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University is good for your personal finances – provided you choose the right subject! - 18th April 2016

Twenty years ago the economic case for going to university and getting a degree was a financial ‘no-brainer’. With no tuition fees to pay and maintenance grants available for those not coming from affluent households, the cost of investing in higher education was low and the returns in terms of employability and subsequent earnings were high.

HMRC accelerates the claw-back of tax credit repayments - 11th April 2016

Following the announcement in the March 2014 budget statement, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is speeding up the pace at which it claws back overpayments of tax credits. The move is likely to take many claimants by surprise and could lead to an increase in those forced to take on debts to help fund their household expenditure.

One year on and the dash for pension cash is abating - 6th April 2016

In April 2015, legislation enabling greater freedom to access funds held in pension schemes became effective in the UK, triggering a rush by many thousands of people, aged 55 or more, to draw on their pension savings. Now, one year on, the latest data indicates that the appetite to access pension pots is waning.

The new flat-rate state pension – misnamed and even more misunderstood - 29th March 2016

6th April 2016 sees the launch of the so-called flat-rate state pension in the UK.

Those reaching state pension age (SPA) will now be covered by the new scheme. Those reaching SPA prior to 6th April will continue to have the old arrangements for state pension applied to them.

For a matter of huge financial importance, the roll-out of the new arrangements for the state pension should be viewed with considerable concern.

The UK housing market presents a mixed picture across the country - 24th March 2016

The latest data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) show average in England house prices rising by 8.6% in the year to the end of January 2016. The figures confirm that the cooling in house price inflation seen in mid-2015 was only temporary.

More savings incentives unveiled in the Budget Statement. - 17th March 2016

After the much publicised abandonment of further pension reforms and changes to pension tax allowances, it was always likely that this year’s budget statement would end up being bereft of radical reforms affecting household finances.

There were, though, some interesting initiatives designed to promote savings

Lending to businesses: what happened after the financial crisis? - 14th March 2016

In 2008, the global banking system came close to collapse as the boom years of excessive and ill-judged lending in the 1990s and early 2000s reaped a harvest of bad debts and write-offs. At the height of the crisis banks were refusing to lend to each other and only the intervention of governments across the world and the provision of emergency loans and capital stopped the financial system from imploding.

A cap on energy bills for lower income households? - 10th March 2016

It has long been recognised that the labyrinthine pricing structures in the UK energy market result in large numbers of households paying above the odds for their gas and electricity.

‘We need to talk about Money’: Breaking down personal finance taboos through online courses - 1st March 2016

It’s just about 10 years since the UK Baseline Survey of Financial Capability was published.

The survey showed that, as a population, we were generally OK at managing money day-to-day, but not very good at planning for the future. Fast forward 10 years, and it’s easy to see why those findings still resonate today – and why we still need to find ways to talk about money and how to manage it.

Peer-to-peer lending: why does it exist? - 22nd February 2016

There's been a significant rise in the profile of peer-to-peer (P2P) lending recently, with various commentators preaching its virtues or warning of calamities to come. From April they can even be put into ISAs. Rather than wading into the practicalities, this post aims to look a little deeper at two fundamental questions I ask of all financial innovations: why does it exist and what function does it serve?

P2P and banks: the theory

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