Cashpoints: Mortgage deals just get better

Lenders have come up with some excellent mortgage deals following the latest Bank of England rate cut. Woolwich has extended its Open Plan flexible mortgage range and now offers a two-year fix at 5.59 per cent, with no tie-in after the offer ends. Borrowers get a pounds 250 cashback and can overpay 10 per cent of the capital owing each year without penalty. Details in branches.

Meanwhile, Halifax is offering its lowest-ever rates, with clearer explanations of which mortgages have tie-ins and penalty periods. The range includes a two-year discount, offering 1.45 per cent off standard rates (current payments at 6 per cent) and no tie-ins, fees or penalties. Details on 0800 203049.

Freelance is a new insurance scheme for the self-employed combining private medical insurance and income replacement in the case of long-term sickness. Western Provident Association (WPA) believes self-employed people are less likely to take time off work and have significantly lower than average claim premiums on health insurance. Rates are charged according to the level of medical and income cover needed, but start at pounds 3 per month. Details on 0800 783 0784.

If you are thinking of buying a European PEP this year, SG Asset Management (Societe Generale) has a useful free guide to investing in Europe. It includes details of top European stocks and plenty about the new euro currency and how it will affect us. Call 0808 100 7426 for a free copy.

Venture capital trusts offer generous tax breaks for higher-rate taxpayers, in return for taking some extra risk with your cash. VCTs back new and smaller companies. The David Aaron Partnership, an IFA, has a new guide to VCTs outlining all the rules and profiling current offers. The guide costs pounds 2. Send a cheque to the David Aaron Partnership, Shelton House, High Street, Woburn Sands, Milton Keynes MK17 8SD.