A WEEK IN PERSONAL FINANCE

THE Stock Exchange has backed down on its refusal to provide live share prices to a new dealing service to be run on the Internet in association with the retail stockbroker Sharelink. Details: 0121-200 7790 or, for Internet users, http://www.esi.co.uk

Old Mutual Fund Managers, formerly branded Providence Capitol, was fined pounds 30,000 by Imro and ordered to pay further costs of pounds 17,000. Offences of the South African-owned company included failing to invest cheques from private investors quickly enough. Affected investors have been compensated for pounds 7,500, around pounds 20 per investor.

The Inland Revenue is offering to give back pounds 500m in tax that has been overpaid by up to 6 million people. The main people affected are non-taxpayers who do not reclaim tax deducted at source on building society and bank interest or on share dividends. Non-taxpayers who fill in a form - IR85, which is available from banks, societies and tax offices - can receive their deposit interest gross. For details, phone the Revenue free on 0800 660800.

Policyholders with insurer Provident Mutual are set to benefit from pounds 25m of bonuses and cost control promises following a pounds 170m takeover by the insurance company General Accident.

Private client stockbrokers say a new system of paperless share settlement due to come in next July will raise costs for private investors. Broker trade body Apcims has complained to CrestCo, the company set up to run the new Crest system, and the Treasury.

Richard Branson's Virgin Direct has launched a corporate bond Pep, and claims it is the cheapest of this new type of high-income, low-risk investment.Charges total 0.77 per cent a year.

Lloyds Bank has produced cheque books for the left-handed. The books are bound on the right and open from the left.

Insurer Legal & General has slashed life insurance rates for new policies by up to 25 per cent.

The first public offer opened for a new tax-free Venture Capital Trust. Baronsmead VCT is a type of high risk fund that carries Pep-style tax breaks. Launch investors subscribing by 6 November also get 20 per cent upfront tax relief. Prospectus on 0171-242 4900.

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