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call 0800 092 1245 New Years Summary- What happened?


So it’s finally arrived, the end of 2014. Again, it seems to have absolutely flown by! It feels like only yesterday we were saying goodbye to 2013, and now, in only a short time, we will be welcoming in 2015.

We’ve decided to have a look back at some of the biggest financial events this year, and how they have had an effect on us all, and how they may impact on the future.


2014 brought in a promising start for the UK. UK car markets had their best year for sales since 2008, and UK inflation fell to 2%, which meant the Bank of England (BoE) hit its target for the first time in four years. UK unemployment fell by 18,000, and there was a rise in real term wages.
It wasn’t a great start to the year for Yorkshire Building Society or British Gas though. Yorkshire Building Society had to refund £8.4 million to their mortgage customers after thousands of them were wrongly charged for missing their monthly payments, and British gas reported a major loss in profits.


In February, the effect of 2012 Retail Distribution Review (RDR) was really felt, as a report revealed that 5,000 in branch financial advisers had lost their jobs, in a ripple effect that will still be felt well into 2015.
The amount of people seeking help with payday loan debt increased by 82% in February, as more people took out the high interest, short term loans to help pay for Christmas 2013. This set the ball rolling on new FCA regulations, which were introduced later in the year.
Also in February, the Royal Mail announced they would increase the price of stamps by 2p!


March was a massive month in the financial world. On 19th March, Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, with his red briefcase, announced the 2014 budget. This changed the face of pensions, British business finance and tax for the coming months and possibly years ahead.
The budget revealed that the economy was expected to grow by 2.7% in 2014. A welfare cap of £119 billion was set for the year ahead, business investment allowance was increased from £250,000 to £500,000 and the planned rise in petrol prices was scrapped. The amount of money workers start to pay tax from was raised to £10,000, and plans to increase that to £10,500 in April 2015 were announced. It meant 288,000 people no longer had to pay any income tax.
The biggest changes, the place where Mr Osborne really left his mark, were pensions. It was announced that savers no longer needed to buy an annuity, and the amount that pension holders could take out of their pensions increased from £18,000 to £30,000. A quarter of everyone’s pension pots remain tax free if withdrawn, and the tax rate on the rest of the pensions was lowered from 55% to 20%.
March also saw the minimum wage rise above inflation to £6.50 an hour. This was the first time minimum wage was increased at a higher rate than inflation for six years, and benefitted one million workers in the UK.
Inflation dropped further to 1.7%, which was below the BoE’s target of 2%.


In April, the Royal Bank of Scotland announced that they will be closing 44 UK branches, many of which were classified as the “last banks in town”. This broke the promise RBS made in 2010 not to close any more branches, and customers continued to lose trust in their banks.
The level of complaints energy companies received tripled to 10,638 and British gas was fined £5.6 million by Ofgem for blocking businesses from switching suppliers, and failing to tell others their contracts were ending. It was a bad month for businesses all round, as Co-op announced losses of £1.3 billion and business secretary Vince Cable wrote to all FTSE 100 companies about executive pay bonuses, singeing out the banking sector as being “ridicules”.
There was a major overhaul of the mortgage market as the Mortgage Market Review took effect. The new rules meant mortgage applicants had to answer in-depth and sometimes extremely personal questions about their expenditure as well as their income, which lead to many applications being delayed or even rejected.


In May, the full effect of the previous months MMR was felt as mortgage approvals fell to their lowest rate since October 2013. The BoE warned of a house price crash, and more measures to help control house prices were called for.
Ed Miliband announced plans to increase the minimum wage if Labour wins the 2015 general election.


In June, inflation fell further to 1.5%, making it the sixth consecutive month were the rate was below the Bank of England’s target of 2%. Some European banks were hit by cyber criminals who stole over £400,000 from 190 customers.
Credit Suisse and Yorkshire Building Society were fined collectively £3.9 million for the use of “misleading marketing” used when promoting an investment product.


July saw the New ISA (Individual Savings Account) rules introduced, which meant UK adults were able to save up to £15,000 a year in the tax-exempt savings plan. The new rules also let savers transfer funds freely between Cash ISAs and Stocks and Share ISAs, and anyone aged 16 or 17 years old had the option to open a cash ISA if they wanted to.
The Graduate job market recovered to pre recession levels, as the UKs top companies employed more graduates than earlier predicted.
Royal Mail became a privatised company, which may have lost taxpayers £1 billion, according to some MPs.
Unemployment fell to a benchmark low, as the number of unemployed people fell by 121,000. Personal insolvencies increased at their quickest rate since 2010.


