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Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Friday, 1 October 2010 18:26 UK

Costly help to get a tax rebate

Cash4Tax stand
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 2 October 2010 at 1204 BST on Radio 4 and Online

Claim firms which have been charging people high fees to apply for tax rebates from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) have worried some listeners.

Individuals who think they have paid too much tax can contact HMRC themselves free of charge to get their money back. But there are a number of companies which offer to do this for a slice of what is recovered.

Reporter Bob Howard has been looking into one firm - Cash4Tax. It is charging 25% plus VAT of any refund it succeeds in getting, along with other fees for locating lost paperwork.

Claims rebate firms act as agents on your behalf once you've given them permission. But are customers really benefiting by paying someone else to make a claim they could put in themselves without charge?

We also speak to Jane Shillaker from the charity TaxAid.

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Currency exchange site troubles

One of Britain's web-based retail currency providers is in difficulties, leaving customers wondering if they'll get the holiday cash they ordered.

Money Box has learned that Crown Currency Exchange has had its bank account frozen by Barclays to protect its creditors. Unlike most retail foreign currency dealers, Crown allowed customers to buy their currency up to a year in advance.

Money Box hears from one listener, Mark from Cumbria, who's still waiting for the holiday Euros he ordered from Crown Currency Exchange. The programme also speaks to Simon Calder, travel editor of the Independent.

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Welfare cuts hit mortgage help

More than 200,000 people who get help with their mortgage interest will find the payments cut by 40% this week.

It is one of the first welfare cuts to come into effect after it was announced in the emergency budget in June.

Until this week mortgage interest was paid at a flat rate of 6.08% - a rate which had been frozen since December 2008. But to save money and bring the rate down to a more realistic level it is being cut to 3.63% - the average mortgage rate assessed by the Bank of England.

Money Box talks to Roger Harding of the housing charity Shelter to assess what effect this change might have.

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Metrobank

When Metrobank was launched this summer, the advertising promised customers "unparalleled levels of service" and that they'd "love their bank at last."

Just three months in, one of their new account holders Shelley Wills contacted Moneybox because of the bank's failure to deal with her complaints.

Shelley opened an account with Metrobank in July after being attracted by the offer of no transaction or commission charges for using her cards abroad.

She double-checked with the staff at her branch in Central London and they assured her there would be no problem using it when she went on holiday to America earlier this month

Unfortunately that proved not to be the case.

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box: Saturday 2 October at 1204 BST and Sunday 3 October at 2102 BST.



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