30 Oct 2017  Research on over 50s’ retirement plans has found that half  of people want to continue working in some form after reaching retirement. Of these people, 43% plan to switch to part-time work, while 6% do not think they will ever stop full-time work.

Based on these findings, Retirement Advantage analysis shows that if half of those turning 65 this year chose to stay in work they would contribute £7bn annually to the UK economy – £1.6bn from those staying in work full-time and £5.4bn from part-time workers.

Contrary to popular perceptions that financial worries are what drive older people to stay in their jobs, when asked why they are considering working past state pension age the most popular reason was that they simply like working (54%). The next most common reasons include work providing a sense of purpose (53%) and to avoid boredom (52%). 42% of the over 50s said they wanted to ease into retirement gradually. Needing the extra money comes in fifth (41%), with women more likely to be motivated by this than men (46% compared to 37%).

Andrew Tully, pensions technical director at Retirement Advantage, said: ‘The idea of cliff-edge retirements are put firmly in the past as half the over 50s have no plans to fully retire when the time comes. This generation will continue to make a significant contribution to the economy in the future and employers will need to consider how best to adapt to this changing employment landscape.

‘People clearly enjoy the social aspects as well as financial benefits of work, but there is a cautionary tale in these statistics. A significant minority do not plan to ever stop working, with the number increasing over the last year. This may be perfectly reasonable for some people but it may also reflect a growing pressure to work to be able to pay the bills.’

Retirement Advantage is also warning that plans to work beyond retirement have an impact on pension savings. Research reveals that 37% of working people using the freedoms to access cash from their pensions have continued to pay into a pension, while 19% say their employer has. Worryingly, 67% of these people are completely unaware of the Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA).

Andrew Tully continued: ‘People gradually easing into retirement by working part-time may also have taken some of their pension benefits and could find themselves falling foul of the tax rules. Our research shows there is very little awareness of the MPAA which severely restricts the amount you can continue to pay into a pension once benefits have been taken.

‘Getting professional financial advice is a crucial step to ensure your financial plans remain on track, whatever the future may hold.’

26 Oct 2017

As the clocks go back this weekend and the winter nights draw in, millions of homes could be left vulnerable to opportunistic thieves while their owners are working.

According to a survey of almost 4,000 people by home insurer Policy Expert, 5% more workers are getting home later – past 6pm – this year compared to 2016. There are approximately 32 million workers in the UK – this means there could be as many as 1.6 million people working later and leaving their homes unattended for longer. As the afternoons/evenings get darker, 14% of Brits say they are more concerned about leaving their property due to potential burglary whilst they’re at work.

The research also found that the average time to get home from work is 5.06pm. At present, that means people are arriving home in daylight hours. However as of Sunday 29thOctober it will get dark at 4.38pm[1], meaning that from Monday, homes could now be empty and unattended in darkness for 28 minutes. The length of time for which homes could be left empty in darkness will increase by a one to two minutes every day until mid-December when the average home could be left unattended in darkness for a full hour and 15 minutes.

Despite this, the research revealed that many homes do not have adequate security measures in place to protect them while they’re empty. In fact, more than a quarter (28%) of people don’t take any security measures to protect their home from theft.

Only two in five of those surveyed have timed lights and just a third have a burglar alarm fitted. Below gives a snapshot of the security measures homeowners are taking:

  • Only 43% have timed lights inside the house
  • Just a third have a burglar alarm installed
  • Encouragingly, 7 in 10 have external lighting
  • One in ten have surveillance cameras
  • A third have a neighbourhood watch

Adam Powell, from Policy Expert commented: “The winter months are a tempting time for opportunistic burglars. Longer nights and shorter days mean that there are more opportunities for crime to take place under the cover of darkness, so it’s important to remain vigilant and ensure your home is adequately protected. Any way to make your home look occupied or any visible deterrents, such as lights on timers, CCTV and burglar alarms should go some way in preventing a break in. Finally, check your home insurance policy to ensure it’s up to date and any valuables are declared to ensure you’re fully covered should the worst happen.”

