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IMPORTANT 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.
If Google allows the placement of any adverts on this site which suggest taking cash from your pension BEFORE the age of 55 please let me know and do not click on them Such adverts will be blocked forthwith.
GENERAL ADVICE (Citizens Advice Bureau) http://www.adviceguide.org.uk/
July 2014 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 give a red rating on the NHS Choices website. The Royal College of GPs has calloed this 'a blunt instrument'. And so it may be. The criteria for a red rating is the percentage of older patients who are sent off to hospital. 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, Is this maybe the way of getting more for the NHS wage bill for doctors earnings? One does wonder.
April 2014 How's this for instant legislation ?! The first stage of the overhaul of pensions, announced in the 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.. To quote from Mail on Sunday 13th April "Anyone with total pension savings of £30,000 or less can take it all from the age of 60, with a quarter tax free. Previously the limit was £18,000". Previously a small pot, among various savings pension pots, was judged to be less than £2,000.. The changes affect those with defined contribution pensions. But again 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". (confused yet?)
From next April (2015), the overhaul will go further, giving retirees complete control over what they do with their pension savings. But bear in mind that in the year that you take a 'draw down' only a quarter will be tax free and the rest will be added to your total income and thus taxable at your personal rate, which may be higher because of the additional one off sum. It may therefore be wise to spread any lump sums rather than take them all in one go. 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.
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.
March The 2014 Budget That Chancellor ! I will have to rewrite all my sections on Annuities now! After years of government interfering in what we could do with our 'Pension Pot' (if any), suddenly there is to be a free for all. This sounds a great idea initially. Many people will use the cash to pay off debts and mortgages as they retire (a good thing to cut up those credit cards) But what of those who will blow the lot on a cruise or a car or a boozy year? The enforced annuities were an idea for giving people a lasting pension to supplement the State one. This could mean more people will become entirely dependent on state handouts for around 30 years. In view of the stark warnings that the state will not be able to foot the bill, it seems to me to undermine the recent arrangements, whereby everyone in employment is being signed up for additional pension schemes. No problem for the rich minority who enjoy the benefits of the bonus culture but how about the majority ? It really is time for the powers that be to encourage saving for old age by making it tax beneficial, not only while it is being saved (which it is at present) but also when it is being paid back to the frugal saver.
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)
From January 2015 NS & I will offer a Pensioner's Bond paying 2.8% for one year and 4% for three year bonds. This IS taxable, so you lock up your cash up for three years for around 3.2% per annum. No big deal compared with the best 3 year ISAs (e.g. Skipton B.S.) And, at least with a 3 year ISA you can transfer an ISA before time (with loss of interest). But a rich pensioner could stuff a million in the bond and you can't do that with an ISA. But who knows?... by January the ISA and other savings rates might have moved up a notch
8th February 2014 Annuities again. See "Which". Labour 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 HERE
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 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).
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.
For the 2013 Budget see the Savings Page
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.
Another Annuity Comparison site is at Another Annuity Comparison site is at http://www.bankingtimes.co.uk/pension-annuities/best-annuity-rates/ and http://www.bankingtimes.co.uk/pension-annuities/
January 2013 Most people don't know the AgeUK Handyperson service doesn't exist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bvdAhVrrHLE&feature=em-uploademail
October 2012 The European Court decision that insurance costs should not vary as to whether you are male or female will become law in the UK on the 21st December 2012. From that date insurers must charge the same regardless of sex. This will affect 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 !
October 2012 Watch out when completing benefit forms. From this month 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 !
September 2012 Elderly people and their relatives may have wrongly paid for care and, until 30th September 2012, were able to claim back cash. Many older people in England and their families paid for care (whether NHS or private) when the NHS shouldve paid. This money is now being repaid. To qualify, care must've been primarily for mental or physical health issues, such as severe mobility and incontinence problems. But the deadline is now past. The Money Savings Expert had a Reclaim Care Costs guide.
July 2012 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.
The March 2012 Budget. As is usual, the facts of the
budget are dribbling out. One of the most important features is to be 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
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. That said, the starting level for tax for
everyone will rise in April 2013 by £1,100 to £9,200, which
will take quite a few people out of tax altogether. Nevertheless, 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, this year, employers must 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 was frozen at the 2011 level. From 2013 households where one person earns over £50,000 will progressively lose 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.
March 2012 When National Express (Coaches) lost the facility to charge 50% for people with travel cards we signed for the Senior and Disabled Coachcard (£10 p.a.) as it gives 1/3 off coach travel. When it was introduced in Nov 2011 travel to airports was excluded. I have now heard that travel to airports is included in the scheme. Useful for people planning holidays abroad.
January 2012. Housing Minister Grant Shapps has announced more cash will be given to enable older people remain in their own homes. See the Mabels article at http://www.mabels.org.uk/forum/viewtopic.php?f=17&t=2435 This includes cash for home improvements, Disabled facility Grants and Advice via http://www.firststopcareadvice.org.uk/
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
A damning report by the Care Quality Commission has found half of 100 hospitals inspected are neglecting elderly patients in the area of dignity and nutrition. A list of the worst hospitals is published by the Guardian at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2011/oct/13/nhs-hospitals-care-of-elderly
N.b. In November 2010 much of the text regarding pensions, care costs and benefits was moved to the next page To calculate your State Pension see https://www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension
August 2011 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
April 2011. Along with a number of members of the government, I am still attempting to understand the new STATE pension proposals... But you can be sure that they will not apply to people who are already over pensionable age. It seems likely to be brought in for people retiring at 66 in 2015 or even 2016 - and a lot can happen before then ! The proposals will create anomalies between retirees, depending on when they were born. For those who become pensionable age after 2015 the government proposes to pay a weekly payment of £155. So a couple will get around £310. The maximum will be paid to people who have 30 years National Insurance contributions (or credits), although anyone who has paid 7 years will get something. This will be much simpler than the current scheme which is based on the Basic State Pension, plus (for many people) a Second (Earnings Related) State pension (previously known as SERPS) The new scheme will benefit those who were unable to build up a contribution record due to low wages, part time employment and/or looking after children or the elderly. People who have not built up the 30 years will still be able to apply for a minimum pension. It is thought that, due to there being no discounted rate of NI for people who contract out of the scheme, there will be less benefit from joining a company scheme and such schemes will be less attractive, further speeding up the reduction in final salary schemes.
