20 Nov 2017  Co-op Insurance is urging motorists to be alert on the roads this Black Friday as its claims data reveals that motor incidents increased by almost a fifth (18%) on this day last year, in comparison to 2015 data.

Whilst ‘Black Friday’, due to fall on 24th November this year offers bargains galore to consumers, last year it led to an increase in motor accidents, collisions and theft claims according to Co-op Insurance’s claims data.

Nick Ansley, Head of Motor Insurance said: “Our claims data shows year on year that Black Friday’s sales do lead to greater traffic on UK roads and therefore more incidents. 

“Whilst drivers should take care all year round, unfortunately we do see an increase of road incidents on this day specifically and so we’re urging drivers to take care when out on the roads.”

Furthermore, Co-op’s claims data highlights that Cyber Monday due to take place on 27th November is becoming a safer day to drive on the roads for motorists as consumers opt in to online sales.

The insurer found that the number of claims from on Cyber Monday in 2016 decreased by over a tenth (12%) when compared to 2015 claims data.

20 Nov 2017  The average Brit has six jobs in their lifetime, according to new research by Investec Click & Invest released today.  However, those aged between 18 and 34 plan to only stay in their current job for an average of three years and four months, which equates to an average of 12.5 jobs during their working lives – more than twice the national average.

Millennials are most likely to be driven by wanting more money, a new challenge or career progression (all 35%).  This compares to older individuals, whose primary reasons for wanting to change jobs include being unhappy in their current role (33%), wanting to do something different (25%) or wanting to do something they are passionate about (24%),

Indeed, only a quarter of millennials stated that they would want to move because they were unhappy, while they are also less likely to want to move to have an easier job (4% versus 7% of over-35s) – dispelling the myth of the “lazy millennial”.

It is 18 to 34-year olds who also secure the highest proportional pay rise at 20.4% when they change jobs. While this is largely due to the lower average salaries earned by those starting their careers (£30,913), this still represents an increase of £5,235 – 64% higher than the national average pay rise.

Commenting on the findings, Jane Warren, CEO of Investec Click & Investec said:

“The days of a job for life have long been over and our findings show that younger people are keen to take control of their careers by switching jobs to meet their objectives, despite the greater insecurity this brings.  Against this backdrop, it is important that they save and invest to provide the certainty and security that may be otherwise missing.”

Investec Click & Invest (www.clickandinvest.com) is the new online investment management service for individuals with £10,000 or more to invest. Click & Invest combines the experience of a team of Investment Managers and over 180 years of wealth management experience with the convenience and ease of an online service, opening the door for individuals who wouldn’t usually be able to access traditional wealth management services.

15 Nov 2017  More than one in 10 Brits had to move home after being burgled, according to new research by home insurer Policy Expert.

The survey of 4,525 adults, which reveals the true cost of burglary, also found that a third had difficulty sleeping after the incident and almost 8% admit they couldn’t be left alone in the property.

Approximately 2.7 million homes in the UK have been robbed and, of those surveyed, the most common way burglars broke in was through a window (38%). Just under a third damaged a door, and one in seven (13%) tampered with the locks.

Whilst you’re more likely to be burgled when out of the house, a fifth admitted the incident happened when they were at home asleep. More than a quarter were at work, 18% were out shopping or socialising, and one in six were on holiday, revealing the crucial need for effective home security.

Adam Powell, Head of Operations at Policy Expert, commented: “Protecting our homes and belongings is vital, and there are a number of steps you can take to ensure that you are not a target for thieves. Opting for enhanced locks, windows and doors, or installing CCTV will help to avoid the chances of being burgled. Try and keep valuables, including keys and even Christmas presents, out of sight to avoid a potentially costly festive spell.

“In addition, while it may be tempting to post about holidays on social media, this might inadvertently advertise that your home is unoccupied. Burglars will typically go for smaller, more expensive items such as watches or jewellery, so check your single item limit and if you have a valuable that exceeds that, inform your insurer.”

 

Top tips from Policy Expert on protecting your home:

 

·         Enlist the help of a housesitter or ask a trusted neighbour with a set of keys to check in on your house every now and again if you’re away for an extended period of time

·         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

15 Nov 2017   New research from Charter Savings Bank shows how important savings are to retirement planning, as pensioners rely on their cash savings for up to a fifth of their annual income.

Its nationwide study found 77% of retired people use cash saving accounts to generate part of their income in retirement highlighting the importance of ensuring they have the most competitive rates.

On average, respondents say money from their savings – including withdrawals and interest – adds 19% to their annual income, demonstrating the significant contribution that saving regularly makes to the standard of living in retirement.

