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Concern over pre-paid card costs

People queuing outside a Jobcentre plus office
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 23 January 2010 at 1204 GMT On Radio 4 and Online

People in some of the poorest parts of the country are having benefits paid directly onto pre-paid Mastercards.

The card companies are charging them to have the money paid in, to take out cash, and often a regular fee as well.

But a leaked email from the Department of Work and Pensions, seen by this programme, shows that DWP staff fear many customers do not realise the costs associated with having their benefits paid onto these cards.

When DWP staff in Clyde and Fife contacted customers to ask if they were aware of the charges on the cards, they found the majority of the customers were not.

Presenter Paul Lewis hears from consumer campaigner Mike Dailly.

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Inflation predictions

Just like weather forecasters, economists get a lot of flack when they get things wrong.

The latest inflation figures for December showed the consumer price index rose at an annual rate of 2.9%, the biggest jump since 1997.

The Retail Price Index, which includes housing costs, rose to 2.4%, the biggest monthly rise since 1979.

The rises were even higher than forecast by professional forecasters.

The programme hears an economic forecast from weather man John Kettley, and Paul Lewis speaks to former member of the Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee, Sir Alan Budd.

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Never heard of NEST?

What is NEST? It stands for National Employment Savings Trust - the new name for the workplace pension scheme which will be introduced in October 2012.

But some people working for very small companies will not be enrolled until February 2016.

So what is the cost of the delay for someone with no other pension arrangements?

Paul Lewis runs through the calculations with actuary David Cule from Punter Southall.

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Standard Life

This week the Financial Services Authority issued a fine of £2.45m against Standard Life for "misleading" customers of its Pension Sterling Fund.

Money Box first reported on the problems of this fund a year ago.

Although it was marketed as a "cash" fund , nearly half the fund went into high risk assets including some which depended on sub-prime mortgages.

We return to the man who first pointed out the problems with the marketing material, lawyer and compliance specialist Adam Samuel.

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Skipton raises rates

Nearly 30,000 people with a mortgage from Skipton Building Society could see their repayments rise by 40% from 1 March.

Skipton say extreme market conditions have forced it to withdraw a commitment that its standard variable rate would never be more than 3% above the Bank of England base rate.

From 1 March it will rise to 4.95% which could mean a monthly increase of £121 for someone with a £100,000 loan.

We hear from Skipton's Chief Executive David Cutter.

BBC Radio 4's Money Box was broadcast on Saturday at 1204 GMT and repeated on Sunday at 2102 GMT.



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Standard Life fined 2.45m by FSA
20 Jan 10 |  Business

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