News & Insight

Our expert views and commentary on what’s happening in the world of mortgages and sometimes beyond, along with our regular summary of what the papers say.

What the papers say – 17th and 18th October 2015

Figures from the Office of National Statistics have revealed an increase in the average price of a first home to £215,000 in the last year, and the Times reported this weekend that the number of buyers dependent on a cash gift to raise the deposit is up by 25% as a result. The Bank of Mum and Dad is as important as ever, but for those who don’t want to hand over their savings there are alternative options, including guarantor mortgages, and famil...

What the papers say – 27th and 28th June 2015

The Independent reported this weekend on the increasing number of lenders offering interest only mortgages again, a figure which has doubled over the last 2 years. While the criteria has eased however, experts warned that there are still restrictions in place. With some lenders capping the maximum allowed on an interest only basis to 50% of the property value, it remains an option limited to those with large amounts of equity.The Independent on S...

And relax. Briefly...

The minutes of the June Monetary Policy Committee meeting carried unusual interest thanks to Mark Carney’s Mansion House speech, in which he suggested Base Rate could rise earlier than the markets expected.That led to a flurry of speculation (guilty!) that perhaps there was dissent growing within the Committee. Was there dispute over the outlook? Had someone actually voted for a rise?In fact, the minutes reflect a remarkably muted discussion. The...

What the papers say – 14th and 15th December 2013

The Sunday Times reported this weekend that Aldermore Bank has become the first lender to offer remortgage deals up to 95% loan-to-value under the new Help to Buy initiative. The Guardian revealed that Virgin Money has joined the scheme and their products will also be available to those looking to remortgage up to 90%. These schemes could prove useful to borrowers currently stuck on a high Standard Variable Rate, although brokers advised homeowne...

Life insurance companies make further improvements to critical illness cover

In a little over a month,  LV=,  Zurich and Aviva have all made further improvements to their critical illness policies in an effort to stay ahead of the game and gain meaningful share of the critical illness market.   These are the latest in a series of changes to critical illness insurance in recent years and it is important to understand which changes provide relevant benefits to a significant number of people, as opposed to those that have en...

Buying a protection policy online may have pitfalls

A recent poll by The Protection Review showed that 62% of advisers have concerns about the emerging execution only protection market where clients select and buy their own life insurance on line. The availability of online policies is intended to make the protection market more accessible, allowing individuals to buy policies without advice and help bridge the frequently talked about ‘protection gap’. However, with growing complexity of policies ...

Cancer patients struggle with bills

Recent research from cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support has revealed that around 27,000 cancer patients could be behind with their fuel bills and owe their fuel providers almost £3million.    The poll of cancer patients indicated that more than half were worried about the cost of heating their homes over the winter.As a result three in ten had turned off their heating and a further one in three said they had even put on outdoor clothing in o...

Act now to beat G-Day price hikes

Many of us will have already heard about the Gender Directive in the press (or seen it on our website!) but how many of us have really sat up and taken notice. This European Directive will see the use of gender as a factor in setting insurance premiums prohibited.  This will take effect from 21st December and will affect all types of insurance including life insurance.  From that point on insurers will have to price male and female policies at th...

Availability of new lifesaving childhood cancer treatment could be a postcode lottery.

A frightening story for all parents appeared on the BBC news website this morning.  The news that whilst a pioneering, life saving cancer treatment has been developed for neuroblastoma, one of the deadliest forms of childhood cancer, it is not available for all. At a cost of £65,000 per child, some NHS primary care trusts are funding it, whilst others are saying no. This can leave parents in a desperate situation trying to raise the money through...

The chancellor says more benefits cuts are on the way.

At the recent Tory party conference the chancellor announced plans to cut a further £10bn from the benefits budget by 2016-17, if the current government are returned to power. This is on top of the £18billion savings announced in 2010. As ever they were quick to say any cuts would be well targeted and would not impact the weak and vulnerable. However the underlying message is clear; relying on the state for any decent standard of living in the ev...

