1.5 million workers aged over 50 will delay their retirement as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new research from Legal & General Retail Retirement.* However, the retirement provider has suggested that worried households could benefit from a review of their savings before assuming they will need to delay.

According to the most recent data from the Office for National Statistics, the number of workers aged above 65 years is at a record high of 1.42 million**. However, if people change their retirement plans in response to the pandemic, this could increase. One in six people aged over 50 and in work (15%) believes that they will delay, while 26% anticipate having to keep working on a full or part-time basis indefinitely, due to the impact of the virus.

On average, those who plan to delay their retirement expect to spend an additional three years in work. However, 10% admit they could delay their plans by 5 years or more.

These figures are significantly higher for the 26% of over 50s workers who have been furloughed or seen a pay decrease as a result of the pandemic. One in five of these workers will delay (19%) and 38% expect to work indefinitely.

Chris Knight, CEO of Legal & General Retail Retirement said: “The financial impact of the Covid-19 pandemic seems to be particularly pronounced for people aged over 50 who are still in work. While some people will choose to work for longer, or indefinitely, the key consideration when it comes to this research is that it seems this decision has been driven by the financial impact of the pandemic, rather than personal choice. We know this is a key stage in people’s retirement planning so seeing a material impact on your household income will naturally lead to pessimism about achieving your retirement goals. While it would be naïve to say that these financial issues will not have an impact on people’s ability to retire, it’s important for people to have a strong understanding of the options available to them before concluding that their retirement needs to be delayed or forgotten indefinitely.”

Legal & General Retail Retirement’s top tips for managing retirement planning in the pandemic:

Develop a strong understanding of your total savings: Those who feel like they might be forced to delay their retirement should make sure they’ve gone through the process of getting a comprehensive understanding of their total savings. Many people may have more saved than they anticipate in the form of forgotten pots from previous employment. Using a pot-tracing service to understand your total savings will help you plan better.

Consider the role that different types of products might play: In addition to pension savings, it’s also worth looking at a broad range of retirement products to get a holistic understanding of what you can utilise to fund your retirement. Equity release, for instance, can be a useful tool for people who have significant property wealth that they might benefit from taking advantage of.

Check on what you’re entitled to: There are lots of things being put in place to help people who have financially been impacted by the pandemic. Examine what your entitlements are and make sure you are receiving any relevant benefits, particularly if you have lost your job. Also, many people might want to consider looking at measures their bank has put in place to cover any recent hardship by offering short-term solutions to things such as mortgage payments.

One in ten (10%) UK adults (5.2 million people) have either fallen victim to a financial scam since the Covid-19 pandemic, or knows someone who has, according to new insight from financial services firm Canada Life. The company is warning that people need to be constantly vigilant as fraudsters are preying on the nation’s current financial anxieties and concerns to scam at will.

The most common type of scams people have fallen victim to are banking related ones, with three in five (60%) reporting this type. Insurance scams are also common with 35% of victims citing this as the cause, followed by pension fraud at one in five instances (19%).

The financial cost of being scammed is significant, with victims losing £566 on average per scam. Although one in ten of those who know someone who has been scammed or have been a victim themselves has lost over £1,000.

A worsening situation

When Canada Life asked people in August 2019 if they had been approached by phone, text or email with the offer of a free pensions review (a very clear indication of pension scamming activity), just over one in ten (12%) of non-retirees suggested they had been contacted this way in the preceding three months. This has risen to almost one in five (17%) for those people yet to retire who have received similar contact over the last three months. Of those who have been approached with pensions ‘advice’ in the last three months, 43% are more worried about scams, and 25% feel increasingly vulnerable.

On average Brits have received three suspicious or fraudulent messages since the outbreak. The most common way to contact people is through suspicious email activity (75%), but a third (32%) have received a phone call, and a quarter (24%) have been sent text messages. Retirees said they received significantly more phone calls (at 46% vs 32% for UK adults), despite the ban on pension cold calling being introduced in January 2019.

Nearly one in six (13%) think they’re more vulnerable to scams during the Covid-19 outbreak, and 26% are increasingly concerned about financial scams. A quarter (25%) don’t know how to prevent fraudsters from targeting them; 30% don’t know which services they can use to protect themselves and 30% wouldn’t know who to contact if they were scammed

This comes despite the increased public awareness campaigns on how to spot and avoid scams. Canada Life is warning that people need to be alert to the dangers and has published tips to help the unwary.

