Debt Management Company Gregory Pennington Have Said That Now Is A More Important Time Than Ever For Consumers To Get Their Finances In Order And Tackle Any Existing Debt Problems

Following Bank of England Governor Mervyn King’s announcement that the British economy is entering a recession, debt management company Gregory Pennington have warned that financial hardship is likely to be widespread in the coming months, adding that the public should aim to get their finances in order and tackle any debts as a matter of priority.

Speaking at a business conference on Tuesday, Mervyn King told business leaders that the economy faces a “sharp and prolonged slowdown”, perpetuated by smaller take home salaries, soaring living costs and limited access to consumer credit.

“We now face a long, slow haul to restore lending to the real economy, and hence growth of our economy, to more normal conditions,” he also said.

On a more positive note, King said that some of the factors causing inflation had “shifted decisively”, putting less pressure on the Bank of England to actively control inflation and instead giving them time to address other factors, particularly the cost of consumer lending.

And addressing those concerned about many lenders’ reluctance to pass on the Bank of England’s recent base rate cut, King offered his assurance that the cuts would eventually have an effect, but said: “It will take time before the [bank bailout] leads to a resumption of normal levels of lending.”

A spokesperson for Gregory Pennington warned of the dangers that consumers face as a recession approaches. “One of the biggest dangers is unemployment. Since there will be less money flowing through the economy, businesses will suffer, and many will be forced to make job cuts as a result – which restarts the same cycle.

“We may also see the availability of credit take a further hit, as lenders will be wary that the borrowers may be at a higher risk of losing their jobs than usual. However, the Bank of England are doing their best to ensure that cash flow within banks improves, so it remains to be seen how lenders will react to that as things progress.

“What we can be sure of is that it’s essential for the public to address any financial problems they may have, particularly when it comes to debt. Debt is a burden at any time, but carrying debts during such an uncertain time for the economy can be very worrying.

“If borrowers miss payments, the creditors may pursue the whole debts, which can lead to court action and even bankruptcy if they are unable to comply.”

The Gregory Pennington spokesperson said that there a number of debt solutions that could help people repay their debts and limit the pressure on their finances as the economy enters a recession.

“For people with multiple debts, a debt consolidation loan can help,” she said. “Debt consolidation involves taking out a new loan to cover your existing debts, meaning you only have one creditor to repay.

“Payments can often be reduced by spreading them over a longer period, although you can pay more interest in the long run. Interest rates can also potentially be reduced, especially if you are consolidating high-APR debts such as credit cards – but be aware that if you have extended your repayment period, the additional interest incurred can reduce the benefit of a lower interest rate.

“For more unmanageable debts, a debt management plan may be your better option. If you do this through an expert debt adviser, they will assess how much you can realistically afford to repay each month. After that, they will negotiate with your creditors for lower monthly payments and possibly a freeze in interest or other charges.

“For more significant debts of £15,000 or more, an IVA (Individual Voluntary Arrangement) might be more appropriate. This involves making monthly payments over a period of five years, based on how much you can afford. Once that five-year period is over, your remaining debts will be considered settled.

“However be aware that an IVA requires approval from creditors responsible for at least 75% of your debts, and you may be required to release some of the equity tied up in your home in the fourth year of your IVA.

“Before you make any decisions, it’s important to seek independent debt help. A debt adviser will talk you through your situation and will be able to establish which debt solution is right for you.”

Via EPR Network
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Tracesmart Reassigns Its Identity Check Solution To Its New Central Interface

Tracesmart, renowned for helping organisations conduct identity checks for know your customer purposes, have announced that they are preparing to relocate their ID service – Smart ID Plus. The service will now be accessible directly from the company’s principal site Tracesmart Corporate. The relocation signals the beginning of a larger project which aims to centralise all of the company’s current and future online service offerings in order to streamline and improve the customer experience.

Utilised in both anti-money laundering and anti-fraud exercises, the service will lose its Smart ID Plus moniker and simply be known as ID, part of the Tracesmart Corporate range which includes the highly regarded data cleansing service. Users of the ID service will simply log in to the Tracesmart Corporate site where they will be greeted by the new central user interface. As well as access to the ID tool the interface will also provide access to other Tracesmart Corporate services and a variety of other functions including usage history and reports, system user guides and the option to purchase credits for their subscribed services.

Management of the technical changeover is being led by Paul Weathersby, Technical Director for Tracesmart, who has been planning the move for some time “Ensuring that our customers have an efficient and enjoyable experience when using our systems is one of our primary concerns. As such we [Tracesmart’s technical team] have been preparing to centralise our online service suite for some time – porting the ID services across to the Tracesmart Corporate site is the first step in this process. The new interface will be live shortly and months of preparation will ensure a smooth transition with no negative impact on the user experience or service functionality.”

The centralisation of Tracesmart’s online service suite will result in a single ‘shop front’ and access point for users once they are logged in. For example, from this hub Tracesmart clients will be able to trace people one minute, then seamlessly switch to conduct identity checks the next. It is anticipated that having the range of services side-by-side will raise interest in the whole of the Tracesmart range.

Commenting on the future improved and centralised online service suite Mike Trezise, Managing Director at Tracesmart, notes the impact it will have for their customers, “The central service portal will allow for improved customer experience and usability – a core motivation behind the majority of our technical enhancements. All of our online services will be available from this single access point, thus ensuring our customers stay up-to-date with our portfolio and remain fully informed about the services available to them.”

