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Only one in six energy tariffs available for smart meter homes – and they are pricier

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Households with smart meters could save money by moving to tariffs that are not compatible with the devices, new research has revealed.

Only one in six tariffs are available for households with smart meters, according to data from Compare the Market.

Just 37 of the 223 energy tariffs it analysed are available to households already with a smart meter, leaving customers with fewer options when it comes to switching energy supplier. 

Whilst all 223 of the deals are still displayed to customers with smart meters, they may lose the functionality of their gadgets if they switch to one of these tariffs. 

Only one in six tariffs are available for households with smart meters, new data has revealed

Not only do households with smart meters have less choice, the average tariff available to smart meter households is £18 more expensive a year. 

Meanwhile, the average annual switchable dual fuel tariff price for those with smart meters is £1,089, compared with households without smart meters being offered tariffs for £1,071 per year – a difference of £18.

Peter Earl, head of energy at Compare the Market said: ‘The industry should be encouraging people who haven’t yet to switch to smart meters but this does not seem to be the case with tariff variety and pricing.

‘There needs to be more incentives to encourage people to switch, including competitive pricing.’

There have been many concerns over the smart meter rollout since it launched in 2016 with lots of households encountering challenges with their first generation devices (SMETS1).

Many were found to have a fault where many stopped working after customers switched suppliers.

The average tariff available to smart meter households is £18 more expensive a year

The second generation meters, SMETS2 devices, were meant to rectify this problem, however, many suppliers are still not installing these and continue to install the SMETS1 models.

The rollout has also been halted significantly due to lockdown and engineers being unable to get into homes.

The take up, in general, has also been considerably less than the Government anticipated meaning the initial target date of every home and small business being offered one has been pushed back multiple times. 

Peter Earl added: ‘The original target to ensure all UK homes had been offered smart meters by the end of 2020 was clearly unrealistic, since only two-fifths of households have them installed.

‘The rollout has been extended so there are fewer excuses for missing the next deadline, even if timings are tight.

‘Smart meters are a useful tool to help people manage their energy consumption, but millions of homes are stuck with smart meters that operate in the same way that a traditional meter does, which doesn’t allow them to receive the full benefits promised.

‘We need to see dedicated action to ensure these meters are soon enrolled into the smart systems and so that customer get the smart benefits and do not lose them when switching supplier.’

Smart meter ‘sluggish’ as installations slow down

Separate data from the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has shown there was a significant fall in the number of smart meters installed over the first three months of the year compared to the three months prior.

Between January and March this year, 760,900 domestic smart meters were installed – 213,900 fewer than between October and December 2020 – a 22 per cent decrease.

There were 24.2million smart and advanced meters operating in smart mode and advanced meters at the end of March 2021 – equivalent to 44 per cent – just a five per cent increase compared to the same time last year.

However, much of the slow progress is down to the coronavirus lockdown, with engineers unable to gain access to homes to install new devices.

There has been a significant drop in smart meter installations recently due to the pandemic

Sofia Hutson, energy spokesperson at Compare the Market, said: ‘A fall in smart meter installations was expected given that lockdown restrictions were in place for much of the reporting period.

‘The disruption from Covid-19 and sluggish rollout of the programme to date makes the renewed target to install smart meters in 85 per cent of homes by 2024 a significant challenge.

‘If the industry wants to get serious about its net zero ambitions, the smart meter programme is an important piece of that puzzle. 

‘There needs to be more emphasis on ensuring that targets are met and not missed for a second time.’

Justina Miltienyte, policy expert at Uswitch, added: ‘It’s not surprising that smart meter installations last year were low as suppliers had to stall the programme during the pandemic.

‘But it will now be an uphill battle for suppliers to install smart meters for the 56 per cent of customers who still have a traditional meter by 2025.

‘Smart meters will play an important role in the UK’s transition to net zero, but they can also offer practical value to consumers, preventing the need for meter readings and providing far more accurate bills.’

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Basic pitch: We test the £23,360 entry-level VW Golf Life

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Do you know one of those drivers? The type that when you ask what car they own, reel off the full model name, year, specification, engine, trim level, colour and just about everything else it comes with.

