SSE shares take a hit as viability of 'Big Six' energy supplier merger with Npower thrown into doubt

The merger between energy giants Npower and SSE could be left in a 'shambles' after the two firms announced they are re-negotiating the terms of their planned union.

The two 'Big Six' companies, set to join forces to create the UK's second-biggest energy company, say the agreement is being delayed due to the incoming cap on default tariff prices.

An energy bill price cap of £1,137 a year for 'typical usage' is due to come into force in 2019, meaning suppliers will have to cut the price of their default tariffs to £1,137 or less. 

SSE, a FTSE 100 company, plans to merge with fellow energy firm npower, with its shareholders holding a 65.6% stake

Energy experts at Jefferies Financial Group said the merger was left in a 'shambles', with worries for the future viability of the deal, which was recently given the nod by the competition watchdog.

The merger was initially hoped to be completed within March 31, 2019, but now the two firms say talks will take 'several weeks' although stress that it will take place.  

SSE chief executive Alistair Phillips-Davies insisted the group continues 'to believe that creating a new, independent energy supplier has the potential to deliver real benefits for customers and the market as a whole, and that remains our objective'.

Energy watchdog Ofgem confirmed on Tuesday that the energy price cap will come into force on January 1, saving consumers up to £120 each. 

Analysts at Jefferies said speculation suggested the deal was 'in trouble', but added it was unlikely just to have been caused by the incoming price cap.

They said: 'While price caps are a major headwind for UK energy suppliers, this issue is well known in the market and the level at which the cap has been fixed was widely anticipated across the sector.

'In our view, ongoing market share loss, mounting losses at Npower, the need to potentially inject capital in the new RetailCo, along with SSE's own weakened financial position as a result of its recent profit warning, have all likely contributed to putting this merger at risk.'

Talks between npower and SSE have been ongoing since October, when the two firms waived through the merger after conducting a full inquiry amid initial fears it could lead to higher prices. 

Under the proposed deal, the new company will be listed on the London Stock Exchange with SSE shareholders holding 65.6 per cent and Npower owner Innogy holding 34.4 per cent.

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November 09, 2018

Sources: Daily Mail

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    1 March 23, 2019
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  • Is it time to move your portfolios out of the markets and store your savings in cash?

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    lobal Asset Management</p><p>For the past several years most investors have faced a simple but abiding problem: asset markets have been climbing for close to a decade and now nothing looks cheap. </p><p>However, in 2018 things began to change. During the year, as the global economy looked like it was slowing, investors became increasingly nervous about the stock market, especially considering the eye-watering valuations wielded by many of the world’s largest companies.</p><p>Furthermore, after one of the longest bond bull runs in history, credit spreads – the amount businesses pay to borrow above the amount governments’ pay – started to look unsustainably tight. </p><p>Finally, as policy makers began to shut off the nitrous oxide that was quantitative easing, bonds markets looked increasingly unappealing.</p><p>Given the events of 2018 many investors have begun to wonder whether now is the time to solidify their gains, move their portfolios out of the markets, and store their savings in cash. </p><p>Prima facie, this is a sound investment thesis, it rests on the first law of commerce: buy low and sell high. 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    1 March 23, 2019
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  • Cash Cars: The Jaguar XJR gets you supercar speed and luxury for £6k

