Monthly Archives: August 2016

HLP Compliance Blog

Interview with Gavin Earnshaw, Compliance Director: Part Two

HLP Compliance Blog, Gavin Earnshaw

Missed Part One? Please click here.

MG: What developments do you plan for HLPartnership?

GE: As I said last week, Mark, the network is in good shape, but there is room for improvement. We will see increased focus on our business from the FCA and we need to make sure we are doing the basics well but also evolving in line with the regulators expectations for a business of our size and influence.

I shall be reviewing all of our procedures and bringing them up to date, which will mean a refresh of the network procedures. I don’t expect radical overhaul, but modifications will be likely. I’d like to think that as a result of this we could simplify things for firms in many areas; I have already identified the Product Transfer process as an area that could benefit from review and I think we could make this more straight forward, whilst protecting the integrity of the process.

Developing systems and continuing education around the areas of fraud and financial crime are important, too. The regulator has expectations for us, but equally important is the positive relationship that good quality business will have with our product partners. Preventing money laundering, mortgage fraud, scheme abuse, commission abuse and medical non-disclosure are key areas of focus. Helping firms to comply with our sales processes and procedures will help them to stay safe in business. This is a huge objective of mine as I feel it is fundamental to my role that we use our knowledge to help business owners understand the risks and to develop practices that help them to stay safe.

MG: It seems like you are enjoying life at HLPartnership?

GE: I am, Mark. This is a great company and I am enjoying working with Chris, Neil and Martin. I have a great team working for me and they are very knowledgeable and full of enthusiasm. Everyone has made me feel very welcome and I am enjoying my visits to the south coast.

We are an ambitious company too and that is reassuring. It is important to continue to develop and grow as it keeps everyone focussed. I see that we are recruiting some very well established firms with great reputations, which in turn means that HLPartnership is being seen as one of the UK’s best places for good, professional firms to go for support and AR status.

MG: Gavin, thank you very much for your time.

Click below to read more:

Compliance Q & A, 1st September, 2016.


Weekly Round-up, 26th August, 2016.

Steady as she goes out

This month’s British Banking Association’s High Street Banking statistics are the first set of borrowing figures gathered since the EU referendum. According to the trade body, the data they have collected does not currently suggest borrowing patterns have been significantly affected by the Brexit vote, but highlight that it is still early days and many borrowing decisions will also have been taken before the referendum vote.

The statistics suggest we are also clearly still a nation of shoppers and the Brexit vote has done nothing to change the fact that we use credit cards for short-term purchases. Strong retail sales figures appear closely associated with strong consumer credit growth.

We saw Gross mortgage borrowing of £12.6bn in the month which was 6% higher than in July 2015 and consumer credit continues to show annual growth of over 6% reflecting strong retail sales and in the case of personal loans and overdrafts favourable interest rates.

House purchase approval numbers are some 19% lower than in July 2015, though in the first seven months of 2016 they are some 2% higher than in the same period of 2015. Remortgaging approvals were 6% higher than in July 2015 and in the first seven months of 2016 were 21% higher than in the equivalent period of 2015.

Best Doctors…

A new report by leading charities Breast Cancer Now and Prostate Cancer UK shows NHS cancer patients in the UK are missing out on innovative treatments being made available in some comparable countries of similar wealth. The report shows this is likely in part because our appraisal systems lack the opportunity to negotiate on the price of drugs.

The ‘International Comparisons of Health Technology Assessment’ report – published this week – reviewed the drug systems and the availability of breast and prostate cancer treatments in England, Scotland and Wales compared to five similar countries: Germany, France, Australia, Canada and Sweden.

It shows for example that Kadcyla – a drug that can offer women living with incurable secondary breast cancer an extra six months of life on average – was launched two and half years ago and is now available in Germany, Canada and France. However it is only available through the Cancer Drugs Fund in England, and is not available at all in Scotland or Wales.

The comparative report looked at the roles of ‘Health Technology Assessment’ (HTA) bodies – such as the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) in England and Wales and the Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) in Scotland – in assessing which new drugs are made routinely available.

