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2019 : Important Changes in Pension Credit
Changes to Pension Credit and Housing Benefit have been (quietly) announced in connection with the continued roll out of Universal Credit. Pension Credit is an income-related benefit to give you some extra money in retirement, and if you’re struggling to cover your rent, you could claim Housing Benefit to help with your housing costs:
The changes to both of these benefits will see the right to claim them withdrawn from future claimants who happen to have a partner who hasn’t yet reached their own pensionable age,
Age UK is calling on all pensioners living on a low income with a partner of working age to urgently check their eligibility for Pension Credit and Housing Benefit and to put in a claim before the Government changes the rules on 15th May this year, or risk missing out on up to £7,000 a year.
The charity is warning that the new policy could place some pensioners in the absurd position of being financially better off if they split up and live apart from their younger partner. This is because once the change is implemented, the older partner could be eligible for significantly more money by claiming Pension Credit as a single person than if the pair of them claim Universal Credit as a couple.
Although in theory this change will not impact on existing claimants Age UK is warning that if a so-called ‘mixed-age couple’ temporarily loses their eligibility for these benefits because of a change in their personal or financial circumstances, from May they will be unable to regain it and will be thrown back onto the Universal Credit regime, the problems of which are well documented.
Age UK state that over recent years the means-tested benefit systems for pensioners and people of working age have been growing further apart: The standard rate of Pension Credit guarantee is paid at a higher level than the standard rate of Universal Credit: While the Pension Credit guarantee has been uprated in line with earnings, while working-age benefit levels have been frozen or increases restricted.
Differences in how any earnings are treated: For Pension Credit, usually just £5 a week (£10 for a couple) of earnings from work are ignored after which earnings reduce payments £1 for £1. Under Universal Credit, earnings reduce benefit by a 63% taper. So, for example, if earnings rise by £100 a month, benefit reduces by £63.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said:
‘We are urging any pensioner who thinks there is even the slightest chance that they could be entitled to Pension Credit and/or Housing Benefit to put in a claim now rather than wait until May – it could give them as much as £7,000 more to spend every year until the younger partner becomes a pensioner. Any older person who is worried about money or thinks they may be entitled to claim Pension Credit or other pensioner benefits can call Age UK Advice free of charge on 0800 169 6565, visit www.ageuk.org.uk or contact their local Age UK for further information and advice
I understand that
the Financial Conduct Authority (0845 606 1234) do not like unqualified
giving financial advice. I would like to state that none of
should be considered as advice. I just like to point people
direction of useful information. To find an Independent Financial
Details on this page are, to my knowledge, correct at the
uploading but are supplied as information
only and in no way
implies advice and the author
cannot be held responsible for
any actions which you take as a result of what is written. Also, as
rates and investment charges can change at any time, it is imperative
before acting on the information below, you check with the organisation
concerned. If you find any of the rates are inaccurate, please email me
Links on this page change rapidly. Apologies if you get a
found' error. It is often because a web author has moved the page.
Read the latest on State Pensions: https://www.independentage.org/information/what-does-new-financial-year-mean-for-me?
The government has finally responded to the Competition and Markets
Authority’s (CMA) care home market study, accepting that consumers
needed better protection from ‘unfair practices’ by care homes. It has
promised ‘immediate action’ to improve consumer protections in the
sector and to seek changes in the law if improvements don’t happen. It
has also accepted that there is ‘unacceptable variation’ in care home
availability locally, and that planning is needed to ensure there will
be enough places for the future. This could include changes to the law.
We must keep them to this.
The still complex matter of Benefts has been brought together at https://www.benefitsguide.co.
A useful site for pensions, benefits and savings https://www.independentage.org/
The variety of benefits that may be available to you if you are on a low income is very confusing. The government admits that millions have been left unclaimed. But there is no 'back pay', so make sure you get what you are due. It would be a good idea to make an appointment at your local Citizens Advice Bureau to see if you are missing out :
1. Attendance Allowance
Attendance Allowance is extra money you can claim if you’re over 65 and need regular help with your personal care. It is non-
means tested, so you can claim it whatever your income or savings.
2. Pension Credit
Pension Credit tops up low income if you've reached the qualifying age. Lots of people who qualify for it aren’t claiming it, so
it’s worth checking if you’re eligible.
