It’s been an eventful week for finance news. Here, Which? rounds up the important stories that have made the headlines, including the Barclays storm and a Which? victory on debit card surcharges.
Barclays, Libor and Bob Diamond
The main story of the week has been the ongoing fallout from the Barclays rate-fixing scandal, details of which emerged at the end of last week. Barclays was fined £290m following an investigation into the manipulation of the rates at which major banks lend to each other.
Barclays chairman Marcus Agius resigned from his role at the bank on Monday and by Tuesday Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays, had fallen on his sword and resigned. The following day Bob Diamond appeared before the Treasury Select Committee to give evidence on the affair.
Which? chief executive Peter Vicary-Smith said of the latest developments: ‘We need full disclosure of rates-fixing, how widespread it was, who was involved, and importantly how consumers have been affected. However, we do not want the inquiry to hold up reform – there must be no excuses, no further delay in taking action to fix our broken banking system’.
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Which? victory on card surcharges
Better news for consumers on Thursday with the announcement that twelve major airlines had agreed to include debit card surcharges in the headline price rather than bury them at the end of the booking process. The Government has also reconfirmed that excessive card surcharges will be banned outright at the start of 2013.
The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) announced that it had persuaded all carriers it investigated in response to to incorporate debit card surcharges into the headline charge and make credit card charges upfront. This will make it easier for consumers to establish the true cost of a flight and shop around for the best price.
Bank of England announces more quantitative easing
Thursday also saw the announcement that the government was to pump another £50bn into the economy via quantitative easing (QE). The Governor of the Bank, Sir Mervyn King, committed to a further £50bn of asset purchases, beginning in July and continuing for the next four months. This will take the total committed to quantitative easing to £375bn.
Originally undertaken as a response to the ‘credit crunch’ in 2009, quantitative easing was intended to stimulate the British economy, together with interest rate cuts. The Bank of England base rate has been at an all-time low of 0.5% ever since and was maintained at that rate by the Bank of England this week.
Floods and home insurance
More heavy rain over the last few days has caused further floods and left some unlucky householders needing to make a home insurance claim for the damage caused. There are around five million properties at risk from flooding in England alone and our 60 second guide to making a successful flood claim can help you if you’ve suffered recently. As well as advice on making a flood claim we can help you with tips on protecting your home and cleaning up.