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Supercharging, in Bob’s non-PC view, is a far more manly means of achieving big power.</p><p>For him, the whine of a steel compressor mechanically forcing air into a large-capacity engine is one of life’s great noises, in either classic aviation or modern motoring.</p><p>You can still get supercharged engines in the current X351-bodyshape XJ, but as far as Bob is concerned the association of this car with such people as, for example, the Prime Minister has killed off any appeal they may or may not have had.</p><p>If you really wanted to unleash your inner Clarkson, you could take your XJR to the track and spend the day doing this - then waft home</p><p>No, for Bob there are only two real XJRs: the AJ16 6-cylinder 326bhp X300 of 1994, and the V8 models that followed it from 1997.</p><p>First, there was the 370bhp 4.0-litre V8 X308. 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They cost £58,500 in 2003, but prices for them now start at a sorely tempting £5,000 or even less, while with a bit of haggling just over £6,000 should get you a good one, so they’re the XJRs we’re going to look at here.</p><p>Besides, looking at them is a whole lot better than looking at Bob. 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Get in quick before he nabs one (or all) of them.</p><p>This 85,000 mile XJR has had just two owners and seems well looked after at £8,500</p><p>An 85,000-miler in Eastbourne Light Gold – sorry, Topaz – this lovely XJR won't come with its private plate which an Aston Martin owner might pay good money for, but with just two owners, a clean MOT pass in November and always-garaged ‘no expense spared’ maintenance (which presumably means a full service history), it looks practically new inside and out and should be a solid bet for a few years’ worth of deluxe motoring. </p><p>A full service history and long-term owner bodes well for this £10,995 2008 XJR </p><p>A beautiful example of the facelifted/bodykitted X358 in pearl grey metallic with ivory leather, this XJR failed its MOT in February on the classic corroded brake pipe problem that affects so many cars, not just XJRs and not just Jaguars. That was fixed for the retest that was done early in March 2019, and that had no advisories. Owner by the same person since (nearly) new, it comes with a full service history. It's done 112,000 miles. Smashing. </p><p>A fully-loaded Super V8 with 118,000, a few cosmetic 'improvements' and extra points for being photographed next to a plane, yours for £6,450</p><p>The Super V8 is a great outside-the-box stealth option. A £70,000 car new, it had the same 400bhp output as the XJR but offered even more cabin luxury, especially for rear passengers who had lots of buttons to play with. From 2004 you could get a long-wheelbase Super V8, but the first 2003 models like this one were all regular wheelbase, making them a tidier drive on twisty roads and easier to park in multi-storeys. Basically, it’s an even posher XJR. It only has a partial service history, but it’s for the last five years rather than the first five. Uncle Bob calls that the best kind of partial service history.</p><p>As someone else might say, POWERRRR. If 400bhp from the 2003-on XJRs isn’t enough, though heaven knows why it shouldn't be on today’s clogged roads, 450bhp-plus is quickly available via a remap, and a rampant 650bhp is possible if you’re willing and financially able to upgrade the supercharger to a twin-screw version.</p><p>But an XJR isn’t just about unlikely speed in a delicately sculpted body. It’s also about aren’t-I-lucky comfort, refinement and luxury.</p><p>The Super V8 topped the XJR on equipment, but that was the thick end of £70,000 new. Really, when you set down all the requirements for a car of this type, the XJR doesn’t just tick every box, it double-taps every box, wraps them in a body bag and buries them seventeen miles out of town.</p><p>The last of the old-style XJs, the X350 and X358 facelift cars still had a clear styling link to their relatives from years gone by</p><p>We’ve already mentioned the X350 XJR’s aluminium bodywork. Interestingly, if you’re boring, Jaguar used things called self-piercing rivets to stitch it all together. The only trouble with that was the rivets were made of steel. Add moisture to the mix and the possibility exists of the sort of reaction you wouldn’t have been hoping for when you bought your Jaguar, ie corrosion.