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Mortgages? Throw the book at 'em

Home buyers and movers may find useful two free booklets just published by the Office of Fair Trading. These are Your Mortgage - a guide to mortgage repayment methods, and Using an Estate Agent to Buy or Sell Your Home. The OFT hopes they will "strengthen the arm of consumers at a stressful time", leading to better choices. The OFT has been concerned about the dominance of endowment mortgages. Two problems it cites are reduced tax efficiency and poor early encashment values. And if it all becomes too much, the OFT has also just re-published another free guide - Debt: What to do when bills pile up. 0181 398 3405.

TAX Freedom Day - when the average Briton effectively starts working for his or her self - is four days later this year. This year the average Briton will have spent 142 days working just to pay taxes - up until last Tuesday, 21 May. Britons reach Tax Freedom Day earlier than most of Europe but after Japan and the United States, according to the Adam Smith Institute.

A NEW PEP which aimed to allow investors to shelter up to pounds 50,000 from tax has been stopped in its tracks by the Inland Revenue. The Revenue says insurer Scottish Amicable, made use of a loophole which it is now closing. Normally you can only put up to pounds 6,000 in a PEP. ScotAm - which is appealing against the move - says it put the proposed PEP to the Revenue earlier this year and was not told there would be any problem. The insurer says the "retrospective intervention raises serious issues for the investing public". ScotAm is advising investors not to send any more money until the final position is clarified. If the ban is confirmed, the insurer says it will return investors' money.

Separately, financial adviser Hargreaves Lansdown is offering a free PEP Discount Directory, showing investment performance, charges and its own discounts. 0800 850661

READERS wanting to get in touch with Home Run, an organisation offering advice and a magazine for people working from home, should ring 01291 641222. The number printed in last week's IoS was wrong. The organisation has a free factsheet, How To Get Started, and is offering a 25 per cent discount on its pounds 72 annual membership fee to IoS readers. Quote reference IoS1905.