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GENERAL ADVICE (Citizens Advice Bureau)

Excellent advice on the new pension freedoms from the Age Action Alliance - Expert help and advice you can now  be obtained every day of the year from 8am to 7pm on a local number, 024 7643 3043.

The decision to enable people to get at their personal pension funds at the age of 55 continues to confuse.  Now some of the pension fund holders are REFUSING to give the required advice for fear of being sued by people when their advice leads to the (almost inevitable) situation that the pensioners run out of money in their old age.  Without a signed agreement from the companies that they have been offered advice, many people have found that they cannot access their cash, after all. So, for many, the new situation is leading to disappointment. I wonder how long it will be before the scam artists take advantage of this and give such advice, regardless of it being in the best interest of the individuals.
Perhaps the appointment of someone with a clue about such matters will help. The person charged with bedding in the pensions freedoms may be an all too familiar face: Ros Altmann. Altmann, is a former director general of Saga Group.

So, what are people opting for ?  A small on line survey showed the following result

Pensions Graph

So, what are people planning? Good article by Financial experts Hargreaves Lansdown

As the chart below shows, people were more restrained in their choices when it came to it

Actual choices by November 2015

Basically, for people reaching 55, they are able to access their private pension funds (if any). They can either put it into an annuity (a regular payment for life for which they should shop around as the rates vary a great deal), or they can go for 'drawdown'. This means they access the fund and do what they like.  If they take cash, up to 25% can be taken tax free.  The rest will be taxable at their normal rate at the time they take it. The tax man will see this as income and to make sure this does not take them into a higher tax bracket, they may decide to take it at different times over the years. They can use the cash to live on, pay off debts, invest it in shares or ISAs or SIPPS, buy or improve property - whatever they decide. But, as stated above, if they want to do something with their fund they need to get a signed statement that they have received advice from the fund holder.

SIPPS Apart from those who have contributed towards a pension scheme through work, this is the other way people have built up 'pension pots'. The government supports an extremely generous tax friendly arrangement whereby anyone under 75 can put up to their annual earnings into investments.  The lifetime maximum is 1.25 million! This is expensive for you taxpayer, so from 2016, the maximum will be a paltry 1 million.  As Hargreaves Lansdowne put it

EQUITY RELEASE ?  Many people are property rich but cash poor. They may not even have heirs to which they wish to leave cash. Is equity release still a dirty word? -
There is an excellent article in "Mature Times" about equity release for the older set. This points out the advantages. That people could release some cash, paying low current interest rates, while their property may continue to rise in value.  (Up to the age of 75 cash might even be added to their pension pot (e.g. a SIPP), with the government adding an amount equal to their tax rate. The well heeled can add as much as 40,000 per annum with the tax payer adding up to 45%   Even retired people can add up to 2,880 p.a. and get tax back at their current rate).  What is more, with the current shortage of houses, the chances are that house inflation will make up the difference of what they borrowed. But one must look into Equity Release carefully. Most schemes defer the interest on a loan until the day it is paid back. If people realise how compound interest can accumulate over time they might not be so keen.  See

Thinks : But why should people not pay the interest (annually or monthly) on the loan as they would on a mortgage ? 


People may think that their pension funds have been lost after they have changed jobs.  It may be worth tracking them down.  See

There is a rapid increase in the number of people working on after the State Pension age. As we all realise there are two main causes. 1. Many people are feeling ABLE to work when they are older. 2. Many realise that they HAVE to work as long as possible to keep up a reasonable standard of living. Either way , in many cases, it is probably a good thing.

For a summary of the 2015 Budget see HERE  and for more on the pension changes see HERE (A video from Hargreaves Lansdown)

For people coming up to retirement the official site to find out what your state pension is likely to be is at

Budget news (Mail on Sunday 15th March) Not only are people approaching retirement now able to use their pension pots (if any) in any way they decide (instead of being forced to buy an annuity), from 2016, the Chancellor is  going to allow people who have already had to buy an annuity to buy it back from the annuity company. The tax on selling annuities (currently up to 70%) is also to be axed.  However, insurers who buy back the annuity from the pensioner would receive their monthly income until they died.  If this is the case then the Chancellor is both wooing the 'grey vote' and the City at the same time ! Many pensioners will be only too eager to grab the cash to settle debts, mortgages, or help the kids (or take that holiday of a lifetime). But, as I keep saying, who will pick up the pieces when they outlive their life expectations ?  The average  life expectancy right now is between 78 and 81. That is over 20 years more that the 55 years at which people may cash in their pension chips. And the chances of living to a hundred for a 40 year old are around 8%. This percentage is increasing quite rapidly, so many will have to think about living on a pension for 45 years, having saved, if they were prudent/able, for 30 years. But the fact is that the number saving for retirement has fallen by half (to 2.5million) in the last ten years.
Age UK has called for more safeguards after the charity’s analysis found someone on a typical pension pot who withdraws 3,000 a year from 65 will run out of money at 75.

Whilst I have serious misgivings about the new personal pensions freedoms there may be some good points.Certainly, it was OTT for people to HAVE to buy an annuity, especially as many were offered a poor deal for all their cash. Now, pension companies are going to have to sit up if they are to be able to grab the cash. Previously it just fell into their laps. It is to be hoped the the government will keep a close eye on charges made by these companies.
For people who might think that they can get a better deal by 'going it alone' this may be new ground. Many will never have bought shares on the stockmarket and will not know how to begin, never mind what to buy to provide income without much risk. One cannot rely on advice from your friendly bank manager these days.  In fact many banks have been fined heavily for selling inappropriate investment advice (and giving staff bonuses on the amount sold). I must stress ONCE AGAIN that I do not give advice on investing but I can quote articles I read. e.g.

"Patrick Connolly, financial planner at Chase de Vere, says equity income funds such as Threadneedle UK Equity Income, Artemis Income and Rathbone Income are good choices, as are global equity income funds like Artemis Global Income, Newton Global Higher Income and Standard Life Global Equity Income. But you shouldn't invest solely in equities. To help protect capital, as well as grow it, he says you should hold other assets such as fixed interest and property. Good options include Henderson Strategic Bond, Kames Strategic Bond, M&G Property Portfolio and L&G UK Property".
But investments for folks like us is a long term job and, although they will provide income, this may vary and the value of your holding may go down as well as up. Tread carefully.

This terrifying chart of retirement needs was found in the Daily Telegraph. It considers that people will need more cash if their working salary has been higher. Whether you agree with this or not you may find the figures (especially the amounts needed to save each month whilst at work are beyond the amounts which most people believe they could save, certainly not if their employer was not contributing (which is becoming the norm)

chart showing savings needs

But it does point to the necessity of considering SIPP* schemes, where the taxpayer contributes a quarter of the amounts put aside. I would suggest that the majority of people are not even aware of this give-away and certainly do not have a SIIP. In fact people earning 40,000 per annum can invest the whole of that sum per annum and higher tax payers can claim as much as 45% back via their tax return. .i.e. someone saving 40,000 per annum who is paying 45% tax would have another 18,000 added from the rest of us !  This has to be the bargain basement investment which beats all others, for the rich. Not only that but for some reason the tax man also allows these investments to be free of capital gains tax !

