Winners of first Solution Loans short story writing competition announced

Back in January we launched our first short story writing competition (2500 words maximum). We did this as a reaction to all the negative press that personal finance seems to receive these days. Our objective with this competition was to demonstrate the positive and transformational effects that sensibly considered finance can have on people s lives. And we were blown away by the range of ideas and the depth of creativity that was shown in the stories that were sent to us. The competition closed at the end of March and we have just announced the winner and runners up. All received cash prizes and have their stories published on our website. The winning story A New Agenda was remarkable and won the writer Sarah Evans £200. As our judges noted: Sarah’s story takes us straight to the point where our main character is seeking a loan, but leaves us in suspense as to how she plans to use the funds. We liked the characterisation of the old friends as they meet up at a college reunion –
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British business owners reveal their financial fears

Solution Loans recently conducted an online study of 1,000 British entrepreneurs in the hopes of learning more about the financial struggles business owners in particular face and which among these are generally considered the most intimidating of the lot. With available options ranging from managing cash flow and maintaining the flow of new business to paying competitive salaries and investing in better processes, we asked participants to share the financial factors they believe cause company owners across the UK the most stress. The results are in, and we’ve recorded them below segmented by business owner gender and geographical location. Topline results: Which of these financial factors do you think cause business owners most stress? Losing existing clients: 64.0% Managing cash flow: 60.0% Continuing to remain profitable: 58.4% Late client payments: 51.9% Maintaining the flow of new business: 48.1% Lack of knowledge of company’s financial situation: 32.0% Managing overheads (e
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How to Choose your Charity Giving Website

Giving to charity used to mean handing money over to a collector in the street, putting coins in a box on a bar or counter or sponsoring one of your friends in some energetic endeavour. But as with virtually every other area of modern life, the internet has radically altered the way that charities raise money with a host of online giving sites now allowing you to donate to the charity or charities of your choice within seconds. The two biggest – JustGiving and Virgin Money Giving – are probably the ones that you’ve heard of but there are others who offer all off the same things: they let fundraisers receive donations via their service, just seconds after donors have offered their money. What’s the catch? Most of the charity giving sites make clear that they do charge an admin fee but surveys have shown that most people are unaware that these businesses are in it to make a profit. And while nearly all of them take a cut, the difference in fees between the sites can be signific
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New hikes in the cost of student loans

In April of this year, the government announced an inflation rate according to the Retail Prices Index (RPI), of 3.1 per cent. No one really noticed. Why? Well because the RPI hasn’t really had much relevance to most of us since 2003 when it was unofficially replaced as a way of measuring the average price of goods by the Consumer Prices Index (CPI). However, the RPI was once the measure of choice and still remains very relevant for students or those who have recently graduated. For that group of people the RPI increase could be very bad indeed. Why is the RPI affecting students? Although the CPI is now the measure for the average price of goods, it’s the RPI to which student loan interest rates are tethered. And it’s the inflation rate that was recently announced that will be used to calculate how much interest is due to be paid from next September onwards. So, although the reception to the RPI rise was minimal, there are actually hundreds of thousands of people all over the UK
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What financial help is available for home improvements?

With the UK housing market showing clear signs of cooling, a lot of people will be thinking about improving their existing property rather than moving to a new one. You might be considering improving the fabric of your home to make it more habitable or energy efficiency measures to save money over the longer term. But money may be tight. So, what grants or other forms of financial help are available if you want to improve your home?
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Could you benefit from the UK’s Black Economy?

The ‘black economy’ may sound like something from a Dickens novel, but in fact it refers to the black market where cash is the currency of choice and where no tax is paid. Various statistics have emerged about the thriving UK black economy over the years – apparently half of all bank notes go to fund the black market, for example. HMRC loses out to the tune of £40 billion and the overall value of the black economy is in excess of £150 billion. Some even believe it makes up around 10% of the UK s economy as a whole. So, what is the black economy and how can you (legally) use it to your advantage? What is the UK black economy? There is no set definition of what constitutes the black economy in the UK. However, it is basically a market where everything is being bought and sold outside of legal channels. So, no VAT is being paid and anyone earning money for services is not declaring that money as income. The darkest elements of the UK black economy might encompass drug dealing or
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High Street Banks more expensive than Payday Lenders!

We all know that payday lenders charge more interest to borrow money than major lenders do, right? Well, this may have been the case in the past but the industry has gone through quite significant change in the last couple of years. And now it would seem that it’s not payday lenders that are likely to demand the most interest when it comes to borrowing but your average high street bank! What’s the score? Which? magazine recently carried out an investigation into the rates that consumers pay to borrow money, with some surprising results. It found that some major banks are charging consumers significantly more to borrow than payday lenders do. The magazine carried out research across the industry on the costs of borrowing £100 over a period of 28 days. Borrowing on those terms from a payday lender would incur a charge of £22.40. However, Which? found that some customers borrowing from other lenders were paying significantly more. According to the investigation, RBS customers could
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