A recent government report on this says : "Even
though we have reduced pensioner poverty close to historically low
levels, many older people are still not claiming the support they are
Pension Credit is a non-taxable benefit based on a person's income. The benefit tops up pensioners' weekly income to £159.35 for single people or £243.25 for couples.
Additional amounts may be payable for people with caring responsibilities, severe disabilities or certain housing costs.
Many recent new pensioners who receive the flat-rate state pension have the benefit wrapped into their regular pension.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said: "It is extremely worrying that there has been no progress in the benefit take up figures despit
3. Carer's Allowance
Carer’s Allowance is a benefit for carers. If you spend time looking after a partner, relative or friend who has an illness or
disability, you may be able to claim it.
N.B. To get this allowance it is necessary for the
person to have Care Assessment (to prove that they need care and have
someone willing to care for them. See https://www.independentage.
4. Personal Independence Payment and Disability Living Allowance
If you’re under 65 and have ill health or disability, you could be eligible for extra money to help with additional costs, through
5. Working age benefits
If you’re of working age, there are various benefits you may be able to claim if you’re on a low income, or have no money
6. Bereavement benefits
We all need support after the death of someone close. Bereavement benefits provide extra money to ease the financial strain after
the death of a spouse or civil partner. You can get support even if you’re not on a low income.
7. Help with your Council Tax
Council Tax Support can help you if you’re on a low income and responsible for paying the Council Tax on your home.
8. Help with health costs
There’s a variety of help with health costs available for over-60s. Some of it depends on your income and savings, and some of
it is available to everyone.
9. Help in cold weather
Fuel bills can be a worry in winter, but it’s important for your health that your home stays warm. Find out if you’re eligible for
extra money to help with the cost of heating your home when the weather gets colder. Most fuel suppliers have a fund to help people who are having difficulty keeping warm.
10. Help with housing costs
If you are on a low income and finding it difficult to pay your rent or your mortgage, you may be able to apply for support.
11. Universal Credit
Universal Credit does not currently affect people of pension age. If you are of pension age and your partner is not, you can
currently claim Pension Credit, but the rules are changing (2018).
12. Benefits in hospital and care homes
If you're going into hospital or a care home, your benefits may be affected. You must tell the appropriate benefit office about
any changes in your circumstances.
13. Help from your local council
Each council has funds available to help people on a low income with emergency costs who have no other way to pay. What’s
on offer varies, so check what’s available in your area. For a list of these Local Welfare Assistance schemes, go to the Child
Poverty Action Group website: www.cpag.org.uk/lwas. You’re not automatically entitled to this help, so contact your local council to check who’s eligible and what’s available – check the telephone directory or go to www.gov.uk/find-your-local-council. You won’t usually be able to get cash, but you might get a grant, loan, or vouchers, or certain essential goods, such as beds or fridges.
14. Short-term benefit advances
If you’re waiting to receive your first benefit payment, you could get a short-term advance to tide you over if you are experiencing financial difficulties. If you’re eligible, you’ll usually receive the advance by the next working day after you request it. How much you receive will depend on your circumstances and you’ll normally need to repay it within three months.
To arrange an advance, contact:
Pension Credit (0345 606 0265)
State Pension (0345 606 0265)
Carer’s Allowance (0345 608 4321)
Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance (0345 608 8545)
There may be a limit on the total amount of benefit your household can receive. If your income goes above this amount, your
Housing Benefit or Universal Credit is reduced until it drops below the limit again. This is called a benefit cap.
The government made a rapid u-turn on the possibility of allowing people to sell their annuities (the so-called second-hand annuity market). Whilst some people would have welcomed getting some ready cash for poor paying annuities they were forced to buy, the government have realised that it would likely result in pensioners being ripped off for a second time.
triple lock Pension. Things
have changed since the 2016 Budget. George Osborne is no
Chancellor and Baroness Altman is no longer chief honcho on pensions,
Since leaving the position she has indicated that the Triple
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.
Although Downing Street has reiterated its commitment to the Triple Lock, Baroness Altman pointed out that in a low, nil or negative inflation rate, promising a 2.5% increase will cost billions, which might not be justifiable. However, for now (April 2019) it is still alive.
An excellent site that covers a wide range of benefits.
Article by Hargreaves Lansdowne. What happens to your pension when you die
but a clarification of 'Rights to Buy' for Council tenants. A big
article but interesting http://www.remortgage-me.co.
