Fergus Muirhead answers your consumer questions
I'm Fergus Muirhead and I'm here to answer any questions you may have about any money or consumer issues.
Please drop me a line here at firstname.lastname@example.org with your questions.
You can also read more on money and consumer issues on my own blog.
Q. I currently live at the extended family home and I legally own the home and make the mortgage payment. It is now time for me to flee the nest and I want to search for my own marital home. The issue is that I currently have an outstanding borrowing of £130,000 on the family home and this will significantly limit my borrowing potential for the next home. What is the best way in terms of cost and time to detach myself from the £130,000 loan, which will enable me to borrow the maximum amount possible for the next purchase, considering that my relatives are willing to help in any way possible - eg. by taking on the mortgage commitment?
A. Working on the basis that the property is owned by you since the mortgage is in your name, the best way to 'detach yourself' is to pay off the loan that you have on the property, effectively selling it to your relatives. They can, at the same time, arrange a loan in their own names and take over the ownership of the property and any mortgage. If you want to have no loan but retain ownership of the property then you would need to use your own capital to repay the loan, or be gifted money from your relatives.
Q. I am currently employed by the NHS in Scotland and have paid into the NHS superannuation scheme for the past 25 years. I will therefore receive a pension through this scheme on retirement. Will this pension have any impact on the value of my state pension when I reach the age of (I think) 66? Stephen Tucker
A. The pension you receive from the NHS will not have any impact on your state pension. Your entitlement to state pension will be dependent on your record of National Insurance contributions throughout your working life and if you have paid enough in NI contributions to be entitled to a full basic state pension on top of your NHS benefits, then this is what will happen. You can check your entitlement to basic state pension by completing a form BR19 and sending it to the Pension Service in Newcastle. More information is available here
Q. I took early retirement last year and get a works pension and at present am within the tax allowance, as I will not get state retirement pension until 6/1/14. With the lump sum from pension I invested in cautious funds and, spread over several funds, the total is around £30,000. I was thinking of taking some income over the next few years and placing it in an ISA cash account to use up my ISA allowance for these years. Do you think this is the best option and would I pay tax at the source of taking the money out? Margaret Clegg
A. There are two issues to consider with the question you have asked. Firstly, what is the tax position of your existing investment compared to the tax position of the new investments you are considering, and how do they fit in with your overall tax position? Secondly, what is the risk involved in your proposed cash ISA compared with the 'cautious' investments you currently have, and why do you think you should change these investments? Firstly, tax. You don't say what type of investments you currently have but on sale of these investments you may have a liability to either income or capital gains tax depending on values and your overall tax position, so you need to consider that potential liability. If you invest in ISAs then any growth will be tax-free so you will be protecting yourself from any tax liability in the future, unless the law changes. In terms of risk, cash is likely to be less risky than even 'cautious' investments - but it is also unlikely to offer an interest rate that keeps pace with inflation. So you may have your money invested in 'safer' places, but you may then find that lower growth rates mean that your capital isn't worth as much in a few years' time as it is today. A lot to consider, but make sure that you do think through all of the options before making a final decision.
Q. I went to a promotional evening at my local beauty salon, and was encouraged to buy a programme of three treatments to help repair my sun-damaged face. This was in October last year. It was a 3 for 2 deal and cost £650. I paid on my credit card, and my friend did the same. Since then we have both decided that we think the treatment is too risky, we no longer would like the treatments, and have asked for the credit card to be reimbursed. My friend had her card reimbursed, but they have refused to do mine, as I have not been a loyal long-term customer like my friend (in other words it was a gesture of goodwill for her). This is quite ridiculous, as I have been to the salon on and off for 10 years or more. Have I any rights to get my money back (I mean have my card refunded)? Veronica Bartyla
A. I'm sorry to say that I think the short answer to your question is no. My understanding of your email is that there is nothing 'wrong' with the treatment that you purchased, other than the fact that you now believe it is 'too risky'. Effectively then you have changed your mind and as such you have no right of redress under sale of goods and services legislation, unless you can prove that there is something unsafe about the treatment and that it should be withdrawn. It does seem rather unfair that your friend should have been able to negotiate a refund and you haven't, but to be honest that is within the retailer's rights since they are under no obligation to refund your money unless you can prove that the treatment you purchased is unsafe, or not as described. If you have simply changed your mind then it is up to the beauty salon owner to decide how to proceed. Sorry!