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What is greenwashing and how can you know if a company is ethical?

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what is greenwashing and how can you know if a company is ethical

The past six months has seen a surge in people wanting to make the economy greener, with a third of Britons stating the pandemic has sharpened their focus when it comes to the environment. 

Asked what the Covid-19 outbreak had focused their minds on, 31 per cent said their pandemic experience has increased awareness of climate change, according to a Rathbone Greenbank Investment survey of 2,000 people.

A quarter also said they believed that investing in companies helping to combat climate change was now key to achieving a greener future. 

However, the potential for ‘greenwash’ – where companies blind customers with unfounded and untrue claims of being environmentally aware – is huge.

Greenwash: It looks good on the label, but the contents are not as green as they first seem

Greenwash: It looks good on the label, but the contents are not as green as they first seem

Greenwash: It looks good on the label, but the contents are not as green as they first seem

There is no standard definition of ‘environmental’ or ‘green’ when it comes to companies and investing – though it is something that the Bank of England and Financial Conduct Authority are looking at.  

There’s also no consequence facing companies or funds that claim to be green while pumping oil out of the ground.  

Meanwhile, the green money movement continues to grow. Separate research from Bancroft Wealth showed the number of Google searches for ‘sustainable investing’ has grown 119 per cent since the onset of lockdown in March. 

Keir Ashman, pensions and investments specialist at the wealth management firm, said: ‘The majority of our clients express an interest in making their investments work for the greater good, not just their personal gain. 

‘This has been due, in part, to topical issues such as the positive environmental effect of lockdown, bad corporate behaviour during the pandemic, as well as worldwide social justice movements, but also because there is a greater desire to support purpose-driven organisations.’ 

Investment Association figures show that three months out of the past four with data available, saw investors pour more than £900million a month into responsible investments. 

Companies are fully aware of the investment opportunity that slowing climate change offers – and this week, Good Money Week, is likely to see many of them set out their stalls in a bid to get their hands on your money. 

If you feel strongly that you’d like to make your investments – and pension for that matter – a bit greener, there is now a big range of options available. 

Whether they all fulfill their green promises, however, is less clear.  

What is greenwash? 

Greenwashing is a term that has been knocking around since the 1980s and you’ll almost certainly have been duped by it.

It refers to companies and individuals claiming to be environmentally conscientious to improve their public image while continuing to undermine efforts to reduce carbon emissions. 

Big oil companies which invest into renewables, pointing to this as their green strategy, while diverting 95 per cent of their cash into new oil and gas extraction, is an obvious example. 

Greenwash is a marketing technique, of making a product appear more eco-friendly than it really is. 
Rebecca O’Connor, Good with Money 

So too are a number of big investment houses that have stated on the record they are switching their strategy to backing companies that will help reduce carbon emissions, while investing just 1 per cent of their overall fund into same. 

Bruce Davis, of renewable energy group Abundance Investment, says: ‘The two big areas to watch here are those who use the ESG – environmental, social and governance – badge to imply they are an ‘ethical’ alternative to mainstream funds. 

‘The reality is that fund rules require them to maintain a degree of diversification and liquidity which means they are invested in many companies that an ordinary investor would not consider green and excludes many of the investments in the green sector which are not companies listed on the world’s stock exchanges. 

‘Instead they rely on the clout of their large shareholding to ‘influence’ companies. 

‘The proof of the pudding is in their use of voting rights in AGMs. Do they censure companies that ignore the climate emergency?

‘For example BlackRock, the world’s biggest investor, made a big play of a letter to the companies it invests in, but has yet to show it will consistently back up words with action in shareholder votes connected to climate change.’ 

This is Money asked BlackRock to comment, and was pointed to the firm’s Investment Stewardship Annual Report published on 17 September. 

This showed that their investment team have identified 244 companies they deem to be making ‘insufficient progress integrating climate risk into their business models or disclosures’.

They have also taken voting action at 53 companies for insufficient progress on climate, including voting against 55 directors at 49 companies. 

Directors at 191 other companies have been put ‘on watch’ or at risk of voting action during the 2021 AGM season absent further progress. 