However, the research also found that less than half of pensioners regularly move their cash to achieve better rates. Despite growing competition among savings providers, just 46% of those surveyed said they monitor the market for the best rates.

Nearly two out of five of those questioned (37%) say they do not move their savings, while another 17% say they look for the best deals but do not move their money regularly.

Paul Whitlock, Director of Savings, Charter Savings Bank says: “Competition in the market is increasing with a wider range of providers offering a variety of competitive savings options.

Given the importance of savings to retirement income, it is safe to say that savers should be reviewing options regularly to look for the best deals. Alongside providing simple straightforward accounts and good service, we are focused on enhancing our range whenever we can.”

Around the country, pensioners in the South West lead the trend and are closely followed by Londoners with 94% and 84% respectively using their savings accounts to boost their income in retirement.

Across its nationwide sample, the research found that retired men are more likely to have savings accounts than women. 83% of those men said they increase their income with savings cash, compared with 72% of women. However, there’s less of a gap when it comes to moving accounts, as 49% of men switch regularly compared with 43% of women.

14 Nov 2017   38% of UK adults leave presents under the Christmas tree, making them visible and easy targets for opportunistic thieves, according to a new study released today by Co-op Insurance.

In fact, Co-op Insurance can reveal that home break-ins are 43% more likely to occur throughout November and December as the nights get darker and homeowners commence their Christmas shopping.

Despite the increased risk of burglaries, more than half (55%) of UK adults say they don’t consider the security implications of leaving presents under the tree.

Additionally, 45% of adults say they do consider the security risks, but enjoy the tradition of leaving presents under the Christmas tree despite this.

Other popular present hiding places include the wardrobe (33%), under the bed (9%) and in the garage or shed (5%).

In addition, UK adults are putting their security at further risk, as a third (31%) said they keep fairy lights on whilst not at home, placing even more spotlight on their valuable gifts  – not to mention the fire risk that this poses.

Caroline Hunter, Head of Home Insurance at Co-op Insurance commented: “It’s no surprise that more than two fifths of Brits uphold the long standing tradition of leaving presents under the Christmas tree as is custom for many households.

“Our advice is to store presents and other valuables in a secure location out of view from potential, opportunistic thieves. In the attic, under the stairs or in a large suitcase are good alternatives.”

“We also know that leaving a light on in the house is a key deterrent for burglars. However, fairy lights are a fire hazard and should not be left on whilst unattended. We would suggest leaving a landing light on when out of the house, or installing motion activated security lights. This gives the illusion that there is someone at home without risking safety.”

For peace of mind during the festive period Co-op Insurance automatically increases its customers’ contents cover by 10% in the weeks around Christmas and New Year to allow for the extra gifts and valuables in your home. For more information visit www.co-opinsurance.co.uk

10 Nov 2017 The cost of utilities has risen at almost triple the general rate of inflation for the typical UK household in the last 20 years, according to Tilney’s Household Inflation Index. The findings come as SSE and Npower announce their merger, following the government’s proposed crackdown on the soaring cost of energy bills.

Inflation, an increase in prices and associated fall in purchasing power, is calculated by looking at the changing prices of the items in an average household’s basket of goods and services. From 1997 to the end of 2016, while the total inflation for a typical household’s entire basket of goods was 50.7%, the cost of utilities jumped by 139%.

While energy and water prices have shot up over the last two decades, the cost of clothing and shoes has halved, with prices falling by 49%, largely thanks to the rise in products being manufactured for cheaper overseas, in countries including China.

Another area where prices have risen fast, according to Tilney’s report, is alcohol and tobacco, which together saw inflation of 165% from 1997 to 2016. Housing costs, which includes the cost of buying property and maintaining homes, have risen by 98%, almost double the general rate of inflation, thanks to soaring house prices over the period.

How has inflation varied across different spending categories from 1997 – 2016?

Spending category Inflation experienced by typical UK household
Housing 98%
Utilities 139%
Food and drink (exc. alcohol) 49%
Alcohol and tobacco 165%
Clothing and shoes -49%
Households goods and services 20%
Health and personal care 45%
Transport 47%
Telephone and internet -4%
Entertainment and recreation -12%
Restaurants and cafes 85%
Holidays 89%
Total basket of goods 50.7%

The price of holidays and eating out have risen by 89% and 85% respectively in the last two decades, while food and drink (excluding alcohol) costs have risen by 49%, almost in line with inflation of the typical household’s basket of goods.

Other costs to have fallen over the two decades, along with clothing, are entertainment and recreation, which has deflated by 12%, and the costs associated with telephone and internet, which have fallen by 4%.