The research highlights that, while no country is perfect, there are elements of other health systems which could be assessed to see if there is potential for reforms that could improve access to cancer drugs for NHS patients.

Schools Out of pocket

With just over a fortnight left before the start of the new school year, new research from Nationwide Credit Cards suggests that British parents will shell out an average of £186.24 per child kitting them out. This means that £1.56 billion will be spent this summer, ensuring the UK’s 8.4 million school children are ready for the start of the new term.

There is also a parental age differential when it comes to back-to-school spending because, according to the Nationwide survey, older parents appear looser with the purse strings than younger parents. Those aged 55 and over will spend the most money (£218.76), followed by those that are between 45 and 54 years old (£217.28). On the other hand, those parents between 25 and 34 years old will spend the least (£162.14), closely followed by those parents aged between 18 and 24 (£162.19).

School uniform and shoes clearly take up the biggest proportion of expenditure at 31 per cent. More than half (52 per cent) of parents admit they will spend £31 or more on the school uniform, while two in five (40 per cent) admit they will do the same on the school shoes. However, it’s not just clothing that is costing parents because technology items are also on the shopping list and taking up 14 per cent of the bill. Technology is also where younger parents outspend their older peers with the average 18 to 24-year-old parent spending on average £42.50 per child, compared to those parents aged 35-44, who spend just £20.78.

First point of contact

Spending on contactless cards in the first half of 2016 has already outstripped contactless spending for the whole of 2015, new figures show. Some £9.27 billion was spent using contactless methods between January and June of this year, new figures from The UK Cards Association show, more than the total 2015 contactless spend of £7.75 billion.

There were 1.1 billion contactless transactions in the first half of the year, compared to 1.05 billion for the whole of 2015. Contactless card payments accounted for 18 per cent of total purchases in June, the latest monthly card expenditure statistics show. This is in contrast to the June 2015 figure of seven per cent and the average contactless transaction was £8.60 in both May and June of this year.

Payment card spending reached £53.1 billion in June, £0.4 billion more than in May. Both spending and the number of payments increased in the second quarter of the year, with 92 million more purchases and £1.9 billion more spending than in the first quarter of 2016.

The number of card payments within the retail sector increased by 5.2 million to 799 million, with the corresponding spend increasing by £134 million to £25 billion. The majority of the increase came from the food and drink sub-sector, while there were also increased sales of photographic goods and at gift shops.

And finally…Man heart after

This week saw the funniest jokes of the Edinburgh fringe published with the winner being Masai Graham with his “My dad has suggested that I register for a donor card. He’s a man after my own heart.” This was in contrast to the most groan-worthy such as “In France J-Lo is called ‘I have water’” from Adam Hess and Darren Walsh’s “What do you call three members of ABBA in a French slaughterhouse? ABBA trois”.

In order to compile the shortlist, each of the judges sat through an average of 60 different comedy performances and sifted through more than 3,600 minutes of material. This meant they each had a potential pool of around 7,200 different jokes to choose from.

Here are a few more that made the shortlist:

“Why is it old people say ‘there’s no place like home’, yet when you put them in one…” – Stuart Mitchell

“I’ve been happily married for four years – out of a total of 10.” – Mark Watson

“I went to a pub quiz in Liverpool, had a few drinks so wasn’t much use. Just for a laugh I wrote The Beatles or Steven Gerrard for every answer… came second.” – Will Duggan

“Brexit is a terrible name, sounds like cereal you eat when you are constipated.” – Tiff Stevenson

“Don’t you hate it when people assume you’re rich because you sound posh and went to private school and have loads of money?” – Annie McGrath

“Is it possible to mistake schizophrenia for telepathy, I hear you ask.” – Jordan Brookes

“I spotted a marmite van on the motorway. It was heading yeastbound.” – Roger Swift

And finally…

“Elton John hates ordering Chinese food. Soya seems to be the hardest word.” – Phil Nicol

HLP Compliance Blog

Interview with Gavin Earnshaw, Compliance Director: Part One

HLP Compliance Blog, Gavin Earnshaw

Gavin Earnshaw (GE) joined the network as director of compliance in July and, just a few weeks into the role, our Marketing Manager, Mark Garland (MG), caught up with him to find out a bit more about his experience, his thoughts on regulatory matters and his objectives in the role.

