This week: Watchdog warning for savers; energy firm cuts prices, and help for those facing repossession.
The City watchdog warns competition is not working in the savings market
Savers are being let down by banks and building societies, the City Watchdog warned this morning.
The Financial Conduct Authority announced plans to overhaul the £700billion cash savings market after revealing that it doesn’t work well for consumers.
Worse hit are loyal customers with long-standing accounts – their loyalty is rewarded with lower interest rates than more recently-launched accounts. Around four-fifths of easy access accounts have not been switched in the last three years.
FCA director of strategy and competition Christopher Woolard said: "In a good market firms should be competing to offer the best possible deal and consumers should have the information they need to help them shop around."
Energy firms are cutting prices but most still pay too much
With the big energy companies making great play of the fact they’re cutting their prices, you could be forgiven for presuming that you don’t need to do much else to get a fair price for your gas and electricity. But that could be an expensive mistake.
In case you missed it, E.on cut standard gas prices by 3.5 per cent at the beginning of last week. On Monday British Gas promised to cut standard gas bills by 5 per cent from 27 February, while yesterday Scottish Power revealed a reduction in prices of 4.5 per cent from 20 February.
To be frank, while these cuts are welcome, they’re a tiny amount compared to an average home energy bill of around £1,200. But there’s an easier way to save potentially hundreds of pounds.
If you haven’t switched supplier or tariff in the last 12 months then you could almost certainly save money by doing so. There are several fixed rate deals under £1,000 so if you’re paying a lot more than that then you’re probably paying over the odds. Why haven’t you switched?
Facing repossession? There's more help out there than you think
How does it feel to be without a home? Helen Fisher came within 56 days of finding out. The 58-year-old mother of one had been through really tough times, but among the lowest was ending up in court facing the repossession of her home.
"The council said my husband would go into care and my daughter and I would go into a homeless hostel," she says. "I went down as low as I could go."
But, after the intervention of Citizens Advice, she was given 56 days to find funds to pay off some of the debt. That was the turning point. An online search led her to the Turn2us website, which lists thousands of grants and benefits to which struggling people may be entitled. Through that, she got in touch with the Motor and Allied Trades Benevolent Fund, the teachers' benevolent fund and the Stroke Association, all of which eventually came to her assistance.Reuse content