Tips on protecting your home:

  • Install a timer to set lights inside your home to come on once it gets dark – choose a light in a visible room at the front of the house, not the hallway, as this will create the impression that someone is inside
  • Invest in sensor-activated, external lighting for the garden and around the front of the home
  • Install a burglar alarm – not only is this a visible deterrent, if someone does attempt to break in the alarm would alert neighbours and the police before any damage could be done
  • Don’t leave curtains closed – during the day this makes it look like there’s no-one at home
  • Make sure any outbuildings or sheds are locked and that any tools are hidden away – these could be used to break into your home
  • Ensure any valuables are out of sight – remove the temptation and make sure these items cannot be seen from outside the house through the windows
  • Never leave a spare key anywhere near the front door, for example under a doormat, flower pot – thieves know all the usual hiding places
  • Similarly, don’t store house/car keys just inside your front door, as burglars could try to fish for the keys through the letterbox

23 Oct 2017  Independent Age, the older people’s charity, has just launched its first ever online Christmas Calculator to help older people and their families budget for Christmas.

For older people on a fixed income, the festive season can be a difficult time of year. Many people want to be able to buy gifts for their loved ones, but may struggle to save enough money. According to the Money Advice Trust, around a third of Brits borrow money to pay for Christmas presents and almost a quarter feel under pressure to spend more than they can afford.

The Christmas Calculator is an easy-to-use online tool, which allows savers to put in how much they’d like to spend on each present and how much they need to allow for things like food, drink, decorations, and other expenses. The calculator then works out how much you’d need to save each day, week or month to be able to afford everything.

By planning early and starting to save now, older people and their families may be able to have a worry-free Christmas, without going into debt by having to use credit cards or borrowing money.

The Independent Age Christmas Calculator is free and available to all at independentage.org/christmas-calculator.

The charity is also relaunching its popular Winter Wise advice guide, which offers advice on how to keep well and stay safe during the winter months. The free guide provides practical advice and tips to older people, their families and carers on how to look after themselves during the coldest months. The advice spans from eating well and staying healthy to coping with loneliness and making winter more affordable, including keeping your home warm. Winter Wise is free to order and download from independentage.org/winter or call 0800 319 6789 to order a copy.

Older people who would like more advice about what benefits they may be entitled to can call the free Independent Age helpline on 0800 319 6789.

To make a donation or find out more about how you can support the work of Independent Age and help older people stay independent, please visit independentage.org.

23 Oct 2017 M&S Bank has just announced that it plans to offer mortgages to personal customers from early 2018.

Sue Fox, CEO of M&S Bank, said: “Since launching as a bank just five years ago, the M&S current accounts have proven incredibly popular with customers who want a transparent bank account, with no overdraft charges, and the same great service they have come to know and expect from the M&S brand. We’re incredibly excited to be able to bring this M&S-standard service to customers purchasing a home, whether they’re making their first or final step on the property ladder, and for every move in-between.

Andrew Hagger, Personal Finance Expert from Moneycomms said: “M&S Bank has been a major player in the personal loans market for many years and frequently features at the top of the best buys, – if you were looking to borrow £10k today M&S Bank is joint cheapest at 2.8% APR with Sainsbury’s Bank.”
“It is following a similar path as the other ‘Supermarket Banks’ which started with savings, credit cards and loans before dipping a toe in the mortgage market – Tesco Bank launched mortgages in August 2012 and Sainsbury’s Bank in April this year.”
“If M&S offers similar mortgage pricing to its supermarket rivals then it won’t be far away from the top of the best buys – but it is a cut throat market and price tends to be the key driver.”

18 Oct 2017  The switch to contactless cards is costing charities with nearly two out of five adults admitting they give less to street collectors as they do not carry as much cash, new research from Consumer Intelligence shows.

Its nationwide study found 37% who regularly donate money to charity collectors say they have cut back in the past year – and on average they estimate they have donated £14 each less.

Consumer Intelligence’s research shows a rapid switch away from using cash – 58% of adults say they are using less cash than a year ago.