* SIPP  Self Invested Personal Pension  An investment vehicle available to people under 75.

U.S. EXPERTS (not just me) SAY IT'S A MISTAKE  A respected American think-tank has warned that Britain is making the same mistake as the US with pension freedoms. The AARP Public Policy Institute said the situation in the US showed that people could not be trusted to spend their own retirement savings wisely. Academics said many Britons would blow their savings and be left penniless, forced to rely on the State (you, the taxpayer).The AARP’s David John said that in the US many spent ‘unwisely’, took bad financial advice or made mistakes and outlived their savings.
And, if you can contact an advisor, (very doubtful) would you trust the advice of some youngster who has just been appointed ?
Manchester has appointed just six people to give advice.
In the absence of suitable advice you could get in touch with a reputable company e.g. Hargreaves Lansdown and complete a questionnaire e.g. HERE

Even the Pensions Minister, Steve Webb, warned: ‘You can spend years saving into a pension only to find yourself tricked out of your money in the blink of an eye.’

 However, there are some beneficial parts to the new arrangements:
Up until April 6th, if your drew your pension (the main ways are via an annuity or income drawdown), then anything paid out to your surviving beneficiaries was subject to income tax if taken as income, or a (punitive) 55% flat-rate tax if taken as a lump sum. In the case of income, this could only be paid to someone financially dependent on you, for instance a spouse or dependent child. Under the new rules, regardless of whether you have started to draw a pension, your remaining fund can be passed on tax-free to a nominated beneficiary, if you die before the age of 75.  They can use it to provide a tax-free income or a tax-free lump sum, and they no longer need to be financially dependent on you.
If you die on or after the age of 75, (for some arbitrary reason) the beneficiary can receive the pension, subject to tax at their highest marginal rate if taken as income. Pensions usually fall outside an estate, and thus are free of inheritance tax.

So, although the Chancellor has made it possible to pass pension wealth on in a more tax-efficient manner (especially for those who die . tax treatment will depend on your individual circumstances. As the average life expectancy at age 65 in the UK is 86.2 for men and 88.9 for women, the government estimates most people will survive the age 75 threshold, and thus bring in tax receipts when they die. So, he is not being so generous after all !.

BTW. Up to the age of 75,you are allowed to pay in up to 40.000 per annum (!) into a pension scheme (with a lifetime allowance, which is currently set at 1.25m): anything over this is subject to a tax charge of up to 55%. As the tax man adds 20% to pension contributions this is costing the rest of us a tidy sum, especially if you are rich enough to add the maximum each year. In fact the contributor would only add 32,000 and the tax man  would put in 8000 p.a. I wonder how many readers are getting 8000 per annum BACK from the tax man !

 March 2015 Money, money money !  Savings are still in the doldrums, apart from the Pensioner's Bonds, which are still on sale at 2.8% amd 4%.  Even the longer (3 year) term does not really tie you up as the penalty for cashing some of it only costs 90 days interest of the sum withdrawn. Elsewhere banks and building societies are being more generous with current accounts in order to lure new business. For easy access the NS and I on-line ISA is one of the best at 1.5%. One wonders how long that will last.No transfers but 15,000 this year and another 15,240 in April 2015.

The Which Magazine has produced a document about the new pension pot arrangement. It can be downloaded from HERE You will need the Acrobat Reader to read and print it.

I just had my statement of next year's State Pension with a booklet attempting to explain the (still) complex structure of other pension benefits. A good read but, as you probably have one, I will not attempt to clarify it here. In general benefits rise by 2.5%.  Make sure you are getting what you are due at

Jan 2015  Despite my misgivings about the new rules on pension pots (I fear that the granny buying a Lambourghini cartoons are a bit nearer the mark than they realise) I do suggest that people who have the option to cash in their pension (over 55s) take a look at
After all, who am I to say that people shouldn't splurge it all on a world cruise and leave the taxpayer to pick up the bill for keeping them until they are 90 ?  It is what is called 'Human Nature'.  In the end it will turn out to be the worst decision this Chancellor, or this government, has ever made. But they will not be here to pick up the pieces.  It will be the children of the world cruisers. "Eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we might die")
The suggested 30 mins of free advice suggested does not appear to be adequate according to the site  And the handful of underpaid and inexperienced advisers being appointed to help people decide what to do with their pension fund will be sore pressed to give everyone five minutes apiece.
It may seem sensible to clear an outstanding mortgage - despite that being the cheapest way to borrow cash. Probably better to pay off the nefarious credit card debt at 18%.
But we must keep the government to promises about reducing rip-off charges on annuities.  It really should not be necessary for retirees to have to shop around to get a reasonable deal..Pensions minister Steve Webb railed against 'rip-off charges' on work schemes as he confirmed a 0.75 per cent cap would be in place for auto-enrolled staff by next April."People have had a 'raw deal from the market for too long', with their savings whittled away by high or needless charges they might not even know about, according to Webb."

According to Investment company, Hargreaves Lansdown : New pension rules change how pensions are taxed on death, and who can inherit them. Under the old and existing rules, once you had started to draw your pension (the main ways are via an annuity or income drawdown), then anything paid out to your surviving beneficiaries was subject to income tax if taken as income, or a 55% flat-rate tax if taken as a lump sum. In the case of income, this could only be paid to someone financially dependent on you, for instance a spouse or dependent child. Under the new rules, regardless of whether you have started to draw a pension, your remaining fund can be passed on tax-free after 6 April, if you die before the age of 75. Your nominated beneficiary can use it to provide a tax-free income or a tax-free lump sum, and no longer needs to be financially dependent on you. If you die on or after the age of 75, the beneficiary can receive the pension, subject to tax at their highest marginal rate if taken as income. Pensions usually fall outside an estate, and thus are free of inheritance tax.

The Autumn Statement from the Chancellor unveiled a few surprises but the majority will not come into force until April 2015.. There is quite a change in the way Stamp Duty will be charged - replacing the very crude method used at present. The duty on the sale of houses valued at less than  125,000 will still be nil.  But up to 250,000 this will fall to 2%  but only on the additional 125,000.  Previously it was3% charged on the whole of the 250,000. The next band will be at 5% , then 10%. Over 1.5 Million it is a swingeing 12% (i.e. a Mansion Tax).  

The full new State Pension will eventually rise to at least 151.25 per week, the actual amount to be published in the Autumn of 2015..

A big change is expected to the (complex) tax charged to nominated beneficiaries of pension funds (death benefits).See This is currently set at 55% if the spouse dies before 75. It is to be abolished..  If the spouse dies after 75 the nominated beneficiary will pay tax at their marginal rate.  But the new rules are complex. Please read
 n.b. Although the new rules will be implemented from April 2015, to some extent, it is retrospective and depends, not upon the date of death but upon the payment being made after April.

The personal tax allowance will rise a little next April. The higher rate threshold will rise by the rate of inflation.

