Blog Archive

Page 12

It probably hasn’t gone unnoticed that we have a new Government since our last newsletter. We recommend several sites for up-to-date news coverage and associated articles related to the latest changes, since Pickfords day at Downing Street, including HIPs being scrapped, Bank regulation reform and changes effecting the economy in general - BBC Your Money, Times Online Money, Guardian Money, Telegraph Personal Finance.

For generally genuinely interesting writing about economics, economy and numbers, The Undercover Economist, and Pensions Guru are our two recommendations for this month.

Anyone looking for start-up costs and willing to pitch to the Enterprise Business Challenge for a Grant of up to £10,000? Entries close 2 July.

Over 1,100 students recently surveyed by online student accommodation finding service, illustrated that students rank big bedrooms and kitchens with ample surface space, and living close to campus, at the top of their wish list, and `cost’  is a deal-breaker due to money being tight.  Affordable rent, but not wanting to compromise on style, 62% admitted to being ‘extremely picky’. Buy-to-Let landlords – take note.

From September 2010, any Nationwide home-owners who let-out their properties for more than three years, and have a residential mortgage, will face an additional 1.5% to borrowers’ monthly payment, plus a £50 fee.

Nationwide saw its pre-tax profits fall by 69% from last year; CEO had said that he’d “lobbied the Government for an increase in the FSCS limit from £50,000 to at least £100,000″ to “re-assure savers with independent institutions that they have similar protection as those with Government-owned, nationalised and part-nationalised banks”, after blaming its’ fall on a combination of reasons, including high charges to FSCS.

Recent research by Money Saving Expert has shown a back-pocket cash culture. From their poll, in which the question asked was “What would you do if a builder…. or… anyone else offered you a 15% discount because ‘it’s better in my pocket than in the taxman’s’?”, 65% of respondents would happily pay in cash to get a discount, even knowing they might be encouraging tax evasion…

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Calculate the Cost of Heating Water…

Casting our minds back to a time of previous Summers, in which every primary school up and down the land had a fish tank full of tadpoles, our early learning was that tadpoles have limited choices; they swim, they get to eat algae and they grow legs.

When real experience of reduced options has been felt, maybe sympathy should be given towards the frog who, when placed in warm water, will sit quietly thinking about his tadpole days and wait for the water to heat up. It is said, to make such a frog soup, start with a frog in cold water and just keep applying heat; the Jacuzzi method apparently lulls them into a sense of oblivion. The key to successful frog cookery is not to put the live frog in boiling water because its reaction is to leap out; when Jacuzzi method is used, they’re unaware they’re cooking.

When it comes to reacting towards personal and business money management, hands up, who’s with Jacuzzi frog? Whose with boiling pan frog?  The bain-marie moment occurs across the board, with businesses, people and people working for businesses.

But it’s a double-boiler when realisation dawns that reaction to any increase in temperature hasn’t happened because all too often, just like the frog that fell into the pail of farmyard milk, the exit is too steep.

However, unlike Jacuzzi frog, milk frog wasn’t lulled into a false sense of security, and by thrashing around, another chance opened up as the milk turned to butter and there was the potential option to leave the pail.

It’s rare for someone to place themselves intentionally in warm or hot water. For most, it’s understandable that under pressure, temperatures rise and the cool water can soon get hot, however, unlike milk frog, too much thrashing around might just make very hot milk and not butter. As Galileo supposedly said, “where the senses fail us, reason must step in”. So, why did the frog make so many mistakes? Simple: it jumped to the wrong conclusions.

Please note: No frogs were hurt during this musing and we do not recommend that anyone tries any such experiments.

(Image credit: Moonlightbulb  Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Monthly Noteworthy News:

Bank Taxes to Fund Future Bailouts

The IMF is set to propose new taxes on global financial institutions. FSC (Financial Stability Contribution) and the FAT  Tax ( Financial Activities Tax) – did we just see irony? – will be placed on profits and pay. The next G20 held, Canada in June, is certain to have much to talk about. 

