The powerful Treasury Select Committee of Parliament is to launch an inquiry into student loans, reported the Financial Times. Former education minister Nicky Morgan now chairs the committee and will review the effects of changes in policy since 2009.
One former education minister, now a member of the House of Lords, described these changes as like the ill-fated poll tax: “each bolted-on reform trying to make it more acceptable simply added to the costs and made it more baroque, and hastened the day when the whole system was going to collapse.”
Business owners miss out on RBS compensation
Royal Bank of Scotland, taken into public ownership after the financial crisis in 2008, has excluded thousands of small businesses from a £400m compensation scheme it set up in response to a long-running scandal over alleged mistreatment of customers, reports the Financial Times. Allegations that RBS’s Global Restructuring Group mistreated 12,000 companies it was meant to help are being investigated by its regulator the FCA. It now appears that the bank’s compensation scheme may exclude 8,000 businesses that were included in the investigation into GRG that the FCA commissioned.
Price comparison: it’s about profits. Simples!
Many consumers believe price comparison websites are unbiased and run for their benefit, says the FT, and adds bluntly: they are deluded. Research by the Competition and Markets Authority found that consumers did not typically think price comparison websites were pushing any particular supplier or product, and often described them as “unbiased” or “there to help consumers” – but in fact these sites make money by charging a commission to suppliers (energy companies, insurers or lenders) when you switch or sign up via their platform. As the FT points out, the way the results of your search are presented can be biased by the commission deals they have. Moreover, a growing number of providers now refuse to be included in the searches. Do yourself a favour, says the FT, and at least use more than one comparison site if you’re looking for the best deal.
London lockout for first-time buyers
Four out of five first-time buyers in London and the South-East cannot afford the typical new-build property, says the Mail. To be ‘affordable’ even to 40 per cent of buyers a new-build property would have to cost £250,000 or less compared with the typical London price of £435,000. The biggest reason for this is the chronic shortage of land released to build new homes on in this area.
Affordability in London has worsened by 38.8 per cent since 2007 (compared with an average for England of 3.3 per cent), as house prices have rocketed but wages have stagnated
City dwellers save with car share
Car share clubs and service are attracting growing numbers of users, says the Sunday Times, as people realise just how much running a car costs. It compares the typical cost of a car share club at £1,500 a year against the cost of running a three-year-old second hand car of £2,600 a year. For younger drivers, the high cost of annual motor insurance adds to the attractions.
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