The potential for 'greenwash' - where companies blind customers with unfounded and untrue claims of being environmentally aware - is huge

The potential for 'greenwash' - where companies blind customers with unfounded and untrue claims of being environmentally aware - is huge

The potential for ‘greenwash’ – where companies blind customers with unfounded and untrue claims of being environmentally aware – is huge

It’s not always transparent. Corporate public relations, investor relations and corporate social responsibility is big business and those running the show can see the value in claiming to care, without needing to deliver if they consider it not financially beneficial.

Rebecca O’Connor, of ethical money blog Good with Money, says: ‘Greenwash is a marketing technique, of making a product appear more eco-friendly than it really is.’

She adds: ‘Through the clever use of certain words, phrases or images, an audience believes the product is green.

‘In the case of finance and investment, this happens a lot. It’s usually asset management marketing departments that are to blame, though in fairness to them, they may also believe the funds are greener than they really are. 

‘Banks are also often guilty of this. They use green colours and pictures of wind farms, when in reality, a tiny fraction of their overall lending portfolio goes to renewable energy.’

There is a difference between Shell installing LED lights in its offices and Shell making good on all the fuel that is burned in the cars which use its petrol and diesel.
Bruce Davis, Abundance Investment 

Many companies also use offers of offsetting, where they buy things which are ‘carbon negative’ to net off the carbon they generate by producing their product or service. 

Davis says: ‘For example, Shell claims this for its fuels and many airlines offer (at an extra charge) customers the chance to offset. 

‘However, the world of offsetting is neither transparent or regulated and in reality you may be making very little difference to the world’s carbon budget or net zero targets. 

‘The best thing is to choose companies which are making real progress on removing carbon from their systems of production.’

Another technique is misdirection. In the jargon of greenwashing, there is something called ‘scope’ emissions. 

‘This is the difference between Shell installing LED lights in its offices (reducing scope 1) to Shell making good on all the fuel that is burned in the cars who use its petrol and diesel (scope 3),’ explains Davis. 

‘When people say they are reducing their emissions, you need to check where they draw the line on their corporate responsibility.’ 

A spokesman for Shell said: ‘We agree that action is needed now on climate change, so we fully support the Paris Agreement and the need for society to transition to a lower-carbon future. 

‘We have already invested billions of dollars in a range of low-carbon technologies, from biofuels, hydrogen and wind power, to electric vehicle charging and smart energy storage solutions.’

Tips on how to spot greenwash 

  • Look for vague words, pretty pictures but no hard facts or concrete examples. 
  • Look for impressive numbers but without context. This is important. A big bank might have lent £200million to renewable energy and brag about this, but if that’s £100million of a total loan portfolio of £390billion and the rest of their energy loans are to fossil fuels, that’s not really a high enough percentage to claim credit.
  • Always look under the bonnet. If you can’t even get under the bonnet, that’s your first warning sign that there is something to hide. 
  • If you manage to access the holdings of the fund, or the bank’s lending portfolio, and you don’t know what any of the companies do, you’ll still be none the wiser. Use a sustainability checker like CSR Hub to work out how sustainable these companies really are. 

 By Rebecca O’Connor, Good with Money

Why are firms allowed to greenwash? 

It’s a tricky area to navigate – advertising standards in the UK are pretty strict and companies are frequently reprimanded for making claims they cannot substantiate. 

Financial promotions are even more heavily regulated, with firms authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority bound to be rigorous in the way they advertise their services. 

But the rules around claiming to be green are largely undefined, says O’Connor.  

‘One of the reasons greenwash happens in asset management is that the requirements for quasi-regulatory schemes, things like the UN Principles for Responsible Investment, are actually pretty loose.

‘Responsible just means exactly that, although it is often taken to mean the same as green.

‘It isn’t, it just means your money is looked after sensibly and mindfully of all risks, including environmental risks. But the word is bandied around, inviting people to assume that it means whiter-than-white.

‘It’s a bit like claiming to be vegan, but still eating good quality meat. You’re not vegan then, are you?’

Trying to screen what’s really green and what’s paying lip service is not easy.   

There are many labels – responsible, socially responsible, ethical, sustainable, ESG – environmental, social and good corporate governance – and positive impact investing. 

