Cashpoints: Staying close to base

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The Independent Online
Skipton BS has launched a Base Rate Tracker mortgage, guaranteed to charge a fixed 0.75 per cent over bank base rates. There is also an extra 1 per cent discount for the first year, making the current variable rate 7 per cent. Borrowers have to take out one compulsory insurance policy (from a choice) for the first three years.

Skipton's new loan range also includes a discounted cashback deal, offering 2 per cent off the variable rate (currently a below-average 8.55 per cent) for one year and then a 1 per cent cashback payment in each of the next four years. There are no overhanging redemption charges after the first four years. Call 0800 446776.

Clerical Medical has produced a free CD-Rom which promises to explain the mysteries of pensions. It includes details of the latest changes to the state pension and how to plan for an early retirement. Call 0800 779077.

Fee-based independent financial adviser Chartwell Investment Management has produced a well-written free guide to planning for retirement. The guide concentrates on annuity payments and outlines the different types of annuity and the drawdown option, which allows retired people to leave the bulk of their money invested rather than taking an immediate annuity income. Chartwell also looks at the fees versus commission payment debate. Call 01225 321700 for a copy.

Next week is Energy Efficiency week, during which householders will be shown how they can save up to 40 per cent off fuel bills. Call the Energy Efficiency hotline to arrange a DIY Home Energy Check to work out how much you could save. There are also pounds 200 grants on offer to people who buy an approved condensing boiler or install cavity wall insulation. Call the Hotline on 0345 277 200.

A new independent advice company in the North-west aims to offer specialist advice to people approaching retirement. Chester-based Bridgegate Annuities will offer help on getting the best annuity deal, as well as providing an overall pension planning service to bring together "bits and pieces" of pensions built up over the years. Call 01244 401991.