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This week in Politics

Select committee members can expect less of an ear-bashing in future when examining financial services issues after this week’s announcement that Mick McAteer is standing down as principal policy adviser at Which?

McAteer says he is returning to his roots working on charity projects to do with financial exclusion – an area which is climbing up the political agenda with work continuing from the likes of the Resolution Foundation and various groups of MPs.

Treasury select committee chairman John McFall says the TSC was going to publish its long running report into financial inclusion before this week’s recess but will now wait until the autumn to allow the committee more time on the report and give the issue more exposure.

Tory shadow financial secretary to the Treasury Mark Hoban also recently chaired a parliamentary financial literacy summit with guests including FSA managing director, retail markets Clive Briault and a number of MPs and industry names.

Parliament may have broken up this week but there will plenty of financial services activity over the summer with a hotbed of lobbying and discussion regarding the NPSS as the Government consultation on the scheme draws to a close on September 11, ahead of the Autumn technical paper.

To help things along pension reform minister James Purnell has set up his own blog on the DWP website – accompanied by a grinning photo of the minister in gangster style attire.

Autumn will also see the publication of proposals by the Conservative’s tax reform group, led by Shadow Chancellor George Osborne and Thatcherite former MP Michael Forsyth.

It is still unclear how radical any proposals will be but they got a helping hand this week with a report from the right-wing Bow Group thinktank calling for a massive simplification of the current system including a flat 1 per cent annual levy on the value of all residential property.

The work and pensions committee report into pension reform will cause worry in the industry with calls for a shake up of pension tax relief including the tax free lump sum.

There is already worry from some in the industry that the Government is eyeing up the tax free lump sum as a potential target for culling due to potential problems of policing turbo-charging- although Economic secretary to the Treasury Ed Balls is on record at recent Finance Bill committee meetings stating the Government would do no such thing.

The work and pension committee also weighed into the financial inclusion debate stressing the need for generic advice, as well as supporting Intelligent Money’s call for the Government to look at a flat administration fee for the NPSS although this could be seen by some as a regressive move and unfair to the lowest earners.


Sub-prime customers sent to Coventry

Coventry Building Society has today launched into the sub-prime mortgage market, after announcing its intention to do so earlier this year. It is offering what it calls near prime, extra light and light adverse deals. It also claims to be the only top 20 mortgage lender to offer all of its introducers credit impaired products […]

Abbey aims high for annual premiums

Abbey wants to more than double its annual-premium pension and investment business to over £2bn in the next 18 months. It is seeking to increase its number of branch-based advisers from 350 to about 750.

Too hot to handle

We all know that the past few days have been sweltering but it looks like the heat has got to the good folk at Kensington Mortgages. Here is a line from its new PR and ex-mortgage hack Alex Hammond introducing the firm’s set of rates: “When it comes to predicting sweltering summer madness, the Met […]

Five ways to invest in the connected world

Smart utility metering; fitness trackers; connected cars; smart factories; precision agriculture: the internet of things encompasses myriad applications. But how do you gain exposure – and profit – from this growing trend, asks Neptune fund manager & CTO Ali Unwin. Read more: Important information Investment risks Neptune funds may have a high historic volatility rating […]


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