Andrew Tully, technical director at Canada Life, said:

“Falling prey to a scam can be devastating, not only for the individual involved but also for their family and friends. The Covid-19 pandemic has provided a fertile opportunity for ‘lowlifes’ to prey on not only the vulnerable but also people who are worried and anxious about both their health and their wealth. With families trying to make ends meet as the economy dips, an offer of money or easy access to your pension early might seem the perfect opportunity to dig yourself out of trouble – at face value. Sadly it’s highly likely it will be scammers, so be aware and follow the simple rule of thumb – if it appears too good to be true, it inevitably is. Simply walk away, hang up, or delete the email or text.

“We all need to be on our guard for any signs of fraudulent activity as scammers continue to evolve and adopt ever more sophisticated and ingenious ways of encouraging people to part with their hard-earned money. Follow our tips to help spot and avoid being a victim of a scam.”

Tips to help avoid financial scams

  1. If you receive an offer to help you access your pension savings before age 55. It is only possible to do this in rare situations, for example if you are very ill, so always check with your pension provider before making any decisions.
  2. Warnings that the deal is limited and you must act now. This is a pressure tactic, and making any financial decisions should not be done under pressure.
  3. HMRC will never contact you by email, phone or text informing you of a tax refund, so simply delete or ignore any contact made this way – HMRC will only contact you via post.
  4. You are discouraged from seeking professional financial advice or talking to Pension Wise or The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS). An adviser would be able to explain the rules and tax implications of different options and help you make the best choices for your personal circumstances, so be very suspicious if this is discouraged.
  5. Sign up for Action Fraud Alert, a free service provided by the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau. The service alerts about new types of crime or those which are increasing in their severity. If you sign up you will receive those alerts which are relevant to you. https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/sign-up-for-action-fraud-alert
  6. Contact by somebody who is not on the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) Register. The Register is a public record of all the regulated firms and individuals in the financial services industry, including retirement income providers and investment companies https://register.fca.org.uk/
  7. A recommendation to take a large amount of money, or your whole pension pot, in a lump sum and invest it elsewhere. Seek professional financial advice, and be very wary of unsolicited offers of ‘amazing investment returns’
  8. There can be significant tax implications if you choose to cash in your pension in one go, so check the tax position before you make any decisions. Tax calculators are available online including: https://www.canadalife.co.uk/tools/pension-tax-calculator
  9. Check www.fca.org.uk/scamsmart for known scams and use the tools to help identify a potential scam
  10. TPAS also has a great section on pension scams on its’ website https://www.pensionsadvisoryservice.org.uk/pension-problems/making-a-complaint/common-concerns/pension-scams
  1. Check with your financial adviser, TPAS or your current pension provider if you have any doubts or concerns before you act on any approaches, or call Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or look online at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/

Commenting on the easyJet data breach, Alastair Douglas, CEO of finance experts TotallyMoney, said

“This data breach could be a serious problem for the 9 million easyJet customers concerned — especially since the credit card details of 2,208 customers have been stolen.

“The first point of action for anyone concerned about fraud is to check your recent transactions. It doesn’t take long for these to appear on your statement or online accounts, and it could help you spot anything fishy sooner rather than later.

“For extra peace of mind, get into the habit of checking your credit report regularly. If there’s anything you don’t recognise or anything that seems suspicious, you’ll be in a much better position to act before it becomes a real issue.

“In light on the easyJet data breach, customers should be looking specifically at hard searches and newly opened accounts that they don’t recognise on their credit report. If you find anything, get in touch with the lender straightaway.

“When it comes to protecting your personal information and finances, it’s best to err on the side of caution.

“At TotallyMoney, we’re on a mission to improve the UK’s credit score and help our customers move on up to a better financial future. Our free credit report shows customers any activity on their credit file, meaning they can keep on top of anything untoward that arises as result of this serious data breach.”

Yorkshire Building Society has just launched a fixed rate bond in support of the End Youth Homelessness (EYH) Covid-19 appeal, enabling savers to help homeless young people through the coronavirus outbreak.

The one-year End Youth Homelessness Fixed Rate Bond will see savers receive a 0.70% gross p.a/AER* interest rate, fixed until 30 June 2021. The Society will make a one-off donation to the EYH Covid-19 Appeal of 0.10% of all balances held in the bonds after the account has been withdrawn from sale.

