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The Harrington Brooks Blog

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

The Harrington Brooks guide to surviving the work Christmas party

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Make sure you’re prepared for Christmas party season with our top tips for the staff do.

Christmas party girls staff do survival tips

Be prepared

The biggest advantage you have during a night out is to have a fully charged phone, as you’ll be needing to make calls, take selfies, send drunken texts and more. It pays to keep your phone charged. Alternatively you could keep a mobile charger with you. They cost around £12 and can provide up to 40% of battery life – and they fit easily in to a pocket. If you’re going on a bar crawl make sure you know the route or places your colleagues will be at. And then you won’t be a billy-no-mates by the time it’s midnight.

How to handle work ‘mingle’ situations

If you happen to work for a large company there will be people who you may be meeting or talking to for the first time. In this situation don’t be afraid to mingle. It’s a chance to talk to senior managers and colleagues in other areas of the business in a relaxed environment. It may be worth finding out what their skills are and how they can help you. A decent rule of thumb is to spend 5-10 minutes chatting before moving on. Don’t hog their conversation or time.

Have a back-up plan if you need to stay late or leave early

As with any party things change and the tables can turn. If you plan on leaving early but then realise you want to stay and party like it’s 1999 make sure you have a back-up plan to deal with the consequences. Things like budgeting for a cab or even booking a hotel room may come in to play if things have unfolded during the night. Likewise if you need to leave early make sure you’re prepared in case you need to grab a cab or explain why you’re not using your planned lift home.


For some people it can be an Achilles heel and is a virtual gateway to behaving crazier than normal. This can include revealing those office secrets, declaring your love for a member of staff or telling the management what you really think of them. Worse still you take your work phone with you and decide to send an all-office e-mail featuring a blow-by-blow synopsis of the people you don’t like whilst using a comic font. Or emojis if you’re really drunk. The simple advice if you’re drinking is to not go overboard. Otherwise you could do something that may put your job at risk and later regret.

Take one for the team

There will always be someone who decides that acting crazy or inhaling helium from the balloons will gain kudos with their peers. They may have drunk too much and are in no fit state to continue. Or they are the obligatory person who has got over-emotional and starts crying like Rylan from the X-factor. If this is the case it’s always worth doing the decent thing and either having a word, shipping them off in a cab or being a shoulder to cry on when their running mascara makes them look like a member of Kiss. While they may not appreciate the sentiment at the time, they will thank you for it in the morning – especially if it keeps them in a job.

When the after party goes wrong

Depending on where your party is there may be a few of you that decide to carry on once the official formalities are through. This usually involves going on to a bar, casino or otherwise to continue the festive frivolities. Some people will normally think in advance and book a hotel. If however your colleagues find a way back to your pad, whilst being intoxicated, you’ll need to make sure they don’t trash your room or cause any other sort of nuisance. If you’ve paid with a card you may find your account is later debited with the costs of any damage should you or your guests decide to wreck the joint…purposely or not. If this could be a problem for you we suggest paying with cash.

Staying out may save the stress of getting a cab

There are typical scenes during Christmas party season, one of which is the rush to flag down a cab after the party ends. It’s usually true to say that trying to get a cab after a night out can be nightmare and expensive. And when every office decides to have a party it can be twice as hard. To avoid such a first-world problem you could try planning ahead and booking a hotel, check what’s cheaper. The other options could be to find a late night bar or café where you can relax until the demand for taxis has dropped. If you were being extremely frugal you could even try to get the first morning train or bus back home.

And last but not least…

Social Media

Most people have a social media presence. Unfortunately this can be a disadvantage should you decide to upload unflattering pictures or comments on a work night out. Yet again this ties in to the decision making process which can be affected by the consumption of alcohol. What may seem to be a great idea at the time can be regretted ten-fold in the morning. While we can’t control what you drink we can help you control who you call and what you may post through an app called Drunk Mode. This limits who you can contact once you start drinking. It will even help you re-trace your steps the morning after. You’ll find it on Apple and Android app stores.

