The Money Shot - Cyprus bills and Budget boos

Cypress Hill tattoo
Cypriot banks ain't going down like that as savers go insane in the brain
"Now, who else can we think of who relies on credit to plug a perpetual and ginormous deficit?"
  • | by Rebecca Lees

The old adage that there's always someone worse off than you certainly looked like it was going to come true this week.

If you thought things were bad for savers in the UK, people on the Mediterranean island of Cyprus were facing a raid of up to 10% on their accounts - by their own politicians.

The new Cypriot government wanted to help itself to a large chunk of everyone's cash to raise 5.8bn euros in order to get a 10bn euro Eurozone bail-out. The alternative was national bankruptcy, but Cypriot savers didn't take kindly to the breaking news and rushed to cash machines in scenes which made the Northern Rock debacle in the UK in 2007 look like kids queuing politely for their sweet money.

But when they got there, the cupboards were bare - or, at least, the banks were closed and accounts frozen whilst the government continues to dither over what to do. The initial proposed levy was rejected by Parliament, with 'Plan B' still being mulled over as we sit here crafting this week's Money Shot. It all bodes very badly for the future of savings; thank goodness customers can always access their cash in good old Blighty, eh? Oh, hang on…

Speaking of Blighty, reaction to the Budget was predictably tepid. George Osborne did some raiding of his own, pinching 1% or 2% from government department piggy banks, although services such as schools, health and defence were given the same get-out-of-jail cards as a Cypriot with less than 20,000 euros in the bank.

Osborne's fourth Budget was always going to be a weary affair, but this time he did manage to avoid clangers such as pasty tax, caravan tax, bedroom tax, and any other tax sounding suspiciously like something devised by a class of six-year-olds toiling over a 'Things we dislike that should be taxed' school project.

At least Osborne has a budget, though, which is more than almost half of Britons can say for themselves. New research by Gocompare.com shows that 45% of Brits don't set a household budget, with 30% simply keeping an eye on their bank balance to know how much they can spend (note to ex-pats: Don't try this in Cyprus - ed).

Fourteen per cent of those polled have to rely on their overdraft at the end of most months, whilst 11% usually resort to their credit cards. And 3% have had to apply for a payday or short-term loan in the last 12 months. Now, who else can we think of who relies on credit to plug a perpetual and ginormous deficit?

Meanwhile, out on the open road, plans are afoot to introduce P-plates for new drivers. Probationary signs are being considered by the Department for Transport in an attempt to reduce the accident and death toll amongst young, inexperienced motorists. As well as improving safety rates, the DFT hopes to make car insurance more affordable for drivers in this bracket. But not everyone thinks that the proposals are all that clever, with the Institute of Advanced Motorists' Neil Greig opining that new drivers will never gain the experience they need if a load of restrictions stop them developing essential skills. A scheme similar to the DFT's plans already operates in Australia, where young drivers have to display a red P-plate for a year and are not allowed to tow or use mobile phones.

ON COVERED MAG THIS WEEK

Rover-in reporter Dave Jenkins visited Cardiff Dogs' Home (geddit? See what we did there?) to find out how staff pair up abandoned and stray dogs with suitable new owners.

Felicity Hannah investigated the (non) parent trap fallen into by couples who want to begin or expand their family but can't afford to do so as they are in negative equity.

Felicity also somehow found the time to plough through a lot of Budget minutiae to bring you the pertinent bits, while Chris Pollitt's piece on five incredible stunt drivers made us gasp with, er, incredulity (and that was just over the name 'Spanky Spangler').

And Rebecca Lees rubbed the rust off her Vee-dub to suggest how to get your campervan ready for spring. Which this year is as slow arriving as a campervan to the finish line of a drag racing strip, but we will get to it, eventually…

AND NEARLY FINALLY…

The winner of Gocompare.com's Patriotic Pets competition will be announced very soon... The competition to mark the Six Nations rugby championship drew to a close with a flurry - as sudden as spring snow - of ingenious images, from brilliantly British bunnies to jingoistic ginger toms. They are all winners in our Union Jack-dazzled eyes, but the crown (well, the £500 Pets at Home voucher) can only go to one.

AND REALLY FINALLY…

Speaking of rugby, there was a match between some blokes in red and some other blokes in white. It passed so quietly under the radar that there's a good chance you missed it, so here's the gist.

It was supposed to be a tightly fought contest culminating in a narrow victory by one team, or the other one. But the blokes in red forgot to read the script.

So, to lead us into another jolly weekend, here's a photo; not of the match itself, but of some commentator blokes in suits looking suitably sombre after the game (ed's note: One of the commentator blokes also forgot to read the script).