Keeping your finger firmly on the money pulse

There’s a constant stream of news that affects our finances, either directly or indirectly.

Here are some of the latest revelations, all of which it’s good to know about so you can stand up for your rights, prepare for the future and, if the mood strikes you, protest against what’s going on.

Money-related news for August 2014

Bank of England’s interest rates set to stay super-low

The UK’s central bank has decided it’s unlikely to see much growth in earnings in the foreseeable future, so has announced interest rates will stay as they are for a while longer.

It’s great news for anyone who has a loan or mortgage, less great if you have savings languishing in an account with a rubbish interest rate.

You can claim for summer holiday flight delays… even if it was years ago

Did you know you can claim compensation if your summer holiday flights were delayed, and you can claim even if the delay happened years ago? You could get as much as £480, not to be sneezed at.

The Denied Boarding Regulation, a 2005 EU rule, means anyone travelling to or from an EU airport – which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – can claim if they were delayed for more than 3 hours.

Everyday type of delays caused by things like flight underbookings and technical issues are covered, but extraordinary stuff like severe weather and security risks aren’t. You can claim if you were delayed any time from February 2005 onwards.

HMRC ‘Magna Carta’ scandal raises its ugly head again

In an issue that first hit the headlines earlier this year, HMRC is being accused of trying to trash the Magna Carta by seeking new powers to raid cash direct from debtors’ bank accounts… without a court order.

Lin Homer, HMRC’s chief executive, has asked for permission to access the bank accounts of what she calls ‘recalcitrant debtors’. Thankfully several MPs protested strongly, saying her demands contravened the Magna Carta.

While HMRC says it ‘needs’ the powers to stop people ‘gaming the system’, those with an ounce of common sense see it for what it is: a draconian proposal that doesn’t deserve the oxygen of consideration. HMRC’s consultation closes on September 17th. Let’s hope their demands are never, ever met.

Oddly, though, as reported by Martin Lewis from Money Saving Expert, banks are currently allowed to do exactly that. Should banks be allowed access to our bank accounts without a court order? I don’t think so. What about you?

Tax disc system changes to prevent criminals avoiding road tax

It’s goodbye to the old paper road tax disc, hello to an electronic system that’ll leave criminals out in the cold. The new system is set to come in during October, and it’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with it beforehand so you don’t get caught out.

If you get it wrong you risk a stiff £1000 fine. From October 1st, people who don’t register their vehicle for tax can easily be caught via number plate recognition cameras, which track every vehicle on the road.

Some see it as another case of Big Brother watching us, others feel it’ll help make the system fairer by preventing dishonest folk from getting away with avoiding the tax.

Building society home insurance scandal

When you buy a home, it is entirely up to you who you insure the building with. Or is it? As it turns out, half of Britain’s building societies charge people who get their insurance elsewhere instead of through the lender.

It looks like 1000s of us are charged in this way every year, just for shopping around for a better home insurance deal than our lenders provide. Because the charge is relatively small compared to the savings you can make when you find cheaper cover, it tends to be overlooked.  But it’s a disgrace.

Mortgage holders are being charged a ‘fine’ simply for being financially prudent and trying to save cash. So stand up for your rights and stick to your guns. Shopping around saves a third of British households more than £100, so don’t be put off.

More personal finance news next week

We’ll be looking at more breaking personal finance news next week. If you come across anything you’d like us to cover, we’d love to hear about it.