The Health Secretary has said that GPs will be rated according to how they treat patients over 60. Those not up to scratch will be given a red rating on the NHS Choices website. The Royal College of GPs has called this 'a blunt instrument'. And so it may be. One of the criteria for a red rating is the percentage of older patients who are sent off to hospital. It seems the fewer the better. One does wonder whether this move is more about taking pressure of the hospitals and A & E departments rather than a concern for older people. After all, it may dissuade a GP from sending a patient to hospital, where this might be the best thing in the circumstances.  Many hospitals are essentially insolvent. It is time that we realised that if we want a good hospital service we have to pay for it. Most countries with national health services (and we are not alone) do this from taxes.
In fact the first stab at rating surgeries had immediate flack from those surgeries (as one might expect) and the QCC (Quality Care Commission) was sent away with its tail between its legs to have another think, which they are in the process of doing.

Another strange ruling for GPs is that their practice can get a 'bonus' for every dementia suffer they find (though the assessment is not finally made by the doctor and normally will depend on a brain scan.  But I now understand why - out of the blue - the nurse started to test my memory !

How's this for instant legislation ?!  The first stage of the overhaul of pensions, announced in the 2012 Budget, has already come into force, with retirees given greater access to their pension pots. New pensioners are now allowed to take a maximum of 30,000 from their pension savings as a lump sum, up from 18,000. This is an interim arrangement before full flexibility over pension savings takes effect next April.(2015) although those with a guaranteed pension income of more than 12,000 a year can draw down an unlimited amount from their pension pot. Previously, pension income needed to be more than 20,000.. Previously a small pension pot, among various savings pension pots, was judged to be less than 2,000.. From Mail on Sunday "Final salary schemes, also know as defined benefit, paying a guaranteed income, usually based on length of service and final salary ..... are excluded from the new rules on drawdown, so will not be affected by the new rules in April 2015".

For an explanation of the new pension fund arrangement see my page at PENSIONS.HTM. This does NOT cover STATE pensions

n.b. The Pensions Regulator, which oversees workplace schemes, will argue at the High Court that "pension liberation" schemes should be declared illegal. Currently, liberation schemes are seen as vehicles that cause pension savers to break tax rules, rather than illegal. Savers who are persuaded to transfer their pensions to liberation schemes (before the age of 55) face losing more than half of their savings in tax penalties. But the court case could see liberation operations declared "invalid" pension schemes, which would in effect ban them from operating.

Download and print the October 2014 update to the pension rules from Investment company, Hargreaves Lansdown, HERE

Summary: From April 2015, people who can access their pension pots have three main choices: Withdrawal all their pension money immediately; leave it invested and take income when required; or buy an annuity. If you pay tax, part of the withdrawal will be liable for income tax. People who have already bought annuities are excluded from the new freedoms.
Incidentally, the original Budget document suggested that the access age for pensions would rise from 55 to 57 in 2018, rather than the intentioned 2028. This was a typo!. It is not just us that make them.

To help people with their pension decisions, free guidance will be made available by independent organisations, including the Pensions Advisory Service and the Money Advice Service. It will be paid for through a levy on the financial services industry. Pension fees will be capped at 0.75pc a year next April (2015).
Thye Telegraph thinks that the tax relief incentive on pension saving will be axed by whichever party is elected next year. The relief is from 20% to 45% and mainly helps the better off. It is also a loss to the Treasury.

Update. In the end this was not axed but the total amount that can be salted away is being reduced progressively.  This is not surprising as the total cost in lost taxes is around 50 billion ! (more than the Defence Butget). And most of the allowance is being given to people who could easily afford to pay the tax.

How to save paying tax under the present rules from next April Extracted from the (Daily Telegraph)

Loophole 1: How a low-earning pensioner could claim from 500 to 2,000 - every year
Say you are over 55 and have already drawn your company pension. You can still invest up to 10,000 per year into a pension, attracting tax relief by doing so. You'll need to earn at least 10,000 a year to invest this much.
1) You actually only pay 8,000 into a pension. This gets topped up to 10,000 thanks to 20pc tax relief.
2) You immediately withdraw the money. The first 25pc (2,500) is tax-free, the rest is taxed as income. If you pay 20pc tax on 7,500, that would be 1,500, still giving you a clear 500 for your troubles. But an individual's tax allowance is 10,000 for this tax year, so lower earners won't pay that much tax. When married couples live together and can share expenditure it could be even easier to make the most of this.
You can repeat this year after year, as long as your earnings qualify.

Loophole 2
Take the scenario of a married couple (both over 55) where the husband is still working and earns a high enough wage to pay tax at 40pc. The wife isn't working and has little or no income.
Everyone can claim tax relief on pension contributions, based on the rate of tax you pay. But even non-earners can claim basic-rate relief of 20pc on pension contributions of up to a total 3,600 per year. That 3,600 figure includes the 20pc tax relief.
1) The wife pays 2,880 into her pension and the taxman tops it up to 3,600 - that's a 720 boost.
2) Step two: From April 2014, that person can withdraw their pension immediately, keeping the top-up. The wife does that. Because she's a non-earner, she doesn't pay tax, as the sum falls below an individual's annual tax-free allowance. So that's an immediate profit to pocket.
3): The wife immediately passes the 3,600 to her husband. There are no tax implications here because they are married.
4) The husband invests the 3,600 into his pension. It immediately gets boosted by the 20pc rebate - that's 900, taking it to a total 4,500
5)  As a higher rate taxpayer, the husband can claim back the further 20pc (taking their total rebate to 40pc) through his tax return, netting another 900. This is effectively like cashback or a reduction in his overall tax bill for the year.
That means an initial 2,880 has attracted tax benefits worth 2,520 - or a boost of 88pc !

It is expected that the Chancellor will announce in his Autumn Statement that the 55 per cent rate on drawdown pension funds due when the holder dies will be reduced to the 40% level of the inheritance tax.

It is also hoped that the government will make annuities more flexible, allowing people to take lump sums or take more in the early stages. Watch out for such changes.

This is especially relevant because, in 2015, it is expected that a lower paid partner's tax allowance may be transferable to the higher taxed partner.   ..July 2015 This is happening but does not apply to people who already receive the higher mariried couples allowance

Because the Chancellor sprung these changes on the Insurance companies, many of them (and the people they serve) have been caught on the hop. The usual cooling off period for an (accepted) offer of an annuity is 30 days but most companies have now extended this to help people who have just agreed an annuity.  If you have changed your mind in view of the new rules, get in touch with your annuity provider.

Other Budget news  From July 2014 the New ISA (NISA) limit is 15,000 p.a. with no distinction between Cash and Investment ISAs. You can even turn investment ISAs in Cash ISAs. Two problems with that :  First you have to have 15,000 p.a. spare cash and secondly, trying to find an ISA where you money wont melt away with inflation. Frankly, I think that idea is dead in the water for the majority. But it will suit high income people as they can shelter their savings and investments from the 40% tax rate (and capital gains on investments when they sell, I assume)

8th February 2014  Annuities again. See  "Which". Labour (and now the Tories) has said that they would set a cap on how much companies can charge for arranging an annuity.  This varies and can mean pensioners getting as much as 400 a year less for the rest of their lives. The Financial Services Consumer Panel even goes as far as to refer to "Exploitive Practices" by some insurance companies. Shopping around is important and Annuity providers should enquire about the state of your health.  People who smoke may get as much as 25% more and other people with medical conditions that might affect their life expectancy  (including obesity) should make this clear when applying.