Some places of work now include a social media clause regarding the posting of messages about the company or otherwise. If you’re in any doubt don’t do it!

Beat the January Blues

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Most of you will have experienced the January blues…and it can be worse if you’re scared to even look at your bank balance to see how much you’ve spent after Christmas. Read our blog for some top avoidance tips on how to escape that depressing January feeling.

January blues

It’s OK to say no – be honest about it

In the run up to Christmas you may feel pressure to buy gifts for family, friends or relatives. If your finances can’t stretch to it then don’t spend it. Most people will respect your decision not to buy presents if you explain. Make sure you plan and budget for all the festive purchases including gifts, decorations, food, entertaining and so on. It can really mount up and it’s easy to lose track unless you plan ahead. Being realistic and sensible about what you can afford will help you avoid that feeling of fear when you check your bank balance in the new year.

Open the mail and check your statements – more fraud happens in January!

A common theme for a lot of people during December and January is not checking their bank statements or balance – simply because they can be scared seeing how overdrawn they are or how much they have spent. Knowing what you are spending and what you have left will help you budget effectively. It’s also important as credit card fraud reaches a peak in January – so check your statements for any unusual behaviour.

Monitor what you’re spending

Make sure you gain access to online and mobile banking, if you haven’t already done so, as this provides lots of ways that’ll help you monitor what you’re spending. You could even ask your bank provider to alert you when your balance falls to a certain level. If you need help setting this up message or call your bank. They should be happy to provide guidance. It’s also worth getting regular balance statements from the cash machine before shopping sprees. The key thing is to set a budget and try to stick to it.

Don’t get carried away – make rational spending choices

With festive cheer and Christmas parties in the air it can be easy to get carried away. Before you buy it or make a commitment, ask yourself if it’s necessary and if it’s good value for money. Christmas can be a time of excessive spending so make sure you don’t go overboard.

Review your finances – or plan to

If you plan on making some changes in the new year then it’s worthwhile reviewing your finances beforehand. It’s good financial practice to look carefully at your incomings and out goings regularly – but especially if you need to make savings or trim your spending. You may realise that you’re paying for something you don’t need or could get cheaper elsewhere.

Budget for any credit card repayments in January

During November, December, and even in the January sales a lot of us are tempted to spend on our credit cards. If you’ve done this remember to budget for either paying it off or at least making the minimum payment when it’s due. This will help avoid bad effects to your credit rating. If you’re at risk of missing any contractual payments speak to the relevant provider immediately to help resolve any potential issues further down the line.

Don’t forget your council tax payment break

Most of you who pay council tax will pay it over a 10, 11 or 12 month period depending on the area you live in and your circumstances. If you don’t pay over 12 months then you’re due to have a payment break sometime between February and March. Consider the effect this may have on your budget or payments.


Creating a financial buffer to deal with any unexpected events or expenses can help you cope for a rainy day. It could be an unexpected bill, a sudden car repair or a jump in your heating costs. Knowing you have some spare cash in case of emergencies can make a huge difference when times are tough. As always, where you can, our advice is to save, save, save. A little often is also better than none at all.

Money Saving Dating Tips

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

You may be getting back in to the game after a while or simply need some friendly advice for a first date. It can be a dilemma deciding on whether to splash the cash to impress and deal with the consequences later, or be sensible because … well that’s what you can afford.  Whatever you decide, here are some helpful, money saving tips for that all important date.

woman with dating loveheart

Who should pay for the meal?

If you’re going for a meal, make sure you decide who is going to pay and preferably, if you can, split the bill. There is nothing more awkward than leaving it to the end of the night. Did you see First Dates recently or watch the social media debate?!  Such as shame as they were getting on so well until “that” point.