Cancer Death Rates Set To Fall

Recent projections from Cancer Research UK predict that the rate of people dying from cancer will fall by 17 per cent by the year 2030.  Across all cancers that translates into a fall from 170 deaths per 100,000 in 2010 to a predicted 142 per 100,000 in 2030.Looking at specific cancers there are some extremely significant improvements expected. For example ovarian cancer is expected to see the biggest fall in people dying with death rates reducin...

Just 3 months to go before gender neutral pricing of insurance comes into force.

The EU Gender Directive will come into force on the 21st December 2012 (G day), which along with a raft of other tax and legislative changes, will lead to increases in the price of some protection insurance.  The Directive will make it illegal for insurers to charge different insurance premiums on the basis of gender, which means that women, who at present typically benefit from lower life insurance premiums than men, should be prepared for a ri...

What the papers say – 8th and 9th September 2012

The Sunday Times and Mail on Sunday had news this weekend of Government plans for a large-scale programme of house-building to kick start the dwindling property market and boost the economy. It is set to provide £10billion of loan guarantees to builders, and is pumping a further £280 million into its FirstBuy scheme. Proposals have also been released to relax planning rules, allowing homeowners more scope to add extensions and renovations to thei...

Latest statistics confirm over 90% of critical illness insurance claims are paid

Latest critical illness claims statistics from the major life insurers have revealed that the vast majority of claims are successfully being paid. This is contrary to the often held negative view of critical Illness policies, as it is often the “bad news” cases which are declined that are reported in the press.Critical illness policies provide a tax free cash payment to the policy holder upon diagnosis of specified serious illnesses, providing fi...

What the papers say – 7th and 8th July 2012

Last week’s announcement that ING will be increasing their Standard Variable Rate from 1st August prompted further discussion in this weekend’s financial press about increasing rates. Experts in the Sunday Express and Sunday Times suggested that many borrowers have been sitting happily on SVR for some time now, but recent movements such as this should act as a catalyst for homeowners to review their deal and consider remortgaging now. For those ...

81% of women unaware of impending rise in life and critical illness insurance cost

We carried out a survey recently which revealed that more than 80% of women are completely unaware of the forthcoming introduction of the European Gender Directive this year.It may sound very technical but the Directive, which comes into force on 21st December, will have a very real impact on the cost of life insurance. In a nutshell, the Directive prohibits insurers from pricing premiums based on gender, which means that companies will be forced...

What the papers say – 16th – 17th June 2012

The new ‘Funding for Lending’ scheme recently announced by George Osborne was the talk of the financial press this weekend, with industry experts both welcoming the move and questioning the impact it will ultimately have. Some brokers suggested in the Times that the plan to inject up to £140bn into the market could result in lower mortgage rates and more borrowers being successful in their loan applications, but others in the Mail on Sunday and S...

What the papers say – 9th – 10th June 2012

The Independent and the Sunday Times both reported this weekend on a recent survey from Lloyds TSB regarding the difficulties experienced by Second Time Buyers. It revealed that 1 in 6 are turning to the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’ in order to get financial help to make that move up the property ladder, despite many having already received help the first time round. High loan-to-value mortgages taken out in the last 5 years mean that there is little or...

Thirty Per Cent in the UK have no Protection

Recent figures suggest that 30% of all adults in the UK are uninsured against death, critical illness, and loss of income through accident, sickness and redundancy.  The poll of more than 2000 people for unbiased.co.uk also found that 8% have either cut back or stopped taking out insurance cover in the last 12 months.The tough economic climate is of course leading many to cut back on expenditure and make savings wherever possible.  However, allow...

What the papers say – 17th – 18th March 2012

The Government NewBuy scheme was the talk of the financial press this weekend, and reaction was definitely mixed. Under NewBuy, the taxpayer and housebuilders provide security for new build properties worth up to £500k, which acts as an indemnity for the mortgage lender in case of future repossession. Borrowers require a deposit of as little as 5%, and experts suggested that rates are reasonably competitive in comparison with standard deals. It w...

You’ve never had it so good

That is, it’s never been such a good time to buy life insurance. Rates have fallen in recent years as advancements in medical science have helped people live longer. However, the falling trend in rates could be about to end as two factors are likely to impact on the cost of this all-important cover.Firstly, the use of gender in determining prices for life insurance policies will not be permitted from 21st December 2012 following a ruling from the...

