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The Harrington Brooks Blog

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

CCJs Up 40% from Last Year

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

The number of County Court Judgments issued has risen from 245,424 to 344,109 over the past year, Registry Trust Limited (RTL) statistics confirm.

The total value of consumer CCJs now stands at £797.9m. However, the average value of a CCJ has dropped to £2,319. Chair of the Registry Trust Malcolm Hurlston puts this seeming paradox down to lender and collector behaviours:

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Chair of the Registry Trust has linked the rise in CCJs with the increase in the amount of debts sold to collection companies.

“Lenders have increasingly been selling debt to specialist companies who are more likely to go for judgements, even for smaller sums. As a result the average judgement value has fallen while the number of judgements has leaped.”

Conversely, the number of CCJs against businesses has dropped by 10% compared with the same period last year, with total value of £194 million. This, Hurlston argues, is more demonstrative of the wider state of finances in the UK:

“The number of CCJs against businesses has halved in the five years since the recession bit. The economy appears to be set fair.”

If you have received a CCJ or are worried with your personal debt, give our advisers a call today. Our financial advisers are on hand to help you make sense of your financial circumstances, and to help you decide the best course of action for you to take.

Should Your Children Be Included In Financial Discussions?

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

A recent study by family support charity Home-Start has revealed 31% of adults felt general money discussions were inappropriate for children to be included in. But is keeping quiet healthy for your household?

Making money a taboo subject can have a negative effect on your child's financial abilities in the future.

Making money a taboo subject can have a negative effect on your child’s financial abilities in the future.

75% of children aged 5-10  don’t think so, instead believing they should be involved in decisions about what their family spends money on, yet  29% of adults said they would feel awkward discussing their earnings with friends and family.

Whilst you don’t need to let your 10 year old read your old bank statements, it can be very beneficial to make money an open, safe topic in the home.

However, it can be daunting to discuss money matters as a family. For a lot of people, keeping quiet about money is learned behaviour, with half of those polled admitting they never had discussions about personal finances with adults during their own childhood.

Managing Director of Morgan Stanley Wealth Management Glenn Kurlander calms the fears of parents worrying that talking about money is opening Pandora’s Box:

“If we try to force the lid down, we’re really teaching our kids that there is something inside the box to fear; something so dangerous and harmful that we don’t even talk about it. If that’s the lesson we teach our kids, we’re not starting them off on the road to forming a healthy relationship with wealth.”

The Money Advice Service concur:

“Some parents worry about exposing their children to money too early because they want to protect them from adult pressures. But helping your child to understand and respect money from an early age will help them manage it better when they’re an adult.”

Children are naturally very inquisitive and perceptive, so your financial circumstances are probably evident in your lifestyle. If your children go to a private school and you drive a new Audi, they certainly won’t be oblivious to the fact you are wealthy. Equally, if you are struggling to make ends meet and have a lot of contact from creditors, chances are they will notice.

Talking with your children is a good way to gauge what their thoughts are on finances, and take control with how they handle their own accounts in the future. For example, you might live a lavish lifestyle, but are worried your children won’t know the value of money. Or, you might be struggling to make ends meet and panic that your child is going without, or will feel afraid. Unless you take action, you can’t be sure that your anxieties won’t become real.

There are simple ways to involve your children in money making decisions. For instance, if you’re on a tight budget, let your children be involved in money saving. When you go to the supermarket, let them help you work out which is the cheapest cereal, or bread, and see if you can beat your “score” next time you do a shop. If you’re worried they don’t appreciate the luxuries they are allowed, make them manage their own budget on a trip – give them a set allowance (£10 for example), and make sure that’s all they spend that day.

Walk the talk?

A crucial piece of advice from Kurlander is to “walk the talk”. Learning by example is a key part of a child’s development, so it’s essential that what you want to teach your children about money lines up with how you behave – otherwise the sentiment is meaningless. Sometimes this in itself can make it challenging to bring up the topic of finance, but for some it can be the very mirror needed to make us take action and iron out our bad habits.

For more tips on opening up the lines of communication with your children, read our guide to teaching your children about money.

If you’re struggling with your finances and want to talk to one of our friendly, professional advisers, give them a call today.

Another Price Hike For TalkTalk

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

Telecoms provider TalkTalk has increased the cost of its value line rental for the second time this year, and the firm say they have not ruled out additional increases.

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Harrington Brooks’ switching service ensures our customers always get the best deals.

Their initial price rise in April took their costs from £126 to £141 per year. This has now risen to £172 per year – a rise of almost £50 in 4 months.