Inflation Rate rate at 3.4%

With a target of 2%  from the Bank of England (BofE), when above-target inflation persists the BofE is likely to raise its rate, although The BofE has held its interest rate at 0.5%.  The reasons given for the acceleration is higher fuel costs, air transport and food along with oil prices soaring   and petrol prices increasing

Dancer for Money

No, we’re not about to burst into song,  aka Tina Turner, but Barclays Live  has launched a regional competition for dancers. Wonder if we’ll be seeing any winners in future promo ads; we’re thinking a fusion of Halifax Howard, Diversity  and the Barclaycard rollercoaster. For those who dance for their money in a different way there is always the Small Step campaign  aimed at new and existing businesses. Rhetorical question:  a small step up for some ?

April Musings:

Ethical Money: Transparent Oxymoron or an Elephant in the Room? - The effect of fairness and the treatment of others.

We’re Guilty…..  - Reaction to the realisation of overspending.

Addicted to Money….. Or a Prescription for Pain  - Is handling money and pain such a new idea?

High Five?  -  5 bullet points that haven’t changed……. just like the economy.

Outside the Box – No clues required – Investigate  – Mistrust, blood-stained knife and CSI forensic science.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Questioning Changes….

Justifiable concerns needing answers require questions and knowing how to know seems especially necessary in our fast paced world.

Evaluating acquired knowledge should provide necessary information, or create further questions for further information.  A statement with syntax found more likely in flat pack instructions but not difficult to follow to be ready for anything, hence;

Cheque guarantee cards are being phased out in 2011 and we assume that cheques will be written up to the date of their own death, so it would be reasonable to ask, when will the cheque take its final breath?  We understand that 2016 is the final decision date for demise of cheque usage, from 31st October 2018, but we don’t yet know how it’s all going to happen.

2010 – to – 2018 seems a long time.  One year less than British Troops   being deployed under a labour government  to Afghanistan, a decade shorter than the Conservatives were in power.

When we mused on the question If or When  our conclusion was, whenever the word If  is used, for any certainty, replace it with When.  Small steps or large, when changes are being made, the next question is `to know or be knowing in preparation for change ‘?


(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Monthly Noteworthy News:

Budget 2010

With the AAA status of the UK being threatened and a general election looming ever closer; the main points of the budget are now generally know but a roundup can be found here.


FSA Advice Site

The Government’s free money guidance service will offer consumers advice on a range of money issues from 1st April. MoneyMadeClear will give guidance to consumers in all areas of personal finance and offers comprehensive advice.


Local Authority Business Grant Incentive

According to the Forum of Private Business (FPB ), councils could free up to £150 million in match-funding from the government by pledging the money to bolster small business rate relief, following the latest round of LABGI grants. The scheme is aimed at encouraging business growth by providing councils with grant funding that is not ring-fenced. FPB have said  “Let’s give the money back to the businesses that are trading and get the economy moving again.”


March Musings: 

Try to Can the Spam – the difficulty of having the F-word attached to our business name

Financial Robots – A reminder about personal credit history

Reacting to Gear Changes – One size doesn’t fit all

Brief Encounters with the Economy – Economic Indicators

Outside the Box- SquidLondon – Brolly Brilliant Designers

The Sky is Falling Down – A True Story about Scams

And finally…. Thank you to the person who pointed out that Spring: Scaffolding’s Going Up mentioned gambling lambs: since altered to gambolling; much to the lamb’s disappointment.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)

Time Warping and Waiting….

We’re waiting….. Watching and waiting……Transition, shift….It’s happened.  The continuum of time, whether from the much caricatured Einstein  or the Beam-Me-Up Scotty  type means that so often we all wait for something to happen, and then, the moment passes; or is happening in another sphere.

The recent much discussed budget is now relegated to the history books and some will elect  to wait for the next thing. What exactly are we waiting for?

‘Buzzing’ around is a list relating to fly swatting methods. Rather than waiting, Barack Obama’s method, at that time, was to obliterate with a single blow, however, other suggestions include; aim ahead, focused slap, approach either side, improvise, and, our favourite, the chopsticks ‘Man who catch fly with chopstick accomplish anything’ . The general message is,whatever the method, be ready to strike because before you can wave a chopstick at a fly, everything shifts.

