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Page last updated at 18:00 GMT, Friday, 21 January 2011

VAT scam revealed

picture of a tax return
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 22 January 2011 at 1204 GMT on Radio 4 and Online

Money Box has been seeing evidence that some workmen are cheating customers by charging for VAT when they are not registered for the tax. This money is not paid to Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs.

But with the tax at 20%, charging the tax fraudulently can increase a plumber or electrician's income considerably. And few of us bother to check the VAT number on receipts and invoices to see if they are current.

Bob Howard's been to visit Nigel Leck from Warwickshire who runs a building renovation company. He has been the victim of attempted scams.

Paul Lewis also talks to Ian Liddell-Grainger Conservative MP for Bridgwater. He is chair of the All-Party Taxation Group in Parliament, which looks at making taxes efficient and fair.

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Time to fix the rate?

With the cost of new mortgage deals rising over the past week, is now the time to opt for a fixed rate if your current deal is coming to an end?

The move by lenders follows intense speculation that the Bank of England will be putting up interest rates later this spring from the current historic low of 0.5% in a bid to curb inflation which currently stands at 4.8 per cent (RPI).

Melanie Bien, director of mortgage broker Private Finance, joins the programme.

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Barclays ordered to pay £60m in compensation

Barclays Bank has been fined nearly £8 million for the way it sold two investments to more than 12,000 customers. It will also have to pay out around £60 million in compensation to those who were mis-sold the investments called 'cautious' and 'balanced' which turned out to be neither.

The £7.7 million fine, by the City watchdog the Financial Services Authority, was a record for a bank's retail activities.

Money Box first reported on the way these products were being mis-sold in April 2009. The bank has apologised and is currently reviewing the investment portfolios of those people who bought the Aviva Global Balanced Income Fund and the Aviva Global Cautious Income Fund.

Mark Meldon, a director of financial advisers R C Gray & Co ltd, explains why the banking giant received the fine.

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Are you getting value from packaged accounts?

Banks are encouraging customers to pay for "added value" or "packaged" accounts. For £10 or £15 each month they will offer travel insurance, car breakdown assistance or even will writing services.

But are these accounts really providing value for money?

Money Box reporter Ben Carter speaks to Martin Lewis from

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What does being "in trust" actually mean?

There have been some especially dramatic goings on of late in The Archers, with Nigel Pargetter famously falling off the roof of Lower Loxley Hall.

And now the fall-out from his tragic death is looking, financially, very interesting indeed.

Paul Lewis talks to Mike Warburton from Grant Thornton what being left an estate "in trust" actually means.

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturday at 1204 GMT and repeated on Sunday at 2102 GMT.

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