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Click the link to see the rather optimistic summary of the UK economic situation
The next budget will be in November 2018. The
Budget is being dropped
Hargreaves Lansdown have excellent aricles
to help you make decisions e.g. Annuities, drawdown, retirement
options, pension calculator, SIIPs
What happened to folk who opted to invest their pension pot in 2015,
when that became possible ? It must have been worrying,
the markets fell almost immediately after but have recovered
someone put £100,000 in stocks and shares in 2015 and decided to cash
in 4% per annum, after the initial fall the
extra punch of shares exposure helped these pots recover when markets
rallied by the end of the two years, to £105,475,
so they would have done better than if they had bought an annuity (and
would still have their capital intact). So, one does wonder why the expression "Pension Black Hole" has
become so commonplace. Wisely invested, such pension funds should
be overflowing like a cornucopia ! Could it be that companies,
particularly those sailing close to the financial wind, have found such
funds to be a cheap way to find cash ? Names such as BHS, Carilion and
Tata Steel come to mind.
Pension pots What happened to folk who opted to invest their pension pot in 2015, when that became possible ? It must have been worrying, initially, as the markets fell almost immediately after but have recovered since. If someone put £100,000 in stocks and shares in 2015 and decided to cash in 4% per annum, after the initial fall the extra punch of shares exposure helped these pots recover when markets rallied by the end of the two years, to £105,475, so they would have done better than if they had bought an annuity (and would still have their capital intact).
So, one does wonder why the expression "Pension Black Hole" has
become so commonplace. Wisely invested, such pension funds should
be overflowing like a cornucopia ! Could it be that companies,
particularly those sailing close to the financial wind, have found such
funds to be a cheap way to find cash ? Names such as BHS, Carilion and
Tata Steel come to mind.
The triple lock Pension. Things have changed since the 2016 Budget. George Osborne is no longer Chancellor and Baroness Altman is no longer chief honcho on pensions, Since leaving the position she has indicated that the Triple Lock Pension guarantee may not be sustainable in the long term, Since 2010, the "triple-lock" policy has meant state pensions rise by the inflation rate, average earnings or 2.5% - whichever is highest.
Excellent advice on the new pension freedoms from the Age Action Alliance
Ageuk.org.uk - 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.
Incidentally, many do not realise that, up to the age of 75, almost anyone can contribute to a SIPP (and get tax contributions), even non-earners and children, although the amount they can add each year may be less. Check the complicated rules.
The following chart demonstrates clearly how this scheme benefits the wealthy
Since 2015 people reaching 55 have been able to access their private pension funds (if any). They can either be 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.
However the Financial Conduct Authority has (again) promised to crack down on pension fund companies with regard to excessive exit fees for customers who wish to move their money. Some as much as 50% of a £100,000 pension pot. Several well know companies are being investigated as far back as 2008 and companies may be fined and pensioners compensated. But I do wonder if this will be anything as tough on pension companies as the PPI mis-selling scandal, which has cost the banks billions.
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? - http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/
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. http://www.maturetimes.co.uk/
But why should people not pay the interest (annually or monthly) on the loan as they would on a mortgage ? I have discovered that some schemes do allow this
People may think that their pension funds have been lost after they have changed jobs. It may be worth tracking them down. See http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/pensions/article-3102607/One-10-workers-wrongly-think-pensions-lost-change-jobs.html
There is a rapid increase in the number of people working on after the State Pension age. 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 people coming up to retirement the official site to find out what your state pension is likely to be is at https://www.gov.uk/state-pension-statement
Budget news (Mail on Sunday 15th March 2015) 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 ? THIS SUGGESTION HAS NOW BEEN QUASHED - QUITE RIGHTLY. (But why does it take little me to see that this was such a terrible idea, almost as bad as giving people the right to cash in their pension pots in the first place.)
life expectancy right now is between 78 and 81. That is over
more that the 55 years at which people may cash in their pension chips.
the chances of living to a hundred for a 40 year old are around 8%.
percentage is increasing quite rapidly, so many will have to think
living on a pension for 45 years, having saved, if they were
for 30 years. But the fact is that the number saving for retirement has
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
buy an annuity, especially as many were offered a poor deal for all
Now, pension companies are going to have to sit up if they are to be
to grab the cash. Previously it just fell into their laps. It is to be
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 stock market 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.
financial planner at Chase de Vere, says equity
income funds such as Threadneedle UK Equity Income, Artemis Income and
Income are good choices, as are global equity income funds like Artemis
Income, Newton Global Higher Income and Standard Life Global Equity
But you shouldn't invest solely in equities. To help protect capital,
well as grow it, he says you should hold other assets such as fixed
and property. Good options include Henderson Strategic Bond, Kames
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)
The one light at the end of this tunnel is that the later you buy an annuity, the greater the amount you can expect to get per year.
