James Coney  

Ignore the noise and concentrate on what is available

James Coney

James Coney

That is until some enterprising hack starts asking more questions of the Treasury.

The stamp duty bottleneck

I never intended to move just as the stamp duty deadline approached. Our house was on the market for practical reasons, and then as time ticked along we got closer to the deadline, we found a place we liked and our buyers wanted to get a wriggle on.

And so here we are, all exchanged and racing towards a move on June 28.

What a crackpot system this is, because ultimately a tax deadline is distorting consumer behaviour. It has created a bottleneck in the system.

The odd thing is that you cannot blame stamp duty for increasing house prices – cheap money did that. From Australia to America, Denmark to the Netherlands, there are house price booms happening all over the OECD because of the wave of cheap money and the working from home revolution that has caused social upheaval.

The market will calm down after the stamp duty holiday ends, but I would not count on it being the end of rising prices just yet.

Haunted by the past

In the past fortnight I have had letters from a widow who has been left without a retirement income because of the oddities of the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

I have got a man with 29 insurance policies for a unit-linked policy that started with premiums of just £100.

I have had a reader who does not know what to do with a horrible reversion plan for his home.

And I always hear from people whose state pension is far lower than they thought.

Modern financial services products tend to be quite straightforward and practical, but the industry is riddled with the mistakes of the past.

It is hard for companies to improve their reputation until the legacy plans have died away.

James Coney is money editor of The Times and The Sunday Times