Scammers have used WhatsApp to trick people into handing over personal information by tempting them with bogus supermarket vouchers.

The messenger app was used to send fake vouchers to people, purporting to be from trusted chains such as Asda, Tesco and Aldi.

The messages claimed to offer hundreds of pounds in savings so long as the user followed a link to an online survey asking for personal details.

The scam is a form of phishing, where fraudsters pose as reputable organisations to gain personal details.

Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cyber crime, suggests anyone who has fallen victim to this scam to report it online or call 0300 123 2040.

So far, 33 people have come forward to report falling victim to the scam, although it is unclear how many people have received the message.

UK interest rates rise for first time in 10 years

The official bank rate has been lifted from 0.25% to 0.5%, the first increase since July 2007.

It is likely to rise twice more over the next three years, according to Bank of England governor Mark Carney.

The move reverses the cut in August of last year, which was made in the wake of the vote to leave the European Union.

Almost four million households face higher mortgage interest payments after the rise, but it should give savers a modest lift in their returns.

The main losers will be households with a variable rate mortgage.

The Bank of England has said that higher inflation and a pick up in growth could lead to a rate hike in “the coming months”.

Members of the Bank’s nine-strong Monetary Policy Committee voted 7-2 to keep interest rates on hold at 0.25%.

But the committee was talking in much stronger terms about an increase, analysts said.

The pound climbed nearly 1% against the dollar to $1.3314 after the Bank’s announcement.

It said the growth outlook was slightly stronger than it had predicted last month.

The nine policymakers on the panel believed “some withdrawal of monetary stimulus was likely to be appropriate over the coming months”.

Bank of EnglandThe Bank of England has left its main interest rate at 0.25% but says another cut is still a possibility.

The decision of the Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) to leave rates at their new, historically low, level was no surprise.

Last month the Bank halved its bank rate from 0.5% as it tried to ensure the stability of the UK’s banking system in the aftermath of the June Brexit referendum vote.

That was the first rate cut since 2009.

But the Bank said again that it might cut rates further in the coming months, even though the immediate economic after-shock of the Brexit vote now appears to be weaker than first thought.

“A number of indicators of near-term economic activity have been somewhat stronger than expected,” the Bank said in the minutes of its latest MPC meeting.

It added that if its economic forecasts in November were similar to those it had formulated in August, then “a majority of members expected to support a further cut in bank rate to its effective lower bound at one of the MPC’s forthcoming meetings during the course of the year.”

The Bank noted that a variety of economic indicators have suggested that the UK economy has shrugged off the post-referendum surprise in the short-term.

As a result, the Bank is not as gloomy about the short-term state of the economy as it was a month ago.

But it said that it still expects the pace of economic activity in the July-September period to have halved from the growth rate recorded earlier in the year.

Bank of England holds rates at 0.5%


The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee has voted unanimously to keep the base rate at 0.5 per cent, marking nearly seven years of unchanged rates.

The committee voted 9-0 to keep base rates at their current low levels. At the last meeting just one member, Ian McCafferty, voted for a rise, saying he expected inflation to increase faster than the committee’s expectations.

Markets are increasingly pessimistic of a rate rise this year and are now pricing in a higher probability of a rate cut this year than a rise.

“Looking forward, the plunging oil price has taken over from the global financial crisis in discouraging the Bank of England from raising interest rates. The deflationary effect of cheaper fuel and energy is likely to keep policy makers hiding in their dovecotes for some time to come,” says Laith Khalaf, senior analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown.

“At the moment UK monetary policy is being held in check by two opposing forces; low inflation on the one hand, and a growing economy on the other. Should the economy falter, the scales will start to tip towards loosening monetary policy once again, either through an interest rate cut, or more quantitative easing.”

Governor Mark Carney recently made a speech highlighting that UK growth and inflation had been more sluggish than expecting, prompting many to assume any interest rate rise had been pushed out to late 2016.

George Osborne has delivered his seventh Budget as chancellor, the first for a majority Conservative government since November 1996. Here is a summary of his main announcements.

Here are the key measures the chancellor outlined in his speech:

• “We should cut the deficit at the same pace as we did at the last parliament. We shouldn’t go faster, we shouldn’t go slower,” he said at the start of the Budget.

• The sale of government assets, such as RBS, will make more money than the previous record in 1987.

• 2019/20 national debt lower and running a budget surplus, OBR judges it will be the largest surplus in 40 years. “Britain is finally doing the responsible thing.”

