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Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) – A benefit or a curse?

As the cost of living rises and incomes remain obstinately flat1, it is increasingly tempting to spread the cost of goods over a period of months and pay no interest for a fixed period. On the face of it, it may seem the perfect answer to borrow at no cost and be able to pay off the loan in easy to manage chunks.

The benefits are very clear provided you can keep up payments, however the downsides are not so immediately evident, but can become a major problem.

  • Missed payments – these can mean paying a fee and then having interest charges imposed on any balance outstanding. Some companies may pass unpaid debts on to debt collection agencies.
  • Credit score – Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) services can refer missed payments to credit agencies. So, if payments are made late or missed altogether, a person’s credit score can be affected, especially if debt collection agencies become involved. In turn, this can lead to difficulties in obtaining mortgages or other forms of credit.2

According to a BBC report for Panorama, an estimated 15 million adults of all ages in the UK are actively using this form of credit, an increase of more than two million since the start of the year. Also, research quoted in a report by Equifax suggests about 30% of those are 20- to 30-year-olds.3

A sign of the potential problems comes from a Citizens Advice survey of 2,288 people who had used buy now pay later during the past 12 months. It found that while 52% made repayments from their current account, 26% were using a credit card, 9% a bank overdraft and 7% were borrowing from friends and family.4

It has been reported that Apple, will soon be adding a BNPL facility to its Apple Wallet for payments through Apple Pay5, and there is growing pressure on BNPL providers to become more transparent with regards to borrowers’ activity, ahead of likely action by the financial regulator to formally regulate the sector. Swedish financial company Klarna, the leading BNPL provider in the UK, started sharing customer data with two credit agencies, Equifax and TransUnion from 1 June, meaning credit card companies will be able to see transactions and debts when conducting formal checks on potential borrowers for mortgages and other finance.6

If you have any outstanding BNPL arrangements and are concerned as to how this may affect you or a mortgage application, we would encourage you to get in touch with us so that we can review your individual needs and circumstances, and help to provide you guidance on what it means for your future plans.


1 – BBC Business News (2022) What is the UK’s inflation rate and why is the cost of living going up? Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

2 – Experian (2022) How does buy now pay later work?. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

3 – BBC Panorama (2021) Buy Now Pay Later: The New Debt Crisis?. Available at (Accessed 28th June 2022)

4 – Citizens Advice (2022) Two Fifths Borrowed to Pay Off Buy Now Pay Later. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

5 – Montebello, L. City AM (2022) Hot on Klarna’s Heels: Apple Enters Buy Now Pay Later Space With ‘Apple Pay Later’. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

6 – Makortoff, K. (2022) Klarna to start reporting UK customer debts to credit agencies. Available at: (Accessed 29th June 2022)

Renovate, or Buy Already-Modernised?

If you were looking for a property to purchase today, would you be more interested in something you could do up or a dwelling that had already been modernised and did not need anything spent on it?

Although unmodernised properties are typically 4.5% cheaper to buy than similar modernised examples in the same area recent research by a leading estate agent suggests that on balance it is cheaper to buy a house that has already been renovated. The main reason given was that buyers looking to modernise tend to underestimate the cost of renovation and then find that the true costs are much higher.1

For the purposes of comparison, typically an unmodernised property could be defined as one that has dated decorative schemes and whose kitchens and bathrooms have not been updated for decades.

There are variables of course, keen DIY enthusiasts may welcome the challenge of renovating a property, whilst many other homebuyers may not be in a position to consider doing it themselves if they feel they lack the skills, time and confidence required to tackle the often-complex challenges arising in modernising a property. 

The cost of hiring tradespeople has increased by approximately 34% over the past yearand cost of living rises and shortages have also seen rises in the cost of building materials according to Checkatrade.2

According to the research, the estimated average cost of modernisation of a typical unmodernised home would be equal to 15.8% of the property’s original value before starting work.1

When buying a home to renovate, the buyer needs to be confident that the cost of renovation would be absorbed by an increase in value once the work had been completed. That being said, the value of having a home which reflects the new owners’ tastes and fulfils the dream of having it meet their precise requirements is not something that can be expressed in simple monetary terms.