Uber cab

If you need to get a taxi then consider using Uber. Uber taxis usually cost less than a black or private hire cab which will save you cash or enable you to order dessert. If you’re new to the service then you can get money off your first ride with an introductory offer too. Everything is run through an app on your phone and you can see ratings from previous customers, a picture of the driver, the car registration and how far away it is. It makes you feel like you’re in safe hands, especially as you can also track it’s progress, enabling you to stay safe inside or under cover until it arrives.

Find a cheap place to park

If you’re using the car you may need to pay to park. Do some homework and see if you could save money on parking the car with free street parking or otherwise. Areas in lots of major cities have reduced parking costs after around 6pm. Or leave a bit of extra time and park a little further away if it’s safe to do so.

You don’t need a new outfit for a first date

If you’ve never met this person before then you don’t need to buy a new outfit. Unless in between arranging the date and the night you’ve lost all your clothes. Try a charity shop in an upmarket area of town or accessorise your favourite outfit to make it feel new. Chances are you may be able to find something that could help you get that second date.

Offer to be a hair model and save money

This can be a risky one, but you’d have to be very unlucky to suffer at the hands of this tip. So you may need to get your hair done before a date. If you choose to get your hair done by a stylist in training then it will be considerably cheaper than a qualified stylist. Most trainee hairdressers are given guidance by an expert that’s present during the cut. The chances of coming out of the salon with a crazy head of hair are likely to be slim.

Use own brand hair and beauty products

Why not at least try substituting some of the branded products you use with cheaper own brand alternatives? Face masks and hair products can be expensive, but many own brand beauty products are manufactured by the same names. Using own brand shaving creams and moisturisers may not be as flashy but they work just as well. So don’t forget to have a look around the aisles and ask your mates if they can recommend money saving products.

And just in case you need some pointers…

Conversation topics aside from the usual stuff about jobs, music tastes and where they live…

  • Food; everyone likes to relive their fav meal or drink
  • Pets; most of us are a sucker for a cute or lovable pet
  • TV shows or movies you enjoy – but don’t give away the storyline
  • Travel; near or far, why not share your best travel destinations
  • Good Samaritan? Ask if they do charity or volunteer work, especially if you do too
  • What do your friends say about you and why?
  • Do they have a nick name?

In any conversation, use a follow up question to help avoid any dreaded silences e.g. Would you have done that differently when you were younger? Do you still find time to do that? Are you still as passionate about it as you first were?

Things to steer clear of

  • Any overtly personal questions – such as “how much do you earn or how old are you?”
  • Any ex partners or sorry love storiesyou’ll sound like an Adele or Taylor Swift song if you’re not careful
  • The weatherit’s a sign of desperation and usually signals that you’ve run out of things to say.

Live like James Bond, spend like Mr Bean

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

While Daniel Craig makes another outing as 007 in Spectre we take a look at the things he, and you, could save money on…while spending wisely.



It’s likely that you’re not driving an Aston Martin but anyone who wants to drive will need insurance. If you don’t drive as recklessly as 007 then it’s worth getting a telematics device (commonly known as a black box) fitted to your car. This will monitor how you drive and rewards safer drivers with cheaper premiums.


The gadgets at 007’s disposal may be a world away. But that doesn’t mean you can’t save a pound or two. When it comes to mobile phones make sure you either amend your contract or upgrade once you get to the end of it. And re-cycle any old phones that you don’t use. Turning down the brightness on tablets or using energy saving mode on your TV will also save some cash. If your lifestyle is ‘all action’ then it’s also worth checking out insurance for gadgets. You may already have some cover if you have a packaged bank account or home insurance, meaning you don’t have to pay big bucks if your gadgets ever break.

Eating out

If you’ve never seen a Bond film then you won’t know about his near constant flirtation with the opposite sex over dinner. If you have a tendency to wine and dine on a regular basis then having a hunt around online for discount codes is highly recommended. If you’re stuck for a place to start you could try e-bay for cheap second hand gift vouchers. If you’re an O2 customer then take a look at the Priority Moments app – but remember that data charges will apply.