Meanwhile, one of the least publicised changes brought about by the budget is the cut in winter fuel allowance from £300 to £200 per household. More for 80 year olds. Tax allowances for the elderly are also to be restricted. People will be able to earn up to £8,105 from April 2012 before they pay income tax, In 2010-2011 the level was £6,475 and this has been increased to £7,475 for 2011-2012. This is increased to £9,940 for those 65 - 74 and to £10,090 for those over 75. The personal allowance is to be raised to £10,000 for everyone by April 2015.
Increases in pensionable age: From April 2010 the pensionable age for women has increased and will eventually be the same as for men: 65. The government is also proposing that this will increase further to 66, so that by 2020 the age will be 66 for all.
Personal Finance for the Over 50s: An excellent site which covers these essentials can be found at http://www.over50choices.co.uk/ (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 http://www.annuity-warehouse.co.uk/ Much more on annuities on next page
wakeupyourwealth.com 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 http://www.willaid.co.uk/
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 ) http://www.eac.org.uk/ 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.
February 2010 There are 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
January 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 and Benefits) 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
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.
28th July 2009 A couple of useful, official, links about Carers (NHS) and Care (Government) Click on them to read and see videos.
15th April 09. 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 http://www.bbc.co.uk/science/humanbody/mind/surveys/memory/.
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 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. 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 but does not include journeys starting or ending at an airport. Why ? 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 http://www.traveline.unfo/index.htm I found this scheme especially useful on a visit to London It is one more casualty of the economy drive.
But see also http://www.nationalexpress.com/coach/offers/funfares.cfm for £1 tickets on-line.
The other thing to watch is those expensive rail fares. Take a
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 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 ) 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. 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
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 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 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 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 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. 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
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.
http://www.tenminutewill.co.uk/main.cgi and http://www.tenminutewill.co.uk/pdfdocs/discretionary_trusts.pdf
For much more information on financial matters click Here
CARE HOMES and Retirement Property Nov. 09 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.
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, fall 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.
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 :
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 : 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.carehomes.net A Directory of Care Homes, Nursing Homes and Care Agencies with enhanced listings, links, maps and contact information
http://www.carehomestoday.co.uk A free advisory service which lists care homes in each area
http://hoop.eac.org.uk/ Housing Options for Older People.
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.
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
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 (donated)
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.
A new site is the result of cooperation between Age Concern and Help
the Aged. See
http://www.stairliftexperts.co.uk/ A comparison site for these important items
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. 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.
www.welcomemobility.co.uk A great site for equipment to help the 'differently abled'
www.vitalise.org.uk Vitalise 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
http://www.createwrt.net/. A voluntary group which aims to help housebound people with creative writing. Some bogs have sound files as well.
http://www.btplc.com/age_disability/ Help from BT
www.essentialaids.com Equipment for the disabled
www.helpinghand.co.uk Find suitable equipment
ITcanhelp.org.uk free hardware and software help and training (contact me also, as I am a registered trainer).
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/ or a new one called Thunder from www.screenreader.net (XP, NT and Windows 2000) You may find that downloading the WebbIE browser helps these programs. Free from http://www.webbie.org.uk/ 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
http://www.rnib.org.uk/softwareaccesscentre. Software for blind and partially sighted
http://www.shopmobilityuk.org The main page for the Shopmobility organisation. Where are they available ? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9c6W4CCU9M4
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, downloaded from www.computeractive.co.uk/downloads/ 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.
http://www3.open.ac.uk/courses www.open2.net or phone 0800 77 1234 to book your Free Internet starter session with the government sponsored UKonline
www.itcanhelp.org.uk 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..
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)
October 2010 - 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
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 grants, which ran out quickly each month have been doubled since the April 07 budget.
The problem with solar heated water systems in the UK is that they may
only save you £50 a year and cost £3000 - £4500. Years ago
I developed one for a great deal less than that and it served me well for
10 years before rusting out ! Details on request.
OFTEL (telephones) also recommends www.uswitch.com, 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)
http://www.helpucover.co.uk/ Their site says : Fills the gaps other insurance leaves behind. (Donation to my charity! June 2013)
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 - 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.
Recommended by a 60+ site visitor :
Security Tip : Anything with a serial number, 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 email@example.com .
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 on your Visa card.
OTHER SILVER SURFERS SITES - see also work related at end.
A page about your rights re Ageism
www.monster.co.uk Employment site
http://diversity.monster.co.uk/section180.asp (Age Page)
www.reach-online.org.uk Volunteer your managerial or professional skills
www.jobability.com : Advice on employment if you have a disability
www.csv-rsvp.org.uk: Branch of CSV (Community Service Volunteers) for retired volunteers
firstname.lastname@example.org (E-mail) 40 Plus Recruitment
Site Navigation Links :- Please click on SITE MAP
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