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Overdraft interest more than DOUBLES on Nationwide Flexaccount

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Changes that will leave two-thirds of Nationwide current account customers paying more if they dip into the red come into force today.

The building society previously announced in July it was hiking overdraft rates across the board to 39.9 per cent, as well as scrapping fee-free overdrafts for FlexDirect and FlexPlus customers. 

Holders of its free FlexAccount will see the rate charged on borrowing increase from 18.9 per cent to the new figure of nearly 40 per cent.

Changes: Britain's biggest building society has made changes to its overdrafts today

Changes: Britain's biggest building society has made changes to its overdrafts today

Changes: Britain’s biggest building society has made changes to its overdrafts today

The change makes the mutual the first high street name to comply with new Financial Conduct Authority rules announced in June which are designed to protect consumers from sky-high overdraft costs.

Banks have until 6 April 2020 to follow the rules, which also require current account providers to price overdrafts using an annual interest rate and it remains to be seen whether a large chunk of customers could also be worse off. 

Extra unarranged overdraft charges, which previously cost £5 per day up to £35 a month, and paid and unpaid transaction charges of up to £15 a month, have been scrapped as part of the shake-up from Britain’s biggest building society.

Previously, Nationwide’s £13 a month FlexPlus packaged bank account came with a £250 fee-free overdraft buffer, while its FlexDirect Account came with a £10 buffer. 

Both of those have now been scrapped, though FlexDirect does, subject to eligibility, offer a 12 month interest-free overdraft in your first year of holding the account. 

Some Nationwide customers were outraged by the move when it was revealed earlier in the summer. 

One commentator on our story about it said: ‘From a once-respected building society, Nationwide has been turning itself into a nationwide disgrace of a bank, denigrating the concept of saving and punishing savers for their loyalty. 

‘Time to get out, I think.’

Another complained to This is Money: ‘(I’ve) been a Nationwide customer for 20 years. Removing credit interest and hiking APR to 39.9 per cent will go down like a lead balloon. If it ain’t broke why fix it.’

A third reader said simply: ‘Guess I’ll be closing my account.’ 

Nationwide has also axed the 3 per cent interest rate on its FlexPlus account. It admitted the cost of operating it in its current form was ‘unsustainable’ due to rising insurance costs.

It said after conversations with members it had decided the in-credit interest was one of the least needed features of the packaged account, which also comes with worldwide phone and travel insurance and breakdown cover.

Andrew Hagger of finance research company Moneycomms said: ‘For many years, the FlexPlus account has been the pick of packaged accounts, but these changes have taken the shine off it.

‘It was only in September 2017 that the account’s monthly fee was hiked from £10 to £13, and ID Fraud and extended warranty benefits scrapped.’

Nationwide has been hugely successful in recent years attracting current account switching customers.

In the latest figures from the Current Account Switching Service, it managed to attract a net inflow of 26,466 switchers between July and September – far more than any other bank.

Overall, Nationwide has been the biggest winner in the switching battle – a net total of more than half a million people have ditched their provider for the building society since figures began at the start of 2014, beating Santander and Halifax. 

What other banks offer decent overdraft buffers? 

After the axing of FlexPlus’s buffer, it means First Direct now offers the largest one out there. 

The HSBC offshoot offers you a £250 interest-free overdraft, with any borrowing above that subject to an interest rate of 15.9 per cent.

The bank has also made a change to the way it presents its overdraft to customers. It wrote to them to let them know that their ‘available balance’ would no longer include their arranged overdraft amount.

Previously First Direct counted your overdraft limit as part of your 'available balance'. However, it is now in the process of removing this from customers' accounts

Previously First Direct counted your overdraft limit as part of your 'available balance'. However, it is now in the process of removing this from customers' accounts

Previously First Direct counted your overdraft limit as part of your ‘available balance’. However, it is now in the process of removing this from customers’ accounts

Its First Account also comes with a £50 switch bonus.

High street stablemates NatWest and RBS offer a £10 interest-free arranged overdraft limit, with any borrowing beyond that incurring a £6 usage fee and an interest rate of 19.89 per cent.

TSB, which also offers customers 3 per cent in-credit interest on balances up to £1,500, offers a fee-free arranged overdraft of £35.

You can find This is Money’s guide to bank overdraft charges here, and our guide to the best current accounts here

THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CURRENT ACCOUNTS

HSBC’s Advance Account will pay £175 when you switch and transfer over two or more direct debits within 30 days. It also offers a year’s free British Cycling Fan membership plus loyalty offers including a regular saver paying 5%. You need to deposit £1,750 per month.