</p><p>Not rust, because as we all remember from our O-level Physics, aluminium doesn’t rust. Unlike proper British rust, aluminium corrosion doesn’t spread like wildfire through your car.</p><p>Plus, if an X350 isn’t showing signs of corrosion now, it has every chance of remaining so for the foreseeable future, all of which is why we’re including this under the Good Stuff heading. But do keep an eye on the edges of panels like wheelarches, doors, bootlids, and sunroofs, and on the bits that are not made of aluminium, like the subframes, which are annoyingly made of steel.</p><p>You may notice a warning light coming up to tell you that your air suspension has failed. That’s not Good Stuff, surely? Well, it’s not necessarily Not So Good Stuff either, because warning lights don’t always tell the truth.</p><p>In this case it may not mean that you have to book the car in for a ruinously expensive replacement of the airbags and pump, as a naughty Jaguar dealer might once have told you. It may simply be that the compressor hasn't managed to inflate the bags in the two minutes allowed by the car’s suspension ECU. That can happen on a cold day or if the car has been left standing for a while.</p><p>Cars lose money. As a general rule that’s true, with depreciation eating up thousands of pounds of the price you paid.</p><p>However, it doesn’t have to be the case. Savvy buyers can pick up cars that will not only retain their value, but could be sold for more down the line. </p><p>In our new Cash Cars series we look for those that fit the bill, read more:</p><p>We’ve all had our sluggish morning moments. It could be that all you need is a new air pump diaphragm, which is somewhat cheaper than a whole new suspension setup.</p><p>Before 2012, if your airbags did fail, you were definitely in for a massive bill from your Jaguar dealer, but in that year Bilstein made the original B4 Airmatic suspension modules (their name for a gas shock absorber) commercially available to owners.</p><p>It’s a lot cheaper, but still steep at a few pence under £750 a corner. If you’re happy with a recon unit you can cut that cost by around 50 per cent.</p><p>That’s one of the biggest fears of XJR ownership spiked. Another would be the behaviour of the six-speed automatic transmission. Even when fit, it did garner a reputation for jerkiness off the line that was unbecoming of a car of this nature. The good news is that plugging the gearbox ECU into an appropriate laptop and giving it what’s known as a ‘reflash’ – in layman’s terms, overwriting the memory of a computer chip to make it do something different – will sort that out.</p><p>None of the engine-related issues that affected the earlier X308 V8s – like timing chain tensioners, water pumps, throttle bodies and Nikasil bore erosion – should worry you on the X350s.</p><p>Finally, economy. What? Yes, you heard right, economy. Trundle along at the UK’s commonly chosen (but remember over the limit) cruising speed of 80mph and you can expect to see 30mpg. Not bad, eh. </p><p>The aluminium bodied Jaguar XJs, such as this one, have a good reputation but some prefer the more slimline look of earlier cars</p><p>The limitations of the classic XJ bodystyle will become evident when your family is comfortably ensconced in the car and you lift the boot lid to insert their luggage. Or carrier bags, as their luggage will therafter be called.</p><p>It’s not so much that the boot is small as the fact that it’s awkwardly shaped for larger items, like Granny’s Zimmer frame or your Canyon bike.</p><p>At the other end of the XJR we have the bonnet. Beneath that, unless you find yourself buying from one of Uncle Bob’s seedier associates, you should find the magnificent V8 engine.</p><p>If you see any wetness there, that could mean either that a pipe has popped off the coolant expansion tank or that an under-charger coolant pipe is leaking. A new one of those costs buttons, but the labour required to remove the supercharger hardware getting in the way of it unfortunately does not.</p><p>The auto transmission was rather vaingloriously set up as a ‘sealed for life’ proposition, indicating that no maintenance would ever be required, but as is the way of these things it all turned out to be not so much blue sky thinking as pie in the sky thinking.</p><p>In Jaguar’s defence, they were not the only peddler of these snake-oil claims. You do need to change the transmission fluid, and methods have been devised to do that. If there’s nothing on the paperwork to suggest it hasn’t been renewed in the last 50,000 miles, you’d be well advised to rectify matters.