Monthly Archives: March 2016

Smartphones and your credit score: how they’re linked

The new iPhone SE officially goes on sale in the UK on 31st March, and marks a move to a smaller model, one that is designed to appeal to a broader range of customers. Intended as the new ’entry-level’ model, the 4-inch SE is actually the first one that isn’t a number.

Around half the population currently owns a smartphone, and the market is hugely competitive, with all sorts of attractive deals available.

But with expensive handsets on long contracts, providers need to be comfortable that you are going to make your monthly payments on time each month.

It may surprise some people, but mobile phone contracts are actually credit agreements. Applying for a mobile phone contract is not much different than applying to a credit card provider or a bank – they are normally going to look at the information on your application form and in your credit report to give you a credit score. Continue reading

National Living Wage introduced

National Living Wage

National Living Wage comes into effect on 1 April

On Friday 1st April the National Living Wage comes into effect – a £7.20 an hour rate for workers aged 25 or over, allowing more than a million low-paid workers a pay rise. 

This compares favourably to the national minimum wage of £6.70 an hour for age 21 and over (£5.30 for those aged 18-20), though the new National Living Wage does not apply to those yet to reach 25 years old.

The measures were included in the Chancellor’s Budget in July 2015, and are intended to rise to £9 an hour by 2020.

Continue reading

Am I too old to get a mortgage?

Getting a mortgage past 65?One news story that attracted our attention in 2015 was the one in which a bank was penalised for age discrimination after withdrawing a mortgage approval for a married couple in their 40s, on the grounds that the husband would be over 65 when the deal ended.

The Financial Ombudsman Service ruled in the couple’s favour and ordered the bank to pay them £500 in compensation, saying that the bank had relied on “untested assumptions, stereotypes or generalisations in respect of age”.

Should we be given the chance to keep up mortgage payments past the age of 65? 
It’s arguable that being 65 today  – in terms of health, lifestyle, fitness and expectations – is not the same as being 65 twenty, certainly forty years ago. And 65 being the default retirement age has been phased out, and people can work as long as they choose to – employers are no longer allowed to discriminate against workers choosing to work beyond 65. Continue reading

Understanding children’s behaviours and attitudes to money

DESIGN-418-attitudes-behaviours-mar16At what age do children really understand the value of money? Experian research* found that 65% of parents of 5-9 years olds are confident their child has a good appreciation of the value of money, while 69% think their child has a good appreciation of the difference between a necessity and a luxury.

However, by the time those children get to the 15-18 age bracket – a time when they are mostly spending money themselves and in many cases earning it – 20% of parents are not confident their child has a good appreciation of the value of money.

Continue reading

5 key takeouts from Budget 2016

tax-hat-300How will #Budget2016 affect you?  The Chancellor said “we have to act now so we don’t have to pay later”, and we’ve heard proposals for cuts, funding and changes that could affect all of us around the country in different ways.

We’ve picked out 5 key areas from #Budget2016.

–          Changes to income tax – As promised in last year’s summer budget, tax-free personal allowance will rise from £10,600 in 2015/16 to £11,000 from April. It will then go up a further £500 in April 2017 to make it £11,500 that you can earn before you have to start paying income tax.

The 40p tax threshold rises from £42,385 to £43,000, with a further increase to £45,000 in April 2017 as the Chancellor speeds up attempts to increase it £50,000 by 2020. Continue reading

Budget 2016 preview – what’ll it bring?

How will the Budget impact you?

How will the Budget impact you?

The Chancellor’s spring budget arrives on Wednesday 16 March. It’s the last one before the nation goes to the polls for the referendum on EU membership, so it will be interesting to see what emerges.

Many of us are likely to be affected in different ways, from income tax to benefits, from housing to savings. What have the experts been predicting for the Budget 2016 headlines?

Income tax
As promised in last year’s summer budget, personal allowance (how much you can earn tax-free before you start paying income tax) will rise from £10,600 in 2015/16 to £11,000 from April, while the 40p tax threshold rises from £42,385 to £43,000.   Continue reading

Can I remove a CCJ that’s been added in error?

Dear James,

Can a CCJ be removed that was caused by a car insurance company in error? They’ve accepted liability, so what are the next steps?

Dean, Castleford

Dear Dean,

You certainly can apply to have a court judgment removed from your credit report if it relates to a successful car insurance claim. To get your Experian Credit Report updated please obtain a letter from your insurance company confirming they accepted liability for the claim and, importantly, quoting:

  • The value of the judgment
  • The date of the judgment
  • The case number
  • The court where it was entered

Then pop this in the post to us at Experian, PO Box 7710, Nottingham, NG80 7WE and we’ll remove it from your credit report and send you confirmation. Don’t forget to quote your Experian credit report reference number. You’ll need to contact the other credit reference agencies too, to make sure they update the reports they hold for you.  (March 2016)

You can find archived Ask James questions arranged under subject headings such as ‘applying for credit’, ‘credit and debt’ and ‘fraud’ at the main Ask James page.

Will voluntary termination of car finance affect my credit score?

Dear James,

I’ve had a car on finance, but it’s not really suitable for my daily use. Will voluntarily terminating my car finance agreement affect my credit score and could it prevent me from getting another car on finance?

Nicola, Port Glasgow

Dear Nicola,

Ending a car finance agreement early using ‘voluntary termination’ is your legal right, as long as you’ve paid at least half of the total amount due and you hand the car back in satisfactory condition. You should then be left owing nothing and the lender should update your credit report to reflect this. The lender may also add a voluntary termination marker to the entry on your credit report which explains to other lenders why the finance was settled early. Your credit score should not be affected, as long as you have paid all of your monthly payments on time up to the point you hand the keys back, so you should not see any late payments registered. Lastly, unless any lender you approach has a policy of not lending to people who’ve opted for a voluntary termination in the past – and I’ve not seen any evidence of this – then it should not affect your chances of securing credit in the future. (January 2016)

You can find archived Ask James questions arranged under subject headings such as ‘applying for credit’, ‘credit and debt’ and ‘fraud’ at the main Ask James page.

Closing the gender pay gap

Successful business woman leading a groupMarch 8th is International Women’s Day 2016, and the theme this year is #PledgeForParity.

Regulations announced on 12 February 2016 say that companies with more than 250 employees that fail to prevent pay gaps between male and female staff will be named in new league tables, a measure said to affect around 8,000 employers across the UK.

The measures won’t take place until 2018, which gives firms time to address the issue and redress the balance.

Estimates from the ONS (Office for National Statistics) in November 2015 showed that in the year to April 2015, average earnings for full-time employees increased by 1.8 per cent.  But within those figures, there were a number of gender pay gaps.   Continue reading