Rail fares, buy

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Rail fares, buy-to-let, bank acunts and insurance insurance

In a move certain to dampen any Christmas spirit, the rail industry has announced that train fares will rise by an average of 2.3 per cent from January 2.

The reports that ‘the increase covers both regulated fares, which includes season tickets, and unregulated fares, such as off-peak leisure tickets’.

The hike in regulated fares has previously been capped at July’s Retail Prices Index inflation rate of 1.9 per cent. But unregulated fares face no cap which means that some unregulated fares will go up by considerably more than 2.3 per cent.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said: ‘This latest fares hike is another kick in the teeth for British passengers and condemns them to continue to pay some of the highest fares in Europe to travel on rammed out and unreliable trains.’

Meanwhile, thousands of season ticket holders on Southern Rail, who have endured a shocking service in recent months, will be able to claim a month’s free travel as compensation.

Buy-to-let landlords are taking steps to avoid the impact of tax changes that come into effect next year, reports.

Research by mortgage lender Kent Reliance found that ‘landlords were restructuring their portfolios to escape higher taxes on their rental income, which will be phased in from April 2017. Some landlords have set up limited companies, it said, while others have increased rents or transferred properties to family members.’

The report also found that the average rent is at a record high of £881 a month, and ‘landlords indicated they intended to raise prices by an average of 5.4 per cent – the equivalent of £571 a year for households’.

The top 1.5 per cent of earners in this country will pay half of all additional income tax collected by the Government by 2021.

reports that 469,000 people earning more than £150,000 a year will account for almost £20 billion of additional income tax paid to the Treasury, a record high according to the Office for Budget Responsibility. This is because hundreds of thousands of people have been dragged into paying the top rate.

In other tax news, the reports that plans to move HM Revenue and Customs services online could lead to another potentially ‘disastrous decline’ in customer service

In the expectation that more people will access tax services online, customer service staff numbers at HMRC are being cut by about a third. But a report by MPs says it is ‘not convinced’ the tax authority will not repeat the collapse of 2014-15, when call waiting times tripled.

There’s more detail from the Financial Conduct Authority’s ‘Sunlight’ project, an initiative designed to shame institutions into better customer service and treatment.

According to , HSBC, Co-operative Bank and the state-owned Ulster Bank are some of Britain’s stingiest banks, paying loyal savers as little as 1/65th of the interest offered on rival comparable products.

said: ‘Of 32 institutions offering instant access savings accounts through branches, Ulster Bank was identified as the joint worst, paying an interest rate of 0.01 per cent to savers in accounts no longer available to new customers. This level of reward, which amounts to 10p a year on a £1,000 balance, was one-tenth of the median reward, and 1/65th of the interest rate paid by the highest-yielding equivalent account from Metro Bank. Denmark’s Danske Bank, which like Ulster Bank serves people in Northern Ireland through 46 branches, was equally low paying.’

Insurers have a small army of people ready to go into immediate action in the event of any flooding this winter, the Association of British Insurers (ABI) has announced.

Ahead of the anniversary of last winter’s severe floods, which began on December 4, the ABI is reassuring people that insurers have thousands of staff on standby to deal with severe flooding this year. This includes 2,750 people to handle calls about claims, with phone lines staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year; 2,250 people available to send in on the ground to support customers, assess damage and initiate repairs.

Britain’s vote to leave the European Union has had no effect on the majority of shoppers’ Christmas spending plans, according to figures published in .

The average UK adult expects to spend £280 on Christmas gifts this year, according to a survey by PwC of 2,000 shoppers across the UK. More than two-thirds of adults surveyed said that Brexit had no impact on their spending habits.

Criminals can discover the card number, expiry date and security code for a Visa debit or credit card in just six seconds using computer-powered guesswork, researchers have warned.

reports that ‘experts at Newcastle University said that fraudsters could figure out the complete details starting with as little as the first six digits of the card number — which cover the bank and the card type, and so are the same for every card from a single provider’.

The Christmas office party season is back with a bang this year with 57 per cent of British workers attending two or more festive work events this December.

On average, adults will spend £51 on sprucing themselves up in order to impress work colleagues at their annual work’s bash. However, all of this partying is not great news for employers as the post-Christmas party hangover will cost companies £541 million in lost man hours. These findings have been revealed in a new report released by Travelodge.

The hotel chain surveyed 2,000 British workers to investigate the trends for this year’s Christmas office party season. Key findings revealed that half of employees will waste half a day at work after their annual Christmas party because they are suffering the ill effects from the night before. A quarter of workers will be 25 cent less productive and a fifth of adults will call in sick or show up late.