</p><p>One transmission foible that should by now have been sorted by a recall on all X350s was the tendency of early cars to suddenly switch into reverse while motoring smartly along in a forwards fashion. That would test the glue on your toupee.</p><p>Make sure the battery is always in good condition, as a weak one can impact the car in many strange and undesirable ways.</p><p>Go for the older XJR and you'll find what looks like a more dated interior with no sat nav etc, but skipping a sat nav that will feel out of date by now anyway is no big deal</p><p>Inside, the rapid evolution of infotainment technology means that the XJ’s satnav now looks about as modern as a Pathé News feature. That’s not the XJ’s fault: it’s the fault of manufacturers ramming satnavs into their dashes as a £2,000 extra or, as here, as a partial justification for high new-car pricing, rather than allowing owners to fit their own much cheaper satnavs from the wider market.</p><p>But that olde-worlde satnav is also a metaphor for the XJ’s biggest problem. Its looks.</p><p>Bob has zero difficulty with them, and hasn't since the first XJ glided smoothly onto our roads in 1968. For others, however, the XJ has always looked old. Unsurprising really, because that first 1960s XJ deliberately incorporated classic Jaguar styling notes from earlier still. One man’s graceful is another man’s obsolete.</p><p>Between the front and back of the XJR we have that lovely aluminium body. It’s always best to try and avoid accidents, obviously, but that’s especially true of the X350. Not because it’s unsafe, far from it, but from a financial perspective even a little bump will be expensive to put right as bodywork repairs for aluminium demand different and pricier techniques.</p><p>Cosmetic paint bubbling can occur as a result of either the steel rivets thing or, if you enjoy conspiracy theories, too-thin lacquer from the factory. Maladies that affect many other cars, like fragile doorhandles, reluctant windows, sticking mirrors and soggy parking sensors, also affect X350s.</p><p>Under the body there should be some suspension components. We’ve talked about this in the Good Stuff bit, but we do have to warn you that it can still go wrong, both in the hardware and the software. Aluminium or not, this is still a heavyish car at a piglet short of 1,800kg, so suspension parts will need monitoring and replacing when you start hearing funny noises. The air suspension compressor is not averse to giving up the ghost either. Recon units are about £200, or you can now get DIY rebuild kits for £35.</p><p>Then there is potential failure of the Body Processing Module, a pewter-hued box of electronics that (unsurprisingly) costs several hundred quid to buy new.</p><p>However, many are available via the gentlemen of the scrapping trade for as little as £10. You need to make sure it’s the right one for your car, but still there’s no guarantee that it will be any better than the one you’ve already got unless you pay three figures for a tested one.</p><p>They don't make them like that anymore: Classic Jaguar looks combined with a legendary engine are sure to stand the price of XJRs in good stead in years to come </p><p>If you’re looking at 2006-registered cars, make sure they’ve had the factory recall done on leaky brake pipes, because if there’s one thing you don’t want on a 400bhp car it’s non-functioning brakes. If you’re looking at any XJR, look at the back brake pads as they dissolve pretty smartly.</p><p>While you're down there, have a look at the suspension wishbone bushes. Unless you’re a mechanic, and even if you are a mechanic, you’re unlikely to be able to tell anything by doing that, because a knackered bush doesn’t look that different to a good one. Just know that they’ll probably need replacing if there’s no mention on the service history of them having been renewed for a few years, and/or if you’re hearing clonking.</p><p>For goodness sake make sure that the electronic parking brake works. Anyone who has been constantly cursed with this on a Land Rover Discovery 3 will know what a pain EPBs can be. In Bob’s view this is a ridiculous idea that should never have seen the light of day.</p><p>As noted earlier, don’t run off with the idea that German cars in this class are somehow vastly superior on the reliability front. Reputable surveys have shown that the contemporary Mercedes S-Class suffered from more expensive faults than the XJ. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 23, 2019
  • False insurance claims rise by 27% across the country in past year