Mindset attitudes need to change to cope with transition, only last month credit card industry changes were agreed, and the Government announced the roll out of their MoneyMadeClear generic personal finance advice service. For common knowledge, just like common sense, isn’t always so common; for example, some creditors have free client advice services and codes of practice i.e. Finance and Leasing Association’s Lending Code and the Banking Code, are available to access.

With constant and complex combinations of shifts; rising living costs, drops in income or reduced working hours, money management attitudes aren’t immune from change or distortion during uncertain times. Moving to a better or safer place, doesn’t always follow on from watching and waiting. Sometimes it’s better to get out and see what is waiting, relativity speaking.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)


Pubs, contributors to communities, are still closing their doors at an average rate of 39 per week; over 2,000 each year.  However, bucking this trend is a new source of funding for pub purchase or refinance for the smaller Independent. With the Budget looming and therefore the obligatory rising duty and taxes, we hope that this news “hits the parts others can`t reach”


Allied Surveyors Plc, one of the UK`s best known firms of Surveyors, has ceased trading. However, with an agreed Management Buy-Out, the restructuring is currently being coordinated.  The Residential and Commercial arms are being kept apart, and Allied (Scotland) will continue to reflect the different processes created by the Home Report, now in place in Scotland.


We are still pleased to say that, although finance is constantly fluctuating, up to 100% Business finance remains available for Purchase or Remortgage of Pharmacies, Surgeries, Opticians, Vets, Care and Nursing Homes. Residential 90% loan-to-value funding is available for mortgages and 90% LTV for personal loans including debt and credit card consolidation.

Claims Management

A major UK Claims Management Firm is being investigated by The Ministry of Justice, although no specific details are available as these could jeopardise the progress and outcome of their investigation. For a fee, the company offers to review customer credit card, and similar, accounts to establish whether the credit agreements are enforceable by the provider.

Estate Agents

The Office of Fair Trading has recommended that the Government considers imposing new rules regarding fees received by Estate Agents for referring buyers to providers of ancillary services such as mortgage advice. “The OFT believes this could cause an Estate Agent to favour one buyer over another, to the seller`s disadvantage”.  Here at SUF we have been saying this for nearly two decades, and firmly hold the opinion that any, and every, sales process within the home purchase/remortgage arena should be regulated by one consistent source, the FSA.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)


St. David’s Day …..  St Patricks Day…..   First Day of Spring ….. Mother`s Day…..  Six Nations Finals …..  Cheltenham Gold Cup  and British Summer Time.  Lambs gambol in meadows between the golden daffodils, cute critters wake up to the sound of the bluebird of happiness singing high on bud-laden boughs as Spring bursts out…. Oooh!  Can you hear the needle scratch across the virtual record of Disneyesque music lilting in the background?  The booing and hissing is almost audible as March is hobbled together with a looming Budget and enters rather like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring  ; all angles for the policy makers and budget people and reminder that, in economic terms,  Spring will have to face some strong winds.

Signs of destruction from a prolonged and cold Winter are all around and you don’t need us to be a Greek Chorus (no pun indented regarding the Euro debacle)  for details, suffice to say, tiptoe ‘around’ the tulips . Only a few months ago everyone was asking  ‘When will this ‘crisis’ be over?’ then we had, ‘What’s going to happen?’ and now we have ‘Will this ever be over, how can it all be turned around?’  The ‘bougette’ is unlikely to contain any answers to wealth creation; now represented by the large red briefcase  as opposed to the original true derivative, ‘little bag’.

With meanings including careful, anxious, busy, occupied, or diligent, `business’ , deriving from bisignes,  or bisig,  could be more than semantics in the economic woods this year, where Business, Companies and Industry are indicators. It will be interesting to see what will be built upon to protect any economic growth however, we note, a special scaffold is erected outside No. 11 at the time of the Budget……

… for photographers, we hasten to add.

(Image and Article credit: Copyright SUF)



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