‘I drive a 2020 Python Yellow Audi A3 Sportback S-Line S 30 TFSI S-tronic with the optional five-spoke V-Style diamond cut alloy wheels,’ they tell you with a hopeful look that such level of detail will leave you impressed – when, actually, merely saying they own an Audi A3 would suffice. 

It’s nothing short of automotive snobbery, and it’s becoming increasingly common now that people can use finance to stretch their budgets to flashier motors. 

But I’ve found the perfect antidote to this automotive affectation. It’s a Golf… but the cheapest one. And this Lidl option might also be one of the best in the range.

Basic pitch: We spent a week with the entry Volkswagen Golf Mk8 to discover if the budget option is worth considering

The long-standing VW hatch certainly has badge appeal. It’s why the Golf outsold the Ford Focus and every other mainstream C-segment model with ease in Britain last year.

Many motorists will probably think that being able to say they drive a Golf gives them the status and credibility that a Renault Megane or Peugeot 308, for example, simply can’t match.

And at a time when eight in ten new cars registered in the UK are financed – with the availability to spread the cost of a new motor over monthly installments – premium brands like VW, BMW and Audi are more attainable to a wider audience than ever. 

It’s why the Mercedes-Benz A-Class has been more popular in Britain than the modest Astra for the last few years – and why Ford has scrapped the Mondeo while the 3 Series and C-Class still sell in droves.

But the Golf ‘Life’ I’ve spent a week driving isn’t the version many people want – or will want to tell their mates they own.

In fact, just 4 per cent of buyers of the nation’s most popular family hatch – so less than one in 20 – have gone for this budget version so far this year.

That’s because it’s the cheapest one VW sells – the one that’s used for the ‘price from £23,360’ figure in the brochure and thus the one that people avoid because they think it will offer a pauper level of performance and equipment.

But what if that’s not the case? What if it’s everything you could ever need and more from a family car for the fraction of the price your spec-listing friend paid for his or hers? 

Of all the Volkswagen Golfs ordered so far in 2021, just 4% of customers have picked the 1.0-litre TSI Life that we have on test

Packing a mere 108bhp, on paper it doesn’t read like it has enough grunt for a four-up family hatch

Even on motorways, the engine can hold its own and is surprisingly very quiet, even at high speeds

What’s under the bonnet of the cheapest VW Golf on the market? 

The cheapest Golf is powered by a 1.0-litre, three-cylinder engine linked to a six-speed manual gearbox. Packing a mere 108bhp, on paper it doesn’t sound like adequate grunt for a four-up family hatch.

But it’s how this tractable little turbocharged petrol unit develops its power that makes it more than suitable for all types of driving – granted you’re not going to be in a particular rush.

It will more than hold its own on a motorway, accelerating rapidly enough to exit a standard-length slip road and merge at the same pace with the moving traffic.

It will do so incredibly quietly, too. I get the feeling that VW engineers have packed the engine bay and behind the dashboard with sound-deadening materials to cancel out the three-cylinder rumble. Even at high speeds it feels cosseted and hushed, with the cabin muted enough that you can hold a conversation with a back-seat passenger without needing to raise your voice.

The claimed average fuel economy of the basic Golf is more than 52mpg. In real world driving, we were achieving around 45mpg

The 1.5-litre petrol engine is the most commonly-picked powerplant for Golf customers. It has around 30bhp more than the 1.0-litre in the basic version, but fuel economy remains unchanged

That said, it is as its best when bumbling through town and back roads, when the little tri-cylinder motor will sip at unleaded at low-revs to provide a more-than-respectable return on fuel economy.

I was averaging over 40mpg on a combination of journeys on different road types – some of them, admittedly, driven like a Dutchman in a pair of clogs.  

The 1.5-litre petrol engine is the most commonly-picked powerplant for Golf customers (not as many want a diesel these days) – and I can understand why when it comes to the small premium you pay in a showroom.

In this Life trim, it costs just £600 more (£23,960) than the 1.0-litre version and provides almost another 30bhp without impacting the fuel efficiency. Spread that over a three-year finance deal and it’s peanuts.

