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Personal finance press at-a-glance 11-12 January 2020

We’re nearly halfway through January, no better time for money journalists to focus on tax returns and a crucial self-assessment deadline at the end of this month. Elsewhere, a proposal to shake up the UK’s savings market received a mixed reception, while the financial implications of breaking up went under the spotlight.

Financial Times
Writing for the FT, Emma Agyemang reminded readers that 31 January is an important and looming deadline for those who need to fill in a tax return for 2018/19. Meanwhile, Lucy Warwick-Ching reported on plans from the City watchdog, the Financial Conduct Authority, to unveil reforms to simplify the easy-access cash savings market. The idea is to make it easier for up to 40 million savers to compare deals on rates, although some reports (see The Times below) questioned whether this would actually work in practice. Turning to pensions, Josephine Cumbo suggested it’s time for the government to grasp the nettle when it comes to pensions tax relief.

The Times
The Times also had self-assessment in its sights with David Byers reporting on Saturday that the taxman has been forced to extend the deadline for some people completing returns after IT problems with the HM Revenue & Customs website. Turning to investment, Mark Atherton brought news of James Clunie, the Jupiter fund manager who’s betting on a tech crash by shorting Scottish Mortgage Investment Trust and “other tech titans”. Elsewhere in the section, Ali Hussain warned how the City watchdog’s proposal for the promise of a minimum savings rate could actually backfire on customers.

The Guardian
Writing for The Guardian, Miles Brignall reminded readers that if their bank balances were suffering as a result of excessive Christmas spending then now is the perfect time to lock into a better energy contract with savings of up to £300 a year to be made. Elsewhere, Patrick Collinson asked if now is the worst time ever to invest. “If you want a tilt at playing the markets, then maybe this is the year to buy British,” he suggested. Meanwhile, Suzanne Bearn had pensions advice for the self-employed, a large sector of the workforce whose retirement plans are woefully inadequate.

The Telegraph
Over the weekend, The Daily Telegraph’s Adam Williams had positive news for a particular type of homeowner. “A little-known type of mortgage that allows families to move into a new home without selling their existing property is growing in popularity as a result of a sluggish housing market,” he reported in connection with ‘let-to-buy’ home loans. Elsewhere, Marianna Hunt advised would-be divorcees to hold off from splitting up, while Stephanie Baxter reported on Sunday how the ‘Waspi’ women could be granted free bus passes.

The Independent
For those who like to combine  financial affairs while keeping on top of their diary in the year ahead, Felicity Hannah had the ideal piece in Saturday’s Independent with a pointer to the main events of 2020. These included not only the self-assessment deadline later this month, but a reminder of Chancellor Sajid Javid’s first Budget on 11 March, the introduction of new broadband rights on the 20th of the same month, plus overdraft and inheritance tax rule changes in April.

The Mirror
Also looking ahead was The Mirror’s James Andrews who suggested to readers five apps that can not only help them get richer, but also to keep their resolutions in 2020. Amongst the services in the spotlight were Moneybox (an app which helps consumers to save and invest), along with Plum (an artificial intelligence assistant), and Tully (a digital debt adviser).

The Sunday Times
Reporting for The Sunday Times, Ali Hussain passed on to readers the worrying news that share tips from Hargreaves Lansdown, the UK’s largest investment platform, performed “worse than guessing”. Elsewhere, David Byers offered readers a tax-efficient guide to getting divorced. Basically, it’s going to be best to wait until after April once some new laws have bedded in.

The Mail on Sunday
Over at the Mail on Sunday, Toby Walne warned readers about an invasion of “robo-callers”, machines that randomly phone up individuals with the aim of luring them into sharing personal details such as bank account numbers. Elsewhere, Sarah Bridge reported on how thousands of taxpayers are missing out on pension tax relief because they include incorrect information on their annual tax return. Meanwhile Jeff Prestridge recommended swerving a “scam advert” doing the rounds on professional networking website LinkedIn that’s promising an annual return of up to 35 per cent.