• Richest are paying a greater share of tax than they were at the start of parliament

• He plans to save £17bn, making a £12m saving from welfare and £5m from clamping down on tax avoidance.

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StrokeStrokes rising among people of working age, warns charity

There has been a worrying rise in the number of working-age men and women having strokes, a charity has warned.

In England in 2014 there were 6,221 hospital admissions for men have a stroke aged 40-54 – a rise of 1,961 on 14 years earlier, a Stroke Association study shows.

Experts said unhealthy lifestyles were partly to blame for the rise, though the growing population and changes to hospital practice also played a part in the increase of strokes.

Overall the rate of strokes is going down in the UK, however.

Researchers say based on their findings strokes should not be considered as a disease of the old.

Huge costs

Strokes are caused by blood clots or bleeds to the brain and can lead to long-lasting disability. To read more click here


Mortgage Solutions magazine reports: – Mortgage lenders and intermediaries have won the battle to have some flexibility in the process of implementing the rules of the EU Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD), the Treasury’s final ruling has revealed.

In its final legislation published today, the Treasury said there had been particular concern about pipeline mortgage applications which had been started but not completed before the deadline for implementation on 21 March 2016.

It said this was a ‘significant theme’ in many responses it received in its consultation over the MCD rules from mortgage brokers and lenders.

The original MCD proposal did not make any provisions for pipeline cases which implied any mortgage application which had not been completed by the deadline would have to be reassessed against MCD rules.

In its response to the Treasury’s consultation on the MCD, the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) was concerned that lenders would begin to slow business down towards the end of 2015 to help manage the change to the rules. It said this reaction would impact on property sales and the wider economy.

The government has responded to the concerns by allowing firms to adopt the revised rules up to six months ahead of the deadline and honour agreements offered before 21 March 2016 under the old rules.

In its response the Treasury said: “…where credit is granted pursuant to an agreement that exists before the implementation date of 21 March 2016, the affected mortgage does not need to be subject to the MCD.”

Individual firms must decide for themselves when an agreement exists, for example at the decision-in-principle or mortgage offer stages.

Under the EU’s new rules, mortgage customers will be allowed a seven-day cooling-off period to consider the mortgage offer. The illustration issued to the borrower must use the new format of the European Standardised Information Sheet (ESIS) instead of the Key Facts Illustration (KFI) which includes a more detailed Annual Percentage Rate (APR) breakdown.

The Treasury’s overriding feeling of Europe’s desire to unify residential lending across its member states is that it is not necessary. It said consumers already received a ‘high level of protection’ from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). It viewed the MCD as an added cost rather than an added benefit.

It said that though the MCD aimed to ‘facilitate a better internal market in mortgage lending across Europe’ it did not help lenders to deal with unfamiliar markets and foreign legal systems therefore falling short of achieving this goal.

The head of mortgage policy at the Building Societies Association (BSA) Paul Broadhead shared this view. He said: “The BSA is still of the view that the Mortgage Credit Directive will offer little or no benefit to UK consumers but will add cost, complexity and some confusion to the mortgage process.

“However, we welcome the government’s approach to implementation putting in place the minimum requirements to meet European law.”

The FCA will publish its final rules on how the MCD will be integrated into the mortgage rule book at the end of quarter one 2015

Bank base rateThe Bank of England has confirmed the base interest rate will be held at 0.5 per cent for the 74th consecutive month.

The BoE was set to announce the rate stall on 7 May, but a potential clash with the general election forced the bank to switch to 11 May.

It has been at this level now since March in 2009

The Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee has also voted to keep the quantitative easing programme at £375bn, a level that has been maintained since July 2012 when it was increased by £50bn.

What is Equity Release?

Equity release simply lets you release some of the money you have in your home without having to move.

Equity release schemes are usually available as either a lifetime mortgage or a ‘home reversion plan’. Continue reading

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We offer whole of market advice for all types of customers, whether you are a first time buyer, home mover or looking to purchase a buy to let property. Being independent we are able to offer impartial advice from the whole of the market to ensure you get the product that suits your financial needs.

Whether you are looking to protect your mortgage payments or your family, we provide independent advice for life insurance, critical illness cover and income protection from a wide range of providers.

Buildings Insurance is a requirement when you complete on a mortgage the cover is to provide security to the lender, the insurance covers the main structure of your home. It will cover you for subsidence, storm, flood, fire or smoke damage and cover the costs of rebuilding or repair.

Equity release is a way of releasing cash from your property, either through selling a percentage to the reversion company or taking a mortgage on it, while allowing you, the homeowner to continue living there as long as you wish.