As for the manual gearbox, it is slicker than a Mafioso hair style, engaging each gate with precision and a slight mechanical clunk to keep you engaged.

The basic Golf is not wanting for equipment. As standard you get a high-def digital instrument cluster, 10-colour interior ambient lighting you can set yourself, wireless phone charging, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, armrests front and back and front-seat adjustable lumbar support

Even the most basic Golfs get a 10-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and also the latest iterations of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto built in. DAB radio is also standard

The basic Golf might be the most comfortable on sale…

This ‘no-frills’ Golf option shouldn’t, on paper, have the plush ride characteristics of more expensive variants of the same car.

That’s because higher-priced models in the range benefit from a multi-link rear axle, which should do a better job of soaking up the shock of scatterings on potholes than the more basic torsion beam suspension fitted to our budget-end version.

However, the less complicated set-up is rather good at paving over the worst that Britain’s tarmac can throw at it.

This is mainly down to one of the most forgotten ingredients for car comfort – wheels and tyres.

While forking out for big rims and low profile rubber might look great on the outside, it’s this budget friendly combo that makes the £23,360 Golf so compliant on the road.

The 16-inch alloy wheels fitted to our test car are only available on the Life and one trim level up: Active. Wrapped with chunky tyre sidewalls, the rubber soaks up the most cavernous of craters, so they aren’t repeated to your backside.

The improved comfort of these smaller wheels and fatter tyres is offset by slightly less agility in the corners than a Golf with bigger rims, with fractionally more pitch on changes of directions as weight transfers in the bends. 

A combination of 16-inch alloy wheels and fat tyres means the ride quality is super cushioned

Higher specification Golfs get a multi-link rear axle while the basic cars like ours has a torsion beam suspension fitted to our budget-end version

However, for the Average Joe driver, they’ll struggle to feel the difference, especially with the Golf’s impressive steering response and feel that make it seem lighter on its four corners than it actually is. 

As for space, it’s more than roomy enough for a fortnight’s holiday [in the UK, of course], with loads of room for a swinging match between siblings in the second row and easy-to-maintain plastics and cloth seats that are functional if not the most luxurious.

The 381-litre boot is square enough to gulp up to five carry-on suitcases. While it’s not the biggest in class, it will fit a folded-down pushchair or a set of golf clubs – depending on which stage of life you’re at.

Slide me

The 381-litre boot is square enough to gulp up to five carry-on suitcases. While it’s not the biggest in class, it will fit a folded-down pushchair or a set of golf clubs – depending on which stage of life you’re at

The Golf might be the most popular new family hatch on the market in Britain right now, but there is certainly an element of badge appeal contributing to its success

What do you get in the shape of equipment?

Pretty much everything you would ever need from a modern family hatchback.

Single-zone climate control, a leather-trimmed steering wheel and gear knob, automatic lights and wipers, adaptive cruise control, powerful LED headlights, a high-def digital instrument cluster, 10-colour interior ambient lighting you can set yourself, wireless phone charging, front and rear parking sensors, traffic sign recognition, armrests front and back and front-seat adjustable lumbar support.

It’s not lacking in infotainment tech, either. The ‘boggo’ Life gets a 10-inch touchscreen with sat-nav and it also has the latest iterations of Apple CarPlay and Android Auto built in. DAB radio is also standard.

With this level of kit, you’re not really wanting to turn to a pricey options list. 

If it was my £23,000-or-so to spend, I might be tempted to splash out on the optional rear-view camera for £300. And your future self might appreciate the £550 splurged on the ‘Winter Pack’, offering heated front seats and steering wheel for when December mornings rolls back around.

But I could live without either of those options. And I’d still have a car with a more than ample equipment list. 

Oh, £100 for a space saver spare wheel is also a must have to avoid the dreaded puncture repair kit – always choose this option, no matter what car you buy, is my recommendation. 

Our test car also came with a head-up display and tinted glass, which you can live without. The £100 carpets are a little steep, and the £625 metallic paint option looks good and will help residuals.

