Wed, 07/01/2020 – 16:35
UK financial watchdog eases restrictions on the company
Wed, 07/01/2020 – 15:52
Customers can now make payments using Wirecard, as the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) lifted restrictions on the company.
Wirecard is a German-based payment processor and issues cards for several financial brands in the UK including Curve, FairFX and Pockit.
The FCA revoked the licence of Wirecard’s UK arm after it filed for insolvency last week.
Thousands of people were left unable to access their money including customers who used banking apps such as Dozens, FairFX, Pockit and U.
In a statement, the financial watchdog confirmed that the restrictions on Wirecard have now been eased and customers should shortly be able to use their cards as usual.
“We continue to monitor Wirecard’s activities closely and certain requirements continue to remain in force. These should not, however, affect the services Wirecard provides to its customers. This means customers can now or very shortly use their cards as necessary,” says the financial watchdog.
Customers still experiencing difficulty are being advised to contact their card provider directly by the FCA.
Money held by on prepaid cards is not protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS), which protects up to £85,000 of customers’ money if a UK-authorised bank go bust.
This is because funds on a prepaid card are classed as “electronic money” or “e-money,” which do not qualify for protection.
As a result, if your prepaid card provider goes bust, your money will be subject to their safeguarding terms.
These terms usually mean that your money will be placed into a ring-fenced account which is separate from the company’s own money.
In the event that the provider goes bust, they have to repay you from the ring-fenced funds before they pay out what they owe to others.
The FCA is telling Wirecard users to remain vigilant as fraudsters may begin to target those affected by the incident.
The following steps can help you avoid being caught out by a scam:
Stop: Take a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe.
Challenge: Could it be fake? It is fine to reject, refuse, or ignore any requests. Only criminals will try to rush or panic you.
Protect: Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for a scam, and report it to Action Fraud. You can report the firm or scam by contacting the Action Fraud consumer helpline on 0800 111 6768 or by using an online reporting form.
My daughter, who is 46, has hardly worked owing to illness and mental health problems. She has received very little in the way of jobseeker’s allowance or other benefits. She is now registered disabled and has been receiving benefits but only for the past few months.
I do not think she has paid national insurance contributions (NICs) since she was young, when she did work for a while.
What is her situation regarding a state pension? Can I pay the 10 years she would need to qualify?
Wed, 07/01/2020 – 15:10
In order to get any state pension, she herself will need to have 10 qualifying years of NICs. A qualifying year is where an individual has:
• paid NICs because they are working;
• they received national insurance credits (NICs); or
• they paid voluntary NICs.
You are entitled to NICs if you are on working tax credit, universal credit or carer’s allowance.
When your daughter was on jobseeker’s allowance, she would have received national insurance credits. If she is receiving employment and support allowance or unemployability allowance, she will also have received national insurance credits. If she was eligible but did not receive these allowances, she will have to apply for the credits.
You should obtain a state pension forecast for your daughter to see the NICs that she has received. You should also speak to the Department for Works and Pensions to see if she could apply for more credits.
Michelle Cracknell is the former chief executive of the Pensions Advisory Service.
Average interest rates on savings accounts fall
Wed, 07/01/2020 – 11:06
Savers face dismal prospects as rates tumble to their lowest level in over a decade, data from Moneyfacts reveals.
The average easy access account now pays 0.27%, compared to 0.59% at the start of the year.
Similarly, the average easy access cash Isa currently offers 0.37%, down from 0.85% in January.
But savings rates on longer-term deals, which Moneyfacts defines as over 18 months’ duration, have suffered the most this year.
The average longer-term fixed Isa for example, pays interest of 0.81% today, down from 1.37% seven months ago.
This is 0.4% less than the average easy access cash Isa.
Similarly, longer-term fixed bonds also saw a significant fall in interest since January, with the average rate falling from 1.48% to 0.92%.
Experts advise that savers act quickly to take advantage of good rates, as they are likely to reduce further or disappear completely.
Rachel Springall, finance expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk, says: “It is imperative that savers act quickly to acquire the top rates on the market regardless of which type of savings account they choose, as there seems no end to the downward trend.
“Due to the uncertainties that the coronavirus pandemic has instilled, it is more important than ever before for consumers to build up an emergency fund that they can dip in to should they run into any financial difficulties in the months to come.”
Today’s low savings rates follow almost a decade of low interest.
The savings market began to deteriorate more rapidly this year following the Bank of England’s decision to reduce the base rate twice, down to 0.1%, its lowest level in history.
Most savings providers began to slash interest rates on their accounts following the base rate cuts.
This, coupled with continued uncertainty surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, has caused savings rates in the UK to plummet.
National Savings & Investments (NS&I) now offers the two best easy-access interest rates, according to data from Savings Champion.
The NS&I Income Bonds account pays 1.16% and requires a minimum deposit of £500.
This is followed by the NS&I Direct Saver and the Saga Easy Access Savings Account which both pay 1% and can be opened with a minimum deposit of £1.
The next best rate is offered by Yorkshire Building Society’s Annual Access Account (Issue 4) which pays 0.95% and requires a minimum deposit of £1.