‘Pretty much all of these would still allow fossil fuels in except positive impact,’ says O’Connor.

Although, she adds, it is increasingly rare to find fossil fuels in sustainable funds, it’s not impossible. 

ESG and responsible funds can have fossil fuels companies in them and often do, on the basis that they are ‘best in sector’ or because they score highly for social and governance factors, even though they are destroying the planet.

A clampdown on greenwash is overdue 

A number of government and regulatory consultations are underway in a bid to curtail greenwash and improve transparency on climate exposure in listed companies. 

ESG and responsible funds can have fossil fuels companies in them and often do. 

The Financial Stability Board Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures was set up by former Bank of England governor – now UN special envoy for climate change, Mark Carney several years ago. 

Its mission is to develop ‘voluntary, consistent climate-related financial risk disclosures for use by companies in providing information to investors, lenders, insurers, and other stakeholders’. 

These were loosely outlined by Carney during a speech at the launch of the UN climate change conference’s Private Finance Agenda event at the Guildhall in London, on 27 February 2020. 

Conservationist David Attenborough and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson launching the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26, earlier this year. The conference is now due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021

Conservationist David Attenborough and Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson launching the United Nations' Climate Change conference, COP26, earlier this year. The conference is now due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021

Conservationist David Attenborough and Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson launching the United Nations’ Climate Change conference, COP26, earlier this year. The conference is now due to take place in Glasgow in November 2021

Following that, the Financial Conduct Authority announced a consultation on how to apply these financial disclosure on climate change exposure rules to public companies, but there are no plans so far to subject funds or private companies to the same rules.

A similar consultation is going on at the Department of Work and Pensions, but won’t conclude until next year at the earliest and initially, is likely only to apply to the UK’s very largest pension schemes.

Even if these disclosures do eventually apply across the board – and it’s likely they will – there is still a real lack of standard definition around what is meant by green, ethical and sustainable.

Disclosure recommendations are also voluntary at the moment. 

 An honest dialogue with consumers is clear and specific so look upon vague statements as a red flag.
Kim Daye, climate change expert 

Kim Daye, a climate change and sustainable communications expert, said: ‘While a huge majority of financial services providers are making changes to the way they operate in order to tackle the climate crisis, we’re living in a transitional period, none can claim to be perfect yet and not all are moving at the same pace. 

‘The challenge for consumers is spot the difference between real, positive commitments to change in the form of an honest dialogue and those businesses overstating progress to tap into the trend of appearing eco-conscious because it sells.

‘An honest dialogue with consumers is clear and specific so look upon vague statements as a red flag. 

‘If a financial institution, product or service is marketed as ‘green’ or ‘sustainable’ without an explanation of how, ideally backed up by science and data, don’t take it at face value and dig a little deeper.’

At the moment, investors face very muddy waters when it comes to telling what is really green

At the moment, investors face very muddy waters when it comes to telling what is really green

At the moment, investors face very muddy waters when it comes to telling what is really green

As it stands there are no formal plans to introduce any consequences for false claims, such as censure or fines, which would be akin to financial promotions and rules imposed by the Advertising Standards Authority. 

‘Responsibility needs its own regulation and a separate body,’ says O’Connor.

‘You need sustainability professionals regulating claims by asset managers, rather than the Financial Conduct Authority, whose skill set is around financial risk. 

 Responsibility needs its own regulation and a separate body.
Rebecca O’Connor, Good with Money 

‘Although responsibility level has a bearing on risk, that’s not the bit that’s being policed here. 

‘Making sure that asset managers and banks are using the right label for the right investment option, that their marketing communications is ‘clear, fair and not misleading’ on their green claims, will be a thankless task but it’s a necessary one for consumers.’ 

Full transparency on holdings is the first hurdle. 

‘We need to dispense with this excuse that we don’t need to be transparent because people don’t care that much,’ says O’Connor. ‘They won’t know they have anything to care about until transparency enables them to see.

‘People could ultimately lose money if it turns out that claims made are not correct, so this is a non-trivial question and I’d hope to see more coming from the FCA in the next few months.’

Is Donald Trump greenwashing?