In November 2016, for instance, someone buying a Canada Life Annuity with £50,000 could expect to get £2,029 p.a. for life if bought at the age of 60. If deferred until 70 they would be entitled to £700 more per annum. If they had also deferred their State Pension they might even be able to survive ! But beware. This is on a single life policy. If that life is the male partner, their other half would lose this on their death. However, if the annuity was based on Joint Life (Man 70, woman 65) the annual amount would be down to £2,140 p.a. and even less if they took out the annuity earlier.
But it does point to the necessity of
considering SIPP* schemes, where the
taxpayer contributes a quarter (or more) of the amounts put aside.
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
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.
However, there are some beneficial parts to the new arrangements:
Up until April 6th 2014, if you 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 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 !.
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) it is a fact that people who have the option to cash in their pension (over 55s) can now look at the alternatives. 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")
Summary: From April 2015, people
who have access their pension
pots had three main choices: Withdrawal all their pension money
leave it invested and take income when required; or buy an annuity. If
pay tax, part of the withdrawal will be liable for income tax. People
have already bought annuities are excluded from the new freedoms.
To help people with their pension decisions, free guidance is available by independent organisations, including the Pensions Advisory Service and the Money Advice Service. It is paid for through a levy on the financial services industry.
It may seem sensible to clear an outstanding mortgage
- despite that
the cheapest way to borrow cash. Probably better to pay off the
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 put in place for auto-enrolled staff.."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."How to save paying tax under the present rules Extracted from the (Daily Telegraph)
The article was written in 2014. But it is
fascinating. But do check that it is still relevant !
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.
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 !
scheme to allow OAPs to pay into the state pension scheme, in the hope
to receive more each week, proved unpopular and was withdrawn
The State Pension https://www.gov.uk/calculate-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).
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 http://www.homeandlife.co.uk/calculators/life/index.html Also the Yours magazine will search for the best annuity if you phone 0800 915 4711 or visit www.yours.co.uk/annuities . 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.
NHS From 2014 every pensioner in the UK was given the right to have a named GP who will be responsible for their health..Changes in GPs' contracts 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.
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 http://www.laterlife.com/laterlife-pre-retirement-training-course-schedule.htm
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 http://www.bbk.ac.uk/ 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.Even the rise in the initial tax free level has disadvantages for some as, from 2012, larger 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. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15289798
There is a new site intended to help the older generation at http://ageactionalliance.org/. It is supported by many other local and national organisation
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 http://www.snopes.com/travel/trap/retire.asp
Finance for the Over
50s: An excellent site which covers
essentials can be found at http://www.over50choices.co.uk/
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
the responsibility or either your financial matters or health matters
both ) you should visit a solicitor and ask what it entails. Obviously
need to consult with the person to whom you wish to hand this power. If
Power of Attorney is set up then copies of the document would be lodged
your banks, building societies, insurance /pension companies,
organisations etc. See details on the Saga site : http://www.saga.co.uk/
Also Age UK's slant on this at http://www.ageuk.org.uk/money-matters/legal-issues/powers-of-attorney/
Annuities Anyone who has to buy an annuity should shop around for the best Annuity Rates. More on annuities on next page
November each year is WillAid
month. Certain solicitors will help
you make a will for a donation to a charity. See https://www.willaid.org.uk/
A suggested donation of £95 to one of the suggested charities or £150
for a pair of wills.
AgeUK are running a campaign to
help millions of older people get money
that is due to them. Council Tax Benefit alone amounts to
unclaimed, which would boost the average pensioner's income by
So, take a look at http://www.ageuk.org.uk/money-matters/claiming-benefits/
if you think you might qualify. And, if not you,
maybe a friend
is not getting their due. Useful numbers are Pension Credits 0800
AgeUK Advice Line 0800 169 6565. Citizens Advice
88 22 00 They are free from land lines.
The EAC (Elderly Advice Counsel ) http://www.eac.org.uk/ is on 020 780 1343
The Equality Bill will included aspects of discrimination
against older people,
including such things as travel insurance, which must be based on risk,
age. This doesn't appear to work well. See my Help40.htm page for travel
insurance for older people.
