Monthly Archives: October 2012

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Britain Rejects US Military Base Request

In a move that is certain to enrage the US government, the UK has refused a request for US forces to use UK-owned airbases in a possible conflict with Iran. The USA is known to be extremely concerned about the widely-held belief that Iran is developing nuclear weapons –something that Iran has consistently denied – and has made it known that it would be prepared to launch a pre-emptive strike on any identified nuclear facilities. The UK is reluctant to be drawn into such a conflict, while it is believed that the USA may be lining up to back Israel in an attack on Iran.

No ‘Clear and Present Threat’

US diplomats are known to have been lobbying for their forces to use UK bases in Cyprus, on Ascension Island – in the Atlantic – and at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean. The UK government has rejected the requests on the grounds that, as Iran cannot be seen to represent a ‘clear and present threat’ to its security, a pre-emptive strike may well be in violation of international law, and assisting a country involved in such a strike would therefore be illegal. The UK, and a number of other countries, prefers a diplomatic approach to the situation.

Tensions on the Rise

Tension between Iran and Israel has been high of late with the latter making no secret of the fact it would consider a nuclear-armed Iran as a direct threat. Governments in Europe and the USA are concerned that any escalation into conflict between the two could trigger serious unrest and warfare in the Middle East. The UK’s snubbing of the USA in this instance comes shortly after the government angered the USA by refusing the extradition of Gary McKinnon, wanted in the US on computer hacking charges, and will not be welcomed in diplomatic quarters.

Credit Management: How Easily You Could Get Into Debt

Financing from different financial institutions are indeed helpful items to have especially during trying times. However, credit can spiral out of hand due to high interest rates and your financial irresponsibility. Credit cards could easily get you into debt if you’re not careful with managing them. Here are a few ways you can easily get into huge debt without your knowledge.

1. Supplementary Cards

Credit cards actually have an option to have supplementary cards for use by other people you trust in your household. However, because it is not only you but a few more people in your house that makes use of the credit, you can instantly get into debt. See to it that the people you entrust the use of the supplementary cards are financially responsible in using them.

2. Insurance

Payment protection insurances or PPI are the usual insurance that goes with any loan, mortgage or credit card. It is an insurance policy designed to cover your expenses in case you face financial difficulty caused by unemployment, sickness or injury. It can come free with your card and you will pay for it after the first month you receive your card. However, if you’re ineligible for the insurance, you may be paying too much for your card, and the debts you have might be earlier resolved if not for the insurance. But you can make PPI claims to get back your repayments

3. Overspending

Credt card companies and other financial institutions by practice work with merchants and establishments to provide their customers discount, freebies and reward packages. However, you might be too motivated in using these privileges that your bill piles up to amounts that you can not manage. Overspending is common with most credit card users and it is important to avoid such.

4. Mis Sold Products

You can be mis sold insurance or financial products by your financial advisers. Financial advisers work on a commission basis, and if they have given the card to you including a PPI policy, you might be in trouble. If they claim that any insurance or financial product is indeed a requirement or free with your package, it is important you have experts take a look and see if the product is indeed mis sold. You might be due a refund.

EU Summit in Banking Group move

The continued financial problems affecting many of the EU member states have been to the fore in the current EU summit, with further moves to create a block EU bank in order to try and ease the situation. Germany is largely behind the project, with an agreed priority towards national budgetary discipline, but the members are worried about upsetting the European Central Bank in the process. The subject is likely to be an emotive one with problems in Spain, general unrest in Greece and rumblings elsewhere, and it remains to be seen how much can be done.

European Stability Mechanism

The European Stability Mechanism (ESB) is the new EU fund that is designed to help member states in trouble. One proposal at the latest summit is that the ESM should be able to act in a direct manner to restabilize banks. This would cut down on red tape and time involved, but would also be a controversial decision. There are concerns that the 17 member states are divided into the ‘have’s and the ‘have not’s’, with the latter being continually and expensively bailed out by the former.

The State of Play

At the moment the main problems are in Greece, where the economy is in seemingly uncontrollable free-fall, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Cyprus, with the UK also officially in recession. It remains to be seen how the more affluent northern European countries will take to being asked to fund the less wealthy members, with Greece in particular being a point of concern. Furthermore, the UK – an EU member but not a Eurozone member – wants legal safeguards to protect the Bank of England against possible economic influences from a central European bank, and it is not clear whether the remainder of the EU member states will be open to such an exclusive deal.

Energy Price Rises – Out of Pocket again

The recent news that our energy prices are to rise again – despite the energy providers making massive profits year upon year – will certainly raise the hackles of the everyday consumer. British Gas was the first to announce a price rise, of 6%, and rivals were quick to follow with similarly alarming price increases. The news has led Consumer Rights, a group that follows such information, to suggest the government should work more closely with the energy companies to ensure fair and sensible prices.

Carbon Taxes

Part of the increase, it seems, is being put down the energy providers having to pay carbon taxes, controversial tax schemes now in place in the UK that are intended to encourage investment in green energy. Audrey Gallacher, of Consumer Focus, explained:

“From next year, an average of £4bn will be taken from consumer bills in the form of carbon taxes. Using a proportion of that revenue to fund a much more ambitious energy efficiency programme could start to tackle fuel poverty and provide a jump start to our energy efficiency industry.”

This may seem like a sensible suggestion to the man on the street, but the government is unlikely to see it that way.

Free Insulation

Notably, British Gas is at the forefront of offering consumers free insulation in a variety of forms. It has even extended this offer to none-customers. However, this could be a plea bargain as it was expected not to meet legally applied targets, which could cost it a great deal of money in fines. However, there is no doubt that as many people already have adequate insulation a reduction – or freezing – of energy costs would have made more of an impact on the way the companies are viewed by the consumer.

Know Your Consumer Rights

It can sometimes feel as if it’s a minefield out there in consumer world: everywhere you go, whether you are shopping online or in the high street, you are bombarded with offers of extended warranties, notices of your statutory rights, and warnings that you need your receipt to claim a refund. But what do you actually need, and how do your rights stand as things are? It’s important to know your rights, so let’s cover some basics.

Faulty Goods and the Law

What happens if you buy something and it turns out to be faulty? The law says that all goods should be fir for their purpose, of satisfactory quality, and match the description given. If either of these is not adhered to, you have a right to a replacement, repair or your money back. You are not entitled to your money back if the goods are not faulty or you have caused the damage, nor if you previously examined the goods for defects.

Satisfactory Quality

The phrase ‘of satisfactory quality’ is one that can be interpreted in many ways. Basically, goods are judged on their price and purpose. Satisfactory quality covers the appearance and finish of goods, whether they are safe to use and any defects present, including minor ones. If you have bought something new – from a retailer, not a private seller – and you believe it to be of inferior quality you may be able to claim a refund.

Consumer Rights Law

Remember, everything is covered by the Sale of Goods Act, a legal act that is designed to protect the consumer. If you have doubts about anything to do with your consumer rights the Citizens Advice Bureau should be the first port of call, and they will advise you as to whom to talk to next.