Will it fit in my garage? Volkswagen Golf 1.0 TSI Life

On sale: Now

Price: £23,360

Price of car tested: £25,505

Car tested optional extras: Carpet mats (£100); Winter pack (£550); Head-up Display (£625); rear tinted glass (£245); Dolphin Grey metallic paint (£625)

Engine: 1.0-litre three-cylinder petrol

Gearbox: Six-speed manual

Power: 108bhp

Acceleration 0-62mph: 10.2 seconds

Top speed: 126mph 

Fuel economy: 52.3mpg (average)

CO2 emissions: 123g/km

Doors:

Length: 4284mm

Width: 1789mm

Height: 1456mm

Wheelbase: 2619mm

Kerb weight: 1189kg

Boot capacity seats up: 381 litres

Boot capacity seat down: 1,237 litres 

Max towing weight: 1300kg  

Cars & Motoring verdict 

The Golf might be the most popular new family hatch on the market in Britain right now, but there is certainly an element of badge appeal contributing to its success.

The latest Ford Focus and Seat Leon are more engaging to drive and offer slightly more space. Stick a premium badge on either and they’d give the VW a closer run for its money in the sales charts. And while we’re doing comparisons, the Merc A-Class also wipes the floor with the Golf’s interior and infotainment quality. 

But the question is, if you have your heart set on a Golf, should you consider the cheapest one VW sells? There’s plenty to say yes.  

Should you consider the most basic Golf on sale? We think there’s definitely a strong argument for why you should…

The bog-standard Golf has everything you could ever want or need from a daily family hatchback: roomy, comfortable, an engine that easily copes with all common driving scenarios and fully laden with equipment

That said, being completely honest, I wouldn’t choose this £23,360 1.0-litre TSI model myself. 

Not because I found it disappointing, but because the 1.5-litre petrol engine packs more punch but won’t impact your wallet and costs just a fraction more. For £600 extra, it’s worth the additional outlay. 

That said, this bog-standard Golf certainly has everything you could ever want or need if you’re in the market for a daily family hatchback. Roomy, comfortable and an engine that – while not the most potent – easily copes with all common driving scenarios. But best of all is that it is laden with so much equipment – especially for an entry version.

Its biggest hurdle will likely be the connotations that come with ordering the cheapest model. But at a time when more people are choosing to shop in Aldi and Lidl rather than Sainsbury’s or Waitrose, it might be time for car buyers to consider the budget-friendly option.

Rattle off the full specification to your mate who pops round for a BBQ and they’ll not be all that impressed – but show them your tech-bustling new Golf and they’ll be none the wiser about its budget price.

CARS & MOTORING: ON TEST

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Beach hut bookings: Will they continue to surge in Britain?

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At 7.55pm a few months ago, my wife’s mobile phone alarm went off while we sat eating dinner. ‘What’s that for?’ I asked.

‘It’s a five minute reminder for myself. There is a new beach hut available to book from 8pm and if we don’t get on the website straightaway, it’ll sell out by five past.’

A beach hut? Had my wife lost the plot? As someone who loves Caribbean holidays and the finer things in life, I couldn’t imagine her on a kiss-me-quick British beach for the day, nor battling throngs of families (weather dependent), or queuing for an overpriced Whippy, let alone battling for a hut booking like it was Glastonbury tickets.

But, sure enough, she went onto the website – having spotted the hut on Instagram – and bagged it for the recent Bank Holiday. And she was right, within minutes of booking opening, the booking page had become a sea of red blocked out dates.

Not bad: Essex has one of the longest coastlines of any county in England – and has plenty of spots, like Walton-on-the-Naze (pictured) with an array of beach huts

We’d never been to a beach hut before. I’d admired plenty in the past on the seafront close to where we live, namely at Thorpe Bay, and other places further afield like Bournemouth, but couldn’t imagine booking one.

I’ve always been a hut snob. It’s essentially a shed, on a beach.

However, deciding earlier in the year that overseas holidays were pretty much off limits, for £75 for a day it seemed a relatively cheap way for four of us and our small daughter to spend the day with a guaranteed spot at the beach.

We’re not alone. A few months ago a piece in Money Mail suggested that on the list of where our lockdown savings cash would head, beach huts were near the top of the desires, both to book and buy.