MG: Gavin, let’s start with learning about your background. Tell me about your previous experience?

GE: Hi Mark. It all started around 30 years ago when I left 6th form and managed to get a job at Halifax Building Society. For a couple of years, I’d had this desire to get into banking – my dad was a decorator and I fancied something a little cleaner where I could put on a shirt and tie – and was lucky to get a job at Halifax quite quickly after finishing A-levels. I started with the basics and worked my way up to becoming a mortgage adviser in a very busy city centre branch. I also helped with some of the mortgage processing and it was doing this that I met Rob Clifford. I processed his company’s mortgage applications and apparently did a good job of it as he offered me my next role as customer services manager in his new build specialist brokerage; I was to work with Rob for the next 16 years. It was during this time, in 2000, that Rob launched a new business based on a successful Australian model of franchised mortgage broking. I was tasked with setting up and running the operation. That business, Mortgage Force, grew to be very successful, winning multiple awards and was later purchased by West Bromwich Building Society in a multi-million pound deal.

After the market crash, in 2010, I left and set up my own business, providing contracted services to Lloyds Bank, Northern Rock Asset Management and Barclaycard before I was then persuaded to join LSL’s Pink network as Head of Compliance in 2012. I had three very happy years at Pink and then, more recently, was at Sesame Bankhall Group before arriving at HLPartnership.

So, as you can see Mark, I have always worked in Financial Services, in the mortgage broking arena and, since the market became regulated by the FSA in 2004, I have worked very closely with the regulators. I like to think I know the market very well and I genuinely understand the pressures that firm principals and advisers are under on a day to day basis.

MG: What are your early impressions of HLPartnership?

GE: First of all, I think HLPartnership is a great size for a network. It’s big enough to have ‘clout’ with the product providers yet able to offer a very personal service to the partners. To have a group of directors in a business – Chris, Neil and Martin – so committed to working hard to maintain good relationships with the partners is fantastic and something I did not see so much of whilst at Pink or Sesame. That suits me as I am not your typical ‘desk-bound compliance officer’. I like to get to know the different firms that we are supporting and to find out what makes them tick. I learned a long time ago that no two firms are identical in the way they operate so it is important to develop a network that respects these differences and move away from a ‘one size fits all’ approach to compliance.

In 6 weeks, despite having a summer vacation, I have managed to meet a good number of firms already and it is obvious that these partners respect HLPartnership and our requirement to adopt the regulatory rules, develop systems to comply and to maintain high standards of customer care; everyone I have spoken to is happy to work with us in these areas.

Talking to our product partners I also get a real sense of this being a highly regarded network. Business quality is at a good level, customer satisfaction is high and incidences of fraud are low.

Of course, there are areas I have seen where improvements can be made and I will use feedback I get from my visits to partners to help shape those developments. And let’s not forget we are living through an age of significant regulatory and market change so we will need to keep a close eye on the regulatory landscape to make sure we are on the right direction of travel. But we are in a good place and I am happy to be here.

MG: What are your thoughts on the regulatory landscape?

GE:Mark, we have travelled through some choppy waters in the last 3 or 4 years, that’s for sure. The Mortgage Market Review (MMR) and Mortgage Credit Directive (MCD) changes were brought about as a result of EU intervention, as a means to harmonise the market pan-Europe. Whilst all that was going on we had a change in regulator (FSA to FCA) and, within the FCA, we have seen 3 different Chief Executives in post. Even as things stand we will continue to see change, but Brexit will create some opportunities for the UK to do things its own way and I do expect us to see some changes to regulatory rules as a consequence, maybe even shedding some of the cumbersome rules brought in by European intervention.

