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Page last updated at 18:04 GMT, Friday, 7 January 2011

Food for thought as prices rise

Supermarket receipt and change
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 8 January 2011 at 1204 GMT on Radio 4 and Online

Figures out this week showed global food prices are at a new high.

So Money Box presenter Paul Lewis digs out a receipt from 2005 and calculates how much the same trolley of goods would cost today.

And he talks to Alex Beckett, food and drink editor at The Grocer and Maureen Hinton, senior retail analyst from Verdict Research about the hidden price pressures which could see inflation rising strongly in the future across a range of goods.

If you have an online shopping order from at least five years ago, and would be happy for us to cost it at today's prices, please email us at

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VAT rises to 20%

The new VAT rate is one thing that will affect inflation.

John Whiting, from the Chartered Institute of Taxation, gives us the lowdown on what to buy, and what not to buy, if you want to minimise how much VAT you pay.

While Patrick Nolan from the think tank Reform argues that VAT should be applied to more goods - but at a lower rate.

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Phantom insurance claims

How would you react if out of the blue you were told by your insurance company that you have been involved in a car accident of which you had no knowledge?

And then your insurer would tell you when the accident happened but not where so you couldn't even prove you were somewhere else? That is exactly what happened to one Money Box listener.

Bob Howard has been discovering such false allegations are not that rare.

The programme also hears from Malcolm Tarling from the Association of British Insurers.

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Wrongly paid pension leads to £40,000 repayment

If mistakes are made when a company pension is calculated to an individual can overpayments be clawed back by the pension fund?

That's the position Money Box listener Andrew Heron finds himself in. He faces paying back £40,000 to the BT pension fund. A sum he says he'll struggle to find. He worked for the telecoms giant for 17 years, paying into its final salary pension scheme before transfering his fund into a personal pension.

Confusion arose when both he and his former employer mislaid crucial documents and BT began paying him a pension that it later turned out he wasn't entitled to.

After the mistake was spotted, BT pension fund trustees demanded that Andrew Heron should pay the money back which it is legally entitled to do.

Money Box talks to Andrew Heron and also to pensions expert Malcolm Maclean from Barnett Waddingham.

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

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