The financial news you need to know with Sarah Pennells – March 6th 2019

Sarah Pennells is a personal finance journalist and the face behind SavvyWoman.co.uk. We think she does a great job at explaining financial subjects in a very clear and accessible manner. You can find her column below where she writes about the latest financial news, and helps you get more from your money.

Banks to refund more fraud victims

Banks will refund more fraud victims from the end of May. The last couple of years have seen a sharp rise in the number of people who’ve fallen victim to what’s called ‘authorised push payment fraud’. It’s a form of fraud where you agree to pay someone who’s trying to scam you – thinking they’re genuine. Fraudsters have impersonated legitimate builders, solicitors (when people have been buying a house), as well as bank staff and police.

From May 28th, banks that sign up to the voluntary code will try and do more to prevent this type of fraud and will refund victims where neither the bank nor the customer is to blame.

Energy price cap

Over 11 million people could see the price of their energy rise on April 1st. That’s because the energy price cap is rising. The price cap was introduced at the start of the year by the regulator, Ofgem, to limit the amount energy companies can charge people who are on the standard tariff or who have a prepayment meter.

If you use an ‘average’ amount of energy, the price cap for the standard tariff for both gas and electricity is currently £1,137. But it will rise from April 1st by £117, to £1,254.

Needless to say, you can save far more than this by switching to a different supplier. My tip? Don’t just switch on the basis of price, but look at customer service as well. And, if you don’t want to switch to a different company, ask your supplier to put you on their cheapest tariff. It’s better than being on the standard tariff!

Workers are missing out on holiday pay

Government figures show that workers are missing out on an eye-popping £1.8 billion a year of unpaid holiday leave (gulp!). Perhaps not surprisingly, people doing shift work, those on zero-hours contracts and agency staff are most at risk of losing out on paid holiday.

By law, all workers – whether part time, full time or shift workers, are entitled to paid time off. But you’re not entitled to holiday pay if you’re self employed and work as a freelance for a company.

The government is highlighting the issue because it’s concerned about the number of people who could be losing out. If you aren’t sure whether you’re getting the correct holiday pay, you should speak to your employer. You can also find out more at Gov.uk/holidaypay.

Better broadband rights

Stuck in the slow lane with your broadband provider? Fear not! You now have better rights so you can ditch your broadband provider if they’re not up to speed (geddit?!). And you won’t have to pay a penalty.

If you signed up to a landline and/or TV package as part of the broadband deal, you’ll be able to leave that too.

Consumer groups had campaigned for new rules after years of some broadband companies failing to deliver the broadband speeds they promised.

Say ‘I do’ to free money!

If you’re married or in a civil partnership and one of you pays tax at the basic rate and the other doesn’t pay tax, you can claim the marriage allowance. I’ll be honest, it’s not a fortune at just over £4 a week, but it’s free money from the government so why not claim?

The tax break is worth up to £238 in tax year 2018 -19. If you haven’t claimed it so far, you can backdate your claim to April 2015 – when it was introduced. HM Revenue and Customs says that around a million married couples – one in four – are missing out.

Where there’s a will, there’s a…dispute?

A quarter of Brits say they’d challenge a loved one’s will if they weren’t happy with it. That’s according to new research from an insurance company. At the moment, many people die without a will, and only a minority of wills are challenged. But the number of wills being contested is increasing. It’s partly because families are becoming more complex and also because property prices have risen steadily over the years, meaning that people die with more valuable assets.

The law says that you can challenge a will if you think the person who died didn’t have mental capacity to write or change their will, if they were put under pressure to draw it up or if it was forged or is fraudulent.

But the process of challenging or contesting someone’s will isn’t straightforward. And that means it can be very costly indeed (legal fees can run to many thousands). Needless to say, there’s no guarantee you’ll win.