The trend is accelerating among younger people – 71% of 18 to 24-year olds say they use less cash than a year ago, but even over-65s are changing with 49% cutting back on cash.

Just a third of those questioned prefer to use cash for purchases worth less than £30 – the limit for contactless cards – with 39% preferring to use contactless and 27% using chip and PIN and 3% using other devices.

However, cash is still very important for charities – the Charities Aid Foundation** says cash is still the most popular method of donating to charity with 55% of donations coming in notes and coins.

Ian Hughes, from Consumer Intelligence said: “Contactless is convenient and secure so it is understandable that so many are happy to ditch cash.

“But there must be some concern that it is hurting charities with so many people admitting they have cut donations simply because they do not carry cash.

“Technology can help however and charity collectors need to adapt. The Church of England is trialling contactless technology for collections so it can be done.”

Consumer Intelligence’s study shows around one in 10 people still carry £50 or more in cash on a day to day basis.

17 Oct 2017   New research commissioned by pension provider Phoenix shows consumers release personal data that may leave them vulnerable to fraudsters.  As a result of providing this personal data, the research found that 12% of consumers – up to 6.4 million people – have been targeted by fraudsters.

Looking at how fraudsters obtain this information, the research revealed that nearly three in four people (71%) have been cold contacted in some way – 71% of those who have been cold contacted were called by phone and 52% contacted by email.

Phoenix’s internal data also evidences that some people are even approached at their home.

It is not only the volume of approaches that are a concern but the types of data that are being requested. Vital documents proving identify, such as passport numbers and National Insurance numbers, are being requested and provided. 10% of people contacted have provided their National Insurance number and 20% have divulged their passport number to organisations that they do not know.

This research supports Phoenix’s view that the proposed changes to legislation to restrict cold calling in regard to pensions will significantly reduce incidents of pension fraud.  We are especially pleased to see the proposal to extend prohibition of cold calling to electronic forms of communication.

David Powers, Head of Financial Crime Prevention at the Phoenix Group, warns: “Information is power for fraudsters. The link between cold contacting and scams is very real, and fraudsters will mine the data that they collect from seemingly harmless calls, social media profiles or emails and text messages to scam their victims at a later date. Every piece of data – however big or small – allows the fraudster to build a more complete and accurate profile of their potential victim to make any approach feel genuine.”

He continued: “It’s an increasing problem.  Figures from Financial Fraud Action UK show that fraud via internet, telephone and mail order increased by nine per cent in 2016 to £432.3m compared to £398.2m in 2015.”

Phoenix’s research shows, however, that people are clearly worried about their data – 82% of people are concerned about who has their personal data, 90% say that they are very vigilant about who has their data, 71% of people say that they are worried about the consequences of giving their details out and 21% of people admit that they have, at times, provided personal data without really thinking about it.  However, a surprising 13% said they were not at all concerned about giving any personal data.

Of the information that people have freely given away about themselves, the most common is their name, followed by their email address.  Other information that people give away includes their date of birth, with 35% of people saying they have revealed their date of birth on Facebook.

More and more, the firm’s policyholders are reporting that unregulated companies are approaching them, having obtained some of their personal information or details about their pension plan. In recent weeks, for example, a cold caller visited a Phoenix policyholder at home to get copies of their driving licence, national insurance number, bank statement and pension paperwork. There are other instances of cold callers obtaining policyholders’ details through fake online forms and phishing emails.

People are right to be concerned as responders who have given away their data have said that it has been used in other ways in regard to financial services:

  • 2% have seen someone set up another credit/debit card in their name
  • 10% said someone gained accessed to their bank account and withdrew money
  • 52% said they have been contacted or spammed by third parties via email
  • 6% said that someone they don’t know has ordered something on one of their online accounts (e.g. Amazon)
  • 8% have contracted malicious spyware (programs that secretly record what you do on your computer)
  • A mere 14% said that they had seen no adverse effects at all.