What is most interesting though, for me, is that the FCA has been shifting its focus towards product innovation in the market. It is looking to (even starting to pressure) lenders into developing more innovative products for the underserved population. One area, for example, is lending for the elderly. This part of the market is currently offering bland choices through lifetime mortgages. The pension freedoms brought about in recent years show that the government believes that retirees are able to make decisions when faced with big financial choices. I expect this thinking to bring pressure to bear on lenders to create more lending options into later life and we are already starting to see some developments here.

Similarly, I see ‘trapped borrowers’ becoming more of an issue in the regulators mind, which may result in more flexible lending options. We are seeing new lenders enter the market that offer a more flexible approach and this is good to see (as long as we don’t fall back into the poor practices of the mid 2000’s!).

Of course, with new products comes the potential for miss-selling and complaints, so HLPartnership will carefully consider how we create access for members as the market develops.

I also see the FCA developing their approach to supervision and it looks to me like we will see a greater level of focus on business owners at all levels – even Appointed Representative firm principals. Meeting and maintaining fitness and propriety is something the FCA expects, but we are likely to see greater scrutiny on the conduct of individuals who perform roles of significant influence. I can see the FS register developing to offer customers even more information about business owners so it is important for us all, especially when holding office, to maintain a healthy financial position, a high level of professional competence and to make good decisions in business that have positive outcomes for customers.

Beyond this, the FCA have been talking about consumer behaviour, smarter communications, better use of technology and dealing with vulnerable customers. They will expect to see business models adapt in line with the guidance they publish and to demonstrate compliance to the principles.

Next week’s Compliance Blog:

HLP Compliance Blog, Gavin Earnshaw

Interview with Gavin Earnshaw, Compliance Director: Part Two, where Gavin will be sharing with us some of his development plans for the network, his thoughts on being part of the HLPartnership team and, of course, answering your questions.

If you have a question you would like to pose to Gavin, please email him here.

Weekly Round-up, 19th August, 2016.

Renters at Risk

Soaring levels of renting and a post-referendum rise in unemployment could create a ‘toxic cocktail’ for millions of renters because of large gaps in the housing benefit ‘safety net’, according to a new report by Royal London. The new policy paper, ‘Renters at Risk’, has found a surge in the number of working people who would be at risk of being unable to meet their rent in the event that they lost their wage through unemployment or sickness.

Based on detailed analysis of the Government’s Family Resources Survey, the report found that found that in 2013/14 more than 1 million children were at risk of their family having to move home because of gaps in the benefits system if a parent were to suffer a loss of income. The growth in ‘renters at risk’ reflects the combined effects of a general increase in the number of private renters, an increase in the level of employment and a series of cuts to the generosity of housing benefit. To read the report click here.

Staying Put

The number of mortgages in arrears continued to fall in the second quarter of this year, and is now at its lowest level since records began more than 20 years ago. Data from the Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) show that at the end of June there were 92,500 mortgages in arrears of at least 2.5% of the balance (0.84% of the total), down from 95,900 at the end of March. The number of mortgages in arrears was 13.4% lower than a year ago, when the total stood at 106,800, and is now at its lowest level since the run of figures began in 1994.

The number of properties taken into possession also fell in the second quarter, to 1,900 (down from 2,100 in the first three months of the year). There was a decline in both the numbers of owner-occupied (1,300, down from 1,500) and buy-to-let (500, down from 700) properties taken into possession (all figures rounded to nearest hundred). If the present trend continues, the number of mortgaged property repossessions this year is on course to be the lowest since 1982 (when there were 6.5 million mortgages, compared to 11.1 million today).

CML data also shows different patterns of arrears and possessions in the owner-occupied and buy-to-let mortgage markets. As before, arrears rates are higher among owner-occupiers than among buy-to-let landlords, while rates of possession are lower. This is because lenders try to avoid repossession wherever possible to help owner-occupiers recover from a temporary period of payment difficulty, but may move more quickly to protect their position on rental properties (as tenants move out) in the more commercial buy-to-let sector.


With the new Premier League season kicking off last Saturday, West Ham has been crowned champions of the annual Nationwide Building Society ‘House Price Premier League’.