Regardless of what Bond is doing he always looks good. As you may not have a spare £900 to spend on a Tom Ford suit you can still dress like a secret agent for a fraction of the price. A useful piece of advice is to head to your nearest Oxfam or charity shop in a rich or well-to-do neighbourhood. This is because the quality of clothing donations in these areas is likely to be quite good. So while the threads may be second hand, the prices you pay won’t be first rate.


007 does like a tipple or two, but buying alcohol isn’t always cheap. There are only a couple of real bits of advice we can give to you about saving money when buying booze. This first is not to drink at all or at least try going dry for a month to save some cash. The second piece of advice is to shop wisely. Last year the Telegraph featured an article with research from This mentioned the times of year when alcohol brands such as Stella, Blossom Hill and Famous Grouse are most likely to be sold at a discounted price. You don’t have to act like a super agent to get a decent price.

Exchange rates

There are very few cities in the world that James Bond hasn’t visited. If you’re ever going away the biggest and easiest piece of advice we can give is never to get currency at the airport. The exchange rate is far worse. Think ahead and do a bit of research to get the best exchange rate deals.


Being a double agent isn’t easy. But you’ll always need to scrub up for whatever you’re doing. And that means not smelling like you’ve just run a marathon. The Fragrance Shop and Perfume Shop are good places to start for well priced smells. In the run up to Christmas Boots are usually good for offers too. In case you need to know the difference – eau de perfume/parfum lasts longer than eau de toilette. So while it may cost more you’ll need less over the course of a day.

Harrington Brooks Statement Regarding CashEuroNet

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

CashEuroNet, trading as QuickQuid and Pounds to Pocket has become the latest payday lender to be told by the FCA to pay out £1.7 million in compensation to customers.

CashEuroNet UK LLC, trading as Quick Quid and Pounds to Pocket has agreed with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) to provide redress to almost 4,000 customers to the value of £1.7m. This follows concerns raised by the FCA about the firm’s lending criteria.

An independent Skilled Person was appointed by the FCA in September 2014 to review CashEuroNet’s lending decisions which revealed that some customers were able to borrow amounts greater than they could afford to repay.

CashEuroNet has made changes to its lending criteria and has reassessed all loans that have been granted since 1 April 2014 and which were in arrears for 30 days or more against the new criteria.

The 3,940 affected customers will receive redress totalling £1.7 million as follows:

  • 2523 customers will have their current loan balance written off.
  • 961 customers will be paid a cash refund of interest paid on the unaffordable element of the loan, and;
  • 456 customers will receive both a cash refund and have their current loan balance written off.

There is further information on the websites of Quick Quid and Pounds to Pocket. 

Customers do not need to take any action. Any customers that have taken loans out with QuickQuid or Pounds to Pocket do not need to take action, as CashEuroNet will be contacting their borrowers directly, intending to fully complete the redress exercise within the next 60-90 days.

Once contacted by CashEuroNet, if the redress you are entitled to affects your debt management plan with Harrington Brooks we will contact you to ensure that your plan and payments are appropriately reviewed.

If you’re currently worried about your finances, have unsecured debts from personal borrowing and would like to speak confidentially to an advisor who can talk to you about the benefits and considerations of a range of debt solutions and personal insolvency solutions, then please get in touch by calling 0800 048 1764. You can also visit to request a call back at a time to suit you. By requesting a call, you are under no obligation to use our services. Harrington Brooks provide solutions to customers living in England, Scotland and Wales.

Should you choose to undertake a plan or arrangement, there may be consequences to consider, including restrictions on future expenditure, lending and on your ability to obtain further or future credit. Fees, terms and conditions apply. For further information and advice please visit

The services that we provide may be available at no cost from other government and charity based providers. Further information can be obtained from the Money Advice Service at


Harrington Brooks Statement Regarding Dollar Financial UK

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

The Money Shop, Payday UK, Payday Express and Ladder Loans (Dollar Financial UK) is to refund over £15.4 million to 147,000 customers

In July 2014, Dollar Financial UK better known as The Money Shop, Payday UK, Payday Express and Ladder Loans was investigated by the FCA to ensure that customers were being treated fairly and that their practices were in keeping with the appropriate specifications.

