Odd, isn't it, how deft institutions are at picking our pockets, how slow at giving some of it back

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For those of us in regular contact with banks and building societies, there was something almost comical in the haste with which they rushed to bump up the cost of home loans in the wake of Chancellor Gordon Brown's base rate announcement on Tuesday.

Within hours of base rates going up to 6.25 per cent, lenders were in touch to say that mortgages would rise too, this time by 0.35 per cent on average, adding pounds 13 a month to the cost of a pounds 50,000 loan.

There are a few points worth noting. The first is the disparity between the increase in base rates and of home loans. Of course, it is only fair to point out that lenders have in the past year or two pushed up their mortgages by less than the prevailing base rate change.

The second is that in the scramble to hike home loans, many of us ignored the hush from mutually owned societies. The most profoundly "mutual" societies, including Britannia, Nationwide, Bradford & Bingley and Yorkshire, are standing back this weekend before reaching a decision.

It is likely that they too will push up their rates, although by less than their banking competitors. But even if they were to imitate their rivals to the last decimal point, the one-week breathing space means a difference of about pounds 3. Small beer, maybe, but at least it stays in our pockets' and not the banks'.

The final point is connected to the previous one. For in the frenzy to tell us about rising mortgage rates, virtually all of them with immediate effect for existing borrowers, the banks and wannabe banks "forgot" to mention savings rates. These, I was assured, would rise "in due course", but it was "too early" to say when that might be. Odd, isn't it, how financial organisations are so deft at picking our pockets and so sluggish when it comes to giving some of that money back.

There was another, unreported, consequence of the Chancellor's decision to hand control of interest rates to the Bank of England.

According to the Annuity Bureau, a London-based firm of retirement specialists, annuities - the yearly income bought with pension lump sums - tumbled by up to 5 per cent almost overnight.

In effect, anyone close to retirement who has a personal pension, or is a member of an occupational "money-purchase" scheme, will have seen the value of their retirement income slashed by that amount.

This is because annuity rates are generally dependent on returns from medium-term government gilts. The market's reaction to Gordon Brown's announcement was to push up the price of shares and gilts. As a result, gilt yields fell and with them, annuity rates.

The fall may reverse itself, at least in part. However, for anyone with pension arrangements where their final lump sum is used to buy an annuity, the lesson to learn is that annual retirement income is hard to predict. Increasing contributions where possible may be the only way to ensure a comfortable retirement.

Of course, one could argue that the way in which this dramatic cut in pensioners' income went unreported was further evidence of what little value society places on them and their needs. But that would be too cynical an attitude.

Finally, many of you are aware that The Independent also publishes a Money section on Wednesdays, in which there is a chance to discuss an even wider range of topics than in this edition.

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