Things you might have missed this week
Our weekly round-up of some of the other stories from the financial world.
Welcome to our bite-sized look at some of the other money stories that caught our eyes this week.
Lloyds pledge on bank branches
Lloyds TSB announced a pledge to keep the same number of bank branches for the next three years. It also pledged not to close a branch if it is the last one in a community. The part taxpayer-owned bank recently agreed to sell 632 of its branches to the Co-op. In 2010, the Campaign for Community Bank Services claimed Lloyds had shut 500 branches since 2000.
Alternative proposals for Child Benefit
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has called the Government’s decision to withdraw Child Benefit from individual higher-rate taxpayers from 2013 “bizarre” and “economically damaging”. Launching its ‘Green Budget’, which offers the institute’s own ideas for the economy ahead of the real thing next month, the IFS recommended Child Benefit be withdrawn gradually. It also proposed proper means testing to make sure the system is fair.
Sale and rent back market on hold after FSA probe
The Financial Services Authority (FSA) has heavily criticised the sale and rent back market. Sale and rent back is when a company buys your home at a discount rate then rents it back to you at market rate. The FSA review into the market has effectively closed it for now, with one firm being referred to its enforcement division while the rest have either stopped taking on new business or cancelled their permissions. The FSA identified a number of failings including companies not correctly assessing the appropriateness and affordability of it for customers.
New code of conduct for payday loans
The Finance and Leasing Association, whose members include payday loan companies and store card providers, has released a new Lending Code. Measures announced include a ban on commission payments to shop staff for selling store cards and a requirement that payday loan lenders tell customers the total cost of a short-term loan, including fees and charges, upfront. And a short-term loan can now only be extended three times, with a requirement for a new credit assessment to be carried out each time. But the move is unlikely to prevent the Office of Fair Trading probing the short-term loan market.
Third of PPI claims made by claims management companies
Over three-quarters of payment protection insurance compensation claims made to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme have been made through claims management companies. As the average payout is £4,534, the claims firms take an average cut of £1,133 per successful claim. However, the number of successful claims by individuals is roughly the same as those made by claims management companies.
Building societies buck mortgage trend
Mortgage lending in 2011 by building societies and other mutuals was up by £23.6 billion in 2011, up 16% on 2010. That compares to a small decrease in the amount banks lent last year.
NatWest wins customer service award
NatWest/Royal Bank of Scotland scooped the Best Customer Service Award at this year’s Consumer Moneyfacts Awards. The awards, presented by financial information site Moneyfacts, are decided by a mix of public voting and analysis of product providers by Moneyfacts.
An Asda price Valentine
And finally, Asda is selling a Valentine’s Day card costing just 7p. The catch? It has the Asda Smart Price logo on the front, so your other half will be under no illusion that it’s a bargain basement offering. But if they are as frugal as some of us here at lovemoney.com Towers, they might find that very romantic (well, sensible maybe)...
Our top stories from the week that was
People earning £40k know nothing about money
The best petrol loyalty cards for drivers
15 Valentine’s Day presents you won’t find on the high street
Your rights when stores mis-price items
The UK’s worst train operator