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The Harrington Brooks Blog

News, comment and views from the team at Harrington Brooks.

Harrington Brooks Making a Difference this Christmas with Tree of Life Centre

Posted by Jack Boardman on

As well as the success of this year’s Mission Christmas, Harrington Brooks staff have managed to raise huge quantities of food for the Tree of Life Centre in Wythenshawe.

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Francess from Tree of Life visited One Advice headquarters to explain to staff the difference their donations will make this Christmas.

Staff throughout the One Advice Group have been giving generously throughout December, picking up an extra tin here and there on lunch breaks, and on some days entire trolley loads. A call for copper coins in the plastic piggy banks on all desks at HB totalled over £200 – a notable tribute to the importance of saving the pennies as several more trolleys of breakfast cereals and cupboard goods were added on top of the ample contributions left in the drop-off boxes around the building.

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A snapshot of the mountain of food, Harrington Brooks staff raised this Christmas.

Harrington Brooks have been proud to work with Francess Davies-Tagoe and Tree of Life, donating long-lasting non-perishable food for low-income families this Christmas. Francess and Heidi Wilson paid a visit to the One Advice Group’s offices in Sale this morning, explaining how each little contribution helps and giving thanks to our Marketing team, Culture Club, and the thoughtful HB employees who gave so generously.

The Tree of Life mission statement is “to work in partnership with others to create a sustainable resource which improves the health and well being for people in Wythenshawe.” The food bank is just one of the great deeds Tree of Life offer the community – not least collecting furniture and offering classes from Tai-chi, craft groups, complementary therapy, to stop-smoking classes, mental health drop-ins and a disability jobs club. So if you would like to volunteer for this great charity, or have furniture or clothes that could go to a good home instead of the tip, please visit the Tree of Life Centre website for more information and contact details.

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Tree of Life’s Francess Davies-Tagoe (left) and Heidi Wilson (third from left) met with members of Culture Club and staff who helps organise Harrington Brooks’ food bank donations.

Another Successful Mission Christmas at HB

Posted by Jack Boardman on

Harrington Brooks staff go all out for another successful Mission Christmas campaign.

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Mission Christmas hopes to raise £1 million worth of toys, making Christmas special for a child living in poverty.

Every year, 150,000 children in Greater Manchester – where the One Advice Group and many of our staff are based – spend Christmas time in poverty.

That is why, in 2013, Harrington Brooks joined the Key 103 Cash for Kids Mission Christmas campaign. Mission Christmas hopes to raise £1 million worth of toys, making Christmas special for a child living in poverty.

Harrington Brooks were delighted to announce the grand total of 552 presents raised in 2013, with staff getting involved, inter-department tournaments to see who could raise the most, and our IT team’s room just about bursting with all of the presents this time last year.

And so staff of Harrington Brooks and the One Advice Group couldn’t wait to get involved in Mission Christmas 2014, with the Marketing team very content to be sat among all of the presents by their desk.

As our HB Culture Club members transport our donations to the Mission Christmas warehouse in Trafford, we’re delighted to announce a running total of approximately 340 presents.

Our diligent Compliance department take the title for most presents raised for 2014 and, once again, we are very proud to have supported such a great cause.

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Team Compliance managed to raise the most presents at HB this year.

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Creative Content Writers make room for presents beneath their desk.

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Mission Christmas raises presents for boys and girls of all ages.

FCA statement on Harrington Brooks.

Posted by News Team on

The following is a press release by the FCA.

Debt management firm Harrington Brooks to pay redress to 4,500 customers, says FCA.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has announced that debt management firm Harrington Brooks will voluntarily pay over £185,000 in redress to over 4,500 customers after communications from the firm to creditors on customers’ behalf were delayed.

Harrington Brooks is the first debt management firm to agree a redress package since the FCA took over responsibility for regulating the sector on 1 April 2014.

Linda Woodall, director of mortgages and consumer lending at the FCA, said: “Debt  management customers are struggling financially and often in difficult situations so it’s important that when people are putting their trust in a firm, they get the service they have paid for.

“When things go wrong we expect firms to put them right for their customers and we are pleased that Harrington Brooks is working with us to do this.”

In September 2014, Harrington Brooks advised the FCA that communications with some customers’ creditors had been delayed, meaning customers may have been left with the impression that the firm had been in contact with creditors when it had not. The delay resulted in some people owing more in interest and charges than if the firm had contacted creditors sooner.

Customers were affected by the delays in two ways:

  • Customers’ creditors were not written to in a timely manner, meaning that interest and charges on their debts were frozen late,;
  • Customers were not written to in a timely manner following the outcome of the Harrington Brooks’ negotiations with creditors on their behalf. This delay meant that customers were not notified that interest and charges on their debts had not been frozen.

Harrington Brooks has cooperated with the FCA’s requests and will be writing to affected customers in the coming weeks to explain the situation and advise them of any redress that is due. Customers do not need to do anything, and should wait to be contacted by Harrington Brooks.

