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Last Updated: Friday, 8 October, 2004, 14:37 GMT 15:37 UK
Standard Life
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BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 9 October, 2004 at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 10 October, at 2102 BST.

Insurer Standard Life has said it cannot keep its promise to help customers make up the shortfall in their endowment mortgages.

In 2000 the mutual gave customers a Mortgage Endowment Promise, in which it said it would make up the difference between the actual shortfall and what it would have been if investments had grown at 6%.

But the promise depended on "capital growth conditions being met" and stock markets have fallen sharply since.

We spoke to Trevor Matthews, the chief executive of Standard Life's UK Life and Pensions Business about the news, which could affect up to 600,000 customers.

Further information:

Rising cost of Remortgaging

Money Box has learnt that the cost of changing your mortgage is rising dramatically.

Some lenders have increased the cost of so-called "hidden charges" like arrangement fees and exit penalties, by as much as a third.

Louise Greenwood investigated why it is becoming so expensive to change your home loan.

Further information:

State second pension

Six million people with personal and stakeholder pensions are being told to make an important financial decision without the help of an advisor.

The affected people had previously chosen to have part of their national insurance contributions paid into personal pensions rather than into the state second pension.

Known as contracting out, the theory was that diverting contributions into a personal pension would generate more money for retirement than they could get from the state.

But concerns have grown that contracting out is no longer suitable for many people.

To discuss the dilemma facing consumers we spoke to Teresa Fritz of the consumers' organisation Which? and Adrian Boulding of Legal and General.

Further information:

Tory tax cuts

The Conservative Party put tax high on the agenda at its conference in Bournemouth this week.

Eight current taxes were highlighted as unfair, including council tax, stamp duty and inheritance tax, but the party stopped short of making any specific pledges.

We discussed the party's tax strategy with Shadow Chancellor Oliver Letwin.

Further information:

Flood risk

The Environment Agency map released this week promises to provide the most comprehensive information yet for insurance companies setting household premiums.

And it seems to suggest that the number of homes at risk of flooding is far more than previously thought.

Like the map produced by Norwich Union earlier this year, it asseses risk according to features like a property's height above sea and river level, not its postcode.

But a hardcore of houses in the worst affected areas will still struggle to find cover.

Further information:

Producer: Jennifer Clarke
Presenter: Paul Lewis
Reporter: Louise Greenwood
Web Producer: Nathalie Knowles

Money Box



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