Since 1997, typical households have been hit hardest by the inflation of housing costs, the cost of running a car and the cost of insurance, due to the proportion of their spending devoted to these. Households will continue to feel the pinch from the cost of running a car, as average car insurance premiums have risen by 14.6% in the last year – five times faster than inflation.[2]

Andy Cowan, Head of Financial Planning at Tilney said: “Inflation is often seen as a single figure affecting all households in a uniform way, but price rises and falls have varied dramatically across different goods and services over the last 20 years. This means that individual households can experience inflation very differently, depending on what they spend their money on.

“In the case of the top 10% of UK households – those with an income in excess of £78,500 per year – our research found that they have endured considerably higher overall inflation than the headline figures while also being exposed to a much greater income tax burden than the wider population.  These households have needed to see their savings and investments generate a return in excess of 64% over the last two decades, just to stand still in real terms after the impact of inflation.

“This is where astute financial planning to maximise tax efficiency and an appropriate investment strategy designed to outpace inflation comes into play.  Soaring stock markets in recent years have rewarded investors but a squeeze on pension allowances and an uncertain economic outlook mean it is as important as ever to have a robust financial plan in place.”

08 Nov 2017  SPCE has launched today to address critical issues faced by university students and landlords in the rental market. The student lettings app,  makes it quick and easy for university-goers to find a room or entire property to rent, while also improving transparency and communication between a student renter and their landlord.

The London-based startup has partnerships with some of the UK’s leading student accommodation providers as well as Experian and AIESEC. Experian will be working with SPCE to help students develop a credit rating while at university, placing them in a stronger financial position once they graduate. AIESEC, the globally renowned international student exchange programme operating in more than 100 countries, has selected SPCE as its chosen partner for overseas students to find a rental property in their new place of study.

SPCE arrives on the market with 50,000 rooms available for rent and 15,000 students pre-registering to download the proptech solution. Moreover, SPCE already has agreements with six major UK universities and has a presence in the country’s leading higher education regions, including: London, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Oxford and Cambridge, plus many more.

How does it work?

  • HOUSE-HUNTING: Whether searching solo or looking as a group, SPCE allows students to easily find and view the right property in the right area through the app
  • GUARANTORS: It pre-validates students’ guarantors so they can progress from searching to renting in just a few clicks
  • DEPOSITS: The app does away with deposits; instead there is just a pre-agreed damage fee
  • SINGLE TENANCY: There is no more joint tenancy liability with SPCE, so students do not have to pay when damage is not their fault
  • COMMUNICATION: Communication between student and landlord is made easy in the app. Issues and required repairs are also logged, and SPCE can mediate between any disputes
  • RATING: Each student and landlord is reviewed to help inform both sides for future tenancies
  • CREDIT: As SPCE is partnered with Experian, every rent payment made on time enhances a students’ credit score

SPCE launches amid an exclusive poll that shows the mass frustration currently being experienced by students and landlords. Based on an independent, nationally-representative survey of more than 2,000 UK adults, the research found:

  • 61% of current university students find securing a rental property one of the most stressful parts of their entire uni experience, with 66% citing poor communication from landlords and estate agents as a major issue
  • 70% of current uni-goers also complained that rental accommodation for students is often in a poor, run-down condition
  • Meanwhile, 70% of UK landlords said they would not let their property to a student because they do not trust them to not cause damage
  • When asked if they would want a system that would provide ratings to tenants and landlords based on previous tenancies, 77% of students and 84% of landlords said they would

Leon Ifayemi, CEO of SPCE, commented: “Anyone currently at university or who’s graduated in the past will more than likely have their fair share of horror stories about finding, securing and living in rented accommodation. And the truth is that many landlords will also have a tale or two to tell about renting properties to students. The launch of SPCE will change all this and I am delighted to unveil it today.

“Not only are we going to make it easy for students to find desirable properties and for landlords to locate new tenants, but we are also going to make communication between both parties throughout the tenancy absolutely effortless. What’s more, by enabling students and landlords to receive ratings we are also encouraging greater respect from all involved and promoting a more transparent system. Throw in the ability for students to build a credit rating and the fact that parent guarantors are kept in the loop, and we’re confident that SPCE is going to drag student lettings into the modern day.”

07 Nov 2017 New research, commissioned by GoCompare Credit Cards, estimates that UK consumers will spend billions of pounds on the Black Friday weekend, which starts on Friday 24 November and ends on Monday 27 November (Cyber Monday).

