Questions of Cash – January 2016

Posted on January 18, 2016 · Posted in The Independent

Q. We bought a kitchen from B&Q five years ago.  When this was delivered it was of poor finish and not what we ordered.  We requested remedial work to bring it up to standard.  We repeatedly contacted B&Q and were always promised return calls, which never came until I contacted Questions of Cash when suddenly a very helpful man from its head office contacted me, the work was rectified and some compensation paid to us.  Since then, we have used B&Q again for a roof extension.  We then had some wiring done and the electrician said our house was not properly earthed, which should have been picked up when the kitchen was done and a certificate of electrical safety issued.  We sought a second opinion from another electrician who agreed and warned that our home insurance policy may be invalidated.  We got emergency work done.  Both electricians pointed out that the certificate of electrical safety contained errors, with the signature inconsistent with the name of the person printed as signing it. We have again repeatedly contacted B&Q, without it returning our calls.  AS, Shropshire.

A. B&Q’s spokeswoman responds: “Following a home visit with the original qualified electrician and the customer, it was agreed that the Homefit work carried out in 2011 was highly unlikely to be a contributing factor. The fault appears to have occurred due to the existing earth rod corroding since the Homefit electrical work took place, however this could not be confirmed without lifting the floor. As a gesture of goodwill nonetheless B&Q has agreed to reimburse the cost of the installation of a new earth rod which has been gratefully accepted by the customer.”  You do not completely accept this description of events, but have agreed the solution with B&Q, including the repayment of £260 for electrical work that you had paid for.

Q. I book a lot of family trips on BA well ahead. On 1 May 2015 children under 12 – of which I have two – were made exempt from Air Passenger Duty. I was alerted to this by Simon Calder’s excellent travel news in your Saturday supplement. For bookings made before 1 May 2015 for travel after that date, when tax was paid at the time of booking, BA should have refunded me. Its website at the time included a notice that the card used to pay would be refunded within a month of travel. But for five separate bookings in May and August 2015 this has not happened in my case. The complication is they were all flights paid for with Avios air miles.  I have been stonewalled by BA for several months. GB, London.

A. BA has promised us that it is making the refund “as soon as possible”.

Q. As well as our main home, we have a seaside flat that we use for short breaks for ourselves, family and friends. Does the announcement by the Chancellor in the Autumn Statement of a 3 per cent surcharge on second homes mean that if we move house, selling our main home after April 2016, we will have to pay 3 per cent extra stamp duty on our new home if we will still have our holiday flat? Or will there be provision for nominating a home as the main residence as is currently the case for other tax purposes? SE, by email.

A. Gill Smith, tax partner at Moore Stephens accountants, responds: “The basic rule is that the 3 per cent surcharge applies if the purchaser owns more than one residential property at the end of the day of the transaction. On current plans (which are still subject to consultation) the surcharge will not apply if the new property is replacing a property that was your main residence at some time within the 18 months prior to the purchase, and which was sold within that 18 month period. If the new property is replacing an existing residence that is not sold until later, the surcharge will be chargeable initially, but will be refundable if that sale takes place within 18 months after the purchase. Whether a property is your main residence (or a new property is intended to be your main residence) will be determined on the facts; there will be no facility to elect for main residence treatment, as there is for capital gains tax purposes. For these purposes married couples and civil partners living together may only own one main residence between them at any one time, and property owned by either partner (or minor children) will be taken into account in determining whether more than one property is owned.”

Q. I recently requested the transfer of my stocks and shares ISA to Virgin Money from Nationwide. To my surprise, Virgin Money required the transfer to be made by cheque. This was issued on 12 October, but the funds were not credited to my Virgin account until 28 October. Surely the transfer should have happened on consecutive days. YR, London.

A. Virgin Money says it sent the transfer request to Nationwide on 6 October and sent a reminder on 19 October as it had not received the funds. It received the cheque on 28 October, crediting your account on the same day. The cheque was dated 12 October. “Stocks and Shares ISA transfers should take no longer than 30 days to complete and, in this instance, the transfer completed in 26 days,” says a Virgin Money spokesman. Nationwide says the request for transfer was received on 8 October, for a transfer of your funds on 12 October, the maturity date of your fixed term ISA. It says the cheque was issued on 12 October and posted the same day by first class post, but the funds were not credited to your Virgin Money ISA until 28 October. The assumption has to be that the cheque was delayed in the post. As the transfer was conducted within the necessary time frame, there is nothing more to be done.