Research reveals £500 million stolen via fraud in first half of 2018

Research published by trade association UK Finance has revealed that, during the first half of this year, criminals stole £503.4 million from the UK public via fraud and scams.

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Over the same period, the UK finance industry helped to ‘prevent £705.7 million of unauthorised fraud’, the research found.
So-called ‘purchase scams’ proved to be the most prevalent type of crime, accounting for £19.4 million of the total amount stolen. Purchase scams involve a victim paying in advance for an item or a service, such as a car or a hotel room, and subsequently never receiving or being able to make use of it.

The research also revealed that, in the first half of 2018, there were 3,866 reported cases of ‘impersonation scams’. As part of this type of scam, the criminal purports to be from an authority, such as the police, and tricks their victim into transferring money.

The average loss resulting from impersonation scams amounts to £11,402, according to UK Finance.

Commenting on the research, Katy Worobec, Managing Director of Economic Crime at UK Finance, said: ‘Fraud and scams pose a major threat to our country. The criminals behind it target their victims indiscriminately and the proceeds go on to fund terrorism, people smuggling and drug trafficking, whether or not the individual is refunded.

‘The finance industry is committed to fighting back, investing millions in security systems and cyber defences to protect customers.’

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‘Progressive’ property tax regime for Wales set to be implemented

From April 2018, individuals seeking to buy residential property in Wales will pay little or no tax on the purchase, under plans announced in the Welsh Draft Budget 2018-19.

Stamp Duty Land Tax (SDLT) will be replaced in Wales by a new Land Transaction Tax (LTT) on 1 April 2018.

Under the new LTT rules, the Welsh starting threshold for property tax will be the highest in the UK.

For properties priced between £0 and £150,000, a main residential rate of 0% will apply. Homes priced between £150,000 and £250,000 will attract a residential rate of 2.5%.

Image result for tax cutsMeanwhile, residential properties priced between £250,000 and £400,000 will be subject to a main rate of 5%.

The rates can be viewed in full here.

Commenting on the new rates, the Finance Secretary for Wales, Mark Drakeford, stated: ‘From April, Wales will introduce the first Welsh taxes in almost 800 years, supporting first-time buyers and boosting business.

‘The devolution of tax powers provides us with the opportunity to reshape and make changes to improve existing taxes to better meet Wales’ needs and priorities.

‘These new progressive rates and bands for LTT . . . will make a real difference to people’s lives; help change behaviours and deliver improvements to communities across Wales.’

Significant number of young people ‘concerned about their finances’, study suggests

Research carried out by Sky has revealed that a significant number of young people are concerned about the state of their finances.

65% of those aged between 18 and 34 are concerned about how they would manage financially if and when interest rates rise.

The level of anxiety amongst individuals in this age bracket is significantly higher than that of any other age group, the research suggested.

The Bank of England (BoE) recently indicated that interest rates could rise ‘as soon as November’. Commenting on the issue, Mark Carney, Governor of the BoE, recently said: ‘If the economy continues on the track that it’s been on, . . . in the relatively near term we can expect that interest rates will increase.’

The base interest rate currently stands at 0.25%.

Meanwhile, separate research carried out by debt charity StepChange revealed that many young people are seeking debt advice. Two thirds of individuals accessing support are under the age of 40, the charity found.

Finance Secretary uses Scottish Budget to outline tax changes

Derek Mackay, Finance Secretary for Scotland, has delivered Scotland’s draft Budget, outlining a range of changes to both taxation and finance.

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Marking the first Scottish Budget since Holyrood gained a series of new tax powers from Westminster, Mr Mackay revealed that the basic rate of income tax will be frozen, whilst the 40% higher rate of income tax will start at £43,430.

This differentiates the Scottish rate from Britain’s higher rate: in the rest of the UK, the higher rate threshold will rise to £45,000 from 6 April 2017.

Commenting on the change, he stated: ‘This government is committed to a principles-based approach to taxation, particularly that tax should be proportionate to the ability to pay.’

In other announcements, the Finance Secretary outlined the expansion of the Small Business Bonus Scheme, which will be achieved by raising the eligibility threshold for 100% relief to a rateable value of £15,000.

In addition, £3 million will be invested in minimising rail fare increases, whilst £60 million will be spent as part of a plan to expand childcare and early learning to 1,140 hours.

Recently retired individuals ‘enjoying greater wealth than the under-45s’

Newly-retired people in the UK are enjoying greater wealth than the under-45s, new research has suggested.

Official figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) provided a basis for the study conducted by the Resolution Foundation.

Households headed by 65- to 74-year-olds own around 19% of the UK’s wealth, whilst those aged under 45 own only 16%.

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This revelation comes despite the fact that there are many more households headed by under-45s than over-65s.

According to the report, this is due to the ongoing pay squeeze affecting younger members of society. This generation is also less likely to own their own homes, while people aged 60 and over were ‘the least to be affected’ by the UK’s pay compression.

The study found that in 2012, households in the 16-44 age group had average wealth of £179,000, whilst those in the 65-74 age group had wealth of £540,000.

The report stated: ‘The stark generational wealth divide has grown since the financial crash, as a result of the recently retired being relatively protected in a downturn where house prices had a swift recovery, while real wages took six years to start increasing again’.

However, the report has issued a warning stating that despite the shift in the distribution of wealth, one in seven pensioners currently has less than £50,000 to fund their retirement.