EYH is a national movement of local charities working together to end youth homelessness in the UK.

Yorkshire Building Society has been working in partnership with EYH since 2017, to date; the partnership has helped over 431 young people and 92 dependent children into their own rented homes and has raised over £1million.

Yorkshire Building Society’s Chief Executive, Mike Regnier, said: “The impact that coronavirus is having across the country including the charity sector is unparalleled. That’s why we are proud to be helping charities such as End Youth Homelessness that are supporting the ongoing needs of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Through our partnership with End Youth Homelessness we’ve already helped many young people facing homelessness into a home of their own and this new account is a great way for the Society and our members to support the charity through this pandemic.”

Last year, 103,000 young people asked their local authority for help because they were either homeless or at risk of homelessness. EYH charities collectively work with over 30,000 young people who are amongst the most deprived in the country.

Nicholas Connolly, Managing Director for End Youth Homelessness, said: “For many, self-isolation can mean a time of discomfort. But for Britain’s homeless young people, it can mean much worse.

This global pandemic hitting the UK means EYH charities now face extraordinary costs just to keep services staffed and young people healthy. We are desperately concerned that the Covid-19 crisis will prevent our services from running and leave young people unsupported, without food or worse. Meanwhile, our charities expect a significant drop in voluntary income this year.

“That’s why the launch of the End Youth Homelessness Fixed Rate Bond is so important for homeless young people: it will raise vital funds to give even more young people a chance to escape homelessness and secure a safe place to call home.”

For more information or to open a bond please visit www.ybs.co.uk.

To support the End Youth Homelessness Covid-19 Appeal please visit www.eyh.org.uk/en/covid19-appeal .

Over 7.5 million holidaymakers have a summer holiday or other trip booked for later this year and, with Covid-19 travel restrictions still in place, many are worried about their holidays and their money.

Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock suggested that 2020 was unlikely to have a normal summer holiday season and the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is still advising against all but essential international travel with no indication of when that advice may change. In addition, over 8 million people (15%) have bought tickets for events in the UK, such as festivals, shows and concerts, which have been cancelled.

The new research carried out for GoCompare has also revealed:

  • Nearly 14.5 million (27%) people have already had to cancel travel plans due to the coronavirus crisis
  • 8% said they have had trouble claiming refunds
  • 25% are concerned the lockdown will continue and prevent them going on holiday
  • 19% said the coronavirus crisis has made them not want to go abroad this year
  • Only 11% of holidaymakers arranged travel insurance when they booked their trip.

Travel companies and airlines flouting the law by failing to issue timely refunds for cancelled holidays and flights are only adding to customers’ worries.

Experts at GoCompare have compiled the latest information for holidaymakers, including what companies should be doing, what customers can do if their holiday provider isn’t adhering to the rules, and the protection offered by Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act 1974 if all else fails.

https://www.gocompare.com/travel-insurance/guide/coronavirus/

The research highlighted three main issues facing holidaymakers at the moment:

Whether to rearrange or take a refund for holidays that have been (or will be) cancelled

If your holiday is cancelled due to travel restrictions brought about by the coronavirus you should be given several options by your travel company.  Bear in mind that they are dealing with unprecedented levels of refund requests and are dealing with the most urgent cases first, so you may have to be patient.

You may be offered a voucher to the value of your cancelled holiday. Beware! A holiday voucher does not carry any financial protection and you could lose your money if the company later fails. Therefore, a Refund Credit Note is preferable.

Whether to keep making payments for a holiday you’re not sure will happen

If your holiday or flight hasn’t been cancelled by the holiday company / airline, you should talk to them about the payments you’re still required to make and find out from them what will happen if travel restrictions are still in place by the time you’re supposed to travel. If you fail to make a payment or you cancel the trip yourself, you may forfeit your deposit and any other payments you’ve made without any possibility of redress from either the holiday company / airline or your travel insurance. You may also be liable to additional costs relating to the holiday.

Options if travel restrictions are lifted, but you don’t want to travel

If you have decided that you don’t want to travel abroad, even when the restrictions have been lifted, you should talk to your holiday provider to see if you can delay your trip to a later date or choose a different holiday. Although they may not have any obligation to do so, they may be sympathetic to your request.  Travel insurers will not consider a cancellation claim where your holiday is available, and you are able to travel but have simply chosen not to.