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Think Money Have Said That The Recent Drops In The LIBOR Could Mark The Beginning Of A Recovery In The Mortgage Market

Responding to the news that LIBOR fell on Wednesday following the European Central Bank (ECB) and the Swiss National Bank’s $254 billion (£145.7 billion) injection into the wholesale funding markets, financial solutions company Think Money ( commented that this could mark the start of a recovery in the mortgages and loans market, so long as the conditions remain in place for lenders to continue to do business.

Despite last week’s half-point base rate drop, which was aimed in part at encouraging lenders to offer lower interest rates on their mortgages and other credit products, three-month sterling LIBOR – the rate most banks base their mortgage rates on – has been slow to respond.

LIBOR reflects the willingness of financial institutions to lend money to each other – and therefore the amount of cash flow in the industry. As such, it affects the levels of loans, mortgages and other forms of credit they are willing to offer to consumers. In short, the higher the LIBOR is, the more expensive it is to obtain the funds necessary for lending.

But on Wednesday, LIBOR fell from 6.249% to 6.21%, following around four weeks of continuous rises – not a huge drop, but one that could indicate that banks may be becoming more inclined to lend to each other, following the first cash injections from the Government’s bailout scheme.

A spokesperson for Think Money said: “This is a small but encouraging sign that the mortgage market may be on its way to improved levels of lending. What’s more, it’s evidence that the first stage of the Government’s bailout scheme may be working, which is good news for the economy in general.

“The main obstacle to mortgage lending over the past year has been lenders’ unwillingness to take risks. That’s the main factor behind the short supply of mortgages on the market, and the reason banks weren’t lending to each other, hence the high LIBOR.

“The aim of the bank bailout is to artificially increase cash flow within the financial markets, which should then give lenders an incentive to start doing more business with each other and with consumers – and it would appear that it has worked, for the time being at least.

“What we will now be looking out for is whether the LIBOR will continue to fall, and by how much. If it can drop to a figure somewhere near the 4.5% base rate, we may begin to see healthy levels of mortgage lending taking place once again. But the continued success of the banking bailout scheme will be central to ensuring this can occur.”

The spokesperson added that although market conditions are currently difficult, there are still plenty of mortgage deals available. “We haven’t seen a complete freeze in mortgage lending – just a tightening in lending criteria across the market. Lenders still need to be competitive to do business, so the deals are still very much there – it may just take longer to find the right deal.

“Despite the uncertainty in the housing market, now could be a good time for first-time buyers, since house prices are relatively low, and therefore mortgages are relatively cheap. If house prices do begin to rise again soon, it could prove to be a very good move financially.”

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Financial Solutions Provider Think Money Has Welcomed The Bank Of England’s Recent Move To Enhance Liquidity By Accepting A Broader Range Of Loans And Other Assets As Collateral For Loans To Banks

Responding to the Bank of England’s recent changes to its policy regarding collateral, mortgage provider Think Money welcomes the move and looks forward to the increased levels of liquidity it should provide.

On 3rd October 2008, the Bank of England announced that it would expand the range of assets it deems acceptable collateral for the loans it grants to financial institutions. The range, according to the Bank of England website, now includes ‘AAA-rated asset-backed securities of some corporate and consumer loans; and approved highly-rated, asset-backed commercial paper programmes, where the underlying assets would be eligible if securitised’.

This action, the website continues, ‘is addressed to the ongoing strains in term funding markets, and adds highly-rated corporate securitisations to the residential mortgage securities that are already eligible’.

“At Think Money, we welcome this change,” said a spokesperson for the financial solutions provider. “While some may feel alarmed that the Bank of England felt such a move necessary, it’s nonetheless reassuring to note that the institution is taking such action before the financial situation deteriorates further.

The current lack of liquidity is a cause of great concern for everyone in the UK, from individuals to banks, mortgage providers and other institutions. “Without a constant, reliable flow of credit, it can be difficult – if not impossible – to carry out their plans, whether it’s a case of a company pursuing a business opportunity or an individual securing a mortgage, remortgage or loan.

“So we’re encouraged to see the Bank taking decisive steps such as this. Banks and other financial institutions own massive amounts of debt these days, from mortgage debt to overdraft debt, so it’s both limiting and frustrating when they can’t use them as collateral, as it’s one of the cornerstones of today’s lending activities.”

According to the Market Notice published on October 3rd, The Bank of England ‘will continue to hold extended collateral three-month long-term repo open market operations (OMOs) weekly up to and including the scheduled long-term repo operation on 18 November’, which suggests that it sees no immediate end to today’s unusual market conditions.

Furthermore, it states that ‘The size of the funds offered at the Bank’s extended collateral long-term repo operation on Tuesday 7 October will be £40 billion’.

Yet despite the size of the operation, the spokesperson for the financial solutions company stressed, it’s important to note that this is no act of desperation. “In the light of the ‘bailout’ recently approved in the USA, it’s important to realise that this move by no means invites lenders to put forward‘toxic’ mortgage debts as collateral. The Bank of England may have broadened the range of assets it sees as acceptable, but it is not prepared to accept any form of collateral which isn’t of sufficiently high quality.”

Furthermore, the Bank of England is exercising a suitable degree of caution: “The Bank may be accepting a greater variety of assets as collateral,” the Think Money spokesperson concluded, “but it’s also valuing them correspondingly and offering, to quote the Financial Times, ‘as little as 60p in the pound for some foreign currency mortgage-backed securities’.”

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