Santander

First Direct’s First Account offers a £50 switching incentive to new customers and £100 if you switch away after six months (T&Cs apply). It comes with a £250 free overdraft and requires a £1,000 monthly deposit to avoid a £10 monthly fee.

First Direct

M&S Bank’s Current Account offers £180 in gift cards to switch and stay or £220 to existing M&S credit card holders. You earn 1 M&S point for every £1 spent on the card. You need four active direct debits, to pay in £1,250 per month and register for online banking and statements.

Santander

RBS’s Reward Account offers 2 per cent in rewards on seven types of household bills paid by direct debit, plus the bank is currently handing out £150 in cash to switch. It comes with a £2 monthly fee and requires a £1,500 minimum monthly deposit, you must also log in to mobile or online banking.

Nationwide

Nationwide’s FlexDirect come with 5% interest on up to £2,500 – the highest interest rate on any current account – plus a fee-free overdraft. Both perks last for a year.

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A corking good idea: Super-warm, tactile and easy to build – is this the future of housing?

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For thousands of years, cork has been harvested from the outer layer of a distinct species of oak tree found around the Mediterranean rim.

It’s been used for insulating buildings as famous as the White House. Yet until recently, it was rarely seen in our homes — aside from the occasional bathroom floor, set of coasters, a notice board perhaps or the tops of our wine bottles.

But cork made a dramatic breakthrough when it was used to build a house in Eton, Berkshire, designed by Matthew Barnett Howland with Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton, and selected as a 2019 RIBA Stirling Prize finalist.

Futuristic: The Cork House built beside the River Thames at Eton in Berkshire

Futuristic: The Cork House built beside the River Thames at Eton in Berkshire

Futuristic: The Cork House built beside the River Thames at Eton in Berkshire

‘We wanted to see whether we could build a minimal carbon-footprint home without cement or glue,’ says Matthew. 

‘We also wanted radically to simplify housing design, which ordinarily involves many layers between the outer and inner skins of walls to include vapour barriers and insulation.’

What strikes you upon entering this home beside the River Thames is how cosy it feels. The solid cork walls cocoon and create visual interest. There is a distinctive natural smell, a warm sensation to the touch and acoustic quietening, too.

Build costs were not cheap at about £3,000 to £4,000 sq metre, but Matthew and his partner Dido are in talks to design similar buildings, which should bring costs down.

There are other rewarding ways to incorporate cork into the home. It can be found in Ikea’s Sammanhang 6ft-tall cork cabinet (£350) and, via shopping app Fy, Ubikubi’s Marco bench (about £200).

Cosy: The natural-look kitchen

Cosy: The natural-look kitchen

Cosy: The natural-look kitchen

Another online retailer, Red Candy, offers the fun XL champagne cork available as either a side table or stool for £150. Cork lampshades such as the Material pendant, found at finnishdesignshop.com (about £130), add warmth to an interior.

Yet one of the more recent trends is a return to natural or ‘expanded’ cork, typically made from recycled chips. 

It is this type of cork that was used so successfully in the Cork House in Eton, and it’s proving popular elsewhere, too. Manufacturer Ty-Mawr Lime ltd reports healthy demand from interior designers taking advantage of the ability to shape it into decorative patterns.

‘Conventional modern insulation materials can trap moisture, potentially creating excess humidity, which might lead to condensation and mould growth,’ says Ty-Mawr director Nigel Gervis.

Natural cork was used to insulate the White House on President Truman’s watch for warmth — and health and similar good reasons are driving its rediscovery today.

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As Britain’s TV studios thrive, more people are relocating to be near the action 

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The explosion of cinema multiplexes, streaming channels and new broadcasters has created unprecedented demand for Britain’s booming television and film industry.

Indeed, more than 200 films and 120 big budget TV shows were made in the UK last year, with a total production spend of almost £3.1billion, according to the British Film Institute.

It’s not surprising, then, that film and TV fans — and those working in the huge, glittering industry — would want to buy a property in a celebrity hotspot. 

Blockbuster: The Lowry Centre in Salford, Greater Manchester, near the BBC’s MediaCity

Blockbuster: The Lowry Centre in Salford, Greater Manchester, near the BBC’s MediaCity

Blockbuster: The Lowry Centre in Salford, Greater Manchester, near the BBC’s MediaCity

Move to one of these areas and you might be standing in the queue for a latte at your local cafe next to a Hollywood giant, or star of the latest hit TV series.