Holidaymakers unhappy with the response from their travel operator should take the matter up with ABTA if the company is an ABTA member, as they should be covered by the ATOL protection scheme.

Sally Jaques from GoCompare Travel Insurance, commented, “This is a worrying time for millions of people who have travel plans for the summer and no idea if their holiday will go ahead. Holidays may be cancelled due to FCO advice, tour operators and airlines may go bust, some customers may not be able to travel due to illness and self-isolation rules and others may simply not want to go abroad for a while.

“Having the correct travel insurance in place may help those whose plans are affected and who aren’t covered by things such as the ATOL protection scheme, but it’s too late now to buy insurance hoping it will mitigate any of the risks associated with the Covid-19 crisis. This again highlights the importance of buying travel insurance as soon as you book a trip.

Tesco Bank has launched a new service to support vulnerable customers who have no access to cash as a result of Covid-19.  Customers who are self-isolating or shielding can get cash delivered to their home free of charge.

The service is available to Tesco Bank’s savings and personal current account customers and utilises the Tesco Travel Money home delivery service provided by Travelex, giving customers sterling instead of foreign currency.  Customers can have a minimum of £20 and a maximum of £500 safely delivered to their home by Royal Mail Special Delivery.

Tesco Bank has created a contact centre process to help identify customers who might benefit from this service.

Sigga Sigurdardottir, Chief Customer Officer, Tesco Bank said:

“Many of our most vulnerable customers still prefer cash as a payment method but cannot get to an ATM as a result of Covid-19.  This service allows us to get cash to them at home safely which they can then use this with friends, family or volunteers who are helping them with their shopping.”

Nathan Best, Commercial Director UK & North America, Travelex said:

“We are delighted to partner with Tesco Bank and switch our travel money delivery business to get cash directly to those who need it most. By working with Tesco Bank we are able to help some of the most vulnerable in society with the ability to deliver cash directly to their door.”

Coconut, the smart bookkeeping app for self-employed people, with more than 23,000 customers, is rallying the entrepreneurial community to urge the Government to address major grant issues for millions of self-employed people in the UK (https://selfemployedincomesupport.co.uk/). Firstly, to urgently reconsider including 2019/20 tax returns and secondly, to issue much faster payments for those that are eligible for support.

This comes as a Coconut survey, of over 2,000 self-employed people, worryingly reveals that almost three quarters (71%) of self-employed people feel they will not benefit from the current Covid-19 aid scheme because they are either too new to self-employment and haven’t filed a tax return or work through a limited company.

The campaign is gaining momentum, with current supporters and signatories of the Open Letter to government including Creative Industries Federation, Yuno Juno, Collective Benefits, The Freelancer Club, Being Freelance, Underpinned, True Layer, Shieldpay and the ICPA, with more to come over the next few days.

Under the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS) – the collaboration of organisations believes the Government will risk penalising an estimated 2 million self-employed people in the UK if they do not include early 2019/20 Self Assessments. This is because they will only have partial historical earnings to use and will therefore not receive proportionate support. For those that are new to self-employment, they will not be eligible for any support and will have to find other means to find financial aid.

Also, the data highlights how a third (36%) of those who feel they will not benefit from SEISS say that themselves or their family is at risk, and over half (53%) say that it will be difficult to manage.

This is a great cause for concern, as just 1 in 10 (10%) feel they will be “OK”, and over two thirds (66%) say they do not have enough savings to get them through the next three months.

In addition to the call for up-to-date Self Assessments, Coconut and its supporters are calling on the Government to provide funding much earlier than the proposed month of June, to help people who are struggling today.

Less than a third (28%) of those surveyed feel they will actually benefit from the SEISS scheme. Despite this, the majority (87%) are concerned about waiting until June for the payout.

To highlight that technology is available to help and to encourage the government to take action, Coconut is launching a new free-to-use web tool on 6 April, built on its existing accounting and tax technology. Users will be able to connect their existing bank account from 20 major UK banks and within minutes, all transaction data from the last tax year (2019/20) will be analysed and categorised for tax giving a clear and simple overview of total income and total allowable expenses, ready to submit to gov.uk.

The tool, called the Self-assessment Calculator, will cut the time it takes to create a self-assessment by up to 80% and ease the burden on the millions of people if the government allows them to access the funding support through the SEISS with their 2019/20 self-assessment submission.