    False insurance claims rise by 27% across the country in past year

    claims across Britain in the last year, according to a new report.</p><p>Household and motor insurance fraud had the biggest number of false claims with a 52 per cent and a 45 per cent rise, respectively, new figures from Cifas, the UK's fraud prevention service, have shown.</p><p>However, there has been an overall decrease in fronting an insurance policy, which is where a driver claims they are the main user of a car that is actually being driven by a young driver or other high-risk motorist in order to receive lower premiums.</p><p>Hike: Household and motor insurance has seen the biggest rise in fraud over the past year</p><p>Fronting is often committed by parents who say they are the main user of a vehicle when it is actually being driven by their child. </p><p>According to Direct Line, the most common home insurance claims are accidental damage, escape of water, a storm, accidental loss and burglary - most of which are incidents that could be easy to falsely claim for. </p><p>Mike Haley, chief executive officer of Cifas, said: 'False insurance claim fraud and fronting insurance policies fraud are often seen as an easy way to make a bit of money without hurting anyone. </p><p>'Yet the idea that fraud is a victimless crime is completely false.</p><p>'First, false insurance claims and fronting insurance policies are illegal. They can impact your life and career, making it near-impossible to buy insurance in the future and can even lead to a criminal record.</p><p>'Second, committing fraud hurts everyone: your neighbours, your friends, people in the area, and the UK as a whole. </p><p>'Insurers have to spend longer reviewing insurance claims and policy requests, premiums go up, and everyone loses out.'</p><p>The data shows an increase in false insurance claims made by both the young and the elderly. </p><p>There has been a 86 per cent rise in under 21s making false claims as well as a huge 73 per cent of people aged 61 and over. </p><p>Regionally, the highest increase was 48 per cent in the East, followed by 44 per cent in the South West. </p><p>However, there were areas that saw a decrease in the crime with insurance fraud dropping 24 per cent in Wales as well as four per cent in the North East.  </p><p>The statistics mark the launch of Cifas' 'faces of fraud' campaign which is hoping to help consumers understand why they shouldn't take up what can appear to be seemingly harmless opportunities to make quick cash or get a better deal, when these are actually criminal acts.</p><p>The service is urging people to stop and think about the consequences of making false insurance claims or fronting insurance policies, which can be far more serious than many believe.</p><p>Consequences can include non-payment of claims, cancellation of insurance policies, individuals having to pay costs that arise from an accident as well as a record with Cifas and the insurance fraud register which makes it more difficult to obtain insurance and other financial services.</p><p>Fronting is where people lie on their insurance about who is the main driver of their vehicle </p><p>Cases can also be reported to the police for investigation which could lead to a criminal conviction and even a prison sentence.</p><p>Haley adds: 'As the rise of false claims in household and motor insurance shows, many people are seemingly unaware of the risks they're running and the consequences it can have by committing everyday fraud.</p><p>'While the overall downturn in fronting insurance policies is a positive sign, the fact that young people are increasingly more likely to commit that type of fraud highlights the need for continuing education. </p><p>'More needs to be done to raise awareness about the harm of fraud and financial crime.'</p><p>In a bid to combat the rise of false insurance claims, firms are encouraging motorists to have a black box fitted to their car. </p><p>The telematics device monitors a person's driving and reports the data it collects back to the insurer. </p><p>This has helped reduce premiums for drivers as the safer the driver, the lower the insurance rates.</p><p>The devices have proved particularly beneficial to younger drivers whose insurance tends to be higher when they start driving as they are considered to be more likely to have an accident on the road. </p><p>Janet Connor, managing director of AA insurance, said: 'Not only are false insurance claims and fronting insurance policies are illegal but it also means that your insurance is not valid – hence if you write-off your car or suffer serious injuries you are unlikely to be covered. </p><p>'So as well as a potential criminal record it could also cost you a fortune. The high cost of motor insurance for younger drivers means families can be lured into fronting. </p><p>'To reduce the number of illegal motor insurance policies, we continue to ask the Government to remove Insurance Premium Tax for newly qualified drivers who take out a telematics "black box" insurance policy for their first two years behind the wheel.' </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 23, 2019
  • How to plan ahead if you're travelling to Europe on 29 March or after