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Statement from Harrington Brooks

In response to the FCA’s press notice today, December 18th, in respect of redress being provided by Harrington Brooks to its customers, Matthew Cheetham, CEO, said:

“We are pleased that the FCA has acknowledged our role in bringing to light some discrepancies and minor delays in our communications to creditors at the inception of a relatively small number of debt management plans.  As soon as this issue was identified, it was rectified and our systems improved.

While any error or shortcoming in service is regretted and we apologise to any customers affected, this particular issue was an intermittent short delay in the production of a creditor communication and it was in most cases mitigated by other communications to creditors.

We have identified all of the  customers who may have been impacted and they will be contacted directly and where redress is appropriate, will be compensated.  We cooperated fully with the regulator following our initial report to them on the matter in September.”

Government To Introduce Bank Accounts For Those With Poor Credit History

Posted by Jack Boardman on

Basic bank accounts are to be introduced for people with bad credit history by the end of 2015.

The new accounts will not allow overdrafts or cheque books, and will not gain interest, but without the risk of falling into the spiralling nature of bank charges for failed payments and slipping, unaware, into reserves or unauthorised overdrafts. Current charges are from £6-35 for failed payments when direct debits and standing orders bounce.

Click to read the revised basic bank account agreement

Click to read the revised basic bank account agreement

The accounts are designed to help those unable to open a current account due to bad credit records. Wages, benefits, tax credits and State pensions will be paid directly into the accounts, and customers will be able to pay bills online. Customers will be provided with debit cards making ATM and over-the-counter transactions possible.

Nine banks, including The Co-op, Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds, Nationwide, RBS and Santander have committed to providing such accounts by 2016. The announcement of the new accounts comes after a deal with the nation’s major banks by the Treasury, allowing people to manage their money with “certainty and clarity.”

Andrea Leadsom, Economic Secretary to the Treasury stated:

“It will end people being effectively locked out of their basic bank accounts due to high fees and charges when their payments failed.

“Ending this unfair situation is a real step forward for the banking industry’s most vulnerable customers and improving access to banking is a key part of our long-term economic plan.”

Money Advice Service to Cut Jobs to Save on Costs

Posted by Jack Boardman on

Treasury-commissioned review of Money Advice Service (MAS) reveals the group are to drastically cut costs and nearly two thirds of staff.
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The Telegraph has today reported on an independent review of the Money Advice Service, revealing recommended staff cuts of full-time staff from 130 to 50, reducing the MAS budget from £81.1 million to between £50 – £65 million.

The report, by Christine Farnish, the former head of the National Association of Pension Funds, was picked up by The Telegraph who have recited that the biggest cuts should be felt by the money advice arm of the organisation, sparing the division that focuses on debt management.

Harrington Brooks staff support the Tree of Life Food Bank this Christmas

Posted by Jack Boardman on

This Christmas, Harrington Brooks are supporting the Tree of Life Centre in Wythenshawe.

Tree of Life, working in partnership with Bideford, Royal Oak and St. Luke’s Centres, have organised a food campaign to make a difference to low-income families this Christmas.

Harrington Brooks staff have gotten behind the food bank, diving straight in with generous donations of long-lasting non-perishable food.

In the spirit of charity and money management, staff have seen the importance of saving the pennies as well as the pounds, donating their copper coins and change in a fund-raising effort for the Tree of Life and competing to see who can guess how much was raised.

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Household Debt Set To Rise Higher than Before Financial Crisis

Posted by Jack Boardman on

A new Government report forecasts British household debt is to become higher than on the eve of the global financial crisis.

The Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) have published ‘Economic and Fiscal Outlook’, a report forecasting an increase in the household debt to income ratio. The date presents the household debt ratio rising to 184% of incomes – considerably bigger than the 169% ratio of 2008 before the global financial crisis.

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Household gross debt to income forecast from the Office for Budget Responsibility’s ‘Economic and Fiscal Outlook’

The OBR previously made a forecast in March. Now the level of gross household debt is expected to be approximately £174 billion higher by the beginning of 2019 than predicted in March. The revised level is due to factors including an upward revision to household income, with the level of household disposable income now forecast to be 1 ¼% higher than expected in March, following upward revision to historical data which more than offset a weaker forecast for wage growth.

Read here for more information on rising household debt.

Harrington Brooks supporting Financial Education at the MHA Wellbeing Day

Posted by Jack Boardman on

On Wednesday 3 December Harrington Brooks will be involved in delivering a Wellbeing Day for year 10 students (age 13/14) at Manchester Health Academy (MHA).

Harrington Brooks have been working alongside MHA Head of Numeracy, Kieran MacHugh, and Head of Literacy, Allison Cowan, to effectively communicate health and wellbeing to students in keeping with Financial Education in the national curriculum.

On Wednesday 3 December Harrington Brooks will be involved in delivering a Wellbeing Day for year 10 students (age 13/14) at Manchester Health Academy (MHA).

On Wednesday 3 December Harrington Brooks will be involved in delivering a Wellbeing Day for year 10 students (age 13/14) at Manchester Health Academy (MHA).