So, if the lure of renovation is too great here are a few tips to help reduce the cost –

  • Make sure you have a structural survey, so you know the property is basically sound
  • Get at least three quotes. This can help make sure you’re not overpaying – but be wary of any cost which seems particularly low.
  • Order materials early. Price rises are showing no sign of abating3, so purchasing materials early could work in your favour. 
  • Managing your resources and time. If you’re planning a big project, pay careful attention to how trades are phased to avoid multiple callout charges.
  • Reuse materials. Consider whether you could salvage timber, pipes or other materials which may otherwise have gone into a skip.

Finally, always try to factor in extra funds for any unexpected expense. There will inevitably be something needing attention that had not been factored in.


1 – Magnus, E. (2022) Think Twice Before Buying That Fixer-Upper. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022).

2 – Checkatrade (2022) Drilling into the Detail: What’s happened with job prices?. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

3 – Checkatrade (2022) Materials price rise across the UK in 2022. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

Interest rates – How will they affect you?

Interest rates have not been a real topic of conversation for over twelve years. A generation has grown up not having to think that the cost of their mortgages or loans might rise. Since 2008/9 Bank Base Rate (BBR) set by the Bank of England has been less than 1% (as low as 0.1% 2020/21 over the pandemic), which may explain why household borrowing has been so attractive for so long.1

Yet interest rates have been raised from 0.5% to 1% and now to 1.25% – their highest level for 13 years1. By doing so, the Bank of England is hoping to slow the rate at which prices are increasing. Price inflation, which is the measure by which the cost of goods and services is increasing, is estimated to reach 11% later this year.2

We have all noticed how prices are going up with the cost of fuel, gas and electricity rising rapidly. One of the reasons is that while the world recovers from COVID, demand for goods and services has increased while the ability to supply has struggled to keep up. More buyers chasing too few goods means that prices have risen. The sharp rise in oil and gas costs has been made worse by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.3

One of the few measures available to central banks to try and control rising prices is to raise interest rates. However, that has a negative effect on the cost of borrowing and also encourages people to borrow and spend less.

Mortgages and interest rates

Even though there is less to worry about in the short term if you are one of the c.74% of mortgage holders who are currently on a fixed rate deal, eventually everyone with a long mortgage end date is likely to be affected once their current fixed rate deal ends. Already, approximately 850,000 people on tracker or variable rate mortgages have started to see their monthly repayments rise.4

Credit cards and loans?

Even if you don’t have a mortgage, changes in Bank of England interest rates could still affect you if you have credit card balances or loans.

According to data from the Bank of England, the average credit card interest rate in the UK was 21.46% at the beginning of 20225 and the average arranged overdraft rate has risen from 12.34 per cent to almost 27 per cent according to the data firm Moneyfacts.6

If you are looking for ways to manage your monthly outgoings, we recommend that you get in touch with us. We could help to review your existing mortgage arrangements and advise you on suitable options based on your individual needs and circumstances.


1 – Bank of England (2022) Bank of England base rate. Available at: (Accessed on 28th June 2022)

2 – Weardon, G. (2022) Bank of England says Inflation will hit 11%. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

3 – UK Parliament House of Commons Library (2022) Rising Cost of Living UK. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

4 – UK Finance (2022) How the Bank Rates Affect Mortgages. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

5 – Thomas, J & Stoneman, J (2022) 21% and Rising: Fury grows as Credit Card rates hit new high. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

6 – Clark, D. (2020) Overdraft rates rise but borrowing becomes cheaper. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022)

The Small Price of Protecting Your Holiday

With all the disruption at UK airports that has taken place in recent weeks1, with cancelled flights and ruined holidays and the main holiday period still ahead of us, it seems to be the right time to talk about the importance of travel insurance.

Do you take the risk of hoping that everything will go well or, like the scenario above, recognise that unforeseen events can ruin your break before you even take off, requiring appropriate action to cover yourself and your family?

According to the Consumer Council2, a good insurance policy should cover you for:

• Missed flight departures / connections

• Cancellation or restriction of your holiday caused by an unexpected event, e.g. illness

• Illness, injury or death while you are away

• Repatriation – getting you back home

• Loss, theft or damage to your belongings or luggage

• Liability for accidents to others

• If the airline goes out of business

• Natural disasters, natural events e.g. volcanic ash clouds and severe weather

• Political instability

• Security risks.

