Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Buy to let - extra stamp duty

George Osborne's new 3 per cent stamp duty charge for buy to let landlords will add £5,520 on the price they pay for the average £184,000 buy to let purchase.

The new charge would have hit 160,000 buyers if it had applied last year, or 13 per cent of the total buy to let market.

Commercial property investors, with more than 15 properties, are expected to be exempted from the new charge.

The Chancellor said people snapping up buy to lets and second homes "should not be squeezing out families who can't afford a home to buy".

The 3 per cent charge will be added to each stamp duty rate, so properties costing up to £125,000 -- which are zero-rated at the moment - will incur 3 per cent.

Those costing from £125,000 to £250,000, currently at 2 per cent, will incur 5 per cent duty and so on for the higher rates.

People who buy two homes by mistake, because they are in a chain which breaks apart, will have to pay the extra duty but will be able to claim it back within 18 months if they manage to sell their original home.

Buy to let enthusiasts will not face the charge until April next year, following a consultation on the details.

3% extra stamp duty for buy to let

Frankly, people buying a home to let should not be squeezing out families who can’t afford a home to buy.
So I am introducing new rates of Stamp Duty that will be 3 per cent higher on the purchase of additional properties like buy-to-lets and second homes.
It will be introduced from April next year and we’ll consult on the details so that corporate property development isn’t affected.
This extra stamp duty raises almost a billion pounds by 2021 – and we’ll reinvest some of that money in local communities in London and places like Cornwall which are being priced out of home ownership.
The funds we raise will help building the new homes.

Friday, 13 November 2015

TSB cherry picks Northern Rock mortgages

Who are the 34,000 mortgage borrowers who are being moved from Northern Rock to TSB via Cerberus, a US investment firm?

Well we know some of them had the Together mortgage, the Northern Rock product offered just before the financial crisis, which allowed people to borrow 125% of the value of the home they were buying.

Many Together borrowers got into serious trouble, couldn't afford the payments and ended up paying what they thought were very high rates to the rescued rump of Northern Rock.

But we also know that TSB calls the group which they have taken on "real people in their homes who have been managing their mortgages well, with good performing, seasoned loans".

It seems as though TSB managers were able to choose which loans they wanted. I've been told that they:

"Were able to define the parameters for our risk appetite and characteristics of the loans we would be acquiring as part of structuring the transaction.

"The customers were then randomly selected within this....we are comfortable with the risk profile of the portfolio."

To some this will sound like cherry picking.

And, of course, if the government - and in turn Cerberus - want to sell things out of the Northern Rock portfolio, they have to offer items which investors want to buy.

The average interest rate being paid by the 34,000 is 4.49%, well above the typical rate for mortgage borrowers and  potentially a nice earner for TSB.

Tuesday, 10 November 2015

Tax office apology

The chief executive of HM Revenue and Customs has apologised to MPs for the poor performance of tax call centres between April and June, when only half of calls for help from the public were answered successfully.

Lin Homer said she was "very apologetic" after Mark Garnier MP, on the Treasury Select Committee, said the record was "staggeringly bad".

She added that after HMRC struggled to cope during those months, managers introduced a series of changes which resulted in an improvement between July and September when 76 per cent of enquiries by phone were dealt with either by a member of staff or an appropriate recorded message.

She said that performance during the second three month period was "marginally higher than last year".

Mr Garnier responded that it was still "completely unacceptable" that 24 per cent of calls were not being answered.

Lin Homer told MPs that a new telephony system had been introduced which allowed calls to be dropped into any call centre, so that up to 20,000 staff could be deployed to answer the phone at any one time.

And she revealed that more people were being taken on to deal with calls in the evening.

Thursday, 5 November 2015

BA on Sharm help

British Airways confirms that from when customers’ flights out of Sharm are delayed/suspended, European airlines are responsible for providing hotel accommodation, food and the other requirements stipulated until they are able to be flown to their destination.

BA statement today:

We will be providing hotel accommodation to customers in Sharm El Sheikh who were due to fly to Gatwick with us today.
We are working closely with the UK Government to find the best possible solution for our customers who are on holiday in the resort and those due to fly out from the UK.
We understand the current situation is frustrating, however it is out of our control and the safety and security of our customers and crew is always our top priority. 
Following the decision by the UK Government to suspend flights, the British Airways flight (BA 2560) which was due to depart Gatwick this morning has been postponed until Friday.
The BA2561 which was due to depart Sharm El Sheikh this evening will also depart one day later on November 6.  
Customers not wishing to travel on the postponed flights on Friday will be able to claim a full refund or switch to an alternate destination.

Flight delay rights

For independent travellers: your "right to care" if the flight is delayed or cancelled and you are travelling from or to the EU. This on the EU rules as set out by Easyjet...

3. Right to care
Has your flight been delayed for more than 2 hours or cancelled without notice? If so you are entitled to:
a) meals and refreshments in proportion to the waiting time;
b) hotel accommodation and transport between the airport and the hotel, where a stay of one or more nights becomes necessary;
c) two telephone calls, or telex or fax messages, or emails.

Has your flight been delayed or cancelled before you arrive at the airport without notice to you?  You are entitled to a) and c) above.
Have you had to postpone your flight to at least the day after the original flight departure time because of delay or re-routing? If so, you are entitled to b).
In the unlikely event it is not possible for easyJet to arrange care set out in this paragraph, easyJet will reimburse you for reasonable expenses upon application via the website.  You will need to provide us with fully itemised receipts detailing the expense incurred. Please note that re-imbursement for alcohol will not be made.