A good site that deals with GRANTS of various kinds is at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/protect/grant-grabbing
Winter Fuel Allowance See more next page (Pensions) N.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
Until 2011 the High Court upheld the
law that allowed UK employers to force workers to retire at the age of
In the UK, a worker could be sacked at the age of 65 without any
payment - even if they do not want to retire. Age Concern /Help the
(now called AgeUK) on 0800
39 challenged the
rules. Discrimination at Work Act
which now says "All aspects of your employment (or prospective
are protected from age discrimination, including your recruitment,
terms and conditions, promotions, transfers, dismissals and training".
you feel you're at a disadvantage because of age-related criteria for
or promotion policies, or if you think you're suffering age
you'll be able to bring a claim to an Employment Tribunal" It
seem that, although an employee could be sacked when 65 an employer
have to be very careful not to discriminate against him if he applied
the same post the day after ! In the words of Mr Bumble "The
law is an ass".
The law on this changed from 1st October 2011 and compulsory retirement at 65 wwas no longer legal.
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.
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.
http://www.buywithconfidence.gov.uk/ Is a government approved 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. see HERE
You can still check whether there are any BUS (as opposed to COACH) services available from your area at http://www.traveline.info/i I found this scheme especially useful on a visit to London
But see also http://www.nationalexpress.com/coach/offers/funfares.cfm 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 cost you at least £120 a year.!! It happened to me and I quickly cancelled the Direct Debit.
The other thing to watch is those expensive rail
fares. Take a
look at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/travel/cheap-train-tickets
to see how you can save substantially.
http://www.cheaptraintickets.info/cheap-train-tickets-guide/ Is an excellent guide to how to save money on train tickets. NOT TO BE MISSED
http://www.ceacard.co.uk/ 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
Or just press Ctl and the + key. (Ctl and the - Key reduces it) On and iPad one can 'spread' the image on my pages, using two fingers.
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
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 provide subtitles but, as this is done 'on the fly', there are bound to be some 'funnies'
State Pensions See next page
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 ) http://www.eac.org.uk/ 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 www.thepensionservice.gov.uk
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 QualitySolicitors.com (a group of 150 High Street Solicitors)
Other financial matters are mainly on the Savings page
Warm Front Scheme. £140 off energy bills (2017-18) and 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. n.b In earlier years "Which" reported a large number of eligible people were disappointed with this scheme as the cash ran out. Call the Energy Savings Advice Service on 0300 123 1234 to check the situation. See www.energysavingtrust.org.uk
You can also get help on energy supply from the Citizens
Advice Bureau Site
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
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. It really can be worth doing.
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, although it has slowed lately, average life expectancy by 2015 was 79 (men) and 83 (women) This has risen a couple of years since I wrote this piece and is tending to go up a year or two every five. Places like the USA, for various reasons, lag behind by quite a way.
One can see why pension funds (State and Private) are
in trouble. If
above quoted lady just deferred her pension to 65, the total average
for the rest of her (average) life would be over £132,000
- and that was from a very low starting point. Even if our sample man
to 70, the average male would draw over £200,000 'til he
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 http://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/
Something like 1.7 million people are not claiming
council tax benefit,
although most of these benefits are 'means tested' to an extent, they
amount to a considerable sum. The rules for Council Tax Benefit are
Take a look at
Overcharged by your Bank or Lender? See my 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.
OTHER BENEFITS These change regularly and are complex, so the section is now probably out of date
HOUSING BENEFITS. GUARANTEE
CREDIT that tops up weekly income of pensioners to
a minimum of
There is the SAVINGS
CREDIT, which is paid to over 65s and rewards those who have modest
but live on a low income. Anyone who gets the guaranteed element of
credit should automatically get COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT.
pensioners with less than ? in savings may also be
Get a claim form from your local council. Council Tax Benefit
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. What strange, arbitrary rules ! And there's more...
Married Couple's Allowance Click on http://www.hmrc.gov.uk/incometax/married-allow.htm 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. There is a maximum allowance but this is reduced if the person claiming it is has an income in excess of £?. BUT the actual tax saving is only 10% of the allowance. 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 https://www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance
Avoiding Inheritance tax. From 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.
How to avoid Inheritance tax : http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-29756520
Before this change people were 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.
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 http://www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/housing-choices/
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.
The Pros and cons of Retirement Villages: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-34808285
They are all the rage in the USA, Australia and New Zealand. But will they take off in the UK ?