Of course, you can pick and choose what features are important to you as not every policy will be as comprehensive and it is just as important that you know what your policy does not cover as what it does.

Common exclusions2

• Travel disruption caused by natural disaster, volcanic ash, civil unrest or
terrorism may not be included

• Claims for a pre-existing medical condition or illness at the time of taking
out your policy that has not been declared

• Alcohol and drug related incidents

• Missing valuables from check-in luggage

Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) and travel insurance2

If you are travelling to Europe, since Brexit, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) is no longer valid, although it will still be valid in the EU until it expires. We recommend that you apply for a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC), free of charge, in addition to taking out travel insurance. The GHIC allows travellers to access healthcare in most European countries at a reduced cost or sometimes free of charge.

However, it is not an alternative to travel insurance, and it does not cover:

• getting you back to the UK (repatriation)

• private medical treatment

• dental treatment in some countries

How do I get a GHIC?

You can apply online at It is advisable to allow at least two weeks before travelling to make sure the card arrives on time.3


1 – BBC News (2022) Will my summer holiday flights be cancelled? Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022).

2 – Consumer Council (2022) Travel Insurance Fact Sheet. Available at: (Accessed 28th June 2022).

3 – NHS (2022) Applying for healthcare cover abroad (GHIC or EHIC). Available at (Accessed 28th June 2022)

Now could be the ideal time to review your mortgage

Mortgages are becoming more expensive and while those with fixed rates can feel relieved, the simple truth is that as inflation rises and continues to go up, everyone with a mortgage will eventually be affected. A record £328 billion worth of fixed-rate mortgages will come to an end this year, leaving those homeowners facing big rises in their repayments. Those on variable rates will already have seen an increase in their monthly mortgage costs1.

The Bank of England has just increased its base rate to 1% and, according to no lesser figure than the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the base rate could rise to 2.5 per cent by the end of the year2.

The impact on mortgage repayments

If you have a tracker mortgage or are on a standard variable rate (SVR), your repayments will reflect the increase in your lender’s base interest rate, which tends to follow any increase in the Bank of England’s base rate. A 0.25% percentage point rise in rates would translate into approximately an additional £26 per month mortgage payment on average for a tracker rate customer and £16 for the typical borrower on SVR, depending on the amount borrowed3.

The immediate good news is that if your mortgage is on a fixed rate, your monthly repayments will be unaffected for as long as your fixed term lasts, however once the fixed rate comes to an end, going back onto your lender’s variable rate may provide considerable payment shock if the Chancellor’s prediction is realised.

Act now to avoid an unwelcome surprise

Because of the uncertainties in the financial markets and the wider international economy, further rate increases cannot be ruled out and whatever your mortgage type, we strongly recommend you look at the terms of your mortgage and contact your mortgage adviser before taking any further action.

It is likely that you will be contacted by your current lender offering advice, or other intermediaries too. As your trusted advisers, we would recommend speaking to us first, we will assess your current circumstances and search across the whole of the market for the most suitable deals that are most applicable to your individual mortgage and protection needs.


1 – Nixon, G. (2022) Mortgage rates are heading up and here’s what you should do. Available at: (Accessed 24th May 2022)

2 – Adams, G. (2022) Sunak expects interest rates to hit 2.5%. Available at: (Accessed 24th May 2022)

3 – Cornes, C. (2021) How the Bank Rate Affects Mortgage Rates. Available at: (Accessed 24th May 2022)

Three things you can do to protect everything that matters

Could your family pay the mortgage should the worst happen or if you are sick or disabled and unable to work?

Lenders will try and help you if making payments becomes difficult or impossible, but in the longer term in most cases, they will move to repossess your home.

1. Take out Life Insurance

You’re not legally obliged to have life insurance for a mortgage, but some lenders may consider it as a precondition for letting you borrow money to buy a home1.

The amount of life cover you need will depend on the size of your mortgage and the type of mortgage you have. Having life insurance in place can help minimise the financial impact that your death can have on your family and offer peace of mind to those you care about the most.