The report revealed that the company has been lending sums that their customers cannot afford to repay and have therefore been ordered by the FCA to rectify this issue. This problem has been attributed to Dollar’s debt collection practices, affordability checks and systems errors.

The FCA’s Director of Supervision – Retail and Authorisations, Jonathan Davidson, has stressed the importance of these checks, stating that the FCA believe that “Dollar is committed to putting things right for its customers.”

Dollar Financial UK’s redress relates to affordability loans taken out between 1 April 2014 and 30 April 2015, and collection loans between 1 January 2013 and 30 April 2015.

  • 65,000 customers will receive cash refunds
  • 67,000 customers will have their current loan balance reduced
  • 15,000 customers will receive a combination of these two techniques.

Further information has been made available for customers here

Any customers that have taken loans out with any of the Dollar brands (The Money Shop, Payday UK, Payday Express and Ladder Loans) during the above dates do not need to take action, as the company will be contacting their borrowers directly during November and December 2015, intending to fully complete the redress by early 2016.

Dollar have confirmed to Harrington Brooks that the following process will be applied:

  1. Each account will be assessed and client will receive a personal loan refund breakdown if they qualify for a refund. This will show what they have borrowed, what they have been charged, and what they should have been charged.
  2. The redress will be applied to the balance outstanding of the loan in first instance.
  3. If there is any credit this will be send directly to customer’s bank accounts.
  4. If there is any balance still to pay the customer will be notified on the refund breakdown that they need to still pay a given amount.

Once contacted by Dollar, if the redress you are entitled to affects your debt management plan with Harrington Brooks we will contact you to ensure that your plan and payments are appropriately reviewed.

Further information is available on The Money Shop, Payday UK, Payday Express and Ladder Loans websites.

If you’re currently worried about your finances, have unsecured debts from personal borrowing and would like to speak confidentially to an advisor who can talk to you about the benefits and considerations of a range of debt solutions and personal insolvency solutions, then please get in touch by calling 0800 048 1764. You can also visit to request a call back at a time to suit you. By requesting a call, you are under no obligation to use our services. Harrington Brooks provide solutions to customers living in England, Scotland and Wales.

Should you choose to undertake a plan or arrangement, there may be consequences to consider, including restrictions on future expenditure, lending and on your ability to obtain further or future credit. Fees, terms and conditions apply. For further information and advice please visit

The services that we provide may be available at no cost from other government and charity based providers. Further information can be obtained from the Money Advice Service at

40% of adults not in control of their finances

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Figures released by the Money Advice Service point to a number of startling facts on how people manage their finances.

These include:

  • 20% of people can’t read a bank statement
  • 21 million adults don’t have £500 in savings to help cover unexpected bills
  • Of 8 million adults who have problems with debt only 16% are seeking help.

Alongside their findings the Money Advice Service and Financial Capability Board have also released a 10 year Financial Capability Strategy. This aims to educate and improve people’s approach to dealing with money.

“What the Strategy can and will do is build levels of financial capability to enable more people to navigate changes in their financial circumstances when they occur and help them manage the money they do have.”

Executive Summary, Financial Capability Strategy for the UK

The strategy will look at specific areas including people in financial difficulties, older people in retirement and children and young people.

Educating people on how to manage their finances, as the strategy outlines, is something we strongly believe in. Throughout 2014/15 colleagues in the One Advice Group, of which Harrington Brooks debt management is a part, held a number of “Financial Education for Future Generation” sessions for local students. During the interactive sessions we talked to students of all ages about the consequences of spending and lending and offer simple budgeting tips to keep a track on income and expenditure. You can read more about it in our blog.

Total Individual Insolvencies up in third quarter of 2015 

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Total individual insolvencies have increased for the first time since the second quarter of 2014 according to Insolvency Service figures.