    How to plan ahead if you're travelling to Europe on 29 March or after

    hts grinding to a halt on 29 March 2019 – but that's unlikely to happen</p><p>It looks like Brexit might now be delayed but there is still a possibility that we will tumble out of the EU next week with no deal.</p><p>Political dilly-dallying aside, there has been considerable preparation done to try to avoid disruption to people travelling between Europe and the UK in the event that Britain exits the European trading bloc with no deal. </p><p>Some of this preparation should allow you to plan ahead, at least insofar as driving abroad, purchasing euros and making sure your travel insurance is valid are concerned. </p><p>Don't worry – you'll still be able to use your current passport after 29 March 2019. But you won't be able to use the EU passport channels at airports – so expect bigger queues and factor in more time to get past the border.</p><p>A bigger issue is that after 29 March 2019, British visitors to the EU will be limited to a stay of 90 days in any 180-day period. </p><p>After 29 March 2019, there will be a transition period during which Brits won't need a visa to go to Europe. But that will change when the European Travel Information and Authorisation System (ETIAS) is implemented in 2021.</p><p>From 2021, British travellers will need to complete an online ETIAS application form before going to Europe. It will cost €7 to register for three years and you'll need to do it 72 hours before you want to travel.</p><p>The ETIAS isn't a visa – it's a visa waiver and will work in a similar way to the ESTA visa-waiver scheme in the US.</p><p>There have been plenty of scare stories around about flights grinding to a halt on 29 March 2019 – but that's unlikely to happen.</p><p>In short, airlines need permission to fly over other countries' airspace. The UK government has said it would envisage granting permission to EU airlines to carry on as normal and would expect EU countries to reciprocate.</p><p>However, experts have warned about flight delays and disruption at airports in the days immediately after 29 March. </p><p>Travellers can protect themselves by buying a packaged holiday as package travel regulations will remain in place. </p><p>These ensure you get a refund if Brexit (or anything else) results in your package holiday being cancelled by the tour operator.</p><p>Another option is only to book hotels with free cancellation – then you won't be liable for your room costs if travel delays result in you abandoning your trip.</p><p>Under the current EU regulation EC 261, passengers may be entitled to compensation of up to €600 for any flight delay of three or more hours, a cancelled flight or if they're denied boarding. These rules apply if the departure airport is within the EU, or the flight lands in the EU, and is operated by an EU-based carrier.</p><p>At this stage we don't know if the UK would apply to remain within the EC 261 jurisdiction. </p><p>Some transport providers have added 'Brexit clauses' to their terms and conditions. These generally state that they will not be liable for 'consequential losses' (such as hotel bookings and car hire) if travel plans are disrupted. </p><p>Although we still don't know exactly what will happen after 29 March 2019, it's highly likely you will need at least six months validity on your passport to travel to most countries outside of the UK. </p><p>At the moment UK drivers don't need any additional documentation to drive in Europe. But this could change after Brexit. </p><p>In the event of a no-deal Brexit, motorists driving their own car or a hire car are likely to need an International Driving Permit</p><p>In the event of a no-deal Brexit, motorists driving their own car or a hire car are likely to need an International Driving Permit (IDP) which costs £5.50 from select Post Offices. </p><p>There are two different IDPs used in various EU states so check which one you need before you set off and get it organised as far in advance as possible.</p><p>There might be changes to insurance too. Currently car insurance policies issued in the UK are valid throughout the EU as well as Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Iceland.</p><p>But post-Brexit motorists are likely to need a 'green card' from their insurance company to prove they have third party insurance (the legal minimum level of cover to drive abroad). </p><p>There may be an admin charge for green cards – we don't know yet and it could vary between insurers.</p><p>Currency always fluctuates and it's hard to say when the best time is to change up your pounds into euros. If you're worried about rate changes, you could consider buying some currency now and the rest at a later date, or closer to your holiday.</p><p>A credit card offers great protection for overseas spending, but make sure you choose one that won't charge you for spending abroad</p><p>The key to cost efficiency is planning ahead. Too many of us leave picking up our currency to the last minute at the airport, where you're likely to get a much poorer exchange rate. Instead, you could pre-order cash online for home delivery or collection at the airport.</p><p>Another option is a pre-paid currency card, which is safer than carrying cash, can be topped up online and is likely to offer a more competitive exchange rate. </p><p>Alternatively, a credit card offers great protection for overseas spending, but make sure you choose one that won't charge you for overseas spending and avoid using it for cash withdrawals as you'll be charged interest from day one (even if you pay off the balance). </p><p>This is Money has put together a checklist for you if you're holidaying in Europe in April. </p><p>1. If you're unsure, contact your travel insurance provider directly to find out what they will cover you for.</p><p>2. Depending on whether you've booked yet, try to purchase everything for your holiday that costs over £100 on a credit card. If your holiday is affected by Brexit and you don't get what you bought, you're entitled to claim compensation under section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act - a UK-based law that doesn't rely on the EU. </p><p>Remember to repay the full balance back at the end of the month though, to avoid paying hefty interest charges.</p><p>3. Apply for your international driving permit two weeks before travelling at a minimum if you plan to drive in Europe after Brexit.</p><p>4. Apply for a green card from your car insurer if you plan to take your car to Europe after 29 March. You must do this a minimum of two weeks ahead. Even if you don't end up needing it, you'll be covered.</p><p>5. Don't leave buying your euros until the airport. The regulator has warned foreign exchange firms to treat customers fairly in the event of a no deal Brexit causing the pound to plummet. But to be safe, start buying your currency now and plan to buy a set amount each week before you go to even out volatility. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 23, 2019
  • What do US expats need to know before the UK tax year ends?