The value line rental allows customers to pay a year’s bills upfront in order to get a cheaper deal. Thus, existing customers will only be affected when they come to renew their deal, though for new customers the effects of the price hike are immediate.

No other packages are affected by the change in price as yet, but TalkTalk say they have not ruled out increases for other packages in the future.

We know a rise in bills can be tough when you’re on a tight budget, and it can be confusing working out the best deal for your needs. That’s why at Harrington Brooks we offer a free comparison and switching service for all our customers, to save you money and time while you work towards becoming debt free.

Solicitors for the Elderly Acceptance for HB Legal Service

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

Kerry Blackhurst Head of My Care Claim and Director of Harrington Brooks’ in house solicitors Castle Keep Law has been accepted as a member of the national association ‘Solicitors for the Elderly’ (SFE).

The aim of this national association is to improve the knowledge and service provided on legal issues including, tax planning, wills, enduring powers of attorney, long-term social and health care and other retirement issues.

The aim of this national association is to improve the knowledge and service provided on legal issues including, tax planning, wills, enduring powers of attorney, long-term social and health care and other retirement issues.

The aim of this national association is to improve the knowledge and service provided on legal issues including, tax planning, wills, enduring powers of attorney, long-term social and health care and other retirement issues.

Castle Keep Law provides a variety of specialist legal services at reasonable prices.

Within Castle Keep Law is My Care Claim, who specialise in legal issues for the elderly, particularly the reclamation of fees that should be covered through the NHS.

Kerry’s membership of SFE will provide clients with the assurance that Castle Keep Law has wide ranging expertise in providing legal services for older people.

Kerry said:

” I have been specialising in legal services for the elderly for (several/many) years, and am looking forward to continuing my development in this area so that I am able to give my clients and colleagues first class legal advice in a field of law which is constantly evolving, as the requirements of the elderly population change.”

Money Worries Worse for Relationships Than In-Laws

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

30% of couples say most of the stress in their relationship is caused by finances, with 9% citing their children and just 4% blaming their in-laws, according to a survey by American Express. 45% of couples say that discussions on household finances result in arguments.

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Most couples avoid discussions about finances.

When asked who spends more outside of household expenditure, 40% of people believed their partner spent more, and the same number felt they were more diligent than their partner when it came to budgeting and saving money.

More than half of couples feel that they have made a mistake with money since being in a relationship, and would change the way they manage their cash if they could go back in time, including spending more responsibly and putting more into savings.

A massive 91% of people avoid talking about finances with their partner, with less than a third knowing how much debt they carry as a couple. 80% of couples share their debt with their partner, though this drops to 57% among young professionals.

If debts are putting a strain on you, or you are concerned about a joint debt, contact Harrington Brooks today. Our friendly advisers are trained to help you assess your circumstances and select the best financial solution for your needs. For more information on joint debts, go to IVAs with joint debts.

IVAs At Highest Ever Level

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

The amount of individual voluntary arrangements registered has increased by over 20% in the past year, with 14,571 registered in the April-June quarter of 2014. This has lead to a 5.1% increase in the number of people who became insolvent compared to last year, despite the number of bankruptcies and and debt relief orders decreasing.

The number of company liquidations, administrations, receiverships and and company voluntary arrangements also decreased over the last 12 months.

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Visit harringtonbrooks.co.uk/iva for more information on what entering into an IVA involves, and how it compares with other financial solutions. You can also view the full Insolvency Service statement and report.

Coronation Street Bailiffs Storyline “Disgusting”

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

Bailiffs hit the cobbles in Coronation Street this week, as the Windass/Armstrong clan watch their possessions seized after failing to pay their debts. The scenes were not easy watching, and certainly tougher for those viewers struggling with arrears. But how much of the drama could become reality, and what happens if you find yourself facing repossessions?

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The soap’s portrayal of debt collection has left many viewers angered.

Defenders of soaps argue they are purely dramatic and created for entertainment. But it is a shame that an institution such as Coronation Street could not deal with a topic which affects thousands of its viewers with the same sensitivity it has dealt with other social issues, such as the recent Hayley Cropper euthanasia story line.

 

Whilst creative license is always presumed in Soapland, glaring inaccuracies like the ability of 12 year old Faye to give bailiffs access to the property when it was otherwise vacant, only fuel the myths and scaremongering used by less scrupulous creditors.

Living with debt can be a daily struggle, and adding to a culture of fear can only spread denial and inaction, particularly if it leads viewers to wrongly believe the only possible result of debt issues is bankruptcy. In reality, there are a number of options available to those struggling with repayments, including a debt management plan or IVA.

Viewers vented their frustrations online, commenting that the episode was “disgusting”, “nonsense” and “very poor”.

