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Page last updated at 09:34 GMT, Saturday, 11 December 2010

What next for the cheque?

Cheque book
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 11 December 2010 at 1204 GMT on Radio 4 and Online

The banking industry has announced that it may make another paper-based payment method available, if it decides to phase out cheques by its target date of 2018.

The possible demise of the cheque has not gone down well with some older people who rely heavily on them.

Bob Howard reports.

The programme also hears from Paul Smee, Chief Executive of the Payments Council.

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Annuity changes

The government has announced more detail on its radical plans that could see fewer people opting to buy an annuity with their pension pot from next April.

The Treasury wants people to have more freedom on how we use our lifetime savings. Many people have been dismayed by poor stock market returns which have hit annuity rates. But a limit will still be imposed on the amount of money most pensioners can take from their fund at any one time.

You'll need to have a separate pension income - including your state pension - of at least £20,000 to be able to have unlimited access to your funds. For many of us of course buying an annuity - a secure income for life - may still be the best option.

Paul speaks to Steve Webb, Minister of State for Pensions, Ros Altman, Director General of Saga and Malcolm Maclean from Barnett Wadingham.

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A bargain at half the price?

Pound shops are on the increase. A survey for the BBC has revealed their numbers are up more than 10 per cent in a year.

But does shopping in pound shops really save you money? Ruth Alexander speaks to price strategy consultants Rich Lewis of Decision Technologies and Leigh Caldwell of Inon.

And she reports from Eccles in Salford, where two pound shops are in a price war.

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Tax changes to hit higher rate payers

Another 400,000 people will pay higher rate tax from April next year following the announcement that the threshold to pay the 40% tax will be reduced by £1400.

The cut is needed to make sure that higher rate taxpayers do not benefit from the £1000 rise in the amount of money allowed before any tax is due.

The Treasury also announced this week that it was clamping down on tax exemptions for furnished property let out of short periods of time and closing other loopholes used to avoid paying tax.

John Whiting from the Chartered Institute of Taxation explains the major tax changes.

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box: Saturday 11 December at 1204 GMT and Sunday 12 December at 2102 GMT.



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