Online entertainment giant Netflix revealed that it will be spending £400million making more than 50 series and films in Britain this year and has signed a ten-year lease on Shepperton Studios in Surrey, where it will continue to produce popular programmes such as The Crown. 

The owners of Shepperton Studios plan to expand massively with a £500million project that will generate 10,000 jobs during the next five years.

Nearby there are two, three and four-bedroom houses and one and two-bedroom apartments at Old Halliford Place in Shepperton by Shanly Homes (shanlyhomes.com) priced from £325,000 to £735,000. 

‘Old Halliford Place will appeal to a range of buyers, from downsizers to young families,’ says Jo McDonagh, sales director of Shanly Homes Southern. 

‘Shepperton is quintessentially English and is steeped in history, having been recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086. But don’t be fooled by its sleepy charm and scenic natural landscape — it has a thriving and popular High Street, and London is just under an hour away by train.

‘Furthermore, Shepperton Studios draws an impressive list of film stars, who you might get a glimpse of while strolling along the picturesque Church Square or riverside.’

Residents of Television Centre, the former home of the BBC in White City, West London, where a large part of the site was converted into homes, can still enjoy living adjacent to BBC Studioworks, which operates three studios that film programmes such as The Jonathan Ross Show, The Graham Norton Show, Later With Jools Holland, This Morning, and Loose Women.

In the summer, shows such as This Morning often film on the forecourt outside, so residents have the feeling of being on ‘set’.

They also have access to VIP tickets for filming on site, and there’s always a buzz with people queuing for shows and red carpet events. Barking & Dagenham Council is pushing ahead with plans to build London’s largest film studios for 25 years, Made In Dagenham.

Sky is to spend up to £3billion investing in a huge new film studios in Elstree, Hertfordshire, while Channel 4 recently began its relocation to Leeds.

‘Channel 4’s move to the city will help put the spotlight further on its creative and arts community,’ says Adam Warner, centre manager of Leeds Corn Exchange.

‘It speaks volumes that they have chosen to join us here. We’re thrilled about the increased exposure Leeds is enjoying on TV. Channel 4’s move will be to a high-profile city centre location.’

Johnny Caddick, director at property developer Caddick Group (caddick.co.uk), which is building apartments to rent at New York Square by Moda Living in Leeds, says: ‘For our residents working at the new studio complex opening off the back of Channel 4 relocating to Leeds, having a home just a stone’s throw away from where they work will be a massive timesaver.

‘In the rental market especially, we’re seeing a huge push towards flexibility and convenience and being centrally located close to where jobs are provides both.’

Channel 4’s move echoes a larger one from 2011 when the BBC relocated to Salford in Greater Manchester. Jacob Smycz, 23, an estate agent lettings negotiator, decided to live there.

‘I’m walking distance to MediaCity, which is great during summer when you can stroll along the canal and be there in 15 minutes,’ he says. ‘You’re close enough to central Manchester too without the same hustle and bustle, so you don’t feel isolated.

‘There’s always something going on in MediaCity, with events throughout the year, and the Christmas markets they put on now are great.

‘There are also good restaurants and bars close by so the nightlife is less rowdy than in the city centre. Plus you never know which celebrity you might see when out and about.’

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Priests are more likely to have a record of dangerous driving than footballers

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When you think of people most likely to have a record of dangerous driving, priests aren’t likely to be near the top of your list.

However, analysis of 7.8million UK car insurance quotes has found they are among the job titles most likely to have a dangerous motoring offence on a licence – even more than professional footballers.

For every 1,000 priests who drive, 2.76 have an existing record of dangerous driving, according to comparison site MoneySupermarket.

Living on a prayer: Priests are among the most common job titles to have a motoring conviction for dangerous driving, says a new study

Living on a prayer: Priests are among the most common job titles to have a motoring conviction for dangerous driving, says a new study

Living on a prayer: Priests are among the most common job titles to have a motoring conviction for dangerous driving, says a new study

Only three other job titles were found to more commonly have this type of motoring conviction on their record than priests.

Topping the charts is what the comparison website calls ‘loaders’ – clarified as those who are responsible for loading and unloading goods, often in warehouses.

The analysis of quotes found that 7.21 per 1,000 drivers with this job title had some form of dangerous driving offence marked on their licence.

