Business Personal Finance

Saturday 20 September 2014

What’s in store for you and your money in the year ahead?

Published 02/01/2014 | 00:20

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2014 is expected to be another big one on the personal finance front. Personal Finance Editor Charlie Weston outlines some of the areas that are likely to be hit.

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Savings

The outlook for savers is bleak. For a year-and-a-half now, banks and building societies have been cutting deposit rates, with more of the same expected throughout 2014.

Add to that a whacking great increase in savings tax, with DIRT  jumping from 33pc to 41pc, and the expectation is that people will be less inclined to leave money in a savings account.

That is certainly what the Government is hoping, but experts feel the more likely response is that people will take risks with their  savings and punt on property and shares.

Arrears

The relentless rise in mortgage arrears may finally be arrested in the coming year.

We have already seen an easing back in the total number of those with mortgages in arrears. But with the total at 143,000, it is  still nothing short of a crisis.

The number of mortgages three months or more in arrears is still rising, but this key component of the mortgage arrears statistics is expected to peak in early 2014.

Domestic banks have been set targets by the Central Bank for dealing with those in trouble. The expectation is that larger numbers of deals, involving debt write-offs in some cases, will start to happen in earnest in the coming months.

Health insurance

It would not take a genius to predict that the coming months are set to see two things happening in the health insurance market – premium hikes and more people giving up their cover.

Much of the blame for this has to be laid at the door of the

Government. It is due to push up the levies on most policies by €49 an adult in March, to fund risk equalisation.

The move to reduce tax reliefs on policies has meant the

cost to consumers has jumped by between €40 and €800 per adult policy.

And Health Minister James Reilly is imposing costs of €130m on insurers for using public beds in public hospitals, which will be passed on to consumers.

Credit unions

The coming months for credit unions are likely to be momentous.

Large-scale mergers are on the cards for the community banks. This should strengthen the movement as it will lead to stronger units that can pool resources and share costs.

Loan arrears continue to be a problem in the country’s 392 credit unions. That explains why 32 of them had to be financially supported by the Irish League of Credit Unions’ stabilisation fund.

But arrears are falling back and more credit unions should be back to paying a dividend and be more inclined to lend in 2014.

Insolvency/bankruptcy

The coming year could herald a massive workout of the crippling debts hampering households.

A year after the Personal Insolvency Act 2012 became law, Justice Minister Alan Shatter finally signed into law a shorter bankruptcy term.

And the formal debt deals, Personal Insolvency Arrangements and Debt Settlement Arrangements, are set to see thousands of people get a break from their banks. This should help these beaten-down householders become economically active again.

We may all benefit from that.

Irish Independent

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