Trump on a rally in Boston this weekend

Trump on a rally in Boston this weekend

Trump on a rally in Boston this weekend

US President Donald Trump declared himself the ‘number one environmental President since Teddy Roosevelt‘ in a recent speech in Florida.

According to a post on Instagram, Trump claimed that presidential rival Joe Biden’s environmental plan would ‘give a free pass to the world’s worst foreign polluters, like China, Russia, India, and many others’ and said that he, in comparison, would ensure the US has ‘the cleanest air and cleanest water on Earth’.

Critics claimed Trump is attempting to greenwash his environmental record to date in an effort to win over voters.

Speaking to the New York Times, Ariel Hayes, the political director of the Sierra Club, said: ‘Failing to adequately fund Everglades restoration, attempting to sell off our waters to corporate polluters and rolling back more than 100 environmental protections doesn’t make you anything other than the worst president ever for the environment and climate.

‘Voters in Florida and across the country have watched Trump achieve this status for nearly four years, and no amount of greenhouse gaslighting will change that.’

Trump has pulled the US from the Paris climate agreement, removed climate change from a list of national security threats and relaxed restrictions on air pollution.

Last month he also opened up Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil and gas drilling.

Experts from Harvard Law and Columbia University Law Schools predict that by the end of his first term, the Trump administration will have reversed around 100 environmental rules and regulations, according to @euronewsliving.

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How I won access to my disabled son’s frozen Child Trust Fund savings

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how i won access to my disabled sons frozen child trust fund savings
Victory! Catherine, her husband John and her 17-year-old son Oliver

Victory! Catherine, her husband John and her 17-year-old son Oliver

Victory! Catherine, her husband John and her 17-year-old son Oliver 

The mother of a 17-year-old boy with profound learning disabilities who would be unable to access his Child Trust Fund cash when he became an adult has won her battle to unlock more than £2,000 in frozen funds.

In one of the first reported examples of the parents of a disabled child succeeding in an attempt to access their money, Catherine, from Worcestershire, will be able to manage her son Oliver’s funds when he turns 18 next April.

Catherine wrote to her son’s Child Trust Fund provider, OneFamily, at the start of October after the mutual’s savings chief told This is Money parents affected by the CTF lockout should get in touch and their cases would be looked at ‘sensitively and with compassion’.

She fed this quote back to the Brighton-based mutual, which looks after a quarter of CTFs and finally had confirmation at the start of this month she would be able to look after her son’s money when he turns 18, saving her thousands of pounds in court fees.

It is a rare example of a happy outcome to a problem affecting as many as 200,000 disabled young children who cannot currently access their own savings due to their disabilities making them unable to manage money and make their own decisions.

The Government and industry bodies are currently in discussions over long-term solutions to the problem, with some individual CTF providers currently deciding on a case-by-case basis whether to allow parents to access the money on their child’s behalf.

Without a solution parents face the prospect of a costly application to the Court of Protection to get permission to become a ‘deputy’ and manage the money on their child’s behalf, eating into the savings and completely wiping them out in some cases.

‘No one ever indicated at any stage that there would be problems accessing Oliver’s money’ 

Catherine, who only wanted to provide her surname, faced the prospect of this earlier this year when OneFamily wrote to her son Oliver when he turned 17 to tell him his trust fund would mature in 2021.

What’s the problem? 

Campaigners warn as many as 200,000 disabled children face the same issue as Oliver, that they are unable to access CTF money because of their lack of mental capacity, due to their disabilities. 

While some have been warning about the problems facing the first batch of trust fund teenagers turning 18 this year for years, the issue has only really come to light in the last few months.

In order to access the money, carers, guardians and parents must apply to become a ‘deputy’, which involves an application to the Court of Protection.

The court application can cost £365 plus up to £2,500 in solicitors’ fees.

Campaigners and families have complained this problem was never made clear to parents, who continued to pay money into a savings ‘lobster pot’, that their child could not get the money out of.

This is despite the fact those children on Disability Living Allowance were given extra payments into their trust funds.

The Government has insisted the measures are needed to prevent the children from being exploited.  

He had just over £2,000 in his account, she said, thanks to a combination of birthday cash from his grandparents and higher government vouchers due to his ‘profound learning disabilities’.