What the papers say - 15th-16th October 2011

With 319 different offset schemes now available both the Financial Times and Independent encourage borrowers to explore whether their savings will give a better return if they are used to offset their mortgage debt.  As the Sunday Times indicates the housing market recovery has stalled although some lenders are launching new products to try and help first time buyers return to the market.  The Times looked at whether it is time to switch mortgag...

What the papers say- 8th and 9th October 2011

With the launch of the first 2 year fixed rate under 2%, experts in this weekend’s financial press were keen to warn borrowers that they need to lock in now before lenders start to push rates back up over the coming weeks. The Financial Times , Sunday Telegraph and Sunday Times also highlighted the importance of looking at the total cost of a deal rather than just headline rates, as many of the lowest rates carry high arrangement fees that will n...

Cancer Rate Rising in Middle Aged

Recent figures from Cancer Research indicate that the incidence of cancer in the middle aged has risen by more than 20% in a generation.  Its findings indicate that 44,000 Britons were developed cancer in 1979 compared with 61,000 in 2008.This large increase is put down in part to the better screening for the disease, which means that more cases are diagnosed and at an earlier stage.  However, other lifestyle issues such as obesity and alcohol co...

Over half of UK adults have no life insurance

Over half of UK adults (56%) have no life insurance according to a new report from Scottish Widows. The research, as part of Scottish Widows’ Consumer Protection Report, estimated that 28 million people in the UK do not have any life insurance in place to protect their loved ones if something were to happen to them.The report, which polled 5,148 UK adults, highlighted common themes regarding people’s perception of life cover and in particular the...

What the papers say- 19th and 20th March 2011

First time buyers were given a boost in this weekend’ financial press, with the Telegraph and Sunday Times reporting on the new Lloyds Local Lend a Hand pilot scheme. The deal allows First Time Buyers to put down a deposit of 5% while the Local Authority provides a further 20%. Experts welcomed the initiative as a good alternative to the ‘Bank of Mum and Dad’, but some expressed concern over its launch at a time of public sector cuts and falling ...

What the papers say- 12th and 13th March 2011

Experts in this weekend’s financial press warned that turning to a fixed rate too early could mean that borrowers lose out on current low variable rates. The Sunday Telegraph, Sunday Mirror and Express all reported that fixed rates have increased over recent weeks due in part to intense demand as borrowers look to take a new deal before rates rise, but homeowners with room in their budget were urged to consider cheaper tracker rate mortgages. The...

UPDATED: European decision could increase life insurance costs

A decision tomorrow by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) on whether charging different premiums to men and women is against discrimination laws could have a significant impact on the UK insurance market and the premiums charged to customers on products such as car and life insurance.The European Gender Directive prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender in relation to the supply of goods and services.  However, an article in the Directive...

What the papers say- 12th and 13th February 2011

The dilemma over whether to switch from a variable to a fixed mortgage has intensified over the past few weeks as lenders have increased their rates, but experts in the this weekend’s financial press advised borrowers not to panic. Brokers in the Sunday Telegraph and Independent on Sunday suggested that market expectation of a rate rise has already had a real impact on mortgage products, but good deals are still available for those looking to fix...

One in eight women will develop breast cancer, charity says

The lifetime risk of getting breast cancer has risen over the last decade from one woman in nine to one in eight, according to new figures from Cancer Research UK. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in the UK and it has been on the rise for several years.  Figures taken from the Office of National Statistics show that in 1999, 42,400 women were diagnosed with the disease – in 2008 that number increased to 47,700. The biggest rise in rates ...

What the papers say- 29th and 30th January 2011

Lenders were accused in the Sunday Times this weekend of profiting by raising their rates despite a drop in swap rates last week, with brokers suggesting that the recent panic by borrowers wanting to secure a fixed rate has been a gift for banks. The Telegraph looked at the high arrangement fees charged by some lenders, and experts advised borrowers to do their sums to check how cost effective a deal really is, especially in the case of smaller l...

Half of UK adults have no life insurance

More than half of adults in the UK do not have life insurance according to new research from Barclays.  The survey found that only 46.1 per cent of people have life insurance and just 13.7 per cent have critical illness cover, which pays out on diagnosis of a specified illness. This lack of cover highlights the country’s protection gap (the difference between the cover we have and the cover we actually need) which is estimated to be around £2.4t...

