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Financial reform: Will the plans work?

Chancellor Alistair Darling speaking in the House of Commons on the White Paper
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 11 July 2009 at 1204 BST On Radio 4 and Online

The government has unveiled its plans for reforming financial services and much of it will not happen this side of an election - now less than a year away.

But buried in its White Paper are a number of changes designed specifically to help consumers.

They include the colour coding of products, a national money advice service and changes to the compensation scheme when banks go bust.

What will they mean and will they work?

We discuss the detail with Anthony Elliot of the charity Fair Banking and Angela Knight of the British Bankers' Association.

Further information:

Share scams

A woman answers her mobile phone
Investors are under continual threat from so-called "boiler rooms"

As investors struggle to get a good return in the current economic climate, there are fears that more people will fall victim to criminal gangs masquerading as stock brokers.

It has been estimated that every year as many as 30,000 people are losing hundreds of millions of pounds between them.

Bob Howard reports on what is being done to fight back.

Further information:

Mortgage arrears

A past due stamp
Increasing numbers of people are falling behind with their payments

More than 260,000 people were at least three months behind with their mortgage payments in May, according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

It has warned that the total number behind with payments could rise to more than 400,000 by the end of the year.

There is concern that some lenders might see such people as a useful source of profit, charging them while they struggle with their debt.

Consumer organisation Which? wants the regulator to make public the names of the worst offenders.

We discuss the issues with Dominic Lindley of Which? and Sue Anderson of the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

Further information:

First Plus loans

First Plus loans website
First Plus no longer offers new loans or advances to existing customers

Some customers of secured lender First Plus say the company has acted unfairly in not lowering rates when base rates have fallen so dramatically.

And a compliance expert says its contract terms give too much power to the company and are therefore unenforceable.

The former market leader, which closed to new business last year, says its terms are fair and that it is doing nothing wrong.

Samantha Washington investigates.

Further information:

Nationwide offers 125% mortgage

Nationwide building society has defended itself this week after it emerged it was offering some existing customers a mortgage of up to 125% of the value of their home.

We speak to Sue Anderson of the Council of Mortgage Lenders about the development.



Birmingham County Court has allowed a couple from Shropshire to stay in their property, even though the firm that they sold it to, has stopped paying the mortgage.

He ruled they could stay there for life, by either taking out a new mortgage and becoming the owners, or through renting it from the mortgage lender who had repossessed it.

High court rules against Foxtons

Estate agency Foxtons has been told by the High Court that some of the terms and conditions it uses in letting agreements with landlords are "unfair."

The most significant is continuing to demand a "renewal" commission from a landlord, if a tenant stayed on past the end of the initial tenancy period.

That was even if the firm had played no part in persuading the tenant to stay on and was no longer managing the property.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday, 11 July at 1204 BST.

The programme was repeated on Sunday, 12 July at 2102 BST.

Money Box



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