Questions of Cash: Febuary 2014

Q. In Questions of Cash on 21 December you answered a question about topping-up payments to receive a higher state pension. My situation is different as I will not miss the date for the new pension rules. I was born in 1953 and as it stands will get my pension in 2017. I will be fully paid as from 2016, at which point I will have paid for 30 years. However, if the rules are changed, I will qualify for the new state-pension rate – which is good – but I will not have paid enough for the full pension – which is bad. Assuming that the rules are changed as promised, I will need 35 years to qualify and I will have only these next three years to make up the difference. It may be that I won’t have the spare money to make up the difference in such a short time. DM, Fife.

A. Tom McPhail, head of pensions research at Hargreaves Lansdown, responds: “When the conversion is made to the new, single-tier state pension in 2016, the Government will assess the state-pension entitlement of everyone who has not yet reached retirement. They will record this entitlement – currently referred to as the ‘foundation amount’ – and when you subsequently reach your state-pension age, they will compare your entitlement under the new regime with your foundation amount. If your state-pension entitlement under the old regime is higher than the new regime, you’ll be entitled to the higher amount – but there is a catch. The part of your state pension under the old system which exceeds your entitlement under the new system is called the ‘protected payment’ which sounds great, but this will only be uprated in line with consumer price inflation, unlike the rest of your state pension which is uprated in line with the ‘triple lock’.” This is the Government’s promise to uprate the state pension by the highest of the rate of inflation, average earnings, or a minimum of 2.5 per cent.

Scottish Power hasn’t sent me the promised money

Q. I wrote to you recently to complain about Scottish Power. You responded in Questions of Cash [18 January] that Scottish Power would send me a £50 goodwill payment by way of apology, plus my £461.18 credit balance on my account. I have now switched supplies to Spark, but despite further emails from me to Scottish Power, I have still not received a repayment of the credit balance. But I have received the £50.JM, Birmingham.

A. We have contacted Scottish Power again and it is clearly embarrassed by its failure, which was apparently caused by a mix-up on your account records – which seems similar to the original problems of which you complained. Scottish Power tells us that following our latest intervention it has arranged for an urgent electronic transfer to your bank account of the credit balance, which you should now have received.

Share sale stopped by my old address on certificate

Q. I recently tried to sell Ted Baker plc ordinary shares them through my bank, NatWest, which refused to do so on the grounds that the certificate shows my former home address. I asked what I should do and the bank said it did not know. I then contacted Ted Baker’s investment relations department, which replied that they did not deal with this sort of thing. I have no idea what to do. CJ, Hartlepool.

A. The share register for Ted Baker plc is administered by Capita. It will issue you with a new share certificate if you email them via

Yorkshire’s faster service is slower than anywhere else

Q. The faster payments service is now routinely used by banks and building societies to make transfers within two hours. This is the case with all the providers I have knowledge of, with the exception of the Yorkshire Building Society. It claims to participate in the service, yet only makes transfers by the end of the following day. I have asked why Yorkshire’s faster service is actually slower than everywhere else, but I have not received an explanation. JP, by email.

A. Only clearing banks are full members of the service. The Yorkshire, like other building societies, is classed as an agency bank, which means it has to rely on a clearing bank to use the service – and that process can slow down electronic payments. “Yorkshire Building Society uses the faster payments service, but is not a direct member of the faster payment scheme,” explains its spokeswoman. “All inward payments to the society are usually made available to customers within two hours of the payment information being received from our member bank. For outward payments we believe it is in our customers’ interests to balance the question of speed of payment with security. This does increase the time for an outward payment to be completed, however they are usually made within the required regulatory timeframe, which is no later than the end of the business day following receipt of the payment order. ”

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