Tom Tickell has devised a Christmas quiz to test your financial knowledge

1. ...are the words behind CAT - as in CAT standards, and where do they apply?

2. the lowest rate of tax - introduced this year?

3. form of pension becomes available from April next year?

4. the only thing charities will have to know about you if they are to get tax relief on your contributions from next year?

5. ...are mortgage lock-ins - which the Government apparently dislikes?


1. ...did four letters replace a well-known banking name - and what do they stand for?

2. ...has Barclay's bank postponed charging other banks" customers - after massive protests from its rivals?

3. ...did carpetbaggers start to operate outside the building societies?

4. ...can you only invest pounds 1,000 with a mini, but pounds 3,000 with a maxi?

5. ...will people now on the verge of retirement do better than those in the same position in January?


1. ...was Gordon Brown accused of "weakening the bonds of marriage" in his Budget?

2. ...did the former butler Michael Hardern cost the Britannia Building Society pounds 3 million?

3. ...are Egg's special rates for nest eggs not available to everyone?

4. ...has suing large corporations become easier recently?

5. ...did a non-status mortgage cause such a political storm at the start of the year?


1. ...government department sent out 7.5 million forms this year, 2.5 million of which contained mistakes?

2., and former building society, charges customers pounds 5 if they pay bills in its branches - and not through cash machines?

3. received the right to pay a reduced final bonus on its pensions plans if its customers insisted on taking the guaranteed annuity rates which were originally promised.

4. ...form of tax relief - first available in 1803, and which eventually applied to well over half Britain's households - is finally to vanish in April?

5. ...two schemes offering tax relief on savings and investments disappeared in April - and what replaced them?

Answers below

Quiz Answers

1. Cost Access Terms. CATS are a government "kitemark" for Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs), which meet its various tests.

2. 10 per cent, though it only applies to the first pounds 1,500 of taxable income.

3. Stakeholder pensions.

4. Your name and address. The old covenant rules insisting on four years saving are to go in April.

5. Any rule that you must take a standard variable mortgage for a given number of years, if you have had a fixed-rate loan first.


1. HSBC has replaced the Midland Bank, reflecting its ownership. The initials stand for the Hong Kong & Shanghai Bank Corporation.

2. Barclays planned to charge other banks" customers up to pounds 1 for using its cash machines - the ATMs. However, it has temporarily backed down.

3. In the "mutual" life companies, owned by their members - people with life and investment policies. If mutuals become companies, they will get payouts - or shares.

4. ISAs - Individual Savings Accounts.

5. The annuity rates are better, so they can get more income for the pensions savings they have made.


1. He finally ended the extra married couple's allowance - which disappears in April.

2. He stood for the board, but withdrew at the last minute, so the Britannia had to reprint all the ballot forms - and other documents. Hardern had wanted the Britannia to become a bank.

3. They are only available through the Internet.

4. Lawyers can work on a "no win, no fee" basis, where they take a share of whatever damages you may win.

5. Peter Mandelson did not mention he had an existing private mortgage when applying for a home loan from the Britannia building society.


1. The Inland Revenue - on tax forms.

2. Abbey National.

3. Equitable Life.

4. Mortgage tax relief.

5. PEPS (Personal Equity Plans) and TESSAS (Tax Exempt Special Savings Accounts). They were replaced with ISAs (Individual Savings Accounts).