Direct debit savings; CASHPOINTS

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The Independent Online
Paying regular bills by direct debit could save a household around pounds 50 a year as well as being a convenient payment mechanism, thanks to discounts on offer from a range of utilities and other bill-issuers and savings in postage costs. Bacs, a bill payment organisation, says most people pay at least one bill using direct debit, and one in three consider it their main payment method, ahead of cash and cheques.

Women last week came a step closer to getting a legal right to a share of their husband's pension at the point of divorce - a clean break settlement rather than having to wait until their husband retires. But the measures announced by the Government are not due to come in until the year 2000, and it is unlikely that a Labour government would bring quicker implementation.

"Best-buy" personal pension plans identified in a survey in the March issue of Money Management, a specialist magazine aimed at independent financial advisers, are, for monthly saving: Colonial Mutual Direct, Eagle Star Direct, Equitable Life, Friends Provident, Gartmore, Norwich Union, Professional Life, Rothschild Asset Management, Scottish Widows Direct and Winterthur Life. For one-off investments, Colonial Mutual Direct, Gartmore and Professional Life are thought the best buys.

Price Waterhouse, the accountancy firm, has published a free guide, Tax Planning in an Election Year, which includes a look at what Labour might do to a range of personal tax breaks. Telephone 0171 939 2117.

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