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Last Updated: Friday, 17 February 2006, 17:03 GMT
Bank charges
Ian Mullen, British Bankers' Association
Ian Mullen of the BBA will be asked to defend bank charges

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 18 February, 2006, at 1204 GMT.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 19 February, 2006, at 2102 GMT.

As high street banks prepare to unveil their profits, they are facing increasing criticism from customers and consumer groups over charges.

Late credit card fees were judged unfair by the Office of Fair Trading last year and it is expected to apply its findings to current accounts as well.

Are bank charges too high?
Or is it a fair price to pay?
Should action be taken?
In Scotland, Citizens Advice has been experimenting with a letter people can send to their bank if they incur what they feel are unfair charges.

We spoke to Scottish lawyer Mike Dailly, who helped draw up the letter, and asked Ian Mullen, Chief Executive of the British Bankers' Association, to defend the charges banks impose.

Further information:

Energy bills

A gas flame
British Gas's price rises will be effective from 1 March, 2006

British Gas has become the latest power company to announce huge price rises.

From 1 March its customers will pay 22% more for gas and electricity, pushing the average dual fuel bill up to 923, a rise of 169.

The British Gas announcement follows similar but smaller rises from EDF and Scottish Power.

Who qualifies and how to apply for money off British Gas bills
As prices go up so dramatically, what is being done to help vulnerable customers?

We were joined by Mish Tullar of British Gas, Allan Asher, Chief Executive of Energywatch, and Joe Malinowski of switching information service, The Energy Shop.

Further information:

Pension trustee training

Man at a computer
The "trustee toolkit" is a free, online training programme
The Pensions Regulator has just unveiled a new online training programme for trustees which it hopes will give them a better understanding of their role and responsibilities.

Bob Howard - with the help of a pensions trustee - has been testing it out.

Further information:

Pension changes

EU flags
New EU rules mean staff will have to be allowed to work until 65
If you are considering when to retire, there are two important pieces of legislation which could influence your decision.

From 6 April, it may be possible for anyone in an occupational scheme to start drawing a pension but carry on working for their employer.

And from October 2006, UK companies will have to allow staff to work up to the age of 65 following new European regulations on age discrimination.

To discuss the changes we spoke to Dorothy Henderson, Head of Employment Law at Travers Smith, and Chief Executive of The Pensions Advisory Service, Malcolm McLean.

Further information:

For more budget busting tips, press the red button on your television remote control and select Live and Learn.

Presenter: Paul Lewis
Producer: Sonia Rothwell
Reporter: Bob Howard

Money Box



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