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Dear Minister ...

Steve Webb MP  Minister of State to the Department for Work and Pensions
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 22 May 2010 at 1204 BST on Radio 4 and Online

In his first interview as Minister for Pensions, Liberal Democrat Steve Webb talks to Paul Lewis about his policy priorities.

He said he wants pensions to be simplified and that people should be able to access the money in their pension pot if they need to.

And the minister hears from a former pensions minister, Malcolm Wicks, who pens a letter of advice that mysteriously makes its way on to Money Box.

Hear a longer version of the interview broadcast:

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Financial markets

European markets have been falling, with London's FTSE 100 dipping below 5,000 for the first time since November 2009.

Paul Lewis interviews Max King, an investment manager at Ivestec Asset Management.

The falls have been put down in part to Germany's ban of the so-called naked short-selling of shares. Financial expert Paul Willmot explains the practice and why it is controversial.

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Poorly-performing funds

Best Invest has released its new research into which actively-managed funds are the worst performers.

Is your money in what it calls the "dog funds"?

Paul Lewis interviews the financial advice firm's senior investment adviser, Adrian Lowcock.

Statement from Henderson Global investors:

"There has been a marked improvement in our fund performance with more than 68% of our funds outperforming over one year. Our UK Growth Fund for example, over a one year period, has returned approximately 30.4% compared to a return of 26% for the all companied index. The Higher Income Fund, which has been more defensively positioned as of late - in areas such as pharmaceuticals, Tobacco stocks and Utilities - has maintain a solid yield of 4.5% and has outperformed the sector by 2.4%."

Statement from Axa Sun Life:

"AXA Life controls a large number of funds and takes seriously its responsibilities to try and ensure funds perform in accordance with benchmarks. Where comparisons are made solely on the basis of looking at peer group ranking tables, caution needs to be exercised since investment styles, overall allocations to different asset classes may differ quite significantly across the fund population in the classification group concerned."

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Home Information Packs

It came as no real surprise when the coalition government announced this week that Home Information Packs were being scrapped immediately.

Both the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats had made that commitment in their manifestos.

Since their phased introduction in 2007 - people selling a house in England and Wales have had to pay from £250 to £500 for the sellers pack - which included title deeds, local searches and detailed information about their property - before they could legally show their home to potential buyers.

Paul Lewis interviews property expert and TV presenter Kirstie Allsopp about why she thinks the packs were a failure and what reforms she believes are needed to speed up property transactions.

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



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