The Siberian snow storm has hit Britain’s roads with one of the worst snow storms the UK has seen in years. This snow storm named Storm Emma has doubled the number of car claims made within the past week.
Within 4 days, from storm ‘Emma’ appearing – or ‘the beast from the east’ as it is nicknamed, more that £17 million worth of claims were reported. Crash damages doubled compared to a regular week. With 13,100 collisions in the first 4 days according to the AA.
The most common claim for drivers was skidding out and hitting objects on the side of the road. Therefore, drivers were urged to only drive if necessary to keep accidents to a minimum and injuries as low as possible.
Breakdown calls are 80% higher than normal last week due to the snow, leaving recovery firms struggling to make it to everyone who is stuck in the snow.
Michael Lloyd, the AA’s director of insurance stated that insurers will pay out and meet the claims for collisions in these weather conditions, however they will not pay if the car is stolen and left unattended on a drive for instance when the car is warming up.
Other modes of transport
Additionally, to the cars on the ground not being able to make it due to the wintery conditions, but also the flights got cancelled. In one-day last week, more than 2000 flights alone got cancelled across Europe within 1 day. However, unlike car insurance, with most airline companies you are not entitled to money back due to severe weather conditions like ice, snow or fog.
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Theresa May has stated that the English education system is one of the most expensive in the world and has announced that she will provide an independent review of fees and student finance on Monday.
This review will be a yearlong event, and will warn that the system has failed to deliver competition within the Market. This is due to most courses charging students the maximum amount they can do, which is £9,250 per year.
The Labour party believe that all tuition fees should be scrapped, and they believe that the tuition fee system is unsustainable and therefore they should be banned.
The tuition fee
Universities can charge up to £9,250. But do not have to charge this full amount if they wish not to. The students do not have to pay this upfront, but can borrow this from Student Finance. However, you do not have to pay these loans off until you are earning £21,000.
If you have not paid off your loan after 30 years from graduating, then the unpaid debts are written off. Once you do borrow a loan out, then you will be charged 6.1% of interest. This interest is building up while students are still at university, making it an average of £5,000 before they have even left.
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Most landlords insist that there cannot be any pets within the property. At the moment, tenants can request to have a pet staying in the house. However, the majority of landlords do not accept. This leads in an abandonment of pets or the tenants leaving a property.
According to the 2015 Consumer Rights Act, a landlord can refuse permission if it is a reasonable ground to do so. This could include, pet size, the damage it could cause and the impact on future rentals to properties.
The Labour party have stated that they wish to strengthen the rights for tenants. Ensuring that pets within a rented property will have a ‘default right’ to stay.
The Labour party stated that they want to see hard evidence that the animal would be a nuisance when renting.
Labour and animals
Labour have taken a big stance against cruelty to animals and the welfare of them. Other ideas which the Labour party have took a stance on is a suggested ban on foie gras imports and an end of exports to the live animals for slaughter.
The conservatives have stated that Labour are “belatedly playing catch up” with their own announcements on animal welfare. The conservative party are also placing laws on animal cruelty. Michael Gove – Environment Secretary proposed an increase in the maximum sentence for serious animal cruelty, wanting to change it to 5 years in jail.
Gove also published a draft legislation which would ensure the government treated all animals as ‘sentient beings’. When making future laws regarding animals.
If you are a landlord, then make sure you have the correct insurance put in place. It is essential to make sure your property is protected. Here at Todd & Cue, we offer Property and Landlord insurance, so make sure you get the right policy for your property.
In January, the house price growth picked up according to the Nationwide Building Society. From December 2017, to January 2018, it went up 6%, from 2.6% to 3.2% respectively. These figures were surprising due to the consumer confidence and activity within the UK.
In addition, in December mortgage approvals were at their weakest in 3 years. With only 61,000 granted, yet compared to the past 12 months with the average being 67,000 approvals.
However, analysts have stated that this rise in growth does not change the fundamental state of the UK housing market. And that consumer confidence is still low and is not due to increase anytime soon, unless dramatic changes are made.
