us now feel able to discuss our financial woes, with 25% of adults in the UK admitting that it is in fact THE topic of conversation at the moment. The reasons behind this range from making us feel better or more “normal” when we talk about finances with people in similar circumstances, through to seeking advice from others. Of those who feel able to open up, over six in ten talk about the cost of living, nearly four in ten discuss ways of tightening their belts, and just under three in ten discuss their investments. Most of us speak about these matters to our close family members but 20% of us use colleagues and also mere acquaintances as sounding boards.

As regards the split between the sexes, it transpires that women are more likely than men to open up (59% compared to 49%), partly because women feel the need more to unburden themselves but also because it seems that women are doing more tightening of the belt than men. As for geographical differences, Londoners are the most likely to share financial confidences, whilst those in the East Midlands and East of England are least likely. Perhaps not surprisingly, the older generation guard their privacy more carefully with three quarters of 18 to 24 year olds seeking reassurance from friends that they are not alone with their worries.

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‘Santander to axe 1,900 jobs’

January 14, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Banco Santander, one of the largest commercial banking companies in the world, is to make almost 2,000 people redundant.

The cull, which will have an impact upon Santander’s British operations, will help the company save £180 million over the next two years.

Santander purchased Bradford and Bingley, Abbey National, and Alliance and Leicester over a four-year period but the recent downturn in world markets has rendered the bank unable to support its hefty wage bill.

The Communication Workers Union (CWU) was determined to ensure that the vast majority of the losses were achieved through natural turnover and voluntary redundancies, but could do nothing to block the move altogether.

Antonio Horta-Osorio, the chief executive of Santander, stated that the cull was geared towards reducing the amount of duplicate positions in its branches.

Customer service personnel and counter staff throughout the country will be spared the ignominy of the dole queue.

Almost all the financial institutions in the world have been forced to accept job cuts as a quick-fire solution to ailing profits.

Experts are now worried that mass redundancies are becoming a popular way of reducing the impact of the credit crunch and are understandably pessimistic about the prospects for 2009.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) expects unemployment figures to top 3 million within the next two years.

Woolworths, Zavvi, Gatwick Airport, Rolls Royce, and numerous contractors all over the country have been forced to show their staff the door. On the 13th of December alone, 3,000 jobs were lost.

Unfortunately, despite extensive government scrutiny, the financial burden that British industry has been forced to carry over the past few months shows no sign of reducing.

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