    What do US expats need to know before the UK tax year ends?

    ricans living in the UK this means it is time to put things in order for 5 April. </p><p>This is Money has asked financial experts at London &amp; Capital to give US expats living in the UK the basics of what they need to know before the UK tax year ends. </p><p>There are many key differences between UK and US tax regimes you will need to be aware of</p><p>Although this may seem obvious, not everyone remembers to use these allowances each year.</p><p>There is no reason why Americans living in the UK can’t contribute to a pension, but it is important to select the right pension vehicle and be aware of how personal and employer contributions are taxed from a US perspective, and how to use any foreign tax credits on your income.</p><p>One benefit is that for anyone who hasn’t used the full annual allowance in a particular tax year it is possible to carry forward unused contributions from the previous three tax years. </p><p>By carrying forward unused pension contributions, it is possible to reduce a tax liability.</p><p>The other point is that US tax authorities view Isas as normal investment accounts and not tax-free vehicles like they are in the UK. </p><p>There is still some benefit to using them, but the assets held within them need to be compliant from a US perspective and they should be managed with a view to eventually paying capital gains tax to the IRS.</p><p>Americans who are resident in the UK pay tax to HMRC on all their worldwide income and gains regardless of location. </p><p>This means all investment accounts need to be considered, whether held in the US or any other jurisdiction.</p><p>Therefore, it is important to keep track of any assets that were bought and sold during the year and then view any gains or losses from a sterling perspective.</p><p>Complicating matters is that efforts to reduce a tax liability in one jurisdiction could lead to an unwanted tax bill in the other. </p><p>A UK investment portfolio won’t be managed to minimise dollar-based gains and losses at US tax year end, and this can incur capital gains taxes in a client’s US tax return. The same is of course true in reverse for a US investment manager.  </p><p>When looking to gift assets to the next generation or make charitable donations, there are several pitfalls to avoid. </p><p>The US has a more generous regime than the UK when it comes to gifting assets to family or friends, so any gifts need to be factored into a UK wealth plan or they need to be dual-compliant.</p><p>US authorities view Isas as normal investment accounts and not tax-free vehicles like the UK</p><p>US citizens have an $11,180,000 lifetime gift and estate tax allowance and can give up to $15,000 to any individuals they want each year. They can also give $152,000 to a non-American spouse each year without it forming part of their $11.18million. </p><p>These allowances are not recognised in the UK, and UK inheritance tax will be due if they die within seven years of the gift date.</p><p>Similarly, when making charitable donations, tax breaks are only earned on both sides of the Atlantic if donations are made into dual-qualifying charities – in other words, those that are registered charities in both the US and UK. </p><p>Many US charities, including many college endowments, are not recognised as charities in the UK and cannot be used to reduce a tax bill with HMRC, and this can catch people out. </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 23, 2019
  • How to read a floorplan to work out if a property for sale is too expensive