The league, in its fourth year, is based on the annual percentage change in house prices for the local authority containing each team’s stadium and shows West Ham take the title by one percentage point over Tottenham Hotspur in second. For the second successive season, Crystal Palace and Watford finish in the top four.

Newham, which is home to both West Ham United’s old Upton Park ground as well as its new base at the Olympic Stadium, saw house prices rise by 21 per cent over the 12 month period to May 2016. The City of Liverpool, home to both Everton and Liverpool FC, didn’t fare as well however with only a two per cent increase over the same period, falling nine places on the ‘House Price Premier League’ compared with 2015.

Although Leicester City won the football Premier League, it does not rank as highly in the House Price Premier League, finishing only seventh based on annual house price growth in the city. With an average house price of £146,038, Leicester is 81 per cent cheaper than Hammersmith & Fulham, home of Chelsea’s Stamford Bridge Stadium, the most expensive area in our league with an average house price of £783,686.

Helping hand could prove costly

Under the plans set out in an HMRC consultation document released this week, enablers of tax avoidance could have to pay a fine of up to 100 per cent of the tax the scheme’s user underpaid.

Currently tax avoiders face significant financial costs when HMRC defeats them in court. However, those who advised on, or facilitated, the avoidance bear little risk. The government is acting to make sure that tax avoidance is rooted out at source and this action will target all those in the supply chain of tax avoidance arrangements.

The consultation document also clarifies the rules around whether proven tax avoiders have taken reasonable care to ensure their tax returns do not contain inaccuracies, making it simpler to enforce penalties when avoidance schemes are defeated.

This is the latest of a number of government measures designed to tackle illicit finance and tax dodging. These include a new criminal offence for corporations that fail to prevent the facilitation of tax evasion, and new sanctions against those who engage in multiple avoidance schemes which are defeated by HMRC.

On the rise

According to a high-level summary of the UK House Price Index (HPI), published jointly by the Land Registry, Land and Property Services Northern Ireland, Office for National Statistics and Registers of Scotland, UK average house prices have increased by 8.7% in the year to June 2016 (up from 8.5% in the year to May 2016), continuing the strong growth seen since the end of 2013.

The index shows that the average UK house price was £214,000 in June 2016. This is £17,000 higher than in June 2015 and £2,100 higher than last month. The main contribution to the increase in UK house prices came from England, where house prices increased by 9.3% over the year to June 2016, with the average price in England now £229,000. Wales saw house prices increase by 4.9% over the latest 12 months to stand at £145,000. In Scotland, the average price increased by 4.6% over the year to stand at £143,000. The average price in Northern Ireland is currently £123,000.

According to the index, the East of England replaces London as the region which showed the highest annual growth, with prices increasing by 14.3% in the year to June 2016. Growth in London remains high at 12.6%, followed by the South East with a 12.3% annual growth. The lowest annual growth was in the North East, where prices increased by 1.5% over the year.

Cocktail Sausage

An argument in a German town ended with one man attacking another’s BMW with a foot-long sausage.

The drama unfolded in Neubrandenburg, 73 miles north of Berlin, on Saturday. According to the police report, police were called at around 7pm to reports of insults and threats between a 47-year-old and a 49-year-old. During the course of the argument, the 49-year-old threw a “30cm long sausage” at the 47-year-old’s BMW, leaving a “1cm dent on the rear right door”. Reports did not comment on the age of the sausage although on it is suggested that on the insurance claim form there is mention of being hit by an old banger.

The police report gives no further detail as to the cause of the argument, although local newspaper Die Welt, suggests that a parking dispute sparked the affray and quotes a police spokesperson as stating that it was the metal clip sealing the sausage which caused the damage to the car’s door.

Charges of verbal abuse are pending against both men, along with the additional charge of property damage against the 49-year-old, according to The Local. What’s happened to the sausage is still unclear however rumours are that it has been confiscated to the evidence room along with a small barbeque and some bread rolls.

Weekly Round-up, 12th August, 2016.

