After being boarded up for months, a restaurant around the corner from Money Mail Towers was finally showing signs of life last week.
‘Remember, remember the 5th of November. The day Bill’s Kensington opens,’ a hoarding along the front stated proudly.
The timing is unfortunate to say the least. For tomorrow it’s back into lockdown we go.
Back into lockdown we go: It is practically impossible to plan anything these days, be it a restaurant re-opening, a wedding, a holiday or just a meal out
It’s a reminder, as if we needed one, that it is practically impossible to plan anything these days, be it a restaurant re-opening, a wedding, a holiday or just a meal out.
Like most people, I find all the uncertainty very unsettling. It has become painfully apparent just how quickly our fortunes can change – often through no fault of our own. Which is why it is vital all families have a plan in place to protect against the unexpected.
Granted, no one could have predicted that a pandemic might cost them their livelihood. But even in ordinary times, people get sick and are made redundant.
And while it’s not something anyone likes to talk about, families need to know how they would cope.
Do you have a rainy-day fund that would tide you over if you or your partner couldn’t work?
Have you got an insurance policy that would pay out if either of you became ill or died?
Is your will up to date, and do you have power of attorney so you can access your partner’s accounts if they could not?
As we report today, there is help available for those in financial difficulties. But there are also an estimated three million people who have missed out on financial support.
So if you are fortunate enough to not be one of them, why not use these few weeks in lockdown to reduce your financial risk and put in place a robust back-up plan of your own?
You should start by reading our guide to staying afloat during this lockdown in today’s section.
We can’t control much right now, but you should have a say over your personal finances.
Britain’s biggest banks picked the wrong time to start hinting about introducing fees for basic services.
They have raked in billions over the past three months after cashing in on a housing boom and accidental lockdown savers who’ve piled an extra £25 billion into current accounts that pay zero interest.
And despite the base rate falling to 0.1 per cent, mortgage rates have crept up as banks struggle to cope with demand, overdraft rates have jumped to up to 49.9 per cent, and credit card rates are still at record highs of 25 per cent or so. Meanwhile, savings rates have been cut to 0.01 per cent.
On top of this, many branches never even reopened properly after the first lockdown, with more set to reduce their hours again. And customers are still struggling to get through on the phone — including desperate fraud victims.
Doesn’t sound like a service worth paying for to me.
On the subject of customer service, a message to Virgin Media: sort it out. Last month we named and shamed the telecoms giant as one of the most complained-about firms over the first lockdown.
As we head into a second lockdown, many households are once again more reliant than ever on their phone and broadband providers — yet complaints about the firm continue to pour in.
If you have a problem with Virgin you can’t resolve, write to us at email@example.com or Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London, W8 5TT. We’ll pass on any letters or emails.
Banish the blues
I know two people who put up their Christmas lights at the weekend. Ordinarily, I’d be horrified at the thought of hanging fairy lights before Bonfire Night – but Covid has changed all that.
People are doing whatever they can to cheer themselves up. For some, that means sparkly lights – for others (who shall remain anonymous) it’s a sparkly drink or two (or three).
But it seems that for many, a spot of retail therapy is also boosting endorphins.
If you’re treating yourself more than usual – or know a better (legal) cure for lockdown misery – I’d love to hear from you at the email address below.