What the papers say- 17th November 2010

Mortgage reforms were mentioned once again in the midweek press, with the Chairman of the FSA, Lord Turner, claiming in the Financial Times that most borrowers will be unaffected by the new reforms, or will see the size of their potential loan drop ‘only slightly’. The Council of Mortgage Lenders is opposed to many of the proposals, stating that they are ‘sufficiently flawed to justify a full rethink’. The Daily Mail revealed today that dozens o...

What the papers say- 13th and 14th November 2010

The new FSA proposals on income and affordability came in for heavy criticism once again in this weekend’s financial press, with the Times reporting that lenders will be required to take into account leisure expenses including holidays, clothing and recreation when calculating affordability. Brokers expressed their concerns over the restrictive nature of the new guidelines, and particularly the impact this could have on groups such as First Time ...

Cutting costs? Think twice before cutting your life insurance

With the prospect of spending and job cuts on the horizon, many people will be reviewing their finances at the moment and looking at ways to cut their costs and outgoings.Decent savings can potentially be made on things like your mortgage, utilities and mobile phone and sometimes one or two of life’s little luxuries need to be sacrificed.  However, it’s often life insurance that many people feel they could do without and L&C is urging people ...

New £600m cancer drug fund announced by DoH

The Department of Health has announced a new £600 million Cancer Drugs Fund – aimed at giving cancer patients greater access to cancer drugs that their doctors recommend for them. £200 million a year in funding will be available for cancer drugs from April 2011 to the end of 2013 in a move that the Government hopes will “help thousands of patients get increased access to innovative new cancer drugs that extend life or improve quality of life.” ...

What the papers say- 13th and 14th February 2010

Homeowners were urged to take action in this weekend’s financial press following several changes in interest rates over recent weeks. The Telegraph pointed out that after 11 months of keeping Standard Variable Rates low, many lenders are under pressure, and warned anyone currently on a low SVR to prepare for a possible rate rise in the near future. The Independent on Sunday suggested that rising property valuations and an increase in lender compe...

What the papers say- 3rd and 4th October 2009

The Financial Times and Sunday Telegraph both reported this week on the jump in interest rates and monthly payments faced by borrowers coming to the end of 0% tracker rates taken out two years ago. More than 100,000 homeowners face a potential payment shock, but experts advised that not all schemes will automatically revert to a lender’s Standard Variable Rate, as many deals offer a lifetime tracker rate once the incentive period ends. For those ...

What the papers say- 4th and 5th July 2009

The talk of the financial press this weekend was the return of the tracker, with the Guardian, Sunday Times and Financial Times all discussing the appeal of lower payments in the face of recent increases in fixed rates. Many economists believe that the Bank of England Base Rate will remain below 5% until 2102, and experts suggested in the FT that borrowers on a low tracker or a variable rate could therefore be better off staying where they are.Af...

OMG! Nationwide swap TLA for TLA

There is news today that Nationwide has removed their promise to peg it’s variable rate mortgages to the bank rate.Instead of offering customers their current follow on rate (BMR), new customers will revert to their Standard Mortgage Rate (SMR) at the end of any fixed rate mortgages taken out after 30th April.Whilst this is an interesting insight in to the difficulties many lenders are facing, it also serves as a striking example of an industry o...

Our Survey Results

A big thank you to all of you who completed last month’s survey on the subject of your finances in 2009. Many of the results reflected the current economic climate of low interest rates, unstable banks and falling house prices. We asked people how they have used, or plan to use, any savings made from falling mortgage repayments.  For many people, overpayments on the mortgage take priority over building up savings.  From the feedback, it’s also cl...

Mortgage Rates

Last week, a number of lenders made changes to their mortgage deals with the majority following the recent trend of reducing rates for both fixed and variable deals. Nationwide has reduced some fixed and tracker deals for the second week running, and now have some of the lowest interest rates available over both 2 and 5 years. Newcastle Building Society also revamped it’s range, reducing their 2 year fixed rates, as well as introducing some very...

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