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Comeback chameleon tries to net a winner

When you think about comebacks, the likes of Duran Duran might spring to mind, or Take That – without Robbie of course – but in the world of financial services, Jim Spowart is surely the unchallenged king of reinvention.

Much like Madonna, Spowart has always been ahead of the game and moved with the times. And a recent ann-ouncement saw him try this one more time.

His ability to catch the eye of the media is intact, as the unveiling of his latest financial services start-up, comparison website www. peopleschampion.com, shows. It made the lead story on the business pages of one of the Scottish national papers, which goes to show his financial pedigree.

Spowart has had a successful career – he launched Direct Line, Standard Life Bank and Intelligent Finance.

But I’m struggling to see how his latest offering differs from the ple-thora of financial comparison sites that already exist, such as moneysupermarket.comPeopleschampion.com will offer comparisons from savings products, mortgages, insurance policies and credit cards when it launches in a few weeks’ time and it will be interesting to see whether having Spowart as a backer helps this website stand apart from the competition.

The timing of the launch is relatively lucky. After the surprising decision of the Bank of England to raise the base rate to 4.75% after holding it at 4.5% for 11 consecutive months, many borrowers will be searching for better deals.

It’s difficult not to worry about the impact this interest rate hike will have on the housing market as a whole, as well as on individual borrowers.

Following the recent muddle surrounding Home Condition Rep-orts, the last thing the industry needs is more uncertainty and the pro-spect of further base rate rises.

Borrowers are al-ready stretched to their limits when it comes to affordability so any rise in mortgage repayments will hit them hard, especially given the other secured and unsecured debt most people now have.

I for one am not looking forward to seeing the effect it will have on my monthly outgoings, and I’m pretty sure I’m not alone.

It’s especially worrying if you take into account the latest figures from the Council of Mortgage Len-ders regarding first-time buyers. The average first-time buyer is now borrowing 3.21 x their income to get a mortgage – the highest figure on record.

With the government still not doing enough to help first-time buyers get on the housing ladder the last thing they need is yet another barrier placed in their way.

And to finish off my column this week on another political note, anyone in Scotland – and maybe the rest of the country – must have found it hard to miss the scandal that’s been rocking socialist politics north of the border.

Tommy Sheridan, the suntanned socialist who helped rid us of Margaret Thatcher’s Poll Tax, has been accused of swinging and participating in drug and champagne-fuelled orgies.

So let’s raise a glass to him as he managed to be found innocent by the jury despite dozens of witnesses testifying against him. Class war is not dead.

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