With my beach adventure fresh in the mind, this week, Consumer Trends looks at the beach hut frenzy and whether it’s here to stay.

The celebrity, the hen party and the retirement do

The hut, named Lottie, was in West Mersea – a spot an hour away from where we live, and somewhere we usually visit once a year anyway.

The company, The Little Beach Hut Company, has four beautifully decorated huts – all of which are now booked out until mid-September.

The beaches in Mersea aren’t as nice as Walton-on-the-Naze, Frinton or Clacton, as it is on the Blackwater Estuary rather than the North Sea, but for that reason it is a little more refined and quiet.

Celeb life: TV presenter Denise Van Outen was also on West Mersea (we were hut 205)

We set off early and when we arrived, immediately took advantage of the creature comforts a hut offers, making ourselves a cuppa and – from our plum spot – watching a couple, through my father-in-law’s binoculars, as they waded into the mudflats with a bucket.

A little while later they came back with it overflowing with oysters and a few hours after that, I saw them on a bench shucking them open to eat.

A few doors down to the left of us was TV personality Denise Van Outen and her partner Eddie, who I later found likes a stylish beach hut pic on Instagram, and a few doors to the right of us was a fascinating site – a retirement do and a hen party side-by-side, enjoying the huts and having a great time.

The hen party had lanterns, wicker benches and some low-level house music on. Ibiza had come to this pocket of Essex.

It also gives you an indication as to the diverse bunch booking these huts in lockdown times: Celebrities, surely used to fancier spots for their trips; a hen party which would probably also be in a European city; and a retirement do which usually down the local pub.

The hut had a little gas stove where I cooked some sausages for lunch, boiled the kettle for coffees, and it had running water and all the things you need for a successful beach day – wind breaker, umbrella, loungers and buckets for the kids. All this with no battling café queues or lugging stuff around.

The weather, fortunately, was perfect, and after arriving at 8.30am and leaving at 6.30pm, I work that out as £7.50 per hour, or under £2 an hour each. That’s good value. I might have had different views if the weather was bad and we’d visited on the first May Bank Holiday instead of the second.

Owners see a glut of bookings

Demand for beach huts to rent and buy has never been stronger, according to website Beachhuts which has them available on 40 beaches across Britain.

It said that in April, it ‘recorded its best ever month for bookings and attracted more than 50,000 visitors to the site, and last month we broke both those records again – and it’s not even peak season.’

It says traffic this year is the highest on record for this time period, and is on track to smash the record set last year. Since the pandemic began in March 2020, traffic to the site is up 300 per cent.

A book that can help pay for your holiday

Last month saw the launch of my book Never Go Broke

It is the ideal holiday read, whether you get to go overseas or have a break in the UK.

That’s because if you use some of the tips inside, it could help you pay back some of the outlay of your trip. 

The trend has been boosted by people not booking overseas holidays and the rise of the colourful Instagram-worthy spaces on social media.

Louisa, from the Little Beach Hut Company, tells me: ‘More of our bookings have come off of the back of social media than previously.

‘As our social media following increases more people find out about us and then some of these people will go on to book.’

Additionally, BBC television programme Interior Design Masters with Alan Carr, earlier in the year set a challenge for the contestants to do one up, and that again could have also led to a mini-boom in interest.

Louisa, along with her friend Katrina, started out by buying one for personal use nearly 10 years ago.

The entrpreneurs told me: ‘Over the next eight years we bought and sold several huts making money each time as prices increased.’

They then bought the Little Beach Hut Company business last summer, with three huts, then adding an extra one to the portfolio in March.

They said: ‘We’ve certainly seen an increase in bookings. They were up last autumn on previous years and this has continued into this year.

‘We saw more bookings than usual during the spring and by early May we were totally fully booked in all four of our beach huts until September. And September is already 80 per cent filled, with several bookings in October also.

‘Whilst the vast majority of our bookings are for single days, we have seen a big increase in multiple day bookings this year with the rise of the staycation. One customer has even booked a hut for nine days.

‘We are currently receiving enquiries on a daily basis and have no doubt we could fill a fifth hut over the summer months if we had one.’