Borrowing up

According to the Council of Mortgage Lenders, home-owners borrowed £12.3bn for house purchase, which was up 29% month-on-month and 12% year-on-year. They took out 68,200 loans, up 26% on May and 8% on June 2015. First-time buyers borrowed £5.5bn, up 28% on May and 25% on June last year. This equated to 34,300 loans, up 24% month-on-month and 17% year-on-year.

Home movers borrowed £6.9bn, up 33% on May and up 5% compared to a year ago. This represented 33,900 loans, up 28% month-on-month and up 0.3% on June 2015. Remortgage activity totalled £5.6bn, up 8% on May and 6% compared to a year ago. This came to 32,400 loans, up 4% month-on-month but down 2% compared to a year ago.

Landlords borrowed £2.9bn, up 12% month-on-month but down 15% year-on-year. This came to 18,300 loans in total, up 8% compared to May and down 17% compared to June 2015. Recent estimates based on data from HM Revenue & Customs suggest that there are at least 1.75 million landlords in the UK, who collectively earned a net £14.2 billion in rental income last year. While a fair amount of research has been done on how the profile of tenants has changed, there is less data available on the changing profile of landlords.

Turn on the switch

The final report of the Competition and Markets Authority’s (CMA) retail banking market investigation, published this week, concluded that older and larger banks do not have to compete hard enough for customers’ business, and smaller and newer banks find it difficult to grow. This means that many people are paying more than they should and are not benefiting from new services.

To tackle these problems, the CMA is implementing a wide ranging package of reforms. Central to the CMA’s remedies are measures to ensure that customers benefit from technological advances and that new entrants and smaller providers are able to compete more fairly. The key measures, which will benefit personal and small business customers, include requiring banks to implement Open Banking by early 2018, to accelerate technological change in the UK retail banking sector, and to publish trustworthy and objective information on quality of service on their websites and in branches, so that customers can see how their own bank shapes up.

Banks will also be required to send out suitable periodic and event-based ‘prompts’ such as on the closure of a local branch or an increase in charges, to remind their customers to review whether they are getting the best value and switch banks if not.

According to the CMA, Banks make £1.2 billion a year from unarranged overdraft charges. So in future, Banks will need to send alerts to customers going into unarranged overdraft, and inform them of a grace period, to avoid charges.

Paying a premium

The average price paid for private comprehensive motor insurance in the second quarter of 2016 rose slightly by 1% since the previous quarter, but increased by 10% on the same period last year according to the ABI’s latest Quarterly Average Private Comprehensive Motor Insurance Premium Tracker published today. These figures illustrate the ongoing pressure on premiums driven by increases in Insurance Premium Tax (IPT) and the rising costs of personal injury claims.

The Tracker shows that the average premium paid in the second quarter 2016 was £434, up £5 (1%) on the previous quarter, and that in the second quarter it rose by 10% on the same period last year. This means that the average comprehensive motor insurance premium is £39 more expensive than a year ago.

Can I Have it?

Nearly half of parents (48%) feel compelled to make ‘peer-pressured parental purchases’ for their children such as smartphones, fashionable clothing and expensive parties, according to research from Sainsbury’s Bank.

The research, commissioned to support Sainsbury’s Bank’s second Family Finance Report, ‘The Family Lifecycle – The Learner Years’, reveals that the pressure to buy their children items because other children have them is adding £865 to the average annual household expenditure. Across the UK this amounts to nearly £6 billion being spent each year on expenses such as clothing, school trips and parties. The top three items fueling ‘parent peer pressure’ are the need to have the latest technology, such as phones and tablets (44%); clothing (43%) and school trips and excursions (42%). These are followed by membership to clubs and societies such as football club and scouts (30%) expensive children’s parties or birthday gifts (27%).

But the costs don’t stop there – nearly eight in ten parents (77%) with children under 18 spend on average £90 a month to send their children to clubs and on hobbies and just over one in three parents (36%) spend £143 giving them a helping hand with some private tuition – a total of £233 per month. And as the kids get older, giving them a party to remember is de rigueur, with 52% of parents saying they expect to pay for significant birthday parties such as their 16th, 18th and 21st celebrations.