Think you can only get cash grants for energy saving measures if you are on benefits ? The government's commitment to make it a green and pleasant land means that you can get free loft and wall insulation; and a substantial grant towards the replacement of an older, inefficient boiler. Check with the Energy Savings Trust on 0300 123 1234. Council house and Housing Association tenants have their own arrangements. Many people are missing the benefits to which they are due.
Read the Mature Times page on this issue : http://www.maturetimes.co.uk/financial-benefits/
Although the new flat rate pension will especially benefit people who have not been able to accumulate sufficient contributions during their working lives... e.g. people who have cared for elderly parents, those who chose to stay home with their kids and the self employed, it points out that, because the SERPS (additional pension) element will be phased out, people who have not yet retired could lose up to £1,400 per annum in pension payments.http://www.ageuk.org.uk/home-
Out of the blue the government announced that retired people could
top up their State Pension by handing over a lump sum. As I
thought, this scheme seemed a bad bargain and was dropped like a hot
potato soon after.People were not keen on the idea of giving the
government a sizeable sum in exchange for a small addition to their
I feel sure this article from Age Action Alliance is very right for many older people http://ageactionalliance.org/seven-benefits-of-home-care-for-elderly-parents/
The health secretary faces a growing
backlash after quietly (he got that wrong)
shelving a key Tory manifesto
commitment to cap care costs for the elderly, as experts claimed that
policy fiasco has cost taxpayers up to £100m.(there was wide
about the proposal before the election - which, no doubt, swung it in
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
I just had my statement of next year's State Pension with a booklet attempting to explain the (still) complex structure of other pension benefits. A good read but, as you probably have one, I will not attempt to clarify it here. In general benefits rise by 2.5%. Make sure you are getting what you are due at www.gov.uk/calculate-state-pension
Useful numbers and
The new Care Act from April 2015 Paying for care - an explanation of the new rules
wwW.ageuk.org.uk/moremoney Suggests ways retirees might save money or obtain benefits
Compare the entire Equity Release market at Key Retirement Solutions, the UK Equity Release specialist
Tax Credits 0845 300 3900
Child Benefit 0845 302 1444
Housing Benefit. Contact your local authority
Income Support, Job seekers Allowance, Incapacity Benefits are all on 0800 055 6688
Pension Credit Claim line 0800 99 1234
Attendance and Disability Living Allowance 0800 88 22 00
Personal Independence payments 0800 917 2222
Age UK 0800 169 6365. Have a Benefit calculator.
Christians Against Poverty 0800 328 0006
Citizens Advice Bureau (Local Offices) and www.adviceguide.org.uk
Inspiring Age UK videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nXQgXbP2OF4&feature=em-uploademail-ctrl
Useful AGE UK video about
arranging Care : http://youtu.be/-5nNnIvdh10
A message from Silverlinks : “Silverlinks is a peer support project for older people who are facing decisions about their housing and care, delivered by Care & Repair England. We also deliver workshops and training sessions on housing, care & related finance for older people.” ??”We have developed an interactive “teach yourself” module as part of the Silverlinks project. The aim of the module is to enable older people to think ahead about their housing and care, give them detail about the different options that may be available to them, and provide detail about where to go for information and practical help. This is available for people to download as a written workbook, or work through as an interactive presentation, and can be downloaded at: https://silverlinksprogramme.wordpress.com/resources-for-older-people/ We also deliver training sessions and workshops to groups, details of which can be found on https://silverlinksprogramme.wordpress.com/resources-for-organisations/
In 2015 The Work and Pensions Secretary said that the Universal Credit, which will eventually replace the bitty benefit system, will be organisd through jobcentres and will roll out over the next couple of years. It is thought that it will cost less than expected and is being delivered "stage-by-stage", ahead of a phased roll-out. No, I don't understand that either. I am just quoting what they said. Four years later they are still trying to work it out. .