In second is car dealers (4.06) followed by tyre technicians (4.05), according to the research.

Also making up the top 20 list of dangerous drivers was tree surgeons, bar staff and car salesmen.  

Top 20 highest dangerous driving offence rates by profession 

1. Loader – 7.21 per 1,000

2. Car Dealer – 4.06

3. Tyre Technician – 4.05

4. Priest – 2.76

5. Medical Advisor – 2.75

6. Tree Surgeon – 2.63

7. Bar staff – 2.41

8. Service Engineer (Non-mobile) – 2.30

9. Pipe Fitter – 2.25

10. Track Worker – 2.25

11. Contracts Supervisor – 2.21

12. Foreman – 2.15

13. Upholsterer – 2.14

14. Mechanical Technician – 2.14

15. Car Salesman – 2.12

16. Oil Rig Crew – 2.05

17. Recovery Vehicle Coordinator – 2.04

18. Yard Manager – 1.88

19. Photographer (Location) – 1.83

20. Forester – 1.82

Source: MoneySuperMarket review of 7.8m motor insurance quotes between 1 November 2018 and 21 October 2019

The analysis of available data looked at insurance quotes ran on the site between 1 November 2018 and 31 October 2019 this year. 

Dangerous driving is more serious than careless driving, and is classed as displaying actions behind that wheel which ‘falls far below what would be expected of a competent and careful driving, and it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous’.

It can include driving aggressively, overtaking in dangerous locations and racing other vehicles.

Dangerous driving offences will be dealt with by the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court, depending on the seriousness.

If found guilty, you could be hit with a fines from £100 to unlimited, penalty points ranging from three to a total ban and – in most extreme cases when it results in serious injury or death – up to 14 years in prison.

Among the safest drivers, based on the study, are lawyers, headteachers, demolition workers and veterinary surgeons – all of which have no convictions for dangerous driving.

As is the case for professional footballers, despite plenty of high-profile cases of them being caught speeding and driving while under the influence – all of which tend to hit headlines.

That said, we expect that most highly-paid football stars will use specialist providers to cover their high-value motors rather than relying on the services of a price comparison website. 

MoneySupermarket also broke down various other data points, including age and sex, to identify which drivers are most likely to drive dangerously.

It found that men were six times more likely to have one of these offences than women, though at a rate of just 0.27 per 1,000 licence holders.

Generation Z (20-24-years old) drivers had the most convictions for dangerous driving (0.47), followed by millennials (25-29-years old) with 0.39. The least dangerous drivers are those aged over 65 (0.02), suggesting motorists become safer with experience.

These are the dangerous driving endorsements listed by the Department of Transport

These are the dangerous driving endorsements listed by the Department of Transport

These are the dangerous driving endorsements listed by the Department of Transport

The study found that 7.21 per 1,000 drivers with a listed job title of 'loader' had a dangerous driving conviction - more than any other profession, according to the data

The study found that 7.21 per 1,000 drivers with a listed job title of 'loader' had a dangerous driving conviction - more than any other profession, according to the data

The study found that 7.21 per 1,000 drivers with a listed job title of ‘loader’ had a dangerous driving conviction – more than any other profession, according to the data

Emma Garland, data scientist at MoneySupermarket, said: ‘If you feel that your driving is putting yourself or others at risk, you should consider some refresher lessons to improve your driving skills and knowledge of the highway code.’

Dangerous driving records by age group

1. 20-24 years – 0.47 per 1,000

2. 25-29 years – 0.39

3. 30-39 years – 0.19

4. 40-49 years – 0.08

5. 50-64 years – 0.05

6. 17-19 years – 0.07

7. 65+ years – 0.02

 Source: MoneySuperMarket review of 7.8m motor insurance quotes between 1 November 2018 and 21 October 2019

She added that drivers who tally up dangerous driving convictions and points on their licence that come with it are likely to find that insurance premiums will be more expensive.

A recent report by Compare the Market found that the average annual premium increase by having an extra three points on a licence is £209.

The rival comparison site calculated that penalty points have added a massive £230million to British drivers’ insurance costs. 

It found that an increase from zero to three points had minimal impact on the cost of motor cover, but premiums rocket if a driver goes from three to six points, soaring by more than £400 to an average of £1,159.

Insurance costs get increasingly higher the more points are added to a driver’s record, reaching an average premium of £1,466 for those with a potentially licence-losing 12 points, it estimated.

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