At this point she began to wonder if there might be a problem accessing the funds, something which the mutual confirmed to her at the start of June. 

It told her she needed to apply the Court of Protection to become a deputy in order to access the money on his behalf.

This is despite the fact the Government had handed him more money because of his disabilities and allowed her to manage his benefits when he turned 16.

She told This is Money: ‘No one ever indicated at any stage that there would be problems accessing Oliver’s money. 

‘The Government were, at the time, actively encouraging parents and grandparents to add to the CTF for the child’s future.

‘Had we known, or even suspected, that there would be difficulties accessing the funds, we would never have encouraged Oliver’s grandparents to add to it at birthdays. 

‘They would have put the money in a different account.’

Having ‘almost given up all will’ at the prospect of tackling the Court of Protection forms, she discovered the story This is Money published at the end of September. 

OneFamily’s head of investments had told us in the article that ‘in certain circumstances it may be possible to release funds if sufficient proof of identification can be provided by the person responsible for managing the young person’s finances.’

How a line from a company statement helped me access my child’s frozen funds 

‘I phoned OneFamily, quoting their head of investment directly from your article,’ Catherine said when she first contacted us at the start of October. 

‘The lady on the phone was very cagey and asked several times where I had read this.

‘She then put me on hold for 20 minutes. When she came back, her tone had changed, and she was very helpful. 

‘She asked if I had any supporting evidence such as a doctor’s letter? I burst out laughing; as the parent and carer of a profoundly disabled young person, you have files full of professional letters and reports.’

She sent over a letter with attached documents a day later on 9 October, which were received on 12 October. 

However, she never received a reply to confirm OneFamily had received the documents and attempted follow-ups through its online messaging service on 17 and 22 October were also unanswered.

Catherine came across a story This is Money published at end of September highlighting the problem affecting as many as 200,000 disabled children

Catherine came across a story This is Money published at end of September highlighting the problem affecting as many as 200,000 disabled children

Catherine came across a story This is Money published at end of September highlighting the problem affecting as many as 200,000 disabled children

But after making a formal written complaint about the lack of a response from the mutual on 25 October, she finally received some good news at the start of this month.

In a letter dated 5 November, the letter apologised for the delay in responding to her and said: ‘The information you’ve provided makes it clear Oliver will be unable to manage the closure, and that you can do so instead.

‘I’ve enclosed a declaration document for you along with a return envelope. Please complete and send this to us when you can. 

Do you have a OneFamily CTF? 

This is Money asked the mutual which looks after one in four CTFs what parents in the same situation as Catherine needed to do. 

Its head of investments, Paul Bridgwater, said: ‘Every case is different, but in some circumstances it is possible to release the funds if sufficient proof of identification can be provided by the person responsible for managing the young person’s finances.

‘We aim to review each application sensitively and with compassion, and would encourage all customers who may be in this position to get in touch, so that we can give them all the support that they need.’

‘Upon receipt, we’ll pend the instruction until Oliver’s 18th birthday in April next year.’

Catherine told This is Money she had returned the declaration form which should mean she can access her son’s Child Trust Fund cash without penalty next year.

In response to Catherine’s case, Paul Bridgwater, OneFamily’s head of investments, said: ‘I’m very sorry for the delay Catherine experienced in receiving a response from us. It’s definitely not the service that we aim to give. 

‘Unfortunately, our team of specialists who handle enquiries of this nature became overwhelmed by the sheer volume of applications that were received in October.

‘However, this should not have happened, and we have subsequently increased the size of our team.

‘I can’t comment specifically on Catherine’s case, for confidentiality reasons. 

‘However, it became clear to us earlier this year that the child trust fund maturity procedures, as defined by HMRC, would not meet the needs of all of our customers.

‘Therefore, we supported our industry bodies in lobbying the Ministry of Justice for new draft guidance to help families in this position. 

‘In the meantime, we chose to adopt a more flexible and customer focused approach, to see if there might be way for customers like Oliver to be able to access their balances without the need of a Court of Protection Order.’

The Ministry of Justice told This is Money at the end of last month that proposals handed to it by TISA, which represents CTF providers, were ‘being considered’ and that it would ‘respond shortly.’