28th January 2014 The government is proposing to allow retired people to improve their pension for the rest of their lives.  Sounds great. HOW ? Well, it works this way.  You pay them a lot of money NOW and they will let you have it back monthly ! For every 900 your give them now they will give you 1 a week more. Let's see.  For 900 now you get back 52 a year. So you had better live more than 18 years or you will be 'out of pocket' by the time you get to the golden gates. But if you had 900, in normal times (not now) you would be able to earn 4 or 5% tax free.. In fact the cumulative interest on 900 over 18 years is MORE THAN another 900 ! The government proposals allow up to 25,000  to be donated to their coffers, for which you would earn the princely sum of 27.77 extra pension per week. Hang on. If you can get that 4% ISA, your 25,000 would turn into a total of 50,645 (and 41 pence) in 18 years !  Don't believe me ? See an accumulator


26th October 2013  Hot news: Welfare changes for disabled delayed  
The government said the process of reassessing people was taking longer than planned. People will move from Disability Living Allowance (DLA) to the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) next week only in certain areas instead of the whole of Great Britain. Work and pensions minister Mike Penning said reassessing people was "taking longer than expected", but introducing the scheme "gradually" was beneficial.
Or to put it another way : Labour's Rachel Reeves said it showed there was "chaos" in the department
Or to put even another way it will be a
'Controlled approach'. Claimants will remain on Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for the time being except those in Wales, the East and West Midlands and East Anglia, who will transfer to Personal Independence Payment (PIP) from Monday if their condition changes. The government said the need for the alteration "only came to light at the beginning of October as a result of our ongoing analysis of the introduction of PIP and this would ensure it could be handled "in a more gradual, controlled and manageable way".In a written ministerial statement, Mr Penning said: "Introducing natural reassessment gradually enables us to test the claimant reassessment journey (and give us time to recover from the chaos ?)  So, folks, it sounds as if there may be a DLA before your get the PIP !

The State Pension Due to the rapid rise in life expectancy the government is bringing forward plans to raise the age when you can receive the pension and there are plans to link this age to life expectancy, which may see the age rise eventually to 70 or even more. But my usual readers need not worry too much as the changes will be gradual, the rise to 66 starting in 2019.  Even now, when you reach State Pension age you have three choices. 1. Take it and stop working. 2.  Take it and continue working. 3. Defer taking the pension.  If you take option 2 yon do not have to pay National Insurance. If you defer taking your pension, (Option 3) when you do take it you can receive an extra amount or take a taxable lump sum equivalent to the amount you deferred (plus interest).

Sept 2013 From next year every pensioner in the UK is to be given a named GP who will be responsible for their health, in drastic new plans to reform the NHS. Proposals to change GPs' contracts will mean that practises will have to have 'named GPs' responsible for co-ordinating all of the out-of-hospital care for elderly patients. The plans will ensure that patients are being cared for 24/7. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, announced the radical change, which he hopes will reduce pressure in A&E departments as well as improve the care of the elderly.

Women who are 60 are now having to wait until they are 63 before getting the state pension but at least they will qualify for the 144 a week pension because that increases in April 2016.  This pension delay also affects their entitlement to get pension guarantee credits as they, too, are only payable from pensionable age. To make matters even worse they will not get a free bus pass until they qualify for the pension.  But this is a postcode lottery as, to make things even more confusing, they do qualify for a bus pass from 60 in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and London.  What a strange world we live in. 

You can see a Life Insurance Calculator at  Also the Yours magazine will search for the best annuity if you phone 0800 915 4711 or visit .  The service is free.  Bear in mind that if you take out a single life annuity, payments finish the moment that person dies, even if that is a week after the annuity was agreed,  In the case of a single life annuity this would mean that the surviving partner would be left without that pension. This is all the more important as from next year people over 55 will be free to choose whether to opt for an annuity or decide what else to do with their pension pot.

Another Annuity Comparison site is at Another Annuity Comparison site is at and

Most people don't know the AgeUK Handyperson service doesn't exist

The European Court decision that insurance costs should not vary as to whether you are male or female became law in the UK on the 21st December 2012.  From that date insurers have had to charge the same regardless of sex.  This applies to CAR and LIFE INSURANCE premiums and also the amounts that are paid as ANNUITIES. As a general rule female drivers will now pay more and those applying for annuities will get less. One should bear in mind that an annuity is for life and advice at this time is essential if you are not to kick yourself for the rest of your days ! 

Watch out when completing benefit forms.  You can be fined 50 if you complete a form and, as a result, get more than you are entitled to. This is NOT for cases of fraud (which get much higher penalties).  No, this is just for careless mistakes or misunderstandings !  But DWP staff will not be fined if they make an error resulting in you receiving the incorrect amount !

Care Costs. See next page for the government proposals

The LaterLife organisation runs pre retirement courses in many of the UK cities.  See the schedule and further details at

Laterlife also reminded me that anyone can apply for a loan to pay for approved courses and that this loan does not have to be repaid until the individual's income exceeds 21,000 per annum. This does not pass on to your heirs. So, for many retirees this is a gift from our generous government ! As an example of courses see who run regular open evenings in London. If you have always wanted to achieve academically (Educating Rita style) it may be useful to enquire what is available at your local college or university.

The latest idea from the government 'think tank' on the looming pension crisis for private sector workers (as the final salary schemes of large companies are shut down one be one by their accountants) is to persuade companies to replace such schemes with more affordable ones.  Basically, this means getting everyone to contribute more so their pension pot buys a bigger annuity to keep them going until they drop.

One of the most important features of the 2012 budget was the (eventual) change in basic state pension to 140 per week for everyone, whether they have a full national insurance record or not. But check with   In fact 1.5 million pensioners currently get at least 150 a week - mainly those who opted to pay for an extra second state pension under the SERPS (Now S2P) scheme. It has not been decided what happens to those extra funds, but I could guess. Some of the cash to increase the pensions of those who, for one reason or another, didn't get around to paying full contributions, will undoubtedly come out of the savings from what has come to be known as the 'Granny Tax".  This is the additional allowance (which was introduced by Winston in 1926!) which is currently given to the over 65s and over 70s. At present, this is worth between 1395 and 1495 per annum (free of tax). This will be frozen at the current rate.  If this is finally lost, pensioners will have to pay (at 20%) as much as 279 or 299 per annum more tax.. There has been a strong reaction against this decision to tax older people more.

Even the rise in the initial tax free level has disadvantages for some as, from 2012, employers had to offer company pensions schemes for every employee who pays taxes. Non tax payers will not automatically be offered participation in the scheme (and will not have to pay the required percentage of their wages)

Child Benefit From 2013 households where one person earns over 50,000 progressively lost Child Benefit.  Over 60,000 p.a. no Child Benefit will be paid.  My heart bleeds for families where a couple is earning 120,000 p.a.

Plans to raise the state pension age  for women to 66 in 2020 will be delayed by six months to address concerns thousands of women would be unfairly disadvantaged.  But it is still intended that the age will rise to 65 by 2018.

