PERSONAL FINANCE NEWS

NEW INVESTMENT MANAGER AT SPARK
Albion Ventures has been appointed the investment manager of SPARK VCT and SPARK VCT 2, both technology venture capital investment funds. SPARK is planning to move its fund management focus away from retail funds and towards regional and institutional funds, and is bringing in a new manager to try to achieve that. They also plan to move into less risky and more income sure investments. Andrew Curruthers, managing director of SPARK, said: “We look forward to working with Albion and the board to realise the value that now exists in the portfolio”.

BRITISH HOUSES NOT INSULATED
According to research from Confused.com, fewer than half of British homes – only 13m – have adequate insulation, costing the nation nearly £2.5bn in extra energy bills. The research suggests that even after the cost of installing loft and cavity wall insulation, an estimated £2bn could be saved that is currently being wasted. With British Gas increasing its prices today, and temperatures still cold across London, householders would be well advised to get insulation – especially given that many households will qualify for local council grants.

DANGEROUS CHRISTMAS SHOPPING
30m people are forecast to shop online this month for Christmas gifts, spending almost £9bn – or £289 per person – ten percent more than last year, according to research by Paypal. While many will find bargains, only one in fourteen respondents said that they will shop only from trusted sites, while 5 per cent of people admit to taking no precautions at all against fraud when shopping online. Paypal suggests that shoppers should be sure to check that payment sites are secure and to be careful to avoid “phishing” or cloned sites. They also recommend that shoppers use up-to-date web browsers.

SAVINGS UP BUT DEBT REPAYMENT DOWN
Savings reached a yearly high of £21bn in the third quarter of 2010, according to research by unbiased.co.uk, compared to only £18bn in the previous quarter. But Brits are repaying only 10p of their debts for every pound saved, down from 18p in the second quarter and 27p in the first. Karen Barrett, chief executive of unbiased.co.uk, said: “Brits’ borrowing and savings habits appear to be in a state of flux – along with the overall financial economy – but it is encouraging to see debts are still being repaid, even if this is not at quite the same volumes as previously in the year.”