August saw HSBC forced to pay £218 million in compensation to their customers who received insufficient paperwork. Barclays closed 11 of their cash ISA products.
The UK economy performed better than expected, and expanded by 3.2%. It had its best year since its 2008 peak.
The Bank of England confirmed that internet rates would remain at their benchmark low of 0.5% for the remained of 2014, as inflation continued to fall.


The Scottish referendum left the financial world at the mercy of the Scottish voters, as a possible independent Scotland faced everyday price increases and RBS announcing that they would move to England if independence was successful. A whole 97% of those eligible to vote registered their vote, leading to one of the most passionate and engaging political events to ever happen in the UK.
After a suspenseful night of counting, the results ended in a NO vote, with a 55.3% majority and an 84.59% turnout.
Also in September, it was revealed that the “Big Six” energy companies were beginning to lose their market share to smaller suppliers. Complaints to the Financial Ombudsman rose by 7% and annuity rates fell at their fastest rate in three years, thanks to the pension changes announced in March.
The Chancellor had another announcement for us, and advised he would be cutting the 55% “death tax” that applied to “defined contribution” pension pots left by those ages 75 or over. Payday loan company Wonga announced a profits slump of 53%, after they had been plagued with controversy throughout the year.


It was more bad news for Wonga but great news for the customer in October, when they announced that they would write off 33,000 customers’ loans after an investigation by the FCA. This lead to the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) proposing new regulations for payday loan companies, and the whole payday loan industry.
David Cameron pledged in the Conservative party conference that he will cut tax for 30 million people in 2015 if he stays in power, and made promises to protect the NHS.
Ed Miliband promised priority for first time buyers to buy newly built properties in their communities in the Labour party conference, and the Liberal Democrats planned a pay rise for apprentices.
The effect of the pension changes announced in the budget in March, and the confusion about how it was going to work, resulted in calls from MPs and experts in the financial industry for a Independent Pensions Commission.
There was some further bad news in October, as Lloyds confirmed that they would be cutting 9,000 jobs and closing 150 branches in the next three years.


In November, changes were announced to the way people paid Child Maintenance Payments. If a payment is missed, it will now affect the parent’s credit file, meaning they could have trouble getting credit or even a mortgage in the future. Sainsbury’s teamed up with Netto to open 15 discount stores across the UK, and Aldi announced plans to create 35,000 new jobs in the UK by 2020.
There was yet more pension fall out, as the National Association of Pension Funds called the new pension regulations into disrepute by releasing “101 questions” about “unresolved issues” that the pension reforms have posed.
Even more payday loan regulations were brought in as the FCA announced a cap on the amount of interest that payday loan companies could charge their customers.
UK, US and Swiss banks faced massive controversy as they were fined for widespread manipulation by their traders in foreign exchange markets. RBS, HSBC, Citigroup, JP Morgan and UBS were collectively fined £2 billion for ineffective controls, which let the traders “put their banks interest ahead of their clients”.
Sainsbury’s reported a half year loss of £290 million as grocery sales fell for the first time in two decades. A report showed that young people and the working poor are most likely to be in poverty due to zero hour contracts and the minimum wages being below the living wage.
Black Friday came to the UK as prices were slashed in stores and supermarkets throughout the country, leading to widespread chaos and even arrests in some areas.


December saw insurance giant Aviva confirm it will be taking over Friendslife in a merger which will create a company worth more than £20bn with 16 million customers.
George Osborne announced in his Autumn Statement a change in Stamp Duty regulations. The old system was replaced by a graduated rate, working in a similar way to income tax. It was also announced that students who carry on to further study after university could apply for a loan up to £10,000, the NHS received a extra £2 billion in funding and Universal Benefits were frozen for two year, among other things.

So, 2014 has been a busy year for us here at, as you can see. Banking controversies, radical pension reforms, the MMR and falling unemployment certainly left us with our hands full, and they are just a handful of events from the past 12 months!

We have had a fantastic year and we hope you have too. If any of these changes are affecting you, or if you have a any questions, feel free to contact our financial advisers. You can get in touch by asking a question online, calling us on 0800 092 1245, or by arranging a visit.

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