What can be done if repossession becomes your reality?

Know your rights and the process that creditors follow to gain payment, so you can act accordingly if a bailiff or debt collector behaves in an inappropriate manner. If you are concerned about legal action, our solicitors at Castle Keep Law are friendly, professional experts who can guide you as to what to do in your circumstances.

Addressing your debts is the main course of action to take when faced with bailiffs and repossession. Our financial advisers will talk through your debts and income, and help you decide on the best financial solution to your problems.

MP Mike Kane Visits Harrington Brooks HQ

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, Mike Kane, visited our Manchester office today, to gain an insight into our industry and to speak with our staff, as well as with representatives from our charity of the year Forever Manchester.

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A Q&A session with some of our 600 staff

As we are the 3rd largest employer within his constituency (behind Manchester Airport and Wythenshawe Hospital), employing over 600 people, a tour of the office gave the Labour MP an insight into the working environment for a large portion of the local community.

Staff members from each department were invited to an informal question and answer session, in which we discussed charity work within the community, the changes in the law to the payday loan industry, and how difficulty in claiming NHS care home fees was affecting constituents.

(from left) Jed Murray and Nic Massey of Forever Manchester, Mike Kane, Jodi Hamilton of Harrington Brooks

(from left) Jed Murray and Nic Massey of Forever Manchester, Mike Kane, Jodi Hamilton of Harrington Brooks

Mr Kane has campaigned alongside Stella Creasy for change to the payday lending sector, for which he said the next step would be to limit the amount of payday loans to be taken out at any single time by a person, in a similar regulation style to America (where only one payday loan can be taken out at any one time).

Caroline Wayman Becomes New Chief Ombudsman

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

Financial_Ombudsman_Service_logoPrinciple ombudsman and legal director of the Financial Ombudsman Service, Caroline Wayman, has been named as the new chief ombudsman, following Natalie Ceeney’s decision to step down from the position.

 

Wayman has been with the FOS for 14 years, after training as a barrister and working in the insurance sector. She said of her appointment:

“I’m delighted and proud to be given the opportunity to build on the very best of what the ombudsman has always been about – and lead the service into our next crucial phase.”

Chairman of the FOS Sir Nicholas Montagu congratulated Wayman on her new role, commenting:

“Caroline defines everything that is best about the ombudsman – and she will bring freshness, bold thinking and vigorous action to our plans for the future. As chief ombudsman she will ensure the service stays relevant and attuned to the needs of our customers, consumers and businesses.”

What is the Financial Ombudsman Service?

The FOS exists to be an impartial decision maker in complaints that cannot be resolved between consumers and financial institutions. It was set up by parliament, and is free to consumers.

 

FCA: Insurance Price Comparison Sites Confusing and Unclear

Posted by Charlotte Campbell on

A review into price comparison websites by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) has found that consumers are not given the appropriate information to help them make informed decisions about the products they are buying and had failed to implement Guidance published in 2011.Office work

The review also found that a number of sites did not make it clear to consumers what service they provided, leading many to incorrectly assume that the prices and policies presented to them had taken into account their suitability for the product as well as their individual needs.

The FCA found that focus was mainly on price, while other important considerations such as excess costs for a claim are not factored in.

A number of price comparison sites were also found to have broken FCA regulation by failing to make clear the potential conflict of interest through ownership by an insurance provider.

The FCA’s director of supervision, Clive Adamson, commented:

“Our review found that they were not meeting our requirements in delivering fair and consistent outcomes for consumers. We also found, through our consumer research, that consumers had a number of misconceptions about the services they provided.”

Head of Ask Insurance, Amanda Smith, agrees:

“It is easy for consumers to get drawn in by the low quotes and cuddly collectables given by online comparison sites. Especially, in the current climate, when families are working within limited budgets.

The idea behind them is based on the old fashioned insurance broker, who would take the customers information search a panel of providers with a view to find the most suitable product for the clients circumstances within their price range.

With the uprising of comparison sites consumers thinking they can do this for themselves often come unstuck when they try to make a claim. It is at this point they discover, to their cost, that the policy doesn’t provide the cover they thought. Or the policy has been loaded with large excesses, or a deferred waiting period. Sadly, at this point it is too late and what the consumer may have saved does not equal what they have now lost.

Having the right cover is always important especially when considering Life Assurance. Many people think they can get cheaper cover from comparison sites, discovering you have unknowingly chosen the wrong cover, at the point you’ve lost a loved one can be traumatic.

A professional qualified adviser can provide details of the most suitable policy based on price whilst making them aware of any exclusions and/or limitations.”