There is a new site intended to help the older generation at  It is supported by many other local and national organisation

Much of the text regarding state pensions, care costs and benefits was moved to the next page   To calculate your State Pension see

On a lighter note, have you ever had an email suggesting it would be cheaper to live in an hotel or on a cruise ship than in a costly rest home? If you look at the Snopes on this it gives it a True. One person lived on board a cruise ship for 14 years. The cost was only marginally more than a care home (presumably in the USA). But the accommodation is more cramped and you may not make lasting friendships (unless this catches on for groups!) Well worth a read at

Personal Finance for the Over 50s: An excellent site which covers these essentials can be found at  (donated to my charity)

LPA stands for Lasting Power of Attorney.  Anyone aged 18 or over, with the capacity to do so, can make an LPA appointing one or more Attorneys (people you trust) to make decisions on their behalf. You cannot make an LPA jointly with another person; each person must make his or her own LPA.  I have heard that the arrangement for a couple can be in the region of 350.

So, what does "Lasting Power of Attorney"  mean and why would we want to consider it ? If you feel that it would be wise to give the responsibility or either your financial matters or health matters (or both ) you should visit a solicitor and ask what it entails. Obviously you need to consult with the person to whom you wish to hand this power. If a Power of Attorney is set up then copies of the document would be lodged with your banks, building societies, insurance /pension companies, investment organisations etc.

See details on the Saga site :  

Annuities  Anyone who has to buy an annuity should shop around for the best Annuity Rates. Find the best annuity rates on the market by using this free annuity information and comparison site, Retirement Supermarket.  Another useful site which specialises in this field is  Much more on annuities on next page helps you save into a pension scheme.

November each year is WillAid month.  Certain solicitors will help you make a will for a donation to a charity. See

AgeUK are running a campaign to help millions of older people get money that is due to them. Council Tax Benefit alone amounts to 1.5billion unclaimed, which would boost the average pensioner's income by 728. So, take a look at if you think you might qualify.  And, if not you, maybe a friend is not getting their due. Useful numbers are Pension Credits 0800 991234. AgeUK Advice Line 0800 169 6565. Citizens Advice Bureau 0800 88 22 00 They are free from land lines.
The EAC (Elderly Advice Counsel )  is on 020 780 1343

Please note that the Health Sections have been moved to Page 29a (mainly links to sites which give help) and Page 29b, which displays news items on health.  

The Equality Bill will included aspects of discrimination against older people, including such things as travel insurance, which must be based on risk, not age.  

From 2010 There were new rules as to how many qualifying years you have to have to get a full state pension.   You MAY be able to pay additional contributions to improve your basic pension but the rules are complex and you should study the above page and subsequent pages, especially " What if I have a gap in my qualifying record.? In some circumstances payment can be accepted for years as far back as 1975

 A good site that deals with GRANTS of various kinds is at

Winter Fuel Allowance  See more next page (Pensions and BenefitsN.b. Winter fuel allowance. Men who reach 60 by the qualifying week should apply for the payment as they are not registered as pensioners and could miss out  

Age Discrimination  Until 2011 the High Court upheld the law that allowed UK employers to force workers to retire at the age of 65. In the UK, a worker could be sacked at the age of 65 without any redundancy payment - even if they do not want to retire. Age Concern /Help the Aged, (now called AgeUK) on 0800 169 29 39 challenged the rules. Discrimination at Work Act which now says "All aspects of your employment (or prospective employment) are protected from age discrimination, including your recruitment, employment terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, dismissals and training". "If you feel you're at a disadvantage because of age-related criteria for recruitment or promotion policies, or if you think you're suffering age discrimination, you'll be able to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal"  It would seem that, although an employee could be sacked when 65 an employer would have to be very careful not to discriminate against him if he applied for the same post the day after !  In the words of Mr Bumble "The law is /as an ass".
Fortunately, the law on this changes on 1st October 2011 and compulsory retirement at 65 will no longer  be legal

Useful, official,  links about Carers (NHS) and Care (Government) Click on them to read and see videos. 

Taxi Vouchers for disabled people. Although these schemes have ben in operation for some time, I was not aware of them.  Most Local Authorities are prepared to give vouchers of varying amounts per annum to disabled people who have difficulty using public transport. Most schemes offer around 80. Do a search on Google something like Taxi Vouchers Suffolk.

The BBC has an excellent memory test 'game' at  

Did you know that under section 187 of the Social Security Administration Act 1992: it an offence for banks to take bank charges out of the accounts of people who are on social security benefits. So, if your bank has taken charges out of your Benefits eg: if you are in receipt (and totally dependent on) of any of the following benefits.

Since February 2009 a person has been able to inherit more of their spouse or partner's estate if they die without leaving a will.  Up until then the statutory legacy remained at not more than 125,000 for a spouse or partner and children and 200,000 if the deceased leaves a spouse or civil partner and parents or siblings but no children.  These amounts have been raised to 250,00 and 400,000 respectively.  Remaining amounts are distributed according to the Statutory Legacy Rules.  Is a government site which enables you to find tradesmen in your area

Transportation The Grey Escape. The National Bus Pass scheme. Everyone aged 60 or over and eligible disabled people is entitled to free off-peak service bus travel anywhere in England.  I use mine in London. However, this does not apply to coaches on National Express, which did offer half price tickets on its Route Sixty Scheme. Unfortunately, due to government cut backs the National Express concession finished on 31st October 2011. They have now introduced a Senior (over 60s) and Disabled Coachcard for 10 a year.  This gives 1/3 off all year round. For details of the more generous schemes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland see HERE

You can still check whether there are any BUS (as opposed to COACH) services available from your area at I found this scheme especially useful on a visit to London

But see also for 1 tickets on-line. However. DO NOT FALL FOR THE OFFER TO GET YOUR NEXT TICKETS WITH 15 OFF. It is so easy to fall for this and give your credit card details, only to find that you have signed up for a monthly direct debit for a useless Shopper (discount) site. This will coat you at least 120 a year.!!

The other thing to watch is those expensive rail fares.  Take a look at to see how you can save substantially.  Is an excellent guide to how to save money on train tickets.  

dancers This site enables you to apply for the Cinema Exhibitors Association card which gives a free cinema ticket for one additional person if you are either in receipt of a disability allowance or are registered as a blind person (but not as a deaf one !)


If you have poor vision did you know that you can turn on a 'High Contrast screen'  There is a shortcut to turn this on or off. Press LEFT ALT+LEFT SHIFT+PRINT SCREEN. Various alternative high contrast screens can be chosen by clicking 'Settings'. Alternatively you will find that it is possible to change the size and style of web page type. In a web page see Tools, Internet Options, Fonts and also View, Text size.

If you use Internet Explorer use View, Text size and choose a larger one or just press Ctl and the + key.

In addition Windows provides a magnifier which is turned on by going to Start, Run and typing Magnify and clicking OK, but I find it confusing !

It has various shortcuts : To increase magnification: Press the Windows key+UP ARROW. Decrease magnification: +DOWN ARROW. To invert the colors of the magnification window press the Windows key+PAGE U ; To follow the mouse cursor through the magnified area: Windows key +PAGE DOWN. To copy the screen to the Clipboard, including the mouse cursor press the Windows key. +PRINT SCREEN.  