Naturally, all of us want to see our loved ones looked after once we are gone and many of us put insurance in place that gives them a strong financial future to continue doing the things that have created a strong family.

Most life insurance policies pay out a cash lump sum to your loved ones if you should die during the time that the policy is in force1.

The range of Insurers who provide this cover is also very broad, with many detailed choices to be made on what is covered, how long you would like the policy to last, through to details such as who should be included on the insurance and how often you want to pay the premium.  Today’s policies also bring with them a range of value-added services which means you don’t have to die to take advantage of the cover you put in place, and some even pay out early if you are diagnosed with a short time to live, making the final months of your life more bearable. 

We can talk you through the range of options available and make recommendations as to which kind of policy may be most appropriate for your individual circumstances.

2. Take out Critical Illness Cover

Life insurance covers the worst case scenario, but it’s also important to consider how you might pay your mortgage if you couldn’t work because of illness. Critical illness cover insurance is designed to protect you and your loved ones from the financial impact of you being diagnosed with and suffering for a period of time from a specified critical illness2.

To help mitigate the financial risk, provide breathing space to get better and potentially life saving money for treatments not available on the NHS, critical illness insurance works by paying out a cash sum if you are diagnosed with or undergo a medical procedure for one of a number of predefined ABI conditions such as cancer, stroke or a heart attack added to other less common conditions that might affect you at any time.  This money could then be used to help with childcare costs, household bills or maintaining a standard of living if you’re forced to take time off work to recover from the illness2.

3. Take out Income Protection

Income protection insurance pays you a regular income if you can’t work because of sickness, injury or disability and continues until you return to paid work or you retire. Income protection insurance is also known as permanent health insurance3.

The amount of income you are allowed to claim will not replace the exact amount of money you were earning before you had to stop work. You can expect to receive about a half to two-thirds of your earnings before tax from your normal job. This is because some money will be taken off for the state benefits you can claim, and also the income you get from the policy is tax free.

You can’t claim income protection payments straightaway if you fall ill or become disabled. You usually have to wait a minimum of four weeks but payments can start up to two years after you stop work. This is because you may not need the money straightaway as you may get sick pay from your employer or you may be able to claim statutory sick pay for up to 28 weeks after you stop work3.

We are here to help

When things do go wrong, insurance can go a long way to providing the financial support and emotional wellbeing to you or your family at the times when it is needed most.

Our advisers’ role to make sure that you can afford your home at outset and give you options to be able to maintain your payment of the mortgage and stay in your home should your circumstances change, either financially or medically in the future. If you have any questions about protecting your family and your biggest asset or just want to understand about the risks you face, book an appointment to talk with us today.


1 – Legal & General (2022) Do I need life insurance?. Available at: (Accessed 24th May 2022)

2 – Legal & General (2022) What is Critical Illness Cover?. Available at: (Accessed 24th May 2022)

3 – Legal & General (2022) Income Protection Insurance. Available at: (Accessed 24th May 2022)

Five Tips To Help You Sell Your Home

According to data from RightMove1, Spring is officially the best time to get your property on the market, representing a lull between the busy Christmas celebrations and Summer holidays. Getting your home onto the market before the summertime rush could help beat the competition and potentially even secure you a better price.

Here’s a few speedy tips on how you can get your place ready for a quick sale.

Declutter – but don’t depersonalise

Get rid of items that have accumulated – put them into storage, sell or give away to charity. Remove any bulky furniture to make the room feel larger and let people see all the fantastic living space you’re offering them. It’s important to not to make it look like a generic hotel, leave some personality to the room – it can help give suggestions to buyers as to what they might do with the space.

Fix and clean

Now’s the time to make any minor repairs, fill that hole in the wall or replace the broken door knob – many buyers want to move in without making changes, so allow for this by making your place as easy as possible to do so. Clean everything until it sparkles – from getting rid of limescale, repairing tile grout, through to waxing wooden floors – it all counts in making your place attractive for others to buy. Don’t forget the garden too – clean the patio, cut the grass and let your buyers visualise themselves enjoying the garden space.

