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Rating agency warning

City dealer
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 23 May 2009 at 1204 BST On Radio 4 and Online

The government is planning to borrow £220bn this year to make the books balance.

That means persuading wealthy investors that the UK government is still a safe bet to lend money to.

But that may be more difficult after one of the world's top credit rating agencies, Standard & Poor's, warned that the UK might lose its top-notch "triple A" credit score because of the huge debt it has amassed.

And that could mean it will cost more to borrow this year's £220bn because of the added risk.

The only way to avoid this is to bring the debt levels down which would mean cutting spending, raising taxes - or both.

We discuss the implications with Howard Wheeldon, chief strategist at BCG Partners and Gavin Oldham, chief executive of the Share Centre.

Further information:


Forged dollars

US dollar notes
What could you do if your holiday money turned out to be fake?

Thousands of people order foreign currency for holidays abroad each year but very few check it when they pick it up.

They simply trust the firms involved are selling genuine notes and coins.

But if during your holiday you discovered some of your notes were counterfeit, what comeback would you have against the company if you believed it supplied you with the notes?

Bob Howard reports.

Further information:


Mortgage rates

Estate agent signs in a residential street in London
moneyextra is urging mortgage customers to shop around

Mortgage lenders are treating their customers as profit-fodder, says comparison website moneyextra.com.

It said lenders have increased the difference between the Bank's rate and their Standard Variable Rates to "unheard of" levels.

The average SVR is now 4.19% above the base rate which represents a 120% rise in income for lenders in 12 months, it added.

And it warned that four out of 10 mortgage holders risk falling prey to these rates when their current deals end this year.

We speak to Richard Mason, managing director of comparison website moneyextra.com and Bernard Clarke from the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Further information:


Pension charges

coins falling into a jar
Are the charges on your pension plan unnecessarily high?

Are hundreds of thousands of people overpaying on their personal pensions?

The annual fee for managing pensions has come down but people who started their pension many years ago are paying higher charges.

Is it worth moving to save the higher costs?

We ask financial adviser Mark Meldon of RC Gray & Co and speak to Maggie Clark of the Association of British Insurers.

Further information:


Lloyds TSB share offer

Lloyds TSB
Many of these shareholders are not professional investors at all

Nearly three million people with shares in Lloyds Banking Group have to make a difficult choice over the next couple of weeks.

They are being offered the chance to buy yet more shares in the part nationalised bank at a big discount.

If they choose not to they could get a cash payout instead - but the level of that depends on the value of Lloyds shares in the future.

We discuss the complex offer with Gavin Oldham, chief executive of the Share Centre.

Further information:


OTHER NEWS: Building societies ratings cut

Credit ratings agency Fitch has downgraded five UK building societies amid weak economic conditions.

Further information:


BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 23 May at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 24 May at 2102 BST.



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22 May 09 |  Moneybox


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