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Last Updated: Friday, 19 November, 2004, 15:39 GMT
Child Trust Funds
Each child will get 250, rising to 500 for lower-income families
BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 20 November, 2004 at 1204 GMT.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 21 November, at 2102 GMT.

This week parents have begun receiving letters explaining the Child Trust Fund.

In the New Year, government vouchers worth 250 will be going to all households who have had a child over the past two years.

The money must be invested until the child reaches 18.

Louise Greenwood had the latest news on the funds and how they will work.

Further information:

Government promises annuity review

The government has promised to review annuity legislation after opposition in the Lords threatened to hold up the Pensions Bill.

Currently, people on "money purchase" schemes must use their pension pot to buy an annuity from an insurance company by the age of 75. This provides a regular income.

But there are drawbacks, including the fact that the policy cannot be inherited by the pensioners' family after they die.

The Pensions Bill has now been passed, but Minister Malcolm Wicks has said an annuity review will be a "priority action" after the Pensions Commission reports next year.

Oonagh Mcdonald of the Retirement Income Reform Campaign believes this will become an important election issue. She joined us to debate the subject with Stuart Bayliss of Annuities Direct.

Further information:

NI banking complaint

The "big four" banks in Northern Ireland have been accused of ripping off their customers by consumer organisation Which?.

In a super-complaint to the Office of Fair Trading (OFT), Which? said the banks are overcharging for almost every service they provide.

The OFT has 90 days to consider its response.

We discussed the complaint with Graham Vidler, Head of Policy at Which? and Alan Walker, Head of Consumer Affairs, at the General Consumer Council in Belfast.

Further information:

Civil Partnership Bill passed

The much-debated legislation that gives gay couples similar financial and legal rights to married couples has passed its final hurdle in the Lords, and should now come into effect next year.

The Civil Partnerships Bill stops short of giving gay couples the same taxation rights as married couples but this is expected to change in a future budget.

Further information:

Transco sale can go ahead

National Grid Transco has been given the green light by government to complete the sale of its gas networks.

If the sale goes through, its shareholders stand to benefit from a 2 billion payout - 65 pence per share - as cash or a dividend.

Producer: Chris A'Court
Presenter: Paul Lewis
Reporter: Louise Greenwood
Web Producer: Nathalie Knowles

Money Box



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