If you have difficulty using two hands you can use 'Sticky keys', so you can press say, the Windows key and E separately.  This is set on by pressing SHIFT five times
In fact, for people who hate using the mouse there is a great deal that can be achieved with the keyboard  For instance
Ctrl + A to select all
Shift + arrows selects text
Ctrl + C Copies a selection you have made by dragging the mouse across it.
Ctrl + X Cuts selection ; Ctrl + V Pastes clipboard contents to cursor position.
Home/End Moves cursor to beginning/end of line ;
Ctrl + Home/End Moves cursor to beginning/end of document ;
Ctrl + Up/Down arrow Moves cursor up/down one paragraph ;
Ctrl + Left/Right arrow moves cursor one word to left/right ;
Ctrl + Z Undo the last action.;
Tab takes you to the next field (in email or form filling)
Alt + any underlined menu letter e.g. Alt + F for File 

Did you know that you can move down the list of links by pressing the Tab key ?  Then press Enter to go to  a selected site. You can also move down the page by pressing the space bar.... holding shift to move up again.

The RNIB has software that they can install on mobile phones to tell blind people about text messages, battery level etc.  They charge 150 to install it.  Another rip off for the disabled. Or, ' in certain situations' they can supply a phone free, or you can install the software from a PC. How can anyone charge a blind person 150 just to install some software! When, one day, software is available so I can see what people say on my phone I imagine the RNID will charge deaf people the same, or even more, as the software is more complex.

Do you know  about Audio Description on TV ? Audio Description (AD) describes what is happening on-screen using the gaps between dialogue. This helps viewers with visual impairments to follow what is going on. It is available on digital satellite television and Freeview (currently only via the Netgem receiver). Audio descriptions of changes of location, actions, facial expressions, gestures etc give the context and set the scene, and are fitted between dialogue or commentary to avoid interrupting the flow of the programme. The BBC, ITV, Channel Four and Five are committed to audio describing at least 6 per cent of their annual output. Programmes include popular soaps, dramas and comedies. Children's programmes also feature on the service.

DEAFNESS There are increasing numbers of sites which offer subtitles or Closed Captioning (cc) Both the BBC and ITV Players have a small S at the bottom of the screen for their catchup videos to display titles.  Many Youtube videos also now provive subtitles but, as this is done 'on the fly', there are bound to be some 'funnies'


State Pensions See next page

Useful Numbers and links. 0800 numbers are free.  0845 numbers are 'low call'
Citizens Advice Bureau Covers a wide range of topics
Benefit enquiries 0800 88 22 00
EAC (Elderly Advice Counsel ) 020 780 1343 provides a free, independent, telephone advice service to older people, their families and people who work with them. See also Housing below.
Energy Efficiency Advice 0800 512 012 (the Energy Saving Trust)
Energywatch 08459 060708
Pension Credits 0800 99 1234
For a pension assessment contact 0845 3000 168 or
Smoking Helpline 0800 169 0 169
Solid Fuel Association 0845 601 4406
Warm Front Scheme (insulation grants) 0800 072 0151.
n.b A large number of eligible people were disappointed with this scheme as the cash ran out. Call the Energy Savings Adsvice Service on 0300 123 1234 to check the situation.
Winter Fuel Payments 08459 15 15 15. (Textphone  - for the deaf 0845 601 5613)  
Winter Warmth Advice + booklet  (8 - 8pm) (various languages) 0800 085 7000; (Deaf) Textphone 0800 085 7857

Other legal services can be found at The Coop and (a group of 150 High Street Solicitors)

Other financial matters are mainly on the Savings  page

Warm Front Scheme. Free central heating installation and home insulation is available to pensioners in England receiving means tested Pension Credit. Pensioners who do not receive Pension Credit may still get contributions towards these things.  See  Freephone 0800 316 6011. n.b "Which" reports a large number of eligible people were disappointed with this scheme as the cash ran out. Call the Energy Savings Adsvice Service on 0300 123 1234 to check the situation.

According to the Saga Magazine 2.5 million over 60's are missing out by not claiming their Pension Credit. See The Pensions Service or their A - Z pages Please check these amounts : The government ensures that single 60 year olds have a total income of not less than 109.45 per week; 167.05 for couples.  At 65 this rises to 151 and 221 respectively (7852 & 11,492 per annum).  However, the calculation is complex and savings over 6,000 are taken into account, as well as expenses such as mortgages.  The best thing to do is look at the charts on the Pensions Service website. You can apply for Pension Credit by calling the Pension Credit application line 0800 99 1234, textphone 0800 169 0133 (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday, 9am to 1pm Saturday) or can print a form by going to the site on line.

In view of governments habits of doing U-turns please check all the following statements on the Pensions Service site:
From April 2005 anyone who deferred drawing their state pension got increases equivalent to 10.4% **for every year that they wait, OR you can get a lump sum instead.  At current estimates this could be as much as 30,000 for five years' delay (or whatever you didn't draw + 2% over base rate interest).  

Examples of pension deferral : (1) If you deferred a state pension for 5 years, which would have been, say, 5666 per annum**, you would be entitled to a lump sum of 28,330** + whatever cumulative interest accrued.

(2) A woman decides to put off claiming her State Pension for 5 years. If, when she comes to claim her pension, the weekly rate she would have been entitled to, if she had not put off claiming, would have been 105  weekly (5517 p.a.) As she put off claiming for five years and chose extra State Pension, the amount of State Pension she would get every week would be 159.60 (8268 p.a.). And, as women can reasonably expect to defer for longer and draw a much higher pension for a great deal longer as well. For a healthy 60 year old woman, who is still enjoying work, it would seem very advantageous to defer drawing the State Pension for at least five years (whether she then takes the lump sum or a higher pension for the next 35 years !) ** Lump sums are taxable, by the way.

** Please check all the latest figures

But be careful. Two out of every five people don't make it to 70 ! And, in some areas of the country this is as much as three out of every five. For longevity live in Cornwall and screw the pension fund for as much as you can !

But, seriously, one can see why pension funds are in trouble with average life expectancy (males) being around 77 and females being around 81. If the above quoted lady just deferred her pension to 65, the total average cost for the rest of her (average) life would be over 132,000 (and rising) - and that was from a very low starting point. Even if our sample man deferred to 70, the average male would draw over 200,000 'til he kicked the bucket. At least he would have the consolation of not being inundated as a result of global warming !

For a pension assessment contact 0845 3000 168 or the Pensions Service link above. The Pension Scheme Registry can check if you are due for anything

Something like 1.7 million people are not claiming council tax benefit, although most of these benefits are 'means tested' to an extent, they can amount to a considerable sum. The rules for Council Tax Benefit are complex.  Take a look at

Overcharged by your Bank or Lender?  See
Financial Page. If you have been charged for insurance on a loan or purchase in case you were unemployed see notes on The Loan Insurance Business (PPIs) on that page.

Wrongly Rated ? To check what rating band you and you neighbours are on click HERE and enter your post code and Billing Authority. If you are rated much higher than similar properties you should appeal. I got my rates reduced on appeal. But my Water Rate stayed the same until I opted for a meter.