A quick makeover

Sometimes a place can really benefit from a few small changes to really help sell the space – consider adding a fresh lick of neutral paint over the walls to make your home seem lighter and bigger.  Clean your windows, check that all your light bulbs work, and try adding a wall mirror to a small room or hallway to give the appearance of more room.

Refresh the kitchen

The kitchen can be one of the biggest areas to add value to your home2 – so it makes sense to check that yours is in tip top condition. Where necessary, think about refacing the cabinets or upgrading damaged or worn counter tops to give a quick-fix makeover to tired units that could make all the difference during property viewings.

Dress the room for sale

Finishings are important – dress your windows with blinds or curtains, consider adding plants and flowers to add colour, and of course, fill your kitchen fruit bowl with fresh fruit! Smells are important too, if you are a smoker, place bowls of vinegar around the house for three days to neutralise the smell. Invest in air fresheners and quality diffusers for that finishing touch.


1 – Rightmove (2022) Want to know the best time of year to sell your home?. Available at (Accessed 24th May 2022)

2 – Home Owners Alliance (2022) Kitchen renovation: Where do I start?. Available at (Accessed 24th May 2022)

Understand Your Credit Score

Do you know how to access your credit score or the ways it can affect your access to finance of all kinds?

Whenever applying for a mortgage, credit card or loan, the provider will check your credit record. Along with basic information to confirm your name, date of birth and address, it provides detail on how you have conducted any financial dealings, any overdrafts, existing credit arrangements and whether they are up to date. County Court Judgements (CCJ’s), home repossessions, bankruptcies, debt relief orders and individual voluntary arrangements are also recorded1.

In essence, it is a snapshot of your financial past and present, but also acts to identify that you exist and where you live and is a crucial part of the assessment of your ability to qualify for personal finance of any kind.

Why might you need to be concerned?

When it comes to borrowing money, a poor credit score can mean an out-and-out rejection or having to pay a higher price than others because you may be considered a poor risk to the lender or product provider offering finance, according to Experian. In the past 10 years, the credit landscape has almost completely shifted towards ‘rate for risk’. This means almost every credit provider on the market uses your credit file to not only dictate whether they’ll provide you with credit but also what interest rate you’ll get2.

According to MoneySavingExpert, when it comes to loans, only a minimum of 51% of accepted customers get the rate advertised. A lender might be advertising a 6% rate (known as the representative APR), however, you could be accepted and offered a 40% interest rate instead, because of a poor credit score3.

So, if you are applying for a loan, mortgage, credit card or other types of credit, it makes sense to check your credit report first, particularly if you haven’t looked at it for some time.

Below are the main credit agencies’ websites from where you can get an up to date report on your credit status.

Most importantly, it makes sense to check your credit report from time to time to make sure there are no mistakes or to make sure you haven’t missed any payments without realising it.

If in doubt, talk to an accredited financial adviser who can advise you and help you obtain what you need.


1 – Experian (2022) What is a credit score?. Available at (Accessed 24th May 2022)

2 – Experian (2020) Why do people with higher credit scores get lower interest rates?. Available at: (Accessed 24th May 2022)

3 – Lewis, M. (2021) MoneySavingExpert: How to Borrow at 0%. Available at:–i-e-no-cost–or-as-close-to-it-as-possible-/  (Accessed 24th May 2022)

Considering a remortgage to fund home improvements?

Considering a remortgage to fund home improvements?

As we move deeper into Spring, the weather is becoming more pleasant and many of us will be thinking about making improvements to our homes. Yes, the DIY and home improvement season is upon us. But do you know how you can raise the finance?

Many homeowners remortgage to fund home improvements because interest rates tend to be lower than on personal loans or credit cards.But remortgaging will depend on your property, your existing mortgage loan, and your current financial situation. Whether it’s a new bathroom, kitchen, loft conversion or extension, you’ll need to think about the best way of funding your home improvement project.

Important things to consider when remortgaging to finance home improvements

Affordability: if you increase the amount you are borrowing on your mortgage, your monthly payments will rise. Before agreeing to a remortgage in these circumstances, the lender will check your income is high enough to afford the new payments after all your other outgoings have been deducted.

