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Page last updated at 17:42 GMT, Friday, 30 March 2012 18:42 UK

The Big Switch

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box
Saturday, 31st March 2012 at 1204 BST On Radio 4 and Online

Britain's biggest energy supplier, British Gas, has announced this week it will not take part in the Big Switch organised by the consumer group Which?

The plan is to negotiate cheaper gas and electricity bills and so far more than 250,000 of consumers have signed up to use collective bargaining power to negotiate the lowest possible energy prices.

But now two big suppliers, SSE and British Gas, say they will not take part as have four of the smaller suppliers. So far, not one of the six biggest energy companies - which supply 99% of the market - has said Yes. British Gas says the scheme 'falls short of being simple, transparent and fair for all customers".

Money Box speaks to Richard Lloyd, Which? executive director, and Mike Shamesh from the People's Power:

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SSE


Stamp price increases

Sending Christmas cards is a costly business at the best of times but this year we'll have to dig even deeper into our pockets as the price of posting a letter is set to rise. This week the Royal Mail said that from the end of April a first class stamp will cost 60p up from 46p and a second class stamp 50p up from 36p. The Royal Mail defended the price hike saying that a second class stamp is still the cheapest in Europe. Money Box's Fiona Woods puts the figures under the spotlight.

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Tax credit changes

There are huge changes to the tax credit system from 6 April. HMRC which administers tax credits has been writing to more than a million people claimants alerting them to the changes. But there are claims this week that those letters are misleading and that many people will lose their tax credits who should in fact be keeping them.

Victoria Todd from the Low Incomes Tax Reform Group joins the programme.

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Drinking and driving confusion

How clearly are insurers explaining their drinking and driving rules to customers? Money Box has been contacted by a number of listeners worried that their motor insurance cover could be withdrawn if they had consumed alcohol prior to an accident, even if they were below the drink drive limit. But we've found that advice given by one insurer's call centre was wrong, and advice from another insurer has left policy holders uncertain of where they stand. Bob Howard reports and Paul speaks to Esure's Adrian Webb.

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Pet insurance problems

Thousands of people whose pets were insured with Halifax are celebrating a minor victory this week. Halifax recently pulled out of the pet insurance market and when their policies lapsed many owners found it difficult or impossible to get their pet re-insured. That happened if they had developed a medical condition after they took out the Halifax policy which in many cases was marketed as 'life-long'. But this week the Financial Ombudsman said Halifax had made a 'significant error' in marketing this insurance as life-long. And said the bank should compensate one pet owner whose dog Lucky was now uninsurable for the conditions he has developed. Paul speaks to David Cresswell from the Financial Ombudsman Service and Beverley Cuddy from Dogs Today.

Lloyds and Halifax have set up helplines for pet insurance policyholders who may wish to contact them.

Lloyds TSB Pet Insurance customers

0845 6013073

Halifax Pet Insurance customers

0845 6013122

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BBC Radio 4's Money Box is broadcast on Saturday at 1204 BST.



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