SOME PENSIONERS ARE MISSING OUT ON PENSIONS AND BENEFITS    See also next page (Pensions and Benefits)

OTHER BENEFITS (extracted from the Mail on Sunday 1st August 2010)

HOUSING BENEFITS. Two types : (1) The GUARANTEE CREDIT that tops up weekly income of pensioners to a minimum of 132.60 or 202.40 for couples.   (2) There is the SAVINGS CREDIT, which is paid to over 65s and rewards those who have modest savings but live on a low income. Anyone who gets the guaranteed element of pension credit should automatically get COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT.  Other pensioners with less than 16,000 in savings may also be eligible.  Get a claim form from your local council. Council Tax Benefit for over 65s in need of of assistance with personal care is NOT means tested

Bereavement Allowance. This is a single tax free lump sum of 2000 payable immediately to help towards costs arising from bereavement. A widow/widower may be entitled to this if his/her late spouse has paid enough National Insurance contributions and he/she is under 60 when the spouse died or their husband/wife was not getting any state pension when he/she died

Married Couple's Allowance  Click on You should be getting this tax allowance where at least one of a marriage or civil partnership was born before April 6th 1935.  For marriages before December 5th 2005 the allowance goes to the husband. (For marriages on or after that date the allowance goes to person with the higher income. The maximum allowance (2009 - 2010 is 6,965 but this is reduced if the person claiming it is has an income in excess of 22,900. BUT the actual tax saving is only 10% of the allowance i.e. 696.50 (less for high earners). If you do not pay tax and your spouse does then you can transfer any unused allowance. If you think you are not getting this allowance you can write or phone your tax office. Claims can go back as far as the 2004/5 tax year.  ** from 2015 the married couple's allowance, for those born after 1935, is replaced by the Marriage Allowance; see (and register) at


Avoiding Inheritance tax.  As from October 2007 a substantial change was made in the rules governing Inheritance Tax.  Hitherto the value of the estate left by the last survivor of a legal partnership was taxed at the punitive IHT rate of 40% if it was more than 300,000. The 2009 allowance is 325,000 or 650,000 for a couple, as legal partners 'inherit' the partner's tax exemption. This is retrospective, so it applies to partners who died a while ago.  But the exemption would only amount to the level that was relevant at the time of their death and would be less any amount that they willed to (say) their children.  The site below gives examples and can be consulted as to the level of exception in any particular year.

Before this change people where attempting to avoid inheritance tax on the value of their house by means of the Nil Rate Discretionary Trust. If the value of the house is higher than the new exemption this may still be relevant.

Nil Rate Discretionary Trusts. Though I am sure you should check and arrange this with a solicitor, my understanding is this: Situation: You are married and you wish to keep the tax man's hands off your money when you both die. Your house (and any savings) has increased in value to the point when you think that your children will be faced with a large Inheritance Tax bill. What to do ? You set up a Nil Rate Discretionary Trust in which you, as a couple live as 'tenants in common'. Your spouse and a child can be trustees.  On the first death the survivor stays in the house.  On their death, both of your IHT allowances are set against the value of the house, and this double tax free element is passed to your children. Currently this would amount to over 650,000. and

For much more information on financial matters click Here

CARE HOMES and Retirement Property   Home Care The government is proposing that around 280,000 older people and disabled adults who need help to carry out basic functions such as dressing, getting out of bed and using the lavatory will receive free care. Another 130,000 frail patients, including stroke sufferers, are to receive support on leaving hospital, with home improvements such as grab rails and panic buttons, allowing them to be discharged earlier.  Doubts are being expressed that the 670 million suggested will be insufficient. (It WAS)

For other home care options see

Dec 10th '07 The government has announced what it hails as a revolution in social care. Money will now be placed directly into the bank accounts of those entitled to help, meaning they can pick and choose both the kind of care they want and who they want to provide it. So for instance, instead of meals on wheels, an elderly person could - in principle at least - use the money to pay for someone to come in and help with the cooking. Instead of respite care for a disabled person, the money could be spent on a holiday. Did this really happen ?

The rules on Care Home Fees Last Updated: 21 Feb 2009 (Daily Telegraph) People have to pay for residential care if assets, including their home, are above means-testing limits; set at 22,500 in England and Northern Ireland, 22,000 in Wales and 21,500 in Scotland. Those with assets between 13,000 and the upper limit pay some contribution towards their care. The rules are different if a spouse remains in the home, when the value of the property should be disregarded. Often families hope that by passing property to younger generations they can avoid its inclusion in means tests. However, financial advisers caution against such a move. If councils believe properties have been passed on purely to avoid care fees, they will include them in means tests, and the onus is on the family to prove their motive was otherwise. Some local authorities have won cases when houses were given away more than a decade before parents went into care.

In Scotland, elderly people are given 149 a week towards any personal care; they are assessed as requiring, such as help with washing and dressing. Those in care homes are still means-tested for their accommodation costs. Anyone requiring constant medical care should receive it free, if an application to their local Primary Care Trust or Health Board for continuing NHS health care succeeds.  

More people are entitled to free basic nursing care. This reduces weekly costs by 100 in Northern Ireland, 117.67 in Wales, 103.80 in England and 67 in Scotland.


Where to live when you get older?  This subject is very important to so many people

EAC (Elderly Advice Counsel) 020 780 1343 provides a free, independent, telephone advice service to older people, their families and people who work with them. Care Aware.  Funding /long term care. CareAware is a non profit making public information, advisory and advocacy service specialising in elderly care funding advice in the UK.Our objectives are to improve public understanding and knowledge about the UK care system, to reinforce the rights and choices of the individual and to assist the public on the complex issues associated with elderly care funding advice issues. Housing Options for Older People. A grest place to organise your thinking about where you will live.

See also :
Care Homes | Balcombe Residential & Nursing Care Homes : located in Surrey, Hampshire, Southampton, Crawley, Horsham and Chichester (donated to my charity)
Anchor has more than 40 years experience in working with elderly people. Browse Anchor online for your care homes : An  online care home directory with 5,000 Nursing Homes and 15,000 Care Homes without Nursing
A Directory of Care Homes, Nursing Homes and Care Agencies with enhanced listings, links, maps and contact information  A free advisory service which lists care homes in each area  provides an in-depth search facility for all types of retirement,
residential and nursing homes.  Choose/compare retirement homes.
Doctor The Good Care Group is a professional provider of high quality award-winning live-in home care that enables people to stay living safely and happily in their own home, with dignity, choice and independence. With live-in care you get the benefit of one-to-one dedicated care, something simply not achievable in a care home. Couples are able to stay together without one becoming a burden to the other. Our service is fully managed - we pay the carers directly, give them professional training and support them throughout”.

HEALTH SITES   Links to health sites and health information can now be found if you click Here

As well as the 'flu jab it is recommended that the over 65s get an anti pneumonia jab at the doctor's. Just ask. A pneumococcal infection can cause septicaemia and meningitis as well as breathing difficulties.
If you want to check out the cost of surgery or dental treatment abroad take a look at


Bentley Fielden (donated to my charity) retail a range of portable wheelchair ramps to help increase accessibility for wheelchair users. They stock standard, folding and travel ramps to mention but a few.

Glasses :  Everyone hates to be ripped off and nowhere rips you off more than when you are getting those essentials called glasses (spectacles) There is no need to pay 300 - 500.  After all you can get your prescription free from any optician - don't be embarrassed to just ask for it - and look at what is available on the net. See and I was interested that the latter will send you your chosen frame with clear lenses. If you like them, you then return them with a photo, so they can pick the correct measurements. You choose the combination of features you like (bi-focal, multifocal, anti -reflective, light reactive, stronger, lighter, anti scratch etc) and send them your free prescription. Voila. Who needs an optician ? If you don't save 200 I will eat my fedora.