Popular: This beach hut in Thorpe Bay was recently listed for £70,000

How much do huts cost to buy?

An issue of supply and demand is likely to be pushing up the prices of beach huts. There are only 20,000 of them dotted across the country, and only in some areas. If you want to buy  hut, you’ll find they are in hot demand.

Hotel bookings website Hoo says the average asking price for a beach hut in Britain has surged 41 per cent in a year, from £25,578 to £36,034.

Earlier in the year, it was reported a beach hut in Mudeford Spit in Dorset sold for £325,000.

Nice little earner?

In peak season, it is likely a hut can be rented out for up to £100 per day, depending on the location and how well it has been maintained.

For four months of the year, this could potentially mean around £12,000 in rental revenue. 

This doesn’t factor in general wear and tear upkeep, cleaning costs or insurance., as we point out below.

Charlie Ramsay, chief executive of Beachhuts, says that prices are only heading one way currently.

‘One hut in Wells-next-the-Sea on the north Norfolk coast was advertised for sale in April at £83,000 — itself a 20 per cent jump on last year. It received 10 expressions of interest and sold for £92,000 two weeks later.

‘They don’t stay on the site for very long, the average being four weeks.’

He says: ‘The average asking price since 2019 has been over £40,000. This has more than doubled since 2015 when the average listing was just £18,000.’

Louise tells me why they plumped for a beach hit business.

She says: ‘We both lost sadly our mums to cancer in the past few years and found ourselves with inheritances that we did not know what to do with.

‘We felt a huge pressure on ourselves to use the money wisely and when we saw the advert for the company at the end of the first lockdown it felt like it was meant to be, a chance to take their legacy forward and use it for something very positive for ourselves and our families.

‘We were aware that beach huts go up in value over time like other property and it was a way of investing the money that also provided an income for us both. I

‘I had previously been thinking about investing in a beach hut for personal use so the idea of the business was really appealing to me.

‘I knew Karina was in a similar financial position to myself and we were both looking for a new challenge after having our children.’

Are beach huts a good investment?

For some, a beah hut could represent a good investment opportunity, with the ability to book in a few weekends use for yourself over the year and rent for the rest of the time.

However, as Louisa points out, there are plenty of hidden costs to mull over before taking the plunge.

She says: ‘Beach hut value has risen steadily over the last few years and they seem to be a sound investment.

‘As we run them as a business we generate income from the huts which offsets the costs of maintaining them, insurance, council rates and commercial licenses. If buying for personal use, these costs would all need to be considered within terms of the investment return.

‘As a ballpark we would say to budget around £500 on average per year on maintenance, sometimes less sometimes more. They are exposed to the elements so wood needs replacing every so often. Our newest hut Lottie is covered in hardy plank so her yearly maintenance costs are much lower.

 As a ballpark we would say to budget around £500 on average per year on maintenance, sometimes less sometimes more. They are exposed to the elements so wood needs replacing every so often.
Louisa – Little Beach Hut Company 

‘Insurance per hut is circa £300, which is slightly higher as we hire them out, and Council rates per hut is circa £200

‘Commercial licences per hut are circa £800 because we hire ours, you wouldn’t spend this for personal use only.

‘We have seen ourselves the increase in hut prices over the last year, with the three huts we purchased as part of the business in June last year all being worth more now.

‘We bought Lottie nine months after the other three huts and she was definitely more expensive. We believe the hut’s value has continued to rise since we bought her in March based on what else is selling locally now.

‘You can expect to pay anything up to £50,000 for a front row hut at West Mersea currently. We were surprised to have just seen a second row hut sell for around £40,000, which is a significant increase on their prices last year.’

What should you look out for if you are tempted? Louisa adds: ‘When looking for a hut one of the most important factors would be if it is structurally sound as maintenance costs will eat into the investment.

‘Also geographical location and location in terms of the beach – which row, proximity to amenities.

‘Some people buy a hut with the specific intention of knocking it down and rebuilding, which can be worth it to get the location you want if the hut itself isn’t up to scratch.’

