PERSONAL FINANCE NEWS

BILLS HIGHER FOR THE OFFLINE
Hot water and heating bills are £140 a year more for offline customers than for online customers, according to new figures from uSwitch.com. The average household energy bill is £1,239 per year, but that drops to £1,010 for online customers. Of that, the average cost of hot water and heating is £756 a year on a standard tariff, relative to £616 a year for online energy customers. Only 13 per cent of customers are on online energy plans, suggesting that there are considerable savings to be had.

ONE IN THREE NOT SAVING
A third of Brits feel they cannot afford to put money aside each month, according to research by the Skipton building society. Even more worryingly, almost a quarter of people claim to have no savings at all, and over half of people are saving less than £100 per month. Unsurprisingly, Londoners are among the most effective savers, putting away an average of £214 per month but those in the North East also manage to save £200 each month. Those in the South East save the least putting aside only £134 a month.

FIFTH FORGO OVERSEAS HOLIDAYS
A fifth of people will forgo an overseas holiday this year to save money, while half of those who do go will economise by avoiding purchases such as travel insurance, according to research from the AA. Mark Huggins, director of the AA’s financial services, pointed out that family holidays are often the first major victim of families’ spending cuts. He warned against travelling without travel insurance, saying: “An accident or illness that lands you in a European hospital could easily cost you £2,000 or more”.

PITIFUL RETURNS ON SAVINGS ACCOUNTS
Almost nine in ten savings accounts that were available six years ago are now paying interest rates of 0.5 per cent of less, according to research by Which? Money. That implies that savers who have not switched their accounts are likely to be seeing the real value of their savings diminish. The research calculated that British savers are missing out on £12bn a year as a result of the low rates, or an average of £322 per year for every saver with a cash Isa or a savings account. The best accounts offer 2.9 per cent per year.