09 Oct 2017  There is further evidence that savers are starting to be offered better deals as the chance of a Bank of England base rate rise becomes more likely.

The latest snippet of positive news comes from Coventry Building Society which is giving both new and existing savers a boost by increasing the interest rate on its Fixed Rate ISA (49) from 1.80% to a market-leading 2.15% Tax-free p.a./AER.

The details are as follows:

Available for applications from today;

Fixed Rate ISA (49) 30.11.2022 paying 2.15% Tax-free p.a./AER

 Available to new and existing customers.

 Minimum balance is £1.

 2017/18 ISA allowance and transfers of previous years’ ISA funds are permitted.

 Partial withdrawals are not allowed. Closure is subject to a charge equal to 180 days’ interest.

 Interest paid annually on 30 November (added or paid away).

 This account can be operated in branch, by telephone, post, or online.

Darin Landon, Distribution Director at Coventry Building Society, said: “We’re delighted to increase the rate

on our Fixed Rate ISA (49) to offer a market-leading return for both new and existing savers. The Fixed

Rate ISA (49) is also open to transfers in of previous years’ ISA funds, to help savers make the most of

their tax-free ISA allowance”.

Customers can apply by calling the Customer Service Centre on 0800 121 8899, visiting any branch of the

Coventry or online at thecoventry.co.uk

09 Oct 2017   Retired homeowners have earned £3,500 a month from their houses in the three months to the end of August as their total property wealth hit a new record high, analysis* from leading over-55s financial specialist Key Retirement shows.

Total property wealth owned by over-65s who have paid off their mortgages grew to a record £1.101 trillion in August.

More than £47.2 billion has been added to the property wealth of the UK’s over-65 homeowners over the three months as the property market recovered across all regions.

The value of property investment is underlined by Key’s index – since the group started analysing over-65s housing wealth in 2010 retired homeowners have seen growth of 41% or £321 billion which is worth around £68,500 on average for every over-65 homeowner. Owning a home has been worth around £9,800 a year for over-65s.

Key’s Pensioner Property Equity Index shows the biggest individual gains were in London where over-65s in London made nearly £17,000 each from their properties but pensioners in East Anglia, Scotland, the South West and the North East also saw double-digit gains.

The strength of the housing market means property wealth is making a major contribution to retirement standards of living as the equity release market expands. Average equity release customers** are cashing in £70,625 of property wealth and nearly £114,000 in London and £82,000 in the South East.

Dean Mirfin, from Key Retirement said: “The strength of the housing market over the three months has significantly boosted property wealth for pensioners making as much as £3,500 a month.

“Prices may not continue to grow as fast but pensioners who have paid off mortgages can still rely on tax-free returns no matter what happens in the short and medium term.

“The average homeowner is releasing through equity release the equivalent of the gains made since 2010 and property wealth is having a dramatic effect on the standards of retirement living for many thousands across the UK.”

03 Oct 2017 Over half (60%) of UK adults are currently without a will, according to new research out today from Unbiased.co.uk.

The number of people without a will in the UK is at an all-time high, passing the previous peak in 20112. It means that over 31 million now run the risk of dying intestate and having their estate distributed solely according to intestacy law, which may not reflect their wishes.

With age comes wisdom

Those aged 55 and over are three times more likely to have a will than those aged 18-34. However, even in this age group more than a third (37%) are still without one. The most striking figure, however, is from the 35-54 age group. This is the group most likely to have dependents and other major financial commitments such as mortgages, yet nearly three quarters have taken no steps to ensure their loved ones would inherit according to their wishes.

Age Percentage who have a will
55 + 63%
35 – 54 28%
18 – 34 16%

 

“I will make a will… but not yet.”

What excuses do people give for not having a will? The most popular reason was the procrastinator’s response: over a quarter (26%) said they planned to make one later in life. Last year the figure was 23%, so the number saying ‘I’ll do it later’ is actually going up as time goes by.

