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Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not ‘bonkers’, ‘biased’ or ‘showing your true colours’

Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not  “bonkers”, “biased” or “showing your true colours

Why David Cameron writing for MoneySavingExpert is not “bonkers”, “biased” or “showing your true colours

According to some on Twitter today I’ve been "duped". That’s because David Cameron has written a guest piece for the site called ‘We will give pensioners security and dignity’. He asked if he could do it and we said, "why not?" After all, part of what MoneySavingExpert.com is about is providing a forum for people to engage in the big discussions and debates on consumer finance policy. 

Yet predictably there was the classic backlash. Here’s just a selection of some of the (nicer) anti-comments. I’ve picked the twitter ones as they’re shorter. Of course there were many who were supportive and found it interesting too…

  • @newviv: "@MartinSLewis I don’t approve of @David_Cameron using your website as a political platform."
  • @mheave: "@MartinSLewis @David_Cameron shame on you Martin. This man is vile, pernicious and plain evil to those struggling you try to help #irony."
  • @BillyWits: "Political spinning. You’ve been used Martin, the [obscenity deleted] has used you as you are perceived as trusted."
  • @harriet1dog: "I thought your site was meant to be impartial not a party political broadcast, is it Nigel Farage next week?"
  • @exnhsnurse1: "DC blog is party political broadcast. You are being used because you are a trusted source of financial advice."
  • @meljhenderson: "I can’t believe you’ve let him use this great website as a political platform. #disgraceful"
  • @mathewtedwards: "I think this is a BIG mistake! My constructive criticism would be to politely tell @David_Cameron you have reconsidered."

Yet many people when I responded were unaware of the wider context, some hadn’t actually read the blog, just responded to the fact Cameron was writing. This isn’t new, it isn’t biased, we have regularly offered oppportunities for senior politicians of all parties to write guest pieces for the site. (The only reason Ed Milliband hasn’t appeared is because we asked his team for a piece on energy and he didn’t seem keen; we have also asked for his comments on this issue today.)  

Here’s a list of just some of our past guest bloggers below. We’re also open to more guest pieces from senior politicians of all major parties (and it’d be nice to some get from SNP or Plaid Cymru too), as well as regulators and policymakers.

So, we haven’t been duped, what we have done, like many national newspapers also do, is provided a forum for important individuals who can change policy to try and justify their position, explain what they are planning to do and provided, within our own forum, a place for people to discuss it and give feedback about those issues. 

I consider that to be an important part of engagement with the political process within our MoneySaving community, which has 15 million monthly users. 

We are incredibly careful not to indicate in any way what our position is on these subjects. These are for the politicians to engage in. I think it is a perfectly decent way to behave – after all most national newspapers which do it tend to be biased towards an agenda. 

Our site’s stance is strictly apolitical. We do it as a form of engagement. We have even in the past done the MSE Leaders debate, where we asked all the parties for their views on key matters to consumers. 

So for those having a go, I think perhaps you needed to have done your research first.

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we’re going to call them ISAs

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we're going to call them ISAs

It seems an ISA is nicer than a NISA – so we're going to call them ISAs

Last March in the Budget, the Chancellor announced ISAs were to become new ISAs, or NISAs. The main changes were a bigger £15,000 limit, the ability for all of it to be cash savings (so more than doubling the tax-free savings cash limit in effect) and the ability to convert old shares ISAs into cash ISAs.

The new language of this was to call it a cash NISA – partly I suspect so the government could claim create for creating something new. When this started in July, we accordingly changed the name of our guides and started using the new language, as did many (N)ISA providers.

Yet the name hasn’t caught on, it’s confused many people and HMRC tells us "ISA is the correct term to use in line with HMT Regulations and HMRC Guidelines. NISA is purely a marketing/product/publicity term."

So from now, I’ve decided MoneySavingExpert.com is going to revert back to calling it the good old ISA (see the newly renamed Top cash ISAs and Top cash ISA transfer guides) and we suspect gradually over the next year to see everyone else who called it a NISA to retrench too.

Are mortgage affordability rules stopping you getting a cheap remortgage?

Are Mortgage affordability rules stopping you getting a cheap remortgage?

Are Mortgage affordability rules stopping you getting a cheap remortgage?

Over the last year the regulator has introduced stringent affordability rules on mortgage lending. These check all of your incomings and outgoings to see if you can repay not just at today’s rate but at rates of 6% or 7%. The laudable aim is to try and robustly protect you from overcommitting in the event of an interest rate rise.

It’s caused some friction: some are struggling to get deals, others can no longer borrow as much as they want. However, in general I think it’s a sensible move, with one rather large potential hole – and having raised this in passing to concerned senior representatives of the FCA , I told them I’d bash out a blog to see if I could put some more meat on the bones.

So having told you I’m worried there is a problem, let me explain it…

Have affordability rules put the kaibosh on your remortgage?

For those who already have mortgages, right now it is crunch time. Rates for new deals are almost at an all-time low, yet a rise in the UK base rate is getting closer, with most now predicting this will happen in mid to late 2015. So many people are sensibly looking to cut the costs of their existing mortgage deal and lock in a cheap rate now before rates rise. 

However, I’ve heard from a couple of people that they’ve struggled to get remortgage deals due to affordability criteria. To clarify, when I say a remortgage, I’m not taking about borrowing more money, ONLY about borrowing what you currently owe, but on a new cheaper deal. 