Financial Education, a new addition to the national curriculum, sees the subject taught as ‘financial numeracy’ as part of maths and ‘attitudes to money and debt’ as part of citizenship. Children aged 11-14, in Key Stage 3 learning “the functions and uses of money, the importance of personal budgeting, money management and a range of financial products and services.” Pupils aged 14-16 in Key Stage 4 will learn about “wages, taxes, credit, debt, financial risk and a range of more sophisticated financial products and services.”

Manchester Health Academy, based in Wythenshawe, are co-sponsored by the NHS Foundation Trust and the Manchester City Council. Their ethos of “Learning for a healthy future” echoes the Financial Education syllabus’ aims of improving financial literacy in younger generations to address the trap of problem debt tomorrow. With our extensive experience and knowledge of financial managements, Harrington Brooks are proud to be involved in the community, educating future generations about good money management.

“Financial understanding is a key life skill. Children need to understand the value of money and how to interact with financial service providers to provide for their own futures. The skills they will learn in class, combined with the experience of having their own savings product, will better equip them to avoid financial problems in later life.” – HM Treasury, 2007.

The session at 10.25 to 11.35 has been chosen as the feature session of the MHA Wellbeing Day. Also present at the MHA will be Wythenshawe FM.

For more information on Financial Education, see our blog.

FCA Issue New Rules for Credit Brokers

Posted by Jack Boardman on

The FCA has published a new policy statement on credit broking, highlighting tougher rules.

The changes arrive following the FCA’s “significant concerns” over credit brokers who charge upfront fees to consumers, with 41% of FCA complaints received in relation to credit broking – 80% of these complaints are about online brokers charging upfront fees.

The changes arrive following the FCA’s “significant concerns” over credit brokers who charge upfront fees to consumers, with 41% of FCA complaints received in relation to credit broking – 80% of these complaints are about online brokers charging upfront fees.

The new rules on credit broking will take effect from 2nd January, 2015, and include:

  • A ban on credit brokers charging fees to customers, and from requesting customers’ payment details for that purpose unless they meet FCA requirements.
  • Credit brokers must ensure customers are given clear information about who they are dealing with, what fee will be payable, and when and how the fee will be payable.
  • Fee-charging brokers must notify the FCA of the websites they operate.
  • Brokers must include their legal name (as it appears in the FCA Register) in all advertising and all correspondence with customers.
  • Advertising must clearly state that the firm is a credit broker and not a lender.

 

Read the  FCA’s new policy statement here.

PeopleValue Partners with Harrington Brooks for Debt Management Solutions

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

PeopleValue, the nation’s leading supplier of voluntary benefit solutions, has partnered with Harrington Brooks, one of the UK’s leading debt solution providers, to offer financial and legal advice and support to its clients’ employees.

Users of PeopleValue’s Advantage 6 voluntary benefit solution will now be able to access debt advice and guidance from Harrington Brooks, as well as legal support from its sister companies. This includes a free 30 minute consultation for legal advice with Castle Keep Law and specialist legal advice for carers to help reclaim care costs with My Care Claim.

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With 6,045 new debt problems now dealt with by the Citizens Advice Bureau every working day*, financial wellbeing is now a topic that is firmly on the agenda for many UK employers. The impact that debt problems cause can directly affect the wellbeing of employees with six in ten people in debt affected by mental health problems**. Debt issues also affect the economy too, with estimates that debt costs the UK £8.3 billion through the damages it causes to wellbeing, productivity and the welfare state***.
Additionally, often employees don’t have access to the requisite legal advice to help those facing financial difficulty, whether it be to defend against enforcement action taken by creditors or help employees recover mis-sold financial products.
PeopleValue’s solution, The Zone, seeks to address the challenges of financial wellbeing, and the impact that this can also have on mental wellbeing, by offering a wide range of financial management resources to employees. These will be provided through the Advantage6 benefits platform.

Jodi Hamilton, Head of Marketing at Harrington Brooks, commented:

“We are delighted to be working with PeopleValue and offering our debt management services out to their clients’ employees through Advantage6. The financial wellbeing of employees is now firmly on the radar of employers, and by working with PeopleValue we are able to provide assistance to their entire user base so that employers can address this issue and provide assistance.”

Mike Morgan, CEO of PeopleValue, commented:

“Our health and wellbeing solution, The Zone, comes as standard within Advantage6, and the wealth of tools and resources available to employees means that employers are able to demonstrate their consideration for their wellbeing. Financial education and wellbeing is a hot topic and we have taken measures to introduce a service that will help employees pro-actively address their finances.”

ENDS
Notes to Editors
Founded in 2002 and Headquartered in Wheatley, Oxfordshire, PeopleValue is a leading supplier of voluntary benefit and reward and recognition technology throughout the UK and Europe. The company plays an important role in providing technology that helps inspire, motivate, and reward employees, partners, customers and members. The company currently employs 35 staff over three offices serving over 260 corporate clients. For additional information about PeopleValue, call 01865 876696, email enquiries@peoplevalue.co.uk, or visit www.peoplevalue.co.uk.
*The Money Statistics October 2014, from the Money Charity
**World Mental Health Day – 10th October 2014 – Citizens Advice calls for responsible lending
***StepChange, Cutting the cost of problem debt, 8th October 2014