Clicks beat bricks for shoppers

Just under a third (31%) of UK households say they plan to check out this year’s sales:

  • 49% of them will shop online
  • 21% say they will pay a visit to the high-street
  • 9% will shop via their smartphone
Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping list 
Rank Item %
1 Clothing and accessories 21
2 PS4 or Xbox games or console 16
3 Toys and games 14
4 Health and beauty products and perfume 12
5 Laptop 12
6 Television 11
7 Smartphone 10
8 Tablet computer 9
9 White goods (e.g. fridge, fridge-freezer, washing machine, dishwasher) 8
10 Headphones 7


Plan ahead for real Christmas bargains

For many, Black Friday signals the start of Christmas shopping, and 8% of those surveyed intend to buy most of their Christmas presents in this year’s sales and 12% have delayed major purchases hoping to find them cheaper in the sales.

However, consumers often fail to plan their sales shopping by researching the deals in advance and agreeing a budget before they start buying, which can lead to wasteful spending:

  • Just 15% of bargain-hunters plan ahead by comparing prices before big sale events
  • 10% have bought things in a past sale they didn’t need
  • 6% admitted to getting carried away and overspending

So it’s hardly surprising that, for many shoppers, sales fatigue and scepticism has set in:

  • Nearly a fifth (18%) are fed-up with the end of November sales hype
  • 29% say they will avoid the sales this year
  • Only 10% of those surveyed thought Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales were a good opportunity to bag a bargain

Most spending will be on plastic

People were also asked how they intend pay for their Black Friday shopping spree:

  • 36% plan to use a debit card
  • 23% will fund purchases through a credit card
  • 14% will use cash
  • Only 3% said they had put money aside specifically for the sales

A spokesman for GoCompare, said: “There is a huge amount of hype around Black Friday in the UK now. Get ready for all manner of retailers urging you to ‘act quickly’ before ‘unmissable deals’ on ‘must-have’ products end but be careful not to get caught up in the frenzy. Think about what you actually want and can afford before you buy and set yourself a limit.

“There are some genuinely good deals to be had but make sure you do your homework. With sales on all year round, check other websites to see if you can’t find the item for a cheaper price elsewhere.

“Think too about how you will cover the cost of your Black Friday spending. If you really want the items and believe you have found a good deal, then credit cards can be a good way of spreading the cost of sales shopping, but only if used sensibly.  So think carefully about the kind of card you need. Don’t feel you need to take out a 39 month interest-free offer if you can realistically pay off Black Friday and Christmas spending over a six month period.  And set your repayments at a realistic level to pay off the debt as quickly as you can.  Otherwise you are increasing the chances that you will forget about it and end up paying costly interest charges on the debt.”

06 Nov 2017  The soaring cost of running a car appears to be leading more drivers to become car borrowers and sharers, rather than car owners, according to pay-as-you-go insurer Cuvva.

In the last year, the average UK insurance premium has risen by 14.6% – five times faster than inflation – while car prices rose significantly earlier this year as a result of currency devaluation associated with Brexit, and petrol prices also reached a four-month high in September. The combination of these factors is likely to be leading to a reduced demand for new cars. Indeed, the number of new car registrations has fallen for seven consecutive months, with the latest figures showing a 12.2% slump in sales in October.

These spiralling costs also appear to be influencing people’s driving habits, with a rise in those borrowing and sharing vehicles, rather than owning them outright. This is evident in the sheer growth of carpooling networks and platforms, and in the fact that over the last six months, the number of people taking out short-term insurance with Cuvva has risen by 177%.

This type of ‘pay-as-you-go’ insurance is predominantly used by people borrowing a friend or family member’s car for a short period of time – meaning they only need insurance for a matter of hours. For a driver who needs to borrow someone else’s car for a total of four hours a month, for example, the annual cost of pay-as-you-go insurance with Cuvva’s short-term hourly product, on average, would come to £532.80. This is just 25% of the cost incurred by an average UK driver running their own car for a year.

Freddy Macnamara, CEO and founder of Cuvva, said: “With inflation now at a five-year high and wage growth slow, a lot of people are having to work hard to keep within budgets. One of the biggest expenses for a lot of consumers is the cost of running a car, which is one of the reasons why new car sales have fallen for the last six months.

“These soaring costs are also leading to an attitude change when it comes to car ownership. A lot of people, especially those who drive infrequently, are choosing to share cars between friends and family members, so that they only have a car for the time they need it.

“The car insurance market is responding to this trend by offering more flexibility to drivers. With Cuvva it’s now easier than ever to borrow someone’s car for a short period of time and quickly get insurance on a pay-as-you-go basis, and this will only encourage the trend of car sharing.”

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.’