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Money Blog

by | 20th, March 2007

train.jpgBarclays Go Dutch

WHILE Barclays Bank continue to deal with the now national movement to reclaim illegal overdraft charges, the giant is currently cosying up to Dutch rival ABN Amro, according to the BBC, with a merger worth an estimated £80bn on the cards. Such a move would, says the BBC, “create a bank with 47 million customers and 220,000 staff worldwide”. The Independent claims the move will vault the British Bank “from 15th to 5th” in the world banking league table. However, the Telegraph suggests that the Dutch bank really wants to get jiggy with Spaniards BBVA and Santander and is using stuffy old English Barclays as nothing more than a “stalking horse”.

Bnks R Gr8

WITH only an estimated 19% of Kenyan adults holding bank accounts, the Guardian reports that a new mobile phone based system is set to revolutionise the country’s banking system. The country’s biggest phone operator will allow subscribers to send cash to other phone users by SMS as well as hold up to £370 in a “virtual account” on their handsets. With mobile giants Vodaphone behind the big idea, the system, if successful, could well spread across the globe, giving people usually excluded from the banking world access to an account. No doubt a message saying your getting a few quid will make a nice change from inane texts and happy slapping videos.

Off-Peak Practice

IN a new initiative to glean even more money from the common or garden commuter, South West Trains have come up with a cunning new plan, says the Times. The train operator has cleverly decided to fit in a new price in between peak and off-peak fares, hitting those lazy and conniving workers who use trains after 10am and before 12.49. This new “super off-peak” fares will cost up to 20% more than the current off-peak ticket prices, says the Independent, and come on top of increases made back in January. The Mirror says that these fare hikes, which have unions and passenger groups fuming, come on the back of plans by SWT’s owners Stagecoach to pay shareholders a £700 million dividend. With Stagecoach boss Brian Souter landing an estimated £175 million windfall, those cramped and now even higher-priced journeys will be even harder to take, no matter what time you travel.

Charging The Sick

HARDLY the most fun places to visit at the best of times, NHS Hospitals have now been accused of kicking people when they are down and charging extortionate parking fees. The Telegraph reports that more than £95 million was made by the NHS last year from parking charges with patients and visitors stung for up to £3.50 an hour. Cancer charity Macmillan, who uncovered these cynical charges after obtaining the details under Freedom of Information Act, called for the Government to put a stop to the “shameful” charges. Southampton University Hospital was the biggest beneficiary, earning a whopping £2,414, 672 from its car park. The sick of the Solent beware!

Posted: 20th, March 2007 | In: Money Comment (1) | TrackBack | Permalink