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Page last updated at 17:53 GMT, Friday, 2 December 2011

Overdraft charges

Woman reading bank letters
BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 3rd December 2011 at 1204 GMT On Radio 4 and Online

Money Box research has established that the banks are charging the equivalent of thousands of per cent APR for lending us small amounts of money over a short period.

The most expensive, Santander, charges some customers £100 extra if they go overdrawn by £100 for four weeks without permission. That is equivalent to an APR of 819,100%. Other High Street banks will charge from £26 to £88 for the same loan, which represents an APR of tens of thousands per cent in most cases.

Ben Carter reports. The programme also hears from Eric Leenders, executive director at the British Bankers Association and from Mike Dailly, consumer campaigner at the Govan Law Centre.


Benefits

In his Autumn Statement this week the Chancellor George Osborne announced what the level of most state benefits will be from spring 2012. Against a background of record borrowing, it's a pretty mixed picture for people who receive state benefits. The basic state pension will rise next April by £5.30 to £107.45 - the largest ever cash hike in the basic state pension. However research has shown that some pensioners who receive pension credit will get rather less than the £5.30 announced. Mr Osborne also announced reductions to child tax credits and froze another part of the working tax credit system.

Phil Agulnik from the benefits organisation Entitled To joins the programme.


Auto-enrolment delayed

Millions of people will have an extra year before they are automatically enrolled into a pension scheme at work. The new auto-enrolment scheme will start as planned in October 2012 for people working for large employers. But those with fewer than 50 employees will have at least a year longer to prepare and all employers will have another year before contributions rise to their final level.

Pensions expert Malcolm McLean, from Barnett Waddingham looks at the implications of the change.


Orange price hikes

Money Box listeners have been in touch this week about a price increase by Orange, the mobile phone company. The majority of its contract customers have been sent a text saying that due to an increase in inflation, tariffs will increase by 4.34% from January 2012. Orange points to a clause in its contracts that states as long as the company doesn't increase the tariff by more than the rate of inflation, which this doesn't, customers can't exit their contracts without paying a penalty.

Consumer lawyer Ingrid Gubbay from Hausfeld and Co speaks to the show.

You can contact Ofcom's Consumer Complaints team on: 0300 123 3333.


Explaining occupational pensions

How clearly are pension trustees explaining the complex working of occupational schemes to their members? Money Box has been contacted by a retired member of the BT final salary scheme. Her statement has led her to believe that almost a quarter of a billion pounds is being spent on management and administration - money that she feels should be going towards her pension.

Paul Lewis speaks to Roger Turner, General Secretary of the campaign group the National Federation of Occupational Pensioners.

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



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