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Last Updated: Friday, 23 September 2005, 16:28 GMT 17:28 UK
Council tax revaluation postponed
Council tax bill
Money Box asks what it means for people's bills

The revaluation of council tax in England has been postponed until after the next election, the government confirmed on Tuesday.

The move follows reports that ministers were increasingly concerned revaluation could prove politically damaging.

Local Government Minister David Miliband said the delay means there will now be a larger inquiry into local authority funding.

The data currently used to set tax for England's 22 million homes is now 14 years out of date, but the revaluation brought with it the prospect of higher bills for many.

A similar exercise in Wales had seen a third of council tax bills rise, with only 8% of homes moving down a council tax band.

Scotland and Wales have their own reviews of local government funding which will both report next year.

In Northern Ireland, which does not have council tax, rates will be paid on the basis of the capital value of domestic property from April 2007.

The Local Government Association (LGA) said the delay in England was "was very bad news, both for councils and local people".

Money Box asked LGA Chairman Sir Sandy Bruce-Lockhart what it will mean for people's bills, and discussed the issues with Tony Travers, Director of the London Group at the London School of Economics, and an expert in local government finance.

Further information:

Mortgage costs rise

Moving your mortgage can prove an expensive business
The cost of switching to a new mortgage is rising as more and more lenders charge higher entry and exit fees.

It now costs as much as 500 to arrange a home loan, and if a purchase falls through banks and building societies can refuse a refund.

Chris A'Court asked if this practice is fair or whether the rise in mortgage costs should be investigated.

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Citizen's Pension support grows

Pensioner march
Older people have been calling for higher state pensions
The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) has published its final proposals for a Citizen's Pension.

Based on a residency test, it recommends a flat rate of 109, and promises it to be simple and affordable, disposing with the current regime of rebates and means testing.

We spoke to Christine Farnish, Chief Executive of the NAPF, and Sir Malcolm Rifkind, Shadow Secretary of State for Work and Pensions.

Further information:

Equitable drops high court action

Equitable Chairman Vanni Treves
Equitable action groups want Mr Treves to stand down
Troubled insurer Equitable Life has abandoned its massive High Court action against accountants Ernst & Young (E&Y).

Equitable had claimed E&Y had signed off its accounts without warning of the problems that brought it close to collapse in 2000.

It originally sued the accountants for 2bn but dropped 1.3bn of its claim in July.

Equitable now faces legal costs estimated to be in the region of 30m.

Money Box spoke to the society's Chairman Vanni Treves and to Liz Kwantes of the Equitable Life Members Help Group.

Further information:

Barclaycard fast payment 'reward'

The new card aims to reward people who pay off their balances quickly
A credit card which aims to reward people with lower interest rates if they pay off their balance quickly is being tested by Barclaycard.

Repayment Rewards is the second product Barclaycard has put into test this year which it claims encourages a more sensible approach to credit.

The card works by linking the interest rate charged on purchase balances to the percentage of the balance repaid each month.

But comparison website, Money Supermarket, has dismissed the credit card as "gimmicky and complicated" and said people are better off on 0% deals.

We spoke to Barclaycard's Ian Barber about the product.

Further information:

Insurance staff to strike

CIS Building
Co-operative Insurance (CI) staff are to strike for 48 hours over changes to their work and pay structure.

CIS has nearly 2,000 financial advisers who regularly collect premiums from people's homes and work places.

CIS has assured Money Box no customer will suffer as a result of the action on Tuesday and Wednesday.

It said policies will not be allowed to lapse and collections will be made as soon as possible after the industrial action.

More strikes are planned for October according to the union representing these workers.

Further information:

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 24 September, 2005, at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 25 September, 2005 at 2102 BST.

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

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23 Sep 05 |  Moneybox


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