The UK Money Blogger Heroes of 2015
Coming together as part of the UK Money Bloggers collective, some of the top money saving and personal finance bloggers in the UK have compiled a list to celebrate the money heroes of 2015.
Below they explain how we reached our decisions – and why you should care.
You can see who our villains are in our 2015 Money Villains blogpost.
Hero 1: Martin Lewis – Putting money where his mouth is
By Leanne Fraser, Broke in the Big Smoke
Wow where to begin, Martin Lewis has always been something of a personal hero. In my opinion he really is the people’s champion and this wasn’t any different in 2015. But this isn’t about his day job.
Instead we want to celebrate his philanthropy, all geared towards helping those who need financial support the most.
After the sale of MoneySavingExpert.com back in 2012 he pledged £10m to charity. By the time the shares could be legally sold the value of these had gone up yet he ensured that his donation increased at the same level as this rise.
The Citizens Advice Bureau will receive £1million, the Personal Finance Education Group £500k and to the Trussell Trust (which runs over 400 food banks across the UK) a further £500k.
A huge number of people with mental health issues find themselves in debt and his next big project is to establish policies on mental health and debt alongside the government.
Oh, and in 2015 he also claimed the world record for the number of words said in one minute!
Hero 2: Timpson Dry cleaners – Helping the unemployed get a clean start
By Charlotte Burns, editor of LottyEarns.co.uk
Timpsons have been particularly saintly this year, by offering free dry cleaning for unemployed people who have upcoming job interviews, in an attempt to help people get back on their feet.
Timpson told me that it’s available to all people who bring proof they are on benefits and have an interview, in every store that has dry cleaning facilities (there’s around 300 in the UK).
The offer went viral in January this year when a picture of a sign outside its store said: “If you are unemployed and need an outfit cleaned for an interview, we will clean it for free! When times are tough, we will help you look your best.”
Timpson is a company that is known to go out of its way to help others. It has five prison training centres (fitted out like a Timpson shop inside the actual prison), and everyone who passes their skill tests is offered a job on release.
For showing us that companies can care, and can make a difference, Timpson is undoubtedly a Money Hero of 2015.
Hero 3: Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall – Waste warrior
Natalya writes at Cottage Retreatist
Another of our money heroes is Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall or more specifically his campaign for reducing waste through his BBC TV programme: Hugh’s War on Waste. According to the programme: “a third of food in the UK never gets eaten, yet 13 million people in this country are struggling to afford to eat”.
It was truly eye-opening to see how much food is sent to landfill by large supermarkets and the public’s throw-away culture – a state of mind we have been conditioned into; and the impact it has on us both physically (in terms of our environment and the damage we are doing), but also mentally (cheap and quick access has literally destroyed our understanding of ‘make do and mend’).
Hugh is currently campaigning to stop supermarkets (and us!) wasting tonnes of food and through his high profile naming and shaming (Morrisons anyone?!) is making an impact. Over 295,000 people have signed the petition to make a change and get supermarkets to stock more wonky veg and redistributing surplus so it goes to people in need. I have signed his petition – have you?
Hero(es) 4: Laura Coryton and Stella Creasy – Tampon Tax Crusaders
Jenni Hill blogs at Can’t Swing a Cat
Women across the country currently pay 5% tax on sanitary products because they’re considered to be ‘non-essential items’.
Angered by the tax, 21-year-old student Laura Coryton decided to start a petition to have the tax removed completely. More than 270,000 signatures later, MPs were forced to debate the issue in the House of Commons.
In a speech that went viral, Stella Creasy perfectly explained why the tax should be lifted. She argued: “Tampons and sanitary towels have always been considered a luxury. That isn’t by accident, that’s by design of an unequal society, in which the concerns of women are not treated as equally as the concerns of men.”
She then went on to point out that Jaffa Cakes and razors are seemingly considered essential items as they, unlike tampons, are not taxed.
Hero 5: Ros Altmann – Pension Champion
Kalpana Fitzpatrick writes at Mummy Money Matters
Ros Altmann has been a true consumer champion when it comes to campaigning for pension savers and retirees.
The UK’s pensions system has been a complicated mess for years, failing savers in many ways. The industry has been in desperate need for a pensions minister who is not only experienced and knowledgeable about pensions, but one that is also extremely passionate about it.
Ros fits that bill and although she has her work cut out, especially as she comes in at a time when the UK’s pensions system is going through significant reform, we can trust that her judgment will steer the UK’s retirement system in the right direction.
In 2014, Ros was awarded a CBE honour in recognition of her services to pensioners and the pensions industry – as pensions minister, we expect this good work will continue and she will be the hero that lead the UK’s retirement system back to a level of integrity and have a policies in place that work for both pensioners and savers.
Hero 6: Channel 4’s Dispatches – Exposing poor working conditions at Sports Direct
Andy Webb runs Be Clever With Your Cash and UK Money Bloggers
Dispatches has had another good year reporting personal finance stories from the high street to the boardroom. From the cost of train journeys to savings rates, and low pay to right to buy, the Channel 4 current affairs series was a powerful source of useful consumer information.
In particular we wanted to acknowledge their undercover investigation at Sports Direct. The team, fronted by Harry Wallop (who also had a fine year telling consumer stories), exposed dodgy pricing policies and sickening working conditions at the retail giant.
It’s easy for consumers to get caught up by sales and stock clearances, and Dispatches looked into whether those cheap trainers or sporting goods were ever really sold at the higher price. More often than not, the answer was no.
Worse were the scenes in the warehouses that supplied shops and online orders. Whistleblowers and unions joined undercover reporters to reveal Dickensian practices punishing staff for spending too long on the loo or talking too much.
With Panorama and Tonight less inclined to tell stories about money, it’s all the more important to celebrate prime time programming like Dispatches.
Do you agree? Who else do you think should have been on the list?