And finally…final demand!

A man was astonished when he received a tax bill for £14 trillion – more than the net worth of the entire UK economy. Stunned, Giles Hembrough (42), discovered the eye-watering mistake when he opened an ominous brown envelope from HMRC after returning from the pub last weekend.

The whopping 14-figure sum is a trillion pounds higher than the net worth of the US – the world’s largest economy – and way more than the UK’s estimated £8.1 trillion. Railway Signal Tester Giles calculated it would take him 369 million years to pay off the tax, even if he gave the Government every penny of his salary each month.

Giles, from Bristol, said: “When I noticed the figure at the bottom I had to do a double take. I was incredibly surprised, of course, it was such a big number. I knew right away that it was a mistake. If it was £100,000 or even £10,000 I might have been a bit concerned that I did owe it for some reason, but the figure was so large that I knew it wasn’t right.”

Giles called HMRC and to report that he thought his tax code may be incorrect. The equally shocked HMRC representative reportedly said: “Oh that is a big amount; it looks like someone has fallen asleep on the keyboard!”

Join the HLPremiership League!

Please note: The HLPremiership League is only open to HLPartnership Partner Advisers and HLPartnership Staff.

The HLPremiership launches this weekend

Do you see your business skills stretch beyond giving great advice on Mortgages and Protection? Can you use the sourcing system to create the right team to deliver a great outcome for your team? And will you be able to outfox everyone else to win the league?

We know the big guns have arrived in the Premier League this year – Pep, Arsene, Jose, Antonio, Jurgen and who can forget the Tinker Man? But do you think you could do better?

You do?

Then join the HLPartnership Fantasy Football Mini League!

Entry is simple and will cost you a donation to the prize fund of just £10. Login to the Sun’s Fantasy Football League at, register your email address, and join the HLPremierleague Mini League using the Pin AHESWDSX. Come up with your team name, make your selection of players (keeping to the budget of course) and then complete the line up with £10 towards the prize pot.

With your ability to manage your customers’ budgets, we’re sure the team you select will perform well. There will be prizes for the best performers and recognition in the Network throughout the season.

Remember, you only have until this Friday to get your team in to take advantage of potential point scoring from the season kick-off, so register today and start matching your managerial prowess against the best.

Weekly Round-up, 5th August, 2016.

How low can you go?

At its meeting ending 3 August 2016, the Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) MPC voted for a package of measures designed to provide additional support to growth and to achieve a sustainable return of inflation to the target. This package included a 25 basis point cut in Bank Rate to 0.25%; measures to enable the rate cut to passed on to consumers and business, and an expansion of the asset purchase scheme.

The Governor of the Band of England highlighted the United Kingdom’s vote to leave the European Union, the falling exchange rate and the week outlook for growth in the short to medium term as his reasons with the fall in sterling likely to push up on Consumer Price Index inflation.

According to the BoE, the cut in Bank Rate should lower borrowing costs for households and businesses. However, as interest rates are close to zero, it is likely to be difficult for some banks and building societies to reduce deposit rates much further, which in turn might limit their ability to cut their lending rates. In order to mitigate this, the MPC is launching a Term Funding Scheme (TFS) that will provide funding for banks at interest rates close to Bank Rate.

Money Worries.

Worries around family finances are continuing to affect the younger generation, with a third (33%) of eight to 15 year olds now saying that they worry about money, according to the latest research from the annual Halifax pocket money survey.

Despite boys receiving 12 per cent more pocket money than girls (£6.93 vs £6.16), they are now much more likely to worry about money too (37% vs 30%). Twelve months ago, there was no such gender divide, with just one per cent difference in the amount of boys and girls who worry about money and boys receiving just two per cent more pocket money than girls (£6.25 vs £6.14). Where children live influences how much they worry about money. Those in Greater London have finances on their minds the most, with more than half (54%) worrying about money, compared to just over a quarter (27%) in Wales and the West of England, where children worry the least.

