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Last Updated: Friday, 16 July, 2004, 13:52 GMT 14:52 UK
Also on Saturday
Gordon Brown
The spending review was Gordon Brown's fourth

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 17 July, 2004, at 1204 BST.

The programme is repeated on Sunday, 18 July, 2004 at 2102 BST.

Buried away in Chancellor Gordon Brown's spending review was a challenge to the banks to step-up their efforts on financial inclusion.

More than five million people now have basic bank accounts which allow direct payment of benefits and tax credits from the government, according to the latest figures from the British Bankers Association which show a continued growth in the take-up of these accounts in first quarter of this year.

But the government wants the industry to do more to ensure a reduction in the numbers of what it calls the "unbanked".

We will be asking Joanna Elson, Executive Director of the British Bankers Association if it is doing enough.

And we get reaction from Niall Cooper, Chairman of the Debt on our Doorstep Network, which campaigns for better access to finance for all.

Further information:


Tory plans for FSA reform

The remit of the Financial Services Authority is being investigated by the Conservative Party. It is considering the case for reform of the City watchdog ahead of the next general election.

The party has commissioned the Centre for Policy Studies to interview leading City firms about their dealings with the FSA, and the results will be used to help formulate their policy.

Shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin this week promised a change in regime at the authority to curb its "duty to over-regulate".

We talk to shadow chief secretary Howard Flight about the way the Conservatives might reshape the world's biggest and most powerful financial regulator.

Further information:


Equitable pensioners issue multi-million pound claim

More than 700 pensioners are launching a multi-million pound writ against the Equitable Life group.

Receiving their pensions, but unable to transfer their funds elsewhere, the pensioners have each paid 1,000 to pursue the claim.

Equitable Life has said it will vigorously defend the action.

Meanwhile, the Parliamentary Ombudsman Ann Abraham will announce on 19 July whether she will re-open her investigation into the regulation of Equitable Life.

Jennifer Clarke finds out more from the chairman of the Equitable Life Trapped Annuitants Action Group, Peter Scawen and their lawyer Robert Morfee.

Further information:


NS&I closes 19th Century account

National Savings and Investment's Ordinary Account, which has been in existence since 1861, is closing at the end of the month.

Since its launch, the savings account has been a favourite with millions of British savers. When the decision was taken to close it, there were 13.1m accounts in existence. But millions of accounts have had no transactions for years.

National Savings admitted that its "old fashioned" account offered "limited access and modest returns for customers, as well as being expensive to operate for the taxpayer".

The company is promising that the replacement Easy Access Saver account will offer better service and rates of interest.

But some customers, including Catherine from Manchester, are unhappy with the terms and conditions which include keeping 100 in the account and owning another bank account.

Further information:


Unmarried couples advised of rights

The government has teamed up with a non-profit organisation called Advicenow.org to warn couples who live together that they have hardly any rights if they split up.

The Living Together website explodes the "common law myth" and makes it clear that unmarried couples do not have the same rights as married couples in terms of inheritance rules, pensions, property or children.

Further information:


Accidental credits could result in jail

Anyone who has ever been tempted to keep quiet about a bank error in their favour may think again after a woman who spent 24,000 which had been wrongly transferred to her account was sent to prison for six months.

If you receive money you know you are not entitled to, then you have to tell the bank and give it back. Otherwise you could face legal action.

Further information:



Producer: Jennifer Clarke
Presenter: Paul Lewis
Web Producer: Jayne Douglas



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