Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Christmas presents

One of those stories that is so rarely reported in the UK has started to make some news - and as ever, it's only because it's approaching christmas.

It's about less wealthy people, we used to call them poor, although the government invented a new euphemism at the last election, 'hard-working families.'

About 150,000 hard working families saved throughout the year to ensure they would be able to afford the feast of consumerism that is christmas - unfortunately, this year the long-standing vehicle for their savings, Farepak, went bust. This appears to have come about through a combination of bad management decisions and the sudden withdrawal of overdraft facilities by Halifax Bank of Scotland.

The average saver appears to have lost about £400 and some, a great deal more.

There is much hand-wringing in the political world and some signs of 'generosity' from retailers offering PR cheerful donations - and good for them.

But consider this, Farepak's liabilities to HBOS were about £40m when they foreclosed, HBOS has already recovered this from asset stripping the business since its closure. Today, it has just offered a low 'seven-figure' sum to a collection for the ex-savers - BBC now reporting it is £2m.

Do we really feel this is enough to go around?

Even my maths make a loss of £60m (150,000 x £400) for savers across the country - £2m seems more and more like an insult.

The total loss to savers appears to actually be about £40m. Where's the outrage?

BBC reports
HBOS responds

Oh - and in cartoon land, it means a lot of folk will be turing to our traditional friends, the loan sharks, this christmas.

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