EAC (Elderly Advice Counsel)
1343 provides a free, independent, telephone advice
service to older
people, their families and people who work with them.
www.careaware.co.uk 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.
http://hoop.eac.org.uk/ 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.
Anchor has more than 40 years experience in working with elderly people. Browse Anchor online for your care homes : http://www.anchor.org.uk/retirement-homes-and-care-homes/care-homes/default
http://www.carehome.co.uk/ An online care home directory with 5,000 Nursing Homes and 15,000 Care Homes without Nursing
http://www.carehomestoday.co.uk A free advisory service which lists care homes in each area
http://www.housingcare.org/ http://www.carehomesguide.com/ provides an in-depth search facility for all types of retirement, residential and nursing homes.
www.bettercaring.co.uk Choose/compare retirement homes.
http://www.thegoodcaregroup.com 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
If you want to check out the cost of surgery or dental treatment abroad take a look at http://www.treatmentabroad.net/
Bentley Fielden .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 www.glassesdirect.co.uk and www.specs-by-post.com 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.
comparison site for these important
http://www.stairlifttrader.com/ Second hand stairlifts. Free advertising if you have a spare one
www.ucandoit.org.uk. Computer training for disabled people. A course is available to residents in Greater London. 65 tutors available in Birmingham, Milton Keynes, West and South Wales, Merseyside, Manchester, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Devon, Hampshire, Kent and Sussex, Please contact the office to confirm that our tutors can cover your area. We charge a small fee per lesson if your household weekly income is £100 or less. If you receive more than £100 a week our charges will increase.
www.welcomemobility.co.uk A great site for equipment to help the 'differently abled'
www.revitalise.org.uk reVitalise is a national charity providing short breaks (respite care) and other services for disabled people, visually impaired people, and carers.
www.calibre.org.uk 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' http://www.alertacall.com/
http://www.cosyfeet.com/ Provide extra wide shoes and slippers.. Mostly around £60
www.essentialaids.com Equipment for the disabled
www.helpinghand.co.uk Find suitable equipment
ITcanhelp.org.uk (Ability.net) free computer help and training if the have a local volunteer.
www.remap.org.uk (free technical equipment for disabled people). See also www.access-ability.co.uk
It is suggested the Blind people should get a page reader. You can download one from http://www.browsealoud.com/ Translates and magnifies. Available for mobiles
Free from http://www.webbie.org.uk/ this is a browser for people with sight problems All graphics on this site have alternative text
http://www.natstar.ac.uk/ 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: email@example.com
http://www.rnib.org.uk/softwareaccesscentre. Software for blind and partially sighted
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.
www.motability.co.uk (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,
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
or phone 0800 77 1234
to book your Free Internet starter session with the
www.free-ed.net Free courses in almost everything.
www.open.ac.uk Open University
http://u3a.org.uk (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.
A very useful site for comparing power prices is www.uswitch.com 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 http://www.energyhelpline.com/
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.
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%
http://www.helpucover.co.uk/ Their site says : Fills the gaps other insurance leaves behind.
http://www.helpucover.co.uk/product/gadget-mobile-phone/ 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 - http://www.lifeinsurancequotes.co.uk/
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.
Recommended by a 60+ site visitor : www.cornhilldirect.co.uk
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 www.immobilise.com . 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
http://www.friendshipdirect.com/ - find friendship and romance at 50+
www.saa.co.uk Sites dedicated to helping people with their art hobby.
www.timecapsule.co.uk Age Concern site where people can share memories of bygone days. You can email them material at firstname.lastname@example.org .
News, Weather and Football + Google searches
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/global/main.jhtml The Telegraph for Ex-Pats
www.playbabble.com (Word game)
SHOPPING and Comparative Shopping (comparing prices)
www.tesco.com (delivery £5) www.Iceland.co.uk (Do delivery) www.waitrose.co.uk : www.gooshing.co.uk (ethical), www.pricegrabber.co.uk, www.dealtime.co.uk, www.bizrate.co.uk, www.computeractive.co.uk (click shopping), http://www.amazon.co.uk, www.shopsafe.co.uk, Froogle, www.kelkoo.com www.pricewatch.co.uk uk.shopping.com www.tooboo.com Letsbuyit.com www.buy.com (John Lewis) www.bigsave.co.uk www.toysrus.co.uk Computing Stuff : www.ebuyer.co.uk www.sears.ca will deliver things to Canadian addresses using your Visa card.
OTHER SILVER SURFERS SITES - see also work related at end.
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