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People of Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn paying ‘invisible tax’ by failing to seek better financial deals

Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Picture: John Stillwell/PA Wire

Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn have been named as two of the worst places in the country when it comes to people seeking the best financial deals.

A report suggest that residents of the towns could be paying an “invisible tax” by failing to seek out the best deals when it comes to financial products and utility plans.

The towns were in the top five areas where people were least likely to switch following research by credit checking company Experian. Great Yarmouth came second, just behind Skegness, with King’s Lynn in fifth behind Birmingham and Manchester. But the data also revealed that in East Anglia as a whole 36pc of respondents said they have switched to better deals.

Charlotte Nelson finance expert at Norwich-based Moneyfacts.co.uk said that the number of banks closing in rural areas could have an impact people’s ability to switch financial services.

“It is disappointing news that switching financial products in our region is so low. As technology has advance switching products is now relatively fuss-free,” she said. “When it comes to financial products loyalty does not pay, so those who stick around are often on the worst deals.

“Rural areas are often dependent on their local high street banks to get financial products. With many banks shutting branches, customers who prefer face to face contact are often resulted to having one provider to solve their financial needs.”

Nationally as many as 35 million people may not be regularly switching their accounts and utility plans. Their lack of action is akin to “an invisible tax on inertia”, with the cost of paying more than is necessary for bills mounting up over the course of their lives, Experian says.

The company asked 200,000 people whether they had switched providers for financial services or utilities products during the past two years and found 67pc of people had failed to switch.

London and St Albans were found to be the places where people were most likely to shop around, with Bracknell, Windsor and Watford also making the top five.

Richard Jenkings, lead analytics consultant at Experian, said people often chose the most expensive ways to borrow money, whether it was due to a lack of information or a lack of choice.

He said: “It’s clear from our research that those who stick to old financial behaviours are likely to fare worse in the future than those who change.”

Six top tips to seek better financial products

1. Assess you situation – To get the whole picture sit down and work out what financial products you have, what you are paying for and whether you owe any money. This is a great opportunity to set a budget if needed or see if you can save some cash.

2. Shop around – Look at the best deals on the market to see if what you currently have is either the same, better or worse than what is available out there now.

3. Contact your provider – if you are to get a better deal elsewhere let your current provider know and that you may be considering a move. You never know they may be able to offer you something better.

4. Don’t be frightened to switch – Loyalty doesn’t often pay and with switching providers a relatively pain free process you should vote with your feet and move.

5. Review deals regularly – Set time once a year to review all your current bills and products to ensure you are still getting the best deal.

6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – If you are struggling financially, organisations such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau are there to help.

• Do you find it difficult to know how to find the best deals? Email jessica.long@archant.co.uk

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