Sam O’Connor, CEO and Co-Founder, Coconut said: “We welcome what the Government has done so far for businesses but the measures do not go far enough to support and protect self-employed people. It will not come quick enough either, particularly for the millions who cannot wait until June to receive funding; they are struggling to pay bills, mortgages and buy food today.

We have built a product to help cut 80% of the work out of an early submission of 2019/20 self-assessments. It’s ready to use and we can help millions of people if needed.

Coconut is also discussing a proof of concept with a consortium of fintech providers to get funding to self-employed people fast. We are hopeful that the government’s announcement will consider self-employed people in the CBILS loans scheme updates they are working on. We’re ready to go at a moment’s notice to ease the burden on the millions of people who need access to cash to survive. Let’s make it happen.”

Matt Downling, Founder, The Freelancer Club – an online community of 40 thousand freelancers – said: “We need more support for self-employed workers and right now is a critical time. Some freelancers are working harder than ever right now, but those who are less fortunate have found that work is drying-up quickly.  The Government needs to provide the right support as quickly as possible, which means paying-out earlier than June and including those who are newly self-employed.”

GoCompare is urging drivers who are concerned about paying their car insurance premiums to contact their insurer as soon as possible, rather than wait for a refund.

The comments follow Admiral’s decision to refund £25 to each of its car insurance customers, which has prompted speculation about what other insurers might do.  In GoCompare’s view, other insurers may not rush to offer refunds, but many are still able to offer practical help.

Lee Griffin, CEO and one of the founders of GoCompare, commented, “We welcome any insurer lowering the cost burden on households at this difficult time, and it’s great to see Admiral leading the way and offering its customers a £25 refund on their car insurance. We are in a period where most people are using their cars less and insurers will receive fewer claims as a result, so it will be interesting to see what other insurers are able to do to help their customers.

“But anyone who is struggling financially right now shouldn’t wait for their insurer to offer a refund. For example, many insurers are already helping customers with payment deferrals, enabling them to reduce their stated mileage to get a lower premium or to change to a third party, fire and theft cover, if it’s appropriate.  So, contact your insurer and ask what they can do to help.”

Lee continued, “The other important thing to check is your insurance renewal date. We expect some insurers will reduce their costs for new customers in the next few weeks as a result of the lockdown. If that is the case, there could be some very significant savings for customers who shop around and switch at renewal.

“People could save more £283 by switching their car insurance, which is more than ten times the amount being offered as a refund by Admiral.”

GoCompare has provided a five-point plan for anyone worried about paying for their car insurance:

  • Speak to your insurer as soon as possible and see if there is anything they can do to help in terms of reducing or deferring premiums.
  • Consider lowering your stated annual mileage to see if it reduces your premium. But check with your insurer that there will be no administrative charge for doing this and consider the cost implications for changing this back post-lockdown.
  • You could reduce your cover level from comprehensive to third party, fire, and theft to see if this lowers your premium. Remember though, if you lower your cover level and then incur accidental or malicious damage, you won’t be covered. Again, check with your insurer that there will be no administrative charge for doing this.
  • If you can keep your car off the road temporarily, then you could SORN the vehicle a this means you don’t have to insure or tax your vehicle. But beware, this would mean that you will have no insurance cover at all. You may still want cover for fire and theft (sometimes called a ‘laid-up’ policy).
  • Check when your insurance renewal date is. If it is due shortly, shop around to see if you can get the cover you need for a much cheaper price.

RoosterMoney, the pocket money app, reveals that kids are spending more online since the lockdown began, with the major shift being towards games such as Roblox and Fortnite. RoosterMoney’s ‘Pocket Money Index’ for the lockdown period also shows:

  • average weekly pocket money for 4-14 year olds is £4.60
  • an impressive 40% of pocket money is being saved
  • 70% of the top 10 chores involve helping clean the house

Top 10 places for kids to spend their pocket money during lockdown:

(compared to the 3 months prior)

  1. Roblox (+3)
  2. Fortnite (+10)
  3. Books & Mags (-2)
  4. Lego (+1)
  5. Sweet & Chocs (-3)
  6. Xbox (+4)
  7. Minecraft (+9)
  8. Toys (-5)
  9. Apps (-1)
  10. PlayStation (-1)

Top 10 chores kids are doing to earn their money during lockdown:

(70% of chores involve cleaning around the house)

  1. Clean bedroom
  2. Make the bed
  3. Do the laundry
  4. Clear the table
  5. Look after pets
  6. Set the table
  7. Empty dishwasher
  8. Homework
  9. Load the dishwasher
  10. Take out the bins

Research shows that our money habits are formed as early as 7, and that parents are the best facilitators of this in the early years*. So, while we are all stuck at home, there may be practical reasons to engage more with chore routines and spend more online, as well as ample opportunity to turn those activities into money lessons.