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Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Land Rover with a fully working kitchen to be auctioned

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A bespoke Land Rover ‘Gastrowagon’ that featured in the popular River Cottage television series with celebrity chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall is to be offered to the highest bidder next month.

The 1982 Land Rover 109 will be one of a selection of collectible vehicles available at the next Bonhams MPH Sale on 11 December.

An entirely unique motor, it features a fully functioning kitchen at the back with a two-burner hob, oven, and even a fridge.

Meals on wheels: TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Land Rover used in his River Cottage Series will be sold at auction next month

Meals on wheels: TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall's Land Rover used in his River Cottage Series will be sold at auction next month

Meals on wheels: TV chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s Land Rover used in his River Cottage Series will be sold at auction next month

The 1982 Landie has a fully operating kitchen in the back. A built-in fridge, oven, worktop and drawers are accompanied by a double-burner hob and a sink that fold down from inside the rear doors

The 1982 Landie has a fully operating kitchen in the back. A built-in fridge, oven, worktop and drawers are accompanied by a double-burner hob and a sink that fold down from inside the rear doors

The 1982 Landie has a fully operating kitchen in the back. A built-in fridge, oven, worktop and drawers are accompanied by a double-burner hob and a sink that fold down from inside the rear doors

The 4X4 has recently been completely restored and is estimated to sell for between £25,000 to 35,000 when the hammer drops in a matter of weeks.

The 1982 long wheelbase 109 Land Rover, which has been converted to a camper-cum-kitchen, became familiar to viewers of the chef’s 1990s series ‘A Cook on the Wild Side’, as Hugh’s transport in which he toured the British countryside in search of wild ingredients.

Built especially for the television show, the Gastrowagon has a fully operating kitchen that extends from the rear section of the vehicle, with a worktop, drawers, fridge and oven fitted into the back of the Land Rover.

The double-burner hobs and sink are fitted to the inside of the rear doors. Once folded out, it creates a fully operational kitchen.

Additional table tops stored inside the Land Rover can also be attached to create a huge outdoor cooking space. 

The back also has a wind and waterproof canopy so a user can whip up their favourite dish no matter what the weather conditions. 

Sleeping accommodation is provided by a roof-mounted upturned boat and ancillaries include a shower and basin that appear from another hidden fold-out panel on the right-hand-side of the vehicle.

Sleeping accommodation is provided by an upturned boat that's mounted onto the roof of the classic Land Rover 4X4

Sleeping accommodation is provided by an upturned boat that's mounted onto the roof of the classic Land Rover 4X4

Sleeping accommodation is provided by an upturned boat that’s mounted onto the roof of the classic Land Rover 4X4

The 4X4 has recently been completely restored and is estimated to sell for between £25,000 to 35,000 when the hammer drops in a matter of weeks

The 4X4 has recently been completely restored and is estimated to sell for between £25,000 to 35,000 when the hammer drops in a matter of weeks

The 4X4 has recently been completely restored and is estimated to sell for between £25,000 to 35,000 when the hammer drops in a matter of weeks

Ancillaries include a shower and basin that appear from another hidden fold-out panel on the right-hand-side of the vehicle

Ancillaries include a shower and basin that appear from another hidden fold-out panel on the right-hand-side of the vehicle

Ancillaries include a shower and basin that appear from another hidden fold-out panel on the right-hand-side of the vehicle

The 4X4 has been fully restored after it was used in the chef's 1990s series 'A Cook on the Wild Side', as Hugh's transport in which he toured the British countryside in search of wild ingredients

The 4X4 has been fully restored after it was used in the chef's 1990s series 'A Cook on the Wild Side', as Hugh's transport in which he toured the British countryside in search of wild ingredients

The 4X4 has been fully restored after it was used in the chef’s 1990s series ‘A Cook on the Wild Side’, as Hugh’s transport in which he toured the British countryside in search of wild ingredients

Inside, there’s even a vintage ice cream maker. 

Another extra special feature is Hugh’s signature on the bulkhead.

Following 25 years in the wilderness, the Gastrowagon was completely rebuilt and refurbished to its original fully-functioning specification, by classic Land Rover specialists John Brown 4X4, and is said to run and drive ‘like new’.

