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Breaking the piggy bank

The end of Child Trust Funds
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 29 May 2010 at 1204 BST on Radio 4 and Online

The coalition government has announced that it will stop all payments to Child Trust Funds by January 2011 and begin sharply reducing state contributions from this August.

The tax free savings scheme, introduced in 2002, aims to provide a nest egg for children which they can access when they reach the age of 18. At present parents of newborns receive a minimum £250 voucher to invest for their children. A further payment is made when the child reaches the age of seven.

Although the five million CTF's already up and running will be allowed to continue until they mature the move does place a question mark over future returns of the funds.

The programme hears from David White, CEO of the Children's Mutual. And also from Julie Hedge, author of 'The Pocket Money Plan'.

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Are you paying out for free goods and services?

A growing number of listeners have been contacting Money Box to express concern and confusion at the number of unofficial websites charging for goods and services that can be got for free or at a vastly reduced cost - if you go to the official site.

European Health Insurance Cards are free through the NHS but a number of you have paid £9.95 after visiting a similarly addressed website.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office charge just under £30 to legalise documents but a site, which claimed to be "the official apostille service" was charging more than double. In some cases they were simply delivering the documents on to the FCO.

We hear from two listeners who were left counting the cost.

Paul is joined by Adrian Simpson from the Trading Standards Institute.

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Losing your mobile phone can prove costly

Money Box has discovered that if you pay for your mobile calls on a contract and you lose you phone , the network may hold you liable for a bill of hundreds or even thousands of pounds.

Bob Howard's been hearing one listener's experience and finding out if the mobile phone operators should be doing more to protect their customers.

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Prudential Share Issue

The plans by the UK's biggest insurance company Prudential for a £23 billion takeover of the Asian insurer AIA were in disarray again this weekend after Prudential admitted it was in talks about the deal with AIA's owner American International group.

There is widespread speculation that Prudential is trying to lower the price it pays on fears that the plans might be turned down by shareholders at a special meeting a week on Monday.

Several large investors have expressed concern and one said it would vote against the deal. Prudential needs three quarters of those voting to say 'yes' for the deal to go through.

So where does that leave 70,000 small shareholders who have been puzzling over the 940 page prospectus to decide whether to vote 'yes' or 'no' to the plans?

We'll also assess the National Grid's request to it's shareholders for money in exchange for new shares in the company.

We also hear from Paul Kavanagh from stockbrokers - Killik &Co.


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



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