If affordability criteria are blocking people from doing that this is a serious problem. After all, it means you are on an expensive mortgage deal and are being told you can’t afford to move to a cheap mortgage deal – nonsense, you can certainly afford to pay less, more than you can afford to pay more. If that is happening, the system is broken.

There is room for lenders to have flexibility, the concern is they’re too scared to use it.

There is flexibility under the affordability rules in the system, but I’m hearing many lenders are struggling to try and incorporate the rules.  We’ve seen an explosion in the length of time new mortgage interviews take, and banks’ systems are nowhere near as efficient as brokers’.  Therefore you can see the attraction of just operating from a standardised rule book

So, have you tried to remortgage to a cheaper deal recently? If so, what was the attitude? Did you find it easy to get accepted? Or did the affordability criteria stop you and are you trapped in your existing deal? Please do let me know using the comments section at the end.

NB. If you’ve very low equity in your property and a very poor credit score, these have always been conditions that stop remortgaging – this is more specifically about affordability

Related Help:

Green energy is surprisingly unpopular

Green energy is surprisingly unpopular

Green energy is surprisingly unpopular

Last week we launched the MSE Big Winter Switch Event – a collective switch where we’ve used the huge user base of this site to negotiate what are mostly cheaper than the cheapest energy tariffs. While all the deals are hot, by far the hottest compared to its peers is the Green Tariff, yet while the event as a whole has been an enormous success, shockingly few have gone green – even though the differential between doing so and getting the cheapest non-green deal is much narrower than normal.

And this is despite the fact the deal coincides with the BBC leading its news programmes with a report on the increasing threat of global warming on the world’s resources.

The definition of green tariffs is a little tricky – and there are many different shades of green available. Some commit to a proportion of your fuel coming from green sources, others promise that 100% of your energy will be renewable. New proposals by the regulator Ofgem say that green tariffs must offer an environmental benefit over and above just supplying renewable energy – see more info on how we picked the Green Winner.

Before I tell you quite how few people went green, I want to set out the price numbers.

All the prices below are the average for someone with typical usage, paying by direct debit, with dual fuel – there are small regional variations.

It’s worth noting that someone on a standard tariff from one of the big six energy companies would be paying £1,180 a year.

Green Tariffs
MSE Big Switch Event Winner: Green Star Energy Collective Fix:

£1,055/yr

Next cheapest that fits new green criteria:

£1,232/yr

As you can see, normally most people would pay a premium to switch to get a green tariff, here you save substantially compared to a standard tariff, and it’s fixed for one year (do a comparison to find how much it’d cost you).

And it’s also only just over £100 more than the cheapest non-green tariff.  To contrast, here’s our non-green winner (which is also a 12 month fix).

Cheapest Tariffs
MSE Big Switch Event Winner: Eon 12mth Fix: £950/yr + 1,500 Eon points (convertible to 1,500 tesco points)
Next cheapest supplier on open market:

£974/yr

Yet staggeringly, of the many thousands of switchers we’ve had so far in our collective switch, only 0.36% of people who’ve switched have gone green.

I’m really surprised by that. We are MoneySavingExpert, so I wasn’t expecting more than 5% to go for it, but the number that did is far smaller than I expected, especially as the tariff is so competitive.  It seems strange as we often get many users lobbying us to include even more of the cheapest ethical and green choices within our guides than we do (we do it in quite a few already).  Yet in truth, very few people seem to be choosing to go that way.

 

MoneySaving health warning…

MoneySaving health warning…

You get 20% off at your favourite shop. It's so easy, you feel like doing it again. Before you know it, you're hooked and every element of your financial life is being attacked to cut costs

It starts with something soft. You get 20% off at your favourite shop. It’s so easy, you feel like doing it again, this time perhaps a code-stack or a bit of extreme couponing. Before you know it, you’re hooked and every element of your financial life is being attacked to cut costs – mortgage, credit card, PPI reclaims and more.

I’m afraid recently we’ve had a couple of emails from victims of such a habit, and I felt it was only responsible to publish them to alert others of the potential problem…

Dear MoneySavingExpert,
I am a total convert having taken time to do a financial review. Thanks to your wonderful recommendations and codes, in the last two months I have:

I have also been inspired to change the way I use my money and am encouraging my family and friends to do the same. 

Thank you for the fantastic job you do.

Kind regards,
Gill Acham

And it’s not just women who can catch this bug, the very next day after Gill emailed, we got this – the contagion is spreading…

Hi MoneySavingExpert.com team,
 
Just a huge thank you to you and the team!

  • Today I’ve just ordered a £400 VAX carpet cleaner for £140! (see Vax deals)
  • Earlier this year I made a claim using one of your templates and I received £199.95 compensation from Lufthansa for a late evening flight, three years ago, which was cancelled due to a mechanical problem until the following day. At the time Lufthansa had already paid for the overnight hotel and evening meal (see Flight delay reclaiming)
  • I received payment for wrongly sold Identity Protection Insurance (see CPP reclaiming – though this is now closed)
  • I have changed my gas/electricity deal and saved a substantial sum annually (see Cheap energy club)
  • I have followed your advice re home buildings and contents insurance premiums and what used to be a fairly high four-figure sum (which I had been paying for year-on-year and remaining loyal to the company, the name of which I will not mention) is now down to less than £500 all-in and actually includes some better cover/clauses. (See Cheap home insurance)

Keep up the good work. I’m happy and some of my favourite charities are also happy as I have been able to donate a little more than I normally would have.

Kind regards,
Tony

YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!