Would we book a hut again? In a heartbeat. We all enjoyed it, including my toddler daughter who loved making sandcastles and spending the day at the great British seaside and my father-in-law who usually flat out refuses to do British beach days. 

As for me, I’m a converted hut snob.

That 10 hour stint we spent at the hut flew by, and as we returned home, it felt more like we’d had a weekend at the beach.

It was relaxing and we’re ready to pull the trigger on a 2022 day out at the seaside – regardless of whether foreign travel is more likely.

The history of beach huts

According to Charlie, beach huts are a British quirk that has become ingrained into the image of the Great British summer holiday. 

He says: ‘Their origins lie in bathing machines, first recorded in Scarborough in 1730s, which looked like beach huts on wheels which could be hired for half hour periods. 

‘Patrons would get in at the top of the beach, change out of their normal clothes as a horse pulled them into the sea, then step directly into the water from the front of the machine.

‘The machines, and seaside resorts, increased in popularity in the Victorian period. 

‘Queen Victoria had her own personal bathing machine built at Osbourne on the Isle of Wight. 

‘Rail travel enabled seaside holidays and doctors began to prescribe a cold sea bath as a remedy.

‘Nowadays, beach huts have lost their wheels and are both a fun and practical aspect to any visit to a beach, somewhere to take shelter, eat sand-free, don your swimmers, change your child, lock up your phone, have a snooze or store your clobber, to avoid lugging it back and forth to the car each day.’

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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Close to 3,500 Nationwide savers left waiting months for Isa bonus

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Thousands of Nationwide savers have been left waiting months to transfer money into its market-leading Isa after ‘unprecedented demand’ for the tax-free deal led to a huge backlog at Britain’s largest building society.

Just under 3,500 savers are still waiting for old Isas to be transferred into its 18-month tax-free account paying 0.75 per cent, half of whom put transfer requests in during March and April.

Britain’s biggest mutual unveiled the account, open only to existing customers, in mid-March.

Thousands of Nationwide Building Society savers have been waiting since March for their Isas to transfer into its top-rate savings deal unveiled in the midst of Isa season 

Already the best available rate on an Isa with a term of less than three years, the account also came with a £50 bonus for those transferring in £10,000 or more from an old account.

The bonus meant the total return was bumped up to closer to 1.1 per cent, which would usually require fixing for half-a-decade to attain.

Starved by ultra-low Isa rates available elsewhere, thousands of Nationwide customers opted for it, with a quarter-of-a-million people applying for the account and other competitive deals, according to the building society.

However, that surge in demand appears to have caught Nationwide by surprise, with the backlog of transfer requests taking months to sort through as customers tried to nab the bonus.

Cash Isa transfers are supposed to take just 15 working days, according to government guidelines.

Although the building society is sorting through the backlog, with the 3,500 outstanding transfers down from 4,000 a few days ago, some have still been waiting close to three months, leaving them temporarily out of pocket. 

Nationwide said: ‘The vast majority of members have had their Isa transferred to Nationwide within the 15-day target. 

‘However, due to increased volumes, there were some Isa transfer applications which have taken longer to process than normal.

‘Although the vast majority of these transfers have been completed, there remain a small number outstanding which we are processing as quickly as possible – these are often where we are awaiting additional information.’

While up to £20,000 can be saved into a tax-free Isa each financial year, previous years’ balances can usually be transferred into newly opened accounts. However, this is not always the case, while some Isa providers can charge a fee.

Some £48.7billion was saved into cash Isas in 2019-20, a four-year high, according to the latest figures from the taxman, bringing the total value of tax-free savings to £316.2billion.

However, ultra-low interest rates over the last 12 months means that after accounting for inflation, savers saw £540million wiped off the value of those savings.

And given average Isa rates have been just 0.4 per cent since last November, according to the Bank of England, it is no wonder so many opted for a top-rate savings deal like Nationwide’s when it became available.

The building society said no interest would be lost due to the transfer delays, as interest is paid from the day an Isa application is received.

It added: ‘Anyone transferring to the society will receive interest from both their old provider and Nationwide while the transfer takes place. The same goes for the £50 Isa transfer incentive – all those meeting the criteria for that will receive it.’

This post first appeared on Daily mail

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