The average price of a house reached to £211,756 last month, according to the building society’s month survey. This meant that property values were up 0.6% from December, however the annual growth rate increased, which is the highest since March 2017 (which was 3.5%).
How has this affected home ownership?
Home ownership is still at a 30-year low. In the latest survey (2016/17), out of 22.8 million houses in the UK, only 14.4 million (62.6%) were owner occupiers. This was down again since 2015/16, with a percentage of 62.9% for home ownership.
Of this recent survey, young adults (aged 25 to 34), were of the lowest who owned their own property. With only 37% of young adults owned their home.
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Starting on Monday, Lloyds Bank, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and MBNA customers will not be able to purchase Bitcoin and other crypto-currencies on their credit card. However, they will still be able to purchase the currency on their debit card.
Lloyds are concerned that their customers would not be able to afford the bill and therefore the banks would have to pay for unpaid debts. The price of bitcoins is falling, so if it continues, banks are worried customers will not be able to pay for it. Which is why the sudden stopping of credit card payments.
What is Bitcoin?
Bitcoin was the first cryptocurrency to come about, it is a form of digital money that used encryption to secure transactions and control the creation of new units.
The reason bitcoin first came about was because people wanted a currency which was not controlled by government or businesses, and a currency which you could trade freely between countries without any costs or any identities being shown.
They are not like the change in your purse or wallet, you cannot see them or physically touch them. They are a line of code in which you purchase and exchange, in some cases you can buy goods and services with this type of currency.
Why is Bitcoin a concern?
Bitcoin can be a dangerous game to play, it is a currency based online and so cyber criminals can work better through this form of payment process. With the currency also being untraceable, it means that it is a great form of transaction for people like drug dealers and people who are money laundering.
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As reported last year, inflation rate rose to 3.1% in November 2017. Which was a 6 year high for the UK’s economy. This meant that Mark Carney – the governor of the Bank of England will be writing a public letter to the Chancellor of the exchequer (Phillip Hammond) to state why it exceeded 1% more than the 2% national target. He will be doing this in his next budget, which will be February 2018.
However, in December 2017, the inflation rate dipped back to 3%. The Office of National Statistics stated that this happened due to the fall in prices on toys and games. It was also the contribution that the air fares rose last month. However it did not have a great impact on the economy and inflation rate.
The Bank of England have stated that it believes the inflation rates will carry on decreasing and will eventually hit the 2% target by the end of this year.
Last January, the rate of inflation was at the target of 2%, yet continuously increased to 3.1% throughout the year. The reason for this dramatic increase over the past year was partly due to the Brexit result. As the value of the pound dropped because of the result, it pushed the cost of imported goods, and therefore increasing the inflation rate.
What has happened to the wage growth?
The drop in inflation won’t have much effect on the ease of spending for households. This is due to the wages still rising by less than the rate of inflation. It has also been stated that most firms are reluctant to increase their wages as most firms want to keep their total costs down to a minimum as we are in such an uncertain time.
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Cold calling is a big issue and is continuously growing in 2018. Which is why many want it to come to an end, helping those who are in a vulnerable situation. Last year, scammers and claims firms sent an average of 6 million calls and texts out per day. Which equates to an average of 4,200 calls or texts every minute of 2017.
The targeted audience which these firms and scammers go after is those who are aged over 65, states Aviva.
MPs are set to debate this topic on whether it is acceptable to cold call these vulnerable. The bill proposes the creation of a single financial guidance body that would consider the impact of cold calling on consumers.
Aviva have asked MPs to ban this cold calling on issues such as pensions, PPI and insurance claim where there was no established relationship between the insurer and the consumer. They have stated that a survey which they recently conducted shows an 85% support on the ban, proving to the MPs that this ban would be beneficial to consumers.
Last year, a bill was announced by MPs, stating that mortgage cold calling was banned. This included emails and texts. If companies contact consumers who they have had no prior connection with then they could face fines up to £500,000.
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The Financial Inclusion Commission (FIC) has highlighted huge gaps in the contents insurance across the UK. In fact, the report conducted by them, revealed that 16 million people don’t have contents insurance. And with Christmas fast approaching this is a concern, and a gap in the market for criminals.