Will Carmichael, RoosterMoney CEO says:

“Now more than ever, building financial capability into our kids is so incredibly important. The current pandemic and the financial impact of the crisis have the potential to affect us for a generation – perhaps several. Having confidence with money, building positive habits around saving and learning to make considered spending choices will be something that sticks with kids for life.

Whilst being at home is a challenging time it’s also a brilliant opportunity to teach your kids about the value of money! It’s good to see the pocket money economy is still strong, with chore routines being embraced and kids adapting their spending habits to their new environment.”

Trying to figure out which projects you can do without planning permission can be a bit of a minefield, but don’t panic. As a rule of thumb, most structural changes are subject to building regulations, but some ‘bigger’ renovation projects can be done without planning permission if you adhere to the set size regulations.

Whether you’re building a new structure or making changes to an existing one, you’ll most likely need to submit an architectural drawing of the proposed project and get approval from the local authorities. To clear up the confusion, Comparethemarket.com have teamed up with a range of experts to create a tool that helps you work out which projects require planning permission and what to leave to the professionals.

To be on the safe side, leave any hard wiring and installations to a certified professional. However, if you’re plugging into a socket or wiring into a spur, this can normally be done by any competent amateur. For all other electrical work, you should get it carried out by a trader approved through an appropriate scheme, such as NICEIC. Chris King, Head of Home at Comparethemarket.com, says: “Anything involving gas is generally best left to certified engineers due to the significant damage which could be caused if you get it wrong.”

Here are five renovations you can do without planning permission.

Adding a porch
You don’t need to apply for planning permission when building a porch if it’s no more than 3 metres above ground level and if  the ground floor doesn’t exceed 3 square metres. You also have to make sure that no part of the porch is within 2 metres of any boundary of the house or a highway.

However, if you take the front door of the property out the porch, the porch becomes part of the property and would be subject to building regulations and possibly planning permission.

Adding a conservatory
Planning permissions are not necessary when building a conservatory if you adhere to the strict size regulations. The conservatory should cover less than half of the land surrounding the home, and should not be higher than the highest point of the roof. If the property is a single storey, make sure the conservatory is no higher than 4 metres.

Adding a shed or summer house
Building regulations do not normally apply to outbuildings, such as an outdoors office or summer house, if the floor area of the building is less than 15 square metres and the building is not used for sleeping. The same rules apply to sheds, greenhouses and garages.

However, if the building is between 15 and 30 square metres and doesn’t contain sleeping accommodation, you could get away with no planning permission. To make sure you get it right, it’s always best to check each individual project with the local authorities as architectural drawings may need to be submitted.

Adding a loft conversion
Unless you live in a designated area, like a national park or World Heritage Sites, loft conversions do not need planning permission as long as the conversion is no higher than the highest part of the roof and made in a similar material to the rest of the house.

If you live in a terraced house, the conversion has a volume allowance of 40 cubic metres of additional roof space or 50 cubic metres for detached and semi-detached houses. Make sure the roof enlargement doesn’t overhang the outer face of the wall of the original house.

Putting up a fence
You will only need planning permission to put up a fence if it’s over 1 metre high next to any highway used by vehicles or the footpath or if it’s over 2 metres high elsewhere. You would also need planning permission if your house is a listed building or in the curtilage of a listed building or if the fence, wall or gate, or any other boundary involved, forms a boundary with a neighbouring listed building or its curtilage.

Need to take down a fence? No planning permission is needed, unless the fence is in a conservation area.

Chris King warns homeowners about the possible consequences of not doing enough research on your builders: “Make sure you’ve checked their reputation and they have the right liability insurance in place should they damage your property. Most home insurance policies don’t cover poor or faulty workmanship so if the work carried out is poor or unfinished, it’s likely your home insurance wouldn’t be able to step in and come to the rescue.”