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Last Updated: Friday, 29 October, 2004, 15:36 GMT 16:36 UK
Share ISA sales plummet
Man with umbrella in stormy weather
Uncertain markets have led many to seek refuge in cash

Sales of share-based ISAs have plummeted, according to figures released by the Investment Management Association (IMA).

Uncertain stock markets, higher interest rates and reduced tax benefits could be reasons for the fall, said the IMA.

September saw the first net monthly outflow of funds since ISAs were launched in 1999. The figure stood at 23.5m, contrasting dramatically with a net inflow of 259.5m in September 2003.

BBC RADIO 4'S MONEY BOX
The programme was broadcast on Saturday, 30 October at 1204 BST and was repeated on Sunday, 31 October, at 2102 GMT.

We heard Richard Saunders of the Investment Management Association comment on the figures.

And we discussed the implications with David Cowdell, Director of Personal Investments at Fidelity, and Adrian Coles, Director-General of the Building Societies Association.

Further information:


Equity release tax fears

The Inland Revenue has tried to defuse a row with top accountants who claim that thousands of pensioners who have raised money by selling part of their home, could face a new tax bill.

The Revenue has accused the accountants of "scaremongering" and a Treasury press officer has finally told Money Box that legitimate home reversion schemes will not be taxed.

The row has centred on home reversion schemes which 10,000 older homeowners have used to turn part of the value of their home into an income.

We spoke to Colin Taylor who runs Key Retirement Solutions, an IFA which sells home reversion schemes.

And we asked John Whiting of PricewaterhouseCoopers if the government's statements clear matters up.

Further information:


Credit unions struggle to survive

Nearly 13% of credit unions in Britain have folded over the past year, Money Box has found.

Many fledgling unions have struggled to make a profit, and have been forced to merge, despite the fact they have been lauded by the government and consumer groups.

Mike Johnson has been investigating.

Further information:


Benefit changes

Millions of people could see their benefits go up by just 1% next year if the government follows its normal formula for calculating rates.

If it happens, it will be the lowest percentage rise ever.

Campaigning groups have attacked the government for continually neglecting single working-age people in favour of families and pensioners.

But the government has denied that anything is set in stone, and said that ministers will make the final decision.

We asked Professor Jonathan Bradshaw, Director of the Family Budget Unit, if more should be done to help this group.

Further information:


Producer: Jessica Dunbar
Presenter: Paul Lewis
Reporter: Mike Johnson
Web Producer: Nathalie Knowles



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