Month : February 2014


Why You Have to Claim Back Your PPI

Stories about Payment Protection Insurance (PPI) are everywhere we look now. We are repeatedly told about how it is quick and easy to make a claim with phrases like ‘hassle free’ and ‘no win, no fee’ bandied about regularly. Many people simply ignore the waves of TV, radio and newspaper advertisements about PPI however, thinking it is just the latest scam or believing that, like with most easy money pay-outs, it would not apply to them.

PPI applies to more of us than you might think however and the reason there are so many success stories stems from the fact that it honestly can be as easy as the adverts make it sound to claim back hundreds – and more commonly thousands – in money that rightfully belongs to you.

What Is PPI?

The reason why many people choose to ignore the news about PPI is that they do not understand what it is and so think it will likely be confusing and of no interest or relevance to them. It is however, fairly straight forward.

PPI is a type of insurance that is sometimes added to payments when you are borrowing money – like with a loan, mortgage or credit card. It was introduced as a means to ensure that payments could continue to be upheld should the recipient suddenly be unable to work through illness or unexpected redundancy.

Why so many Complaints?

On paper, PPI sounds like a good thing; so you may ask why so many people have been complaining and claiming their money back.

Well, it recently emerged that many banks had been charging people for PPI without telling them.  Having been mis-sold, people had been paying for months – sometimes even years – for insurance that they either did not want, need or even know about. The issue become far less about the benefits of having PPI and more about the dishonesty of the banks.

Why would it be Relevant to Me?

While for some it was that they had been told the PPI policy was compulsory and for others it was that their policy failed to provide them with adequate cover; the very fact that the majority of people who were forging complaints and claiming a refund were people who had never intentionally bought PPI is what makes it so important to claim.

Banks have wrongfully taken millions from the pockets of unsuspecting consumers and this is why it is relevant to everyone. Almost any one of us could have been mis-sold PPI but we just do not know about it yet. Checking your policy or monthly bills could well reveal that they have been taking an additional payment from you in order to provide you with this unwanted PPI cover.

Why Should I try and Claim?

Last year, more people than ever went to the ombudsmen to complain about PPI. A free service designed to solve financial disagreements; they have been inundated with people hoping to be refunded the huge sums of money that their banks have taken from them without prior permission.

This in itself is why you too should make a claim if you believe you are a victim of mis-sold PPI. Taking money from consumers without their consent is essentially stealing. Sitting back and allowing them to get away with it when you have been wronged sends out the message that they could get away with a similar scheme in the future. If everyone who had money wrongfully taken were to make a claim – be it individually or by seeking help from a professional claims service – we can collectively make a stand against the poor judgement and unfair actions of the banks. Not only will we be reimbursed what is rightfully ours but we show the banks that we will not allow them to take advantage of their customers anymore.

Extra Income

Commission 101: What Freelancers Need to Know

Around 1.6 million civil claims are brought to the UK courts every year, many of which are freelance workers forced to bring clients to the small claims court. Often this process can be time consuming and costly, and is frankly a hassle that a small business can do without.

So before you start trading, there are a few things you should consider to help avoid these pitfalls and allow your business to prosper.

What to Charge

Putting a price on your services is one of the biggest challenges freelancers face.

One common mistake is to charge too little. In fact, if you put too low a price on the services you offer, you’re giving off the message that you don’t put value in what you do – and if you don’t, the client is unlikely to either.

Likewise, don’t price yourself out of the market. Take into account your experience and skill-set and set your rate accordingly. 

To find an appropriate price for the service you offer:

  1. Consider the market
  2. Cover costs: salary, taxes, monthly overheads, rent, etc.
  3. Don’t forget to add profit margin!

Agree Terms Up Front

Come to an agreement on payment terms with your client before you do anything for them.  Make sure that you have both agreed to terms determining:

  • How much you will be paid for your service
  • When you will be paid

Make sure you get these terms in writing, too, so that if there’s any question later on, you’ve got proof to back up your original agreement.

Get a Deposit

Sometimes – and particularly if you’ve never worked for this client before – it will be appropriate to ask for a deposit before you start work. Typically, this should be between 30 to 50% of the total cost of the project.

If you can, make getting a deposit part of your standard practice to ensure you attract clients that won’t mess you around.

When to Invoice

Invoice as soon as you have completed the specified task. The sooner you send out the invoice, the more quickly you will be paid.

Keep Track of Income

One of the most challenging aspects of setting up as a sole trader is getting to grips with managing your own income. Using tools like Ballpark, a business management app, can be really useful.  Ballpark has tools to help its users:

  • Estimate
  • Invoice
  • Track their time
  • Receive Stripe and PayPal Payments

Remember to ensure all records of income are up-to-date, as you will be responsible for reporting all income received on your tax return.

This article was contributed by Laura Moulden on behalf of Nixon Williams, an accountancy company of contractor accountants offering comprehensive business finance advice throughout the UK.