Readers' lives

Premium bond prizes ... income support ... endowment mortgages. Each week we answer your letters on everyday financial concerns

Readers' lives

I have been buying premium bonds regularly for a number of years. I'm sure I have lost, or not been sent, some of the certificates. I am concerned I may have lost out on prizes for not having certificates or because of the vagaries of the post, moving etc. What can I do? SL, London

Write to National Savings, which will be able to confirm the value and number of the bonds you are registered as holding. If necessary, it will provide you with replacement certificates and confirm whether you have any prizes outstanding, as well as giving you a list of all the prizes you have won so you can be sure nothing has got lost along the way. National Savings will do all this for free. Write to: Premium Bonds, National Savings, Blackpool FY3 9YP.

You should provide details of all addresses which you might have given when buying bonds, any variations in the name given, and your date of birth. You will also need to sign your letter; this signature will be used in confirming that you are who you say you are. Also, if you have any bond certificates, quote the holder numbers.

If you want a list of all the prizes you have won, say so. Otherwise you will only get a list for the past two years.

Premium bond prize cheques are account payee only. If someone has fraudulently cashed in your prize, National Savings says it will make good any losses.

Only prizes of pounds 1,000 or less are sent out directly by post. There are extra checks in place for the bigger-value prizes. If you win pounds 100,000, or the pounds 1m jackpot, you will receive a personal visit and be required to fill in a separate claim form.

Another way of checking up on prizes you may be due, but haven't received, is to consult the London Gazette, which is published monthly and available for free inspection in main post offices. This lists all the winning prize numbers in a particular monthly draw. A separate quarterly supplement lists all unclaimed prizes from draws going back 18 months or more (winners in draws held more recently are still being sought by National Savings).

My son is unable to work due to a physical disability and is on income support. Soon he will inherit pounds 50,000, but the interest on it will not equal the income support he will lose. Can the money be invested in a way which will retain the benefits of income support? CP, Edinburgh

You can't get income support if you have savings of more than pounds 8,000 (nor housing benefit nor council tax benefit if you have more than pounds 16,000). The rules mean that your son would be expected to top up any investment income by eating into the pounds 50,000 capital sum. There is no legal way round this.

But what if your son spirited away this capital at a rapid rate? The advice from Djuna Thurleigh of the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG) is to tread carefully. She points out that a "deprivation of capital" rule exists to see whether someone has deliberately spent money on expensive holidays, cars and so on in order to qualify for benefit. If so, you will be treated as still having the money and income support payments will be reduced accordingly.

But if you spend some of the money on items like washing machines, this may be viewed in a better light. Your son could ask the benefits agency in advance how spending plans would affect his entitlement.

He may be in receipt of non-means tested benefits as part of his overall income and these will not be affected by the capital rules. He should check whether he is entitled to incapacity benefit, a severe disablement allowance or a disability living allowance. Your son should get advice from a Citizens Advice Bureau. CPAG (0171 253 3406) also publishes guides which might be of use.

I have an endowment mortgage of pounds 75,500 on a property worth pounds 75,500. I also have a separate negative equity repayment mortgage of pounds 6,000. We took out a three-year fixed-rate mortgage in 1994, but now see better deals around. Will any lenders take us on with our negative equity loan? SY, Dunstable

Try Cheltenham & Gloucester, now part of Lloyds Bank, says Patrick Bunton of the Bath mortgage broker London & Country. C&G will lend up to 125 per cent of the value of your property. However, you will go on to its standard variable rate, currently 6.9 per cent, and I suspect you are really looking for a low fixed rate.

But is it worth switching? Probably not. You haven't said what fixed rate you are now paying, nor from which lender. But there will almost certainly be a heavy penalty if you pay off the current lender. In addition, if you switch to another lender there are usually extra costs - solicitors' fees, valuation fees, search fees and so on.

You are also wondering whether you should switch from an endowment loan to a repayment loan. Your negative equity would disappear sooner, and your existing lender may agree to do this for you. But you are likely to get poor value from your endowment policy if you cash it in before maturity. You could maintain the endowment as a separate savings vehicle, if you can afford to keep it up.

q Write to Steve Lodge, personal finance editor, Readers' Lives, Independent on Sunday, 1 Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London E14 5DL, and include a telephone number.

Do not enclose SAEs or documents that you wish to be returned. We cannot give personal replies and cannot guarantee to answer every letter sent to Readers' Lives. We accept no legal responsibility for advice.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Courtney Love has admitted using heroin while pregnant with Frances Bean Cobain, her daughter with Kurt Cobain
Murray celebrates reaching the final
Life and Style
Arts and Entertainment
'The Archers' has an audience of about five million
radioA growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Recruitment Genius: Compliance Assistant

£13000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Pension Specialist was established ...

Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive

£23000 - £26000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Market Research Executive...

Recruitment Genius: Technical Report Writer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Technical Report Writer is re...

MBDA UK Ltd: Indirect Procurement Category Manager

Competitive salary & benefits!: MBDA UK Ltd: MBDA UK LTD Indirect Procurement...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness