The Independent’s Personal Finance Editor Simon Read talks over the latest Money news. This week Life company admits overcharging policyholders; complaints pour in about BT’s sneak fees; and there’s one month to the end of the tax year
Has your life company been overcharging you?
Phoenix Life – which has 5 million policyholders – has been forced to admit that it’s been overcharging by 20 per cent.
The scandal has only come to light through the efforts of a retired independent financial adviser who analysed the charges on his own policies to spot the anomaly.
He contacted The Independent to warn others that they may have been hit and, like him, end up having the value of their policies depleted by hundreds of pounds, often requiring a rise in premiums.
Are you a victim of BT’s hidden fees?
BT customers with a 12-month contract can get Caller Display free, but only if they sign up for a 12-month offer. If they don't sign up for it, they're charged.
In other words, BT seems to assume that if you don't sign up for the offer, you'd prefer to pay for the service, at £1.75 a month. That's bonkers and can only be, it seems, a way for BT to boost its profits. After all, who in their right would want to pay for something they can have for free?
Alert: Just one month until the end of the tax year
That means you have just a month to use your 1014-15 Isa allowance. And last July they became much more flexible. Now you can transfer cash from savings accounts to investments and then back again within your Isa.
Why should savers be using Isas? Because of the tax benefits. If you're a basic-rate taxpayer, the return you can get outside an Isa is worth 20 per cent less than within the tax-free environment. If you're a higher-rate taxpayer, it is worth 40 per cent less.
If you don’t take up your Isa allowance by 5 April, you lose it.
Meanwhile new pension freedoms come in next month. From 6 April, people aged 55 and over will be able to choose what to do with the cash in their pension pot rather than being forced to buy an annuity. You’ll be able to take the whole lot in one go, take smaller sums when needed or take quarter tax-free and a regular taxable income from the rest. But confusion reigns among consumers about their options.
The Government is developing a website to help people make the right decision. You can find it at pensionwise.gov.ukReuse content