Simon Read: How lending works: 75% to you, but just 3.5% to Tory cronies

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The Independent Online

A gaggle of top Tories attended a plush bank bash in the City last month. Home Secretary Theresa May led the turnout of Tory bigwigs who included Philip Hammond, Francis Maude, Lord Patten, Lord Young, David Davis, Michael Fallon, Chris Grayling and Mark Garnier.

They were celebrating the  180th anniversary of private bank Arbuthnot Latham and were treated to a slap-up, Mosimann dinner followed by a performance by opera star Katherine Jenkins.

Nice. Especially when you bear in mind that the bank’s boss has enjoyed cosy dinners in Downing Street with the Camerons. Henry Angest, pictured, is a major Tory funder who gave the party a £5m overdraft facility just before the last General Election at a “mate’s rate” of just 3.5 per cent.

The 72-year-old Swiss-born millionaire can do exactly what he wants with his fortune. But he’s not so friendly to ordinary folk who want to borrow from the high-street lender he controls.

That business – Everyday Loans – charges ordinary members of the public interest at an average  74.8 per cent APR.

That’s not a total rip-off but is around 15 times as expensive as borrowers are charged at mainstream lenders. It’s clear who  Mr Angest’s lender targets – vulnerable people who can’t get a loan through normal methods.

He’s profiting from hard-up folk forced to pay excessive interest. So I’m uncomfortable seeing him cosy up to those who could decide the future of high-cost credit.

* The facility provided to the Conservative Party by Arbuthnot Latham preceded the acquisition of Everyday Loans. Profits from Everyday Loans have not been provided to any political party.

Everyday Loans have told us that it considers customers’ affordability prospects and only lends in a responsible manner which is fundamentally different to the approach used by payday lenders. Interest rates reflect the risk involved in lending to individual borrowers and are typically 20 times less than payday lenders

Cold calls: Flogging PPI claims is angering not helping people

Big Nev is Britain’s latest reality star. He dominates the screen every Tuesday night in BBC3’s series The Call Centre.

He’s boss of Swansea’s third-largest call centre and goes to extreme lengths to try to make sure it’s a happy workplace. But despite him calling his business Saving Britain Money, I suspect that the majority of the 1.5 million people targeted by Big Nev’s workers each year are far from happy to get the call.

That’s because he’s been flogging payment protection insurance claims management. A survey from Which? this week showed that almost two thirds of unwanted annoying calls come from firms flogging PPI compensation claims.

The annoying PPI calls proved very profitable for Big Nev last year bringing him profits of more than £4m, almost three quarters of the total amount his business made.

So if you enjoy the show, just give some thought to the victims of cold callers, particularly elderly folk. The calls are no joke for them.

Energy: Electric bills could start to fall if Ofgem gets its way

The energy regulator this week pledged to “break the stranglehold” of the “Big Six” energy suppliers. How? Ofgem has threatened the energy firms with fines unless they become more transparent about wholesale prices.

This is an issue which has been rumbling along for almost a decade. Smaller energy suppliers complained about the lack of transparency in pricing back in 2003 and the watchdog has been working to tackle the problem since 2008.

If the Big Six – British Gas, EDF, E.on, Npower, SSE and Scottish Power – publish the prices at which they buy and sell electricity up to two years in advance, it will allow rivals to plan better and, hopefully be more competitive.

But, in its usual stalling manner, the energy industry has called for “further discussions”.

Forget it. The time to talk about this is long gone. We need action now to bring fairer pricing to all electricity users.

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