For people born after 1935 they maybe able to transfer part of their (spare) tax allowance from one legal partner to the other. If you think you might qualify you should REGISTER via this site>>> : https://www.gov.uk/marriage-allowance
State Pensions Policy
With people, on average, living longer it is inevitable that the government will gradually raise the age when we receive the State Pension (SPA) so that the taxpayer can afford the enormous cost. - a rise in the SPA by one year would currently save around £13 billion per annum. Currently the SPA for men is 65 with women's SPA rising to equal that by 2018, Both ages rise to 66 by 2020 and to 67 between 2026 and 2028, so this will affect many people of current working age. The government has said it will review the situation every five years but that it will be kept in line with expected age levels so that they could expect to receive the pension for the last third of their lives. Alongside this is the new system of auto enrollment being offered by employers - and the greater freedom being given to people who have a 'pension pot' to do whatever they want with it. Many will splurge it or pay off debts and mortgages. But watch out! The tax man may have designs on it.
The Warm Home Discount Scheme - An extra 200,000 pensioners will get this help with their energy bills this winter, the government has announced. It is paid for by the energy companies and is now worth £140 per household. The scheme is being expanded, to include everyone who receives Pension Credit Guarantee.Pensioner groups welcomed the move, but warned that thousands of elderly people who do not claim Pension Credit will miss out on the payments. Hundreds of thousands of people on low incomes are also eligible to claim the discount, which in most cases is applied automatically by energy suppliers. However many people do not get the discount, unless they ask for it. Such households are being advised to contact their energy company directly, as eligibility criteria vary between different suppliers. So ASK !
Free Will Month : http://freewillsmonth.org.uk/ Make a will or get yours updated for a donation to a number of charities such as Red Cross, Save the Children...Click the link to find participating solicitors
Welfare changes for disabled delayed
Article deleted until I understand the latest 'scheme': Universal Credit. I may be some time.
The unpopular tax on spare council house bedrooms (intended to encourage people to move to smaller accommodation to relieve the shortage of houses for people with larger families) seems to be in trouble with many people finding it difficult to pay and many appeals pending.
Due to the rapid rise in life expectancy the government is brinngging
plans to raise the age when you can receive the pension and there are
to link this age to life expectancy, which may see the age rise
to 70 or even more. But my usual readers need not worry too much as the
will be gradual, the rise to 66 starting in 2019. Even now,
reach State Pension age you have three choices. 1. Take it and stop
2. Take it and continue working. 3. Defer taking the pension.
you take option 2 yon do not have to pay National Insurance. If you
taking your pension, (Option 3) when you do
you can receive an extra amount or take a taxable lump sum equivalent
the amount you deferred (plus interest).If one is fit to work on from
retirement age (and wishes to do so) it can be fiancially worthwhile.
Household Flood Insurance. From 2015 a new agreement between the Insurance Industry and the government may make Flood Insurance more possible and more affordable for people in houses at risk of flooding. The additional funding is to be funded by a £10.50 levy taken from every home insurance policy. The industry says this will not drive up premiums. (Though I can't see how that can be !) But, if you have been refused insurance before it might be worth trying again.. Mind you, after the recent disastrous flooding, one wonders whether this scheme will get off the ground.
A VERY useful site showing the benefits available to disabled people and their carers can be found at http://www.welcomemobility.co.uk/benefits-information.aspx
n.b. 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.
Making a will It was a surprise to me that when someone marries (in England and Wales) their will becomes void. With many older people remarrying it is important that they remake their will after they marry. Otherwise, children who were named in the earlier will may find that they have been excluded by the fact that, without a will all property will go to the new spouse, who can do what they wish with it. Indeed, if the new partner remarries, then dies, the property may then belong to someone who has no relationship to the children.
Winter Fuel Payment https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment/overview Winter Fuel Payment is an annual payment to help people older people (or some on benefits) with the costs of keeping warm this winter. Please read the complicated criteria.
Since the European Court decision that insurance
costs should not vary as to whether
you are male or female became law in the UK insurers must charge the same regardless of
sex. This affects CAR and LIFE INSURANCE premiums
and also the amounts
that are paid as ANNUITIES. As a general rule
female drivers will
have to pay more and those applying for annuities will get less. But
purchasing an annuity are likely to get LESS.
I am sure you know but: You can get free NHS prescriptions if, at the time the prescription is dispensed, you are:
Are 60 or over, or
Have a specified medical condition and have a valid medical exemption certificate (MedEx), or
Have a continuing physical disability that prevents you from going out without help from another person and have a valid MedEx, or
Hold a valid war pension exemption certificate and the prescription is for your accepted disability, or
Are an NHS inpatient.
Watch out when completing benefit forms. You can be fined if you complete a form and, as