    How to read a floorplan to work out if a property for sale is too expensive

    tricky dilemma given the factors at play.</p><p>But there's one factor that may help you get closer to the true market value of a property, which is little known about - and it all begins with a feature of property listings that surprisingly few buyers pay a lot of attention to.</p><p>The floor plan of a property can help buyers work out how much to offer</p><p>While the pretty photos of a well-presented home for sale may be the first thing that you look at on a property website, it is the listing's floor plan that can really help you determine its market value.</p><p>This is because a floor plan can be used to calculate the price per square foot or metre that buyers are willing to pay in a particular area.</p><p>It can highlight which of two similar properties is the potential bargain and the one that is overpriced.</p><p>This three-bedroom property in Bristol's Queensholm Drive is for sale for £375,000</p><p>Take, for example, a three-bedroom property for sale in Bristol's Queensholm Drive, which is on the market for £375,000.</p><p>After viewing the property, you may decide to make an offer below the asking price, but for how much?</p><p>As part of your research, take a look at the floor plan, which will normally reveal the total square footage - in this case, the property covers a total area of 1,083 sq ft.</p><p>Compare this with one of the last properties sold in the same street under the 'sold prices' tab of property websites such as Rightmove.</p><p>The floor plan of a house in Queensholm Drive sold a year ago for £315,000 shows a total floor area of 1,413 sq ft.</p><p>Use that figure to then calculate the average price of a square foot in that street.</p><p>This is done by dividing the £315,000 sold price by its total square footage of 1,413, to get a price of £222.92 per sq ft.</p><p>The next step it to take this price per square ft of £222.92 and multiple it by the total number of square feet in the property for sale that you're looking to buy.</p><p>In this example, the calculation would be £222.92 multiplied by 1,083 square feet to give a value of £241,422.</p><p>This figure of £241,422 is significantly lower than the current asking price of the Queensholm Drive property for sale, which is currently on the market for £375,000. Indeed, it is a difference of more than £130,000.</p><p>Of course, you need to compare the standard of the two properties, but even if one is much better you may ask whether it would cost that much money to have brought the cheaper property up to the level of the more expensive one.</p><p>Even allowing for house price inflation during this period, it would suggest that it may be worth putting in a lower offer than the asking price.</p><p>Estate agents warn that there are other features in a property that help to determine the price</p><p>However, there are - of course - a multitude of factors that a buyer needs to take into account when buying a property. And ultimately, a property is only worth what a buyer is willing to pay for it, which can be a highly personal issue.</p><p>Estate agents also add a word of caution, saying that calculating the price per square footage fails to take into account other features in a property, such as natural light.</p><p>North London estate agent Jeremy Leaf said: 'The use of price per square foot as a comparison tool has increased considerably over the past few years but those using it should do so with caution as these figures are useful as a guide only.</p><p>'Buyers and sellers need to take into account other factors such as location, specification, outlook, natural light, condition etc which could all render the price per square foot figure almost academic in some cases. </p><p>'On the other hand, if you are comparing very similar-sized units in a standardised block of flats then the comparison price by area could be more than useful, although again significant differences can apply.</p><p>'Even almost identical flats or houses in the same building or street can vary considerably in value, appeal to different buyers and appeal to different buyers. There is no substitute for an accurate market appraisal without cost from an independent, suitably-experienced high-street estate agent.'</p><p>And buying agent Henry Pryor said: 'If an agent starts quoting price per sq ft you know he's on the back foot. </p><p>'I know there is a wall of money trying to commoditise second hand homes, but if I told you that the house you wanted to buy was worth more per square inch/foot/meter would you pay more? Of course you wouldn't! </p><p>'Homes are like fine art. Is a Picasso that's twice the size of another Picasso worth twice as much? Of course not. You can't 'value' that feeling - good or bad that we all get when we walk into a house. It's like trying to get a computer to value a Chippendale chair. Forget it.' </p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 22, 2019
  • Ted Baker vows to 'learn lessons' from hugging scandal that forced boss Ray Kelvin to quit

    Ted Baker vows to 'learn lessons' from hugging scandal that forced boss Ray Kelvin to quit

    ofits to £50.9m</p><p>Ted Baker has vowed to 'learn lessons' from the scandal that led to the resignation of its chief executive.</p><p>As it posted a 26.1 per cent slump in annual profits to £50.9million, the firm said it was 'committed to ensuring all employees feel respected and valued'.</p><p>The comments came after boss Ray Kelvin, 63, quit following allegations by staff of inappropriate behaviour against him including 'forced hugging'. Kelvin, who denies wrongdoing, founded Ted Baker in 1988.</p><p>After installing former finance boss Lindsay Page, 59, as acting chief executive, the firm said it was forced to slash product prices to keep up with those offered by competitors.</p><p>Sales were up 4.4 per cent to £617.4million – far slower than the 11 per cent rise the previous year – but Ted Baker said High Street trading had been 'very difficult'.</p><p>Ted Baker said best-sellers last year included its women's Sandra wool wrap coat which costs £329, with floral dresses and patterned men's shirts also selling well.</p><p>In a statement alongside its annual results, Ted Baker said: 'The board are committed to ensuring that all employees feel respected and valued.</p><p>'We are determined to learn lessons from what has happened and from what our employees have told us and to ensure that, while the many positive and unique aspects of Ted Baker's culture are maintained, appropriate changes are made.'</p><p>Shares were down 6.4 per cent, or 109p, to 1601p last night.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p>Your comment will be posted to MailOnline as usual.</p><p>Do you want to automatically post your MailOnline comments to your Facebook Timeline?</p><p> We will automatically post your comment and a link to the news story to your Facebook timeline at the same time it is posted on MailOnline. To do this we will link your MailOnline account with your Facebook account. We’ll ask you to confirm this for your first post to Facebook.</p><p>Part of the Daily Mail, The Mail on Sunday &amp; Metro Media Group</p>

    1 March 22, 2019

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