Cost of the home improvements: It’s very important to consider the cost of your proposed home improvements, and whether you can finance the amount required from a remortgage. A lender will consider the cost of the home improvements in their assessment to give you an idea of the amount that you will need to get from remortgaging.

Credit history: Your credit score is a primary factor in the lender’s decision whether to approve your remortgage. It pays to do some homework beforehand to understand how lenders see you and your credit status to avoid any nasty shocks later in the application process.

Equity: A lender would be unlikely to approve a remortgage deal if you are in negative equity, i.e. if your property value has fallen since purchase. Although generally UK property prices have continued to rise in recent years, it is an important detail to consider before proceeding.2

Financial circumstances: When obtaining a remortgage, whether it’s a new deal with your existing lender, or a brand new lender, your financial situation will be reassessed and details such as late or missed mortgage payments may result in lenders turning down your application. Those lenders that accept borrowers with mortgage payment issues may charge higher rates than mainstream lenders.

Type of property: Consider whether your home improvements will add value to your home. A local estate agent can help you assess whether you will see a return on your investment if that’s important to you.

5 reasons to stay in your home and carry out home improvements

  1. You could add value to your property
  2. Create more living space
  3. Stay in your current location
  4. Stay near to schools
  5. You could save money on the cost of moving home

If you are considering a remortgage or the alternative of a second charge loan, as a means of financing your dream home improvements, please get in touch and we can look at your situation and advise the most suitable course of action to take.


  1. Sproson, K. (2022) Should you remortgage?. Available at: (Accessed 25th April 2022)
  2. Bown, J. (2020) Understanding Negative Equity – and how to get out of it. Available at: (Accessed 25th April 2022)

Scams you need to guard against

1. Free voucher scams

With so many people looking for ways to save money, the ‘free voucher’ scam is one to watch out for. Social media websites are home to some of the most plausible including:

  • Mitchells & Butlers’ Toby Carvery restaurant chain warned that fraudsters are using fake Facebook pages to encourage victims to enter their personal details to sign up for vouchers.1
  • JD Wetherspoons, the pub chain closed down its social media accounts four years ago but it hasn’t stopped fraudsters from setting up false accounts offering free food vouchers in exchange for comments on posts and personal information.1
  • Similarly, supermarket chain Morrisons does NOT offer free food and vouchers in exchange for likes or shares on Facebook posts despite frequent scam posts circulating on social media.1

2. Health related scams

It is estimated that £34.5m has been taken from people concerned about their health, especially during COVID.2

While some of these will be losing their potency as the COVID rules are being relaxed, the way that they have played and continue to play on the natural fears of victims show how they could be quickly adapted by fraudsters in the event of a COVID return or another pandemic.

Vaccine passports are available for free through the NHS app. Criminals are still targeting victims by selling fake vaccination passports.1

Coronavirus vaccine appointment scam texts and emails are still going out encouraging people to provide their bank details in order to book an appointment for their vaccine.1

Fake hand sanitiser – People have been targeted with fake adverts for cheaper Covid-related products such as hand sanitiser. Some items contained 37% of the highly toxic banned substance methanol. Others also did not even contain enough ethanol to be effective against COVID.1

3. Travel scams

As the world has started to get back to some form of reality, fraudsters are taking advantage of people booking flights and holidays. Airlines like Jet2 are warning customers to only contact them on their official email accounts because fraudsters are putting up false contact details which link customers to call centres where they are asked for personal information.1

Top tips to save you from the scammers

  1. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  2. Always log onto a website directly rather than by clicking on links in an email, and make sure the website is secure.
  3. Keep your wallet shut. Don’t hand over cash or sign anything until you are happy about the business with which you are dealing.
  4. Never send money to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  5. Protect your personal information. Never give banking or personal details to anyone you don’t know.
  6. Be password smart. Don’t pick your birthday or phone number and don’t use the same password for different sites and change them regularly.


  1. Frost, G. (2021) Ten financial scams to avoid. Available at (Accessed 25th April 2022)
  2. Simmons, D. & Quinton, M. (2021) Covid Fraud: £34.5m stolen in pandemic scams. Available at: (Accessed 25th April 2022)
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