These 16million people equates to 35% of the population in the UK without contents insurance. The people who are more likely not to have contents insurance are those with low income, the younger generation, the older generation and those in vulnerable circumstances.
With such a high number of people without this insurance, it is thought that only a few would be able to pay for the cover of the contents if an incident occurred. Many believe that it is something they would like to get, yet the price of this insurance is too expensive and have to spend their money on other aspects.
This report shows that the people who need the insurance are actually the ones who cannot afford it. Highlighting some of the key issues found within this report.
How can I bring down my contents insurance?
There are a number of ways in which to help bring down the cost of your insurance premiums. Here are a number of ways which will help.
#1 Install a burglar alarm
Insurers value burglar alarms and with a working alarm, it will cut down the costs of your premium. It is an upfront cost, yet the benefit will outweigh the initial cost spent on buying and installing it.
#2 Install a smoke alarm
Making sure you have a working smoke alarm will reduce the cost of your premium. This is showing the insurance company that you are taking steps to reduce the risk of needing the insurance cover, enabling you pay a lower cost for the premium.
#3 Pay upfront
By paying upfront rather than monthly, will decrease your insurance significantly. If you pay monthly, you will incur an interest rate to the monthly payment. Making the overall cost much more expensive.
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Brexit is still a big and topical debate which has many different issues surrounding it. One which is becoming a big issue which can’t seem to get resolved is the border issue between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It has become one of the toughest and most controversial questions in the negotiation process of Brexit.
Why is it so difficult to resolve?
The Republic of Ireland will not accept an open border with Northern Ireland if that means that they will have to have a border policy between themselves and the rest of the EU.
Yet also, Northern Ireland and the UK are not accepting a border between themselves. As they are a single country, and this is not what the leaving of the EU was about.
However, it is difficult to put a ‘hard’ border in place between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. As they are committed to peace between the two countries.
The Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland have a peaceful process in place. As 30% of Northern Ireland exports go to the Republic of Ireland, showing the peaceful process between the two countries.
There are 4 possible solutions to this problem, however some will never happen, leaving not many options left. These possible solutions are;
- The Republic of Ireland leaves the EU and re-joins the UK, yet this is not going to happen.
- Northern Ireland leaves the UK and re-joins the Republic of Ireland. Again this will not happen.
- A hard boarder is to be put into place between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. However, this has been rejected from both sides.
Therefore, this leaves one option;
- Squaring the circle. Over the next coming months and years of negotiations. A compromise position including technology, special exemptions and ‘regulatory alignment’ is hammered out. Meaning this will keep the border invisible. Yet still securing the sanctity of the single market and the unity of the UK.
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During the 2016/17 tax year, an additional £474m in corporate tax was collected from SMEs in the UK. This data was collected by an accountancy group, UHY Hacker Young. The focus on targeting SMEs has meant that the HMRC have increased the amount of cash they received by 5% comparing to the previous tax year of 2015/16.
However, as there has been more targeting on SMEs, many believe this is an unfair targeting on self-employed and the HMRC should be focusing on the larger firms. A spokesperson for the UHY has said that small businesses have been put under the spotlight due to them being an easy target compared to many of the larger firms.
This singling out of the SMEs may be due to the fact that they are not bringing in enough tax, and therefore are going after easy companies to try and close the ‘tax-gap’.
Therefore, this being said, SMEs are being warned to make sure their accounts are up to date, and taking important steps to improve record keeping and research into new laws and regulations.
What is an SME?
SME stands for ‘small and medium sized enterprise’. In order to declare yourself as an SME to the government, you will have to ensure you fit in the guidelines. Below is the official benchmark set out by the EU.
Size Employee number
Micro business less than 10
Small business Between 11 and 50
Medium business Between 51 and 250
Large business Between 251 and 1000
Enterprise More than 1000
Size Turnover in one year
Micro business less than £1,400,000
Small business Between £1,400,000 and £7,000,000
Medium business Between £7,000,000 and £36,000,000
Large business More than £36,000,000
As long as your business fits in these criteria’s, you will be able to declare yourself as an SME.
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