From July 2008 disabled people have improved rights to fly to and from Europe from your travel agent onwards. A comparison site for these important items
Second hand stairlifts.  Free advertising if you have a spare one  Computer training for disabled people. A course is available to residents in Greater London. Tutors also available in Milton Keynes, West Wales, Merseyside, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Devon, Hampshire, Kent and Sussex. Please contact the office to confirm that our tutors can cover your area. We charge 5 per lesson if your household weekly income is 100 or less. If you receive more than 100 a week our charges will increase. A great site for equipment to help the 'differently abled' Vitalise is a national charity providing short breaks (respite care) and other services for disabled people, visually impaired people, and carers. Provide 7000 audio books on free load on tape or in MP3 format on disk.  Very useful for folks with poor vision.
Alert call is a useful facility to ensure that people are 'Up and About'  Provide extra wide shoes and slippers.. Mostly around 60 A voluntary group which aims to help housebound people with creative writing. Help from BT Equipment for the disabled  Find suitable equipment free hardware and software help and training (free technical equipment for disabled people). See also     
It is suggested the Blind people should get a page reader.  You can download one from or one called Thunder from You may find that downloading the WebbIE browser helps these programs.  Free from   This is a browser for people with sight problems All graphics on this site have alternative text The National Star College, Cheltenham. Courses for disabled people.
You can request a copy of the DVD or prospectus by post; simply contact us by phone on 01242 527631 or send your details by email: Software for blind and partially sighted  The main page for the Shopmobility organisation. Where are they available?

Shopmobility (electric scooters in shopping centres) is for anyone, young or old, whether their disability is temporary or permanent. It is available for those with injuries, long or short-term disabilities and anyone who needs help with mobility. Shopmobility is about the freedom to get around. You do not need to be registered disabled to use it. Does it cost ? All schemes operate slightly differently; some provide Shopmobility as a free service while others make a charge. This is indicated by the symbols in each entry. Most schemes welcome any donations you wish to make. (cars)You or your driver(s) will qualify for all the benefits of a Motability car if your receive either the Higher Rate Mobility Component of the Disability Allowance or the War Pensioners Mobility Supplement. The benefits include a choice of 4000 new cars; insurance and tax; breakdown service; servicing and maintenance; replacement Tyres and a 60,000 mileage allowance. You have to pay them your weekly mobility allowance.

If you would like a Word Processor that tries to predict what you are writing, try the free Open Office, downloaded from and enter Open Office

Do you realise that certain equipment can be bought free of VAT if you are disabled?   The following goods may qualify for relief

EDUCATION and TRAINING Provide 7000 audio books on free load on tape or in MP3 format on disk.  Very useful for folks with poor vision.  or phone 0800 77 1234 to book your Free Internet starter session with the government sponsored UKonline ITCH. Free help for disabled people with hardware and software problems.  A volunteer can visit you at home (I am one!) If you have IT skills you can volunteer.  Traveling expenses paid to volunteers.. Free courses in almost everything.  Open University (University of the Third Age)

HOUSEHOLD (Energy, telephones, Insurance)

Another site that helps people at home or with their business to save on their energy costs is electricityprices that provides all the up to date and latest tariffs on offer from all the major energy companies in the UK.

See  and Moneysavingsexpert
A very useful site for comparing power prices is Very simple to use.
(Updated June 2010) E-0n have a Staywarm scheme for pensioners (or people or low incomes) which sets a monthly amount you pay regardless of the gas and electricity you use.

I recently took up a local authority offer to check my house for energy efficiency.  We had wall insulation, done 30 years ago and wondered whether it was still there.  He checked and reassured us that is was.  There was no charge. He didn't offer to pay for double glazing !

For updates on the cheapest fuel prices see

The Energy Saving Trust can tell you about insulation grants from power companies and councils in your area.  Tap in your postcode. The site also leads to one with information about grants to enable you to install other energy saving devices such as solar panels and electricity generating equipment.

OFTEL (telephones) also recommends,  who are allowed to help you change. It only takes a few minutes and can save you tens of pounds a month, particularly if you phone abroad a lot. Check for the cheapest gas and electricity supplier.  The Energy Saving Trust can tell you about grants  (up to 2,000) from power companies and councils in your area. 

TV Licenses. Free to over 75s.  At 74 you should get a  reduced rate.  Registered blind people pay 50%

GENERAL INSURANCE                 (For Travel insurance see my Travel Page HERE)  Their site says : Fills the gaps other insurance leaves behind. (Donation to my charity! June 2013) even for those expensive gadgets

Castle Cover Specialise in over 50s insurance.  Car, Home, Pet etc Castle is a broker.  So, what's a broker ?  He is someone who will find the best deal for you from wherever it can be found. He gets a commission from the insurance company (not from you)

Castle have kindly sent me the following article :


Concerned over your lack of life insurance? Compare quotes side by side from the UK's leading life insurance companies. Click to get - Life insurance quotes

Insurance for Senior Citizens

Insurance is important in anyone's life no matter what your age. To find a motor insurance and house insurance policy for your needs for the best value requires some on-line research.. Obtain quotes from a variety of insurance companies to get the most suitable policy for you.

Begin your search for a satisfactory insurance company by enquiring with friends and family. Once you ask an insurance company for a quote don't be tempted into signing or agreeing to something unless you're comfortable. We have got large reductions or M & S vouchers merely by asking.

With regards motor insurance, companies MAY provide lower premiums for older vehicles because they may cost less to replace in the event of an accident. The safer and more secure your car is, the least likely it will get stolen or cause an accident. Some insurance companies believe older drivers are more careful so they have a chance at cheaper premiums. But some charge even more. Enrolling in a refresher driving course may be taken into account.  But most companies will not ask about such things. As you will know, lengthy periods without a claim give the biggest discounts of all. Some motor insurers even INCREASE your premium if you have had an accident which was no fault of your own.

Home insurance : Safety and security aspects such as fire and burglar alarms and deadlocks will give you the desired discount. If you are a non smoker you may get an even better offer because  of the reduced risk of fire.  Special offers are given to customers already holding an insurance policy with a company for many years. Your postcode is also taken into account and some insurance companies now increase premiums if you have made a claim (but rarely give no claim discounts)

The largest over 50s insurance providers in the UK currently are Saga and RIAS but there are also many other senior citizen related sites that offer insurance as an affiliated product. It is also worth checking other well known insurers. Almost all companies will give you a good initial deal to get your business.  And you can look at the cashback sites for extra savings. Insurers who market themselves as over 50s insurance providers are not always the best value and not always suited to your exact needs, therefore general insurers should not be overlooked. Other useful tools to use are insurance comparison sites such as Go-compare.

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Security Tip : Anything such as a mobile phone, a laptop, a bike or an mp3 player, will have a serial number. This can be entered into the National Property Database through . If the registered item is lost or stolen then recovered by police, officers can search the database and reunite you with your property. Items can also be postcode marked with UV pens or SmartWater  You can join in this one
Gardening - find friendship and romance at 50+ Sites dedicated to helping people with their art hobby. Age Concern site where people can share memories of bygone days. You can email them material at .
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