Borrowing money starts at an early age. Almost one in five (19%) children say they borrow money, with more boys (21%) admitting to this than girls (18%). Children in Greater London (30%) are reported to be borrowing money the most, compared to their counterparts in Scotland (14%) who borrow the least. Older children are more likely to borrow money; almost a quarter (24%) of 15 year-olds doing so compared to just over one in 10 (16%) eight year-olds.

Children are also willing to lend money to others. Three in 10 (29%) children said they lend money to other people. Almost a third of boys (32%) lend money to others, compared to just a quarter (26%) of girls. Older children seem more likely to be generous with their money with two in five (40%) 15 year-olds offering to lend money, in comparison to less than one in five (17%) nine year-olds.

Almost nine in 10 (88%) parents say that they worry about money themselves. The gender balance changes from childhood to adulthood, with female parents (91%) worrying significantly more about money than male parents (84%). Parents in the North West (95%) worry about finances the most, compared to parents in the South East and East (84%) and London (88%) who worry the least.

Up or Down?

According to the Nationwide, UK house prices increased by 0.5% in July and, as a result, the annual rate of house price growth was little changed at 5.2%, compared with 5.1% in June.

This is the first month’s data following the EU referendum. However, it is important to note that, in constructing the index Nationwide use data at the mortgage offer stage – this means any impact from the vote may not be fully evident in July’s figures, as there is a short lag between a buyer making the decision to purchase a property and applying for a mortgage. According to the Nationwide, housing market transactions were always likely to soften over the summer after the surge in activity in March, as buyers brought forward purchases of second homes to avoid the stamp duty levy, which took effect in April. Therefore determining how much of any fall-back in activity is the result of the tax changes and how much is due to the referendum will be difficult.

Up or Down?

A new report from Macmillan Cancer Support celebrates advances in cancer treatment and care but warns more needs to be done to cope with increasing demand. More than 170,000 people are living with cancer in the UK who were diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the new research released by Macmillan Cancer Support and Public Health England’s National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service (NCRAS).

In its new report ‘Cancer: Then and Now”, out this week, Macmillan reveals for the first time the number of cancer survivors from the 1970s and 1980s in the UK. People on average are twice as likely to survive at least 10 years after being diagnosed with cancer as they were at the start of the 1970s. These improvements in survival are partly due to earlier diagnosis – by way of screening programmes and advances in diagnostic tools, as well as more refined treatment.

The report compares the diagnosis, treatment and care of cancer then, to the experiences of cancer in the 2010s. While documenting drastic improvements over this time, particularly in available treatments, it also acts as a stark reminder that cancer continues to be a devastating diagnosis and one which affects a person long after their treatment has finished.

But those who survive many years after a cancer diagnosis do not necessarily have a good quality of life. Macmillan estimates that there could be around 42,500 people living with cancer who were diagnosed in the 1970s and 1980s who may still be dealing with problems linked to their cancer, such as long-term side effects. Around 625,000 people in the UK are estimated to be facing poor health or disability after treatment for cancer. Long-term side effects can include chronic fatigue, and incontinence. With the numbers of people living with cancer in the UK projected to grow from 2.5 million people to 4 million by 2030 more people than ever will need support with the long-term effect of cancer.

And finally…Please turn the noise down

A police force has revealed details of hundreds of spurious calls to its non-emergency hotline – including reports of over-loud chimes on an ice cream van and a bird falling from a tree.

West Midlands Police said some members of the public treated its 101 number as a “general directory” service – posing questions which could be easily solved by an internet search.

Other complaints received by the force saw an apparently elderly woman complain of dog-fouling in her garden and another caller claiming there were “two million wasps on my street”. In the last month alone, 101 advisers in the West Midlands have taken calls from people about “botch-job” haircuts, broken clocks, and broadband problems. General requests for phone numbers have even been fielded by call-handlers.

Demand on the 101 service has peaked in July during each of the last three years due to anti-social behaviour, rowdy summer parties, domestic abuse, and alcohol-related incidents.