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Page last updated at 12:48 GMT, Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Room to breathe?

Credit cards
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 13 December
at 1204 BST
On Radio 4 and Online

Major credit card companies have agreed to offer a bit of a breathing space to people struggling with repayments.

The new set of "fair principles" comes after the firms faced pressure from the government to give more help to customers in arrears.

Among the measures announced, is that card providers delay raising interest rates when customers get into difficulties.

But is a 30 day breathing space going to be enough for people who are seriously in debt?

Sandra Quinn of the industry body APACS, and Malcolm Hurlston of the Consumer Credit Counselling Service explain how the deal will work.

Further information/related stories:

Euro coin sitting on a 20 note
Sterling fell to under 1.12 euros for the first time on 12 December
Sterling falls

The pound has fallen this week against the euro to a record low - with investors concerned that the UK economy is being more badly hit by the current downturn than other nations.

UK interest rates are now at their lowest level since 1951, and are lower than those in the eurozone.

There is concern that the pound is moving closer to parity with the euro.

What does all this indicate about the state of the UK economy and what are the implications for people's finances?

Independent economist Michael Hughes joins the programme.

Further information/related stories:

Oil rig in Caliofnia, USA
Suppliers are urged to pass on savings from the falling cost of oil
Fuel poverty

There should be new laws to force energy companies to bring in fairer prices, the Energy Secretary Ed Milliband has said.

There are 1.5 million people who are off the gas mains and reliant on heating oil.

And fuel poverty - needing to spend more than 10% on energy bills - is highest amongst this largely rural group.

But what is being done to support them, and what can they do themselves to lower the costs of heating their homes?

Samantha Washington investigates.

Further information/related stories:

Trading screen
Falling stocks have affected pension fund values
Pension Protection Fund

Company final salary pension schemes in the UK have 136bn less than they need to meet their pension promises.

The deficit, revealed this week by the Pension Protection Fund (PPF), is the largest it has been since comprehensive figures were collected five years ago - it has grown by 40% in the last month alone.

The Fund takes on pension schemes which have been closed down - usually after the company providing them has gone out of business.

People in those schemes get the reassurance that even if their company goes bust they will get about 90% of the pension they were promised, up to a limit of almost 28,000.

But with a growing deficit can the PPF continue to meet its promises in the long term?

The chief executive of the PPF, Partha Dasgupta, and pensions analyst John Ralfe explain the implications.

Further information/related stories:

Egg's website
Egg apologised to any customers who had been affected
Payment protection insurance

Credit card provider Egg could face a compensation bill of millions of pounds after being fined by the City watchdog, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), for insurance mis-selling.

The FSA said there had been serious failures in the firm's credit card payment protection insurance.

The company, fined 721,000 by the watchdog, faces a bill of 1.67m for every 10% of customers who want a refund.

The fine by the FSA is one of a series of similar actions taken against other firms found to have mis-sold payment protection insurance (PPI) over the past year.

Vera Cottrell of Which? will comment on the implications of the latest fine and how Egg customers can best put their case if they feel they have been mis-sold PPI.

Further information/related stories:

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 13 December 2008 at 1204 GMT.

The programme was repeated on Sunday 14 December 2008 at 2102 GMT.

Money Box



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12 Dec 08 |  Moneybox

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