Reporting on third quarter figures, for 2015, analysis shows that bankruptcies and debt relief orders are falling. However it was a rise in the number of Individual Voluntary Arrangements (IVAs) that caused the increase in total individual insolvency.

The report highlighted:

  • bankruptcies are at their lowest level since Q4 1990
  • DROs were at the lowest level since Q4 2009.

The figures also indicate that the number of bankruptcies would decrease as people opt for a DRO which was introduced in 2009.

In terms of IVAs alone there was a 9.3% increase from Q2 2015 in the following quarter. When comparing IVA figures in Q3 of 2014 there was an actual decrease of 17.9%.

Total individual insolvency comparison with the same quarter in 2014 shows an 18.5% decrease in total.

Earlier this year the Insolvency Service also released figures showing that the number of women facing insolvency proceedings overtook men in 2014.


Tax Credit cuts for 2016 rejected

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

Changes to tax credits, due to be introduced in April 2016 and 2017, have been delayed after not being approved by the House of Lords.

Who would the Tax Credit Cuts affect?

The proposed changes were predicted to hit financially vulnerable people the hardest. This was further underlined through an independent report by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

“An analysis by researchers at the Institute for Fiscal Studies finds that the package of changes to tax, tax credits and benefits will reduce household incomes significantly, particularly for those towards the bottom of the income distribution.” 

Institute for Fiscal Studies

After the decision Chancellor George Osborne signalled that he would listen to opposition comments regarding the cuts and potentially amend the initial proposals. This comes after another decision to support pausing the changes until independent analysis was carried out on the impacts of the proposed cuts.

Letters were scheduled to be sent out by the government in December detailing the changes until they were rejected.


Consumer Rights Act 2015

Posted by Kalpesh Bhandari on

The 1st of October sees a change in consumer law. The Consumer Rights Act 2015 will see revisions to the rights for consumers to make it clearer, fairer and bring it up to date to also cover digital content.

Some of the key points covered are:

  • What should happen when goods are faulty (including a 30 day window to return faulty goods).
  • Unfair terms in a contract.
  • What happens when a business is acting in a way which isn’t competitive.

There is also new protection in two areas for:

  • Digital purchases (such as downloadable games, e-books or online films) and what should happen if goods are inadequate or faulty.
  • How services should match up to what has been agreed, and what should happen when they do not or when they are not provided with reasonable care and skill. (e.g. giving some money back if it is not practical to bring the service into line with what was agreed).


When the new act was given Royal Assent in March 2015 the then Business Secretary, Vince Cable, described it as:

“The biggest shake up of consumer law for a generation, bringing legislation in line with the fact many people now buy online.”

In May 2015, some new rules of the Consumer Rights Act already came into force. These are:

  • Letting agents are required to publicise a full tariff of their fees – this applies in England only.
  • Additional requirements on those selling tickets via secondary ticketing channels (such as Ebay, StubHub and licensing requirements for street traders or ticket touts).

Alternative Dispute Resolution

In the event that a dispute can’t be resolved consumers can seek what is known as Alternate Dispute Resolution (ADR).

In certain areas customers can already seek ADR through related industry bodies. These include Ofgem for the energy providers, the Financial Ombudsman Service for financial services and the Civil Aviation Authority for the travel Industry.

As some consumer areas may not have a designated regulator the Consumer Ombudsman would be a useful place to start. They can help as an independent body to help you resolve a dispute with a company.

Though before you speak to any relevant regulator the Consumer Ombudsman advise that you try to seek resolution with the provider first.

But if the company you have a dispute with isn’t forthcoming to resolve the dispute through ADR then there may be little you could do other than to pursue legal action. 

Further Reading

To see how the 2015 Consumer Rights Act could affect everyday transactions and purchases take a look at the Citizens Advice website which features a number of scenarios where the act would apply.

There’s a PDF version of the 2015 Consumer Rights Act on the website.