 

Reason Rank
I plan to make a will when I’m older 1
I don’t think I will have any estate/assets left to be worth writing a will 2
It never occurred to me 3
I can’t afford the cost of setting up a will 4
I don’t know how to go about writing a will 5

 

One in ten (11%) said they were put off by the cost of writing a will. These respondents seemed unaware that it would cost their relatives far more to sort out their estate, if they were to die without a will.

What are people leaving behind in their wills?

Turning to those UK adults who have made a will, these individuals expect to leave an average of £227,000 in property and £74,000 in monetary savings to loved ones when they die. Property assets have steadily increased since 2015, with property assets up by £5,000. However, savings are down by £2,000 from 2016.

Assets allocated via wills 2015 average value 2016 average value 2017 average value
Property £222,000 £224,000 £227,000
A business £109,000 £87,000 £103,000
Tangible assets e.g. paintings, jewellery £33,000 £25,000 £27,000
Monetary savings e.g. cash, national savings, pension £64,000 £76,000 £74,000

Karen Barrett, CEO and founder of Unbiased said, “It looks as if people still aren’t getting the message. The huge benefits of having a will, and the even bigger risks of not having one, should be far more widely known and talked about. People think a will is just for the end of their life, and it is – but who knows when that will be?

“It’s clear that many people think they’re just not ‘rich enough’ to need a will. This ignores the fact that a will makes inheritance a far quicker process – do they really want to keep their loved ones waiting longer, when that money might be badly needed? It also doesn’t take into account the complexity of modern families, which intestacy law simply doesn’t address. Children from previous marriages could end up receiving nothing at all.

“People tend not to think about wills, because they don’t like to think about death. But what 60% of Brits should certainly think about is the headache and expense they will cause their families if they die intestate. At best, it will be inconvenient; at worst, it could trigger bitter disputes and lead to some loved ones missing out entirely. Yet it’s so easy to prevent this from happening – a quick consultation with a solicitor is all it may take.

01 Oct 2017 Tesco has announced the launch of Tesco Pay+. The mobile payments app makes the shopping trip more convenient and more rewarding for customers looking to pay using their smartphone.

Launched in 2015, the digital wallet service has been progressively rolled out across Tesco’s UK stores, with hundreds of thousands of customers having downloaded and using the app on a regular basis to vastly improve their checkout experience when shopping at Tesco. 

On average, a transaction using the Tesco Pay+ digital wallet takes place every three seconds at a Tesco store, demonstrating its growing popularity with loyal Tesco shoppers. Since its rollout earlier this year the app has amassed over a quarter of a million users. 

The decision to rebrand the digital wallet app to Tesco Pay+ marks Tesco’s commitment to offering customers a unique shopping experience across all UK stores. Customers using Tesco Pay+ will automatically collect Clubcard points for every transaction made at Tesco. As an extra little help, customers who use Tesco Pay+ will collect one extra Clubcard point for every four pound spent in Tesco, making Pay+ one of the most rewarding way to pay in Tesco. (Note offer expires 14 January 2018).

The simple and fast checkout experience delivered by Tesco Pay+ is driving greater customer loyalty through combing a higher transaction limit than contactless and auto collection of Clubcard points in a single scan at checkout. Clubcard customers using the app are now visiting Tesco more often, with their frequency of visit increasing by 20%. 

Commenting on the launch of Tesco Pay+, Mark Loch, Tesco Group Payments Director, said: 

“The world is changing rapidly around us. How customers interact with their shopping experience, how they manage their money, and how they determine value, are developing all of the time. We are proud that we constantly invest in enhancing the shopping experience so that our customers receive a unique and exceptional service. Our digital wallet has proved to be hugely popular with our customers and we are confident that Tesco Pay+, with its fantastic capability, will continue to transform the shopping journey offering little helps to customers every time they shop in Tesco.” 

Tesco Pay+ is available for both Android and iOS smartphones, allows customers to pay and also collect Clubcard points, all with one simple scan of their phone. The app has a single transaction limit of £250 to ensure that customers can use Tesco Pay+ to pay for their weekly shop and more. 

For more information on Tesco Pay + please visit: http://www.tesco.com/pay-plus/