Rob Hubbard, Head of Bonhams MPH, said: ‘Land Rovers are always popular at MPH sales and we are pleased to offer this true one-off which would be perfect for anyone wanting to take a post-lockdown staycation.’ 

Additional table tops stored inside the Land Rover can also be attached to create a huge outdoor cooking space

Additional table tops stored inside the Land Rover can also be attached to create a huge outdoor cooking space

Additional table tops stored inside the Land Rover can also be attached to create a huge outdoor cooking space

Following 25 years in the wilderness, the Gastrowagon was completely rebuilt and refurbished to its original fully-functioning specification, by classic Land Rover specialists John Brown 4X4, and is said to run and drive 'like new'

Following 25 years in the wilderness, the Gastrowagon was completely rebuilt and refurbished to its original fully-functioning specification, by classic Land Rover specialists John Brown 4X4, and is said to run and drive 'like new'

Following 25 years in the wilderness, the Gastrowagon was completely rebuilt and refurbished to its original fully-functioning specification, by classic Land Rover specialists John Brown 4X4, and is said to run and drive ‘like new’

The wooden rear door panels also have carrying facilities for a gas tank to power the hobs and a Jerry Can

The wooden rear door panels also have carrying facilities for a gas tank to power the hobs and a Jerry Can

The wooden rear door panels also have carrying facilities for a gas tank to power the hobs and a Jerry Can

CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Regular saver accounts: HSBC and First Direct slash rates again

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regular saver accounts hsbc and first direct slash rates again

HSBC has once again chopped the rate on its popular regular saver account available to current account customers.  

The bank and its offshoot First Direct have cut the rate from 2.75 per cent to 1 per cent. Up until last October, they paid 5 per cent, while as recently as 2016, First Direct offered 6 per cent.

With HSBC, savers can put in between £25 to £250 a month, while at First Direct it is £300. It is likely to have proven a popular home for those Britons who have been able to squirrel more money in the pandemic. 

On the maximum £3,600 allowance for First Direct customers, it works out as a cut in interest from £99 a year to £36. For HSBC customers on the full £3,000, they will be paid £30, down from £82.50.

HSBC and First Direct customers will lose as much as £63 a year in interest after the cuts were brought in

HSBC and First Direct customers will lose as much as £63 a year in interest after the cuts were brought in

HSBC and First Direct customers will lose as much as £63 a year in interest after the cuts were brought in

HSBC snuck out the change, which came into effect at midnight, unannounced on the same day heavy cuts from Treasury-backed National Savings & Investments affecting 25million savers came into effect.

However, some customers were possibly prepared for the news, after they were sent paperwork last week dated 24 November telling them the interest rate was 1 per cent.

HSBC last week refused to confirm whether the cut to its regular saver was coming, with customers told it was a ‘technical error’. 

Both it and First Direct failed to respond to This is Money yesterday when asked whether there would be a cut meaning we couldn’t alert readers beforehand for them to get in before it closed its doors.  

M&S Bank, another managed by HSBC, took its regular saver paying the same interest rate off-sale on 12 November.

HSBC and First Direct customers who got in before midnight last night will still receive 2.75 per cent, but everyone who applies from now on will get the lower rate. 

Those who already have the account will be unaffected until the 12 months is up.

It is a blow to savers suffering from rock bottom rates as these regular savings accounts, which lock customers’ money away for a fixed period in return for a greater payoff, are some of the last decent rates available from Britain’s biggest high street names. 

HSBC cut its basic easy-access account to just 0.01 per cent earlier this year.

The cap on how much can be saved each month and the fact money can’t be accessed straightaway also means they are often described as a good option for people trying to get into the savings habit, with the best rates often only available to banks’ current account customers.

The best account available to everyone is offered by Coventry Building Society

It pays 1.55 per cent and doesn’t require a minimum deposit each month, with savers able to put away up to £500.

A raft of other providers have cut rates on these accounts in recent years, or have scrapped them altogether.  

The account with Britain’s second biggest mutual can be opened online, by post or over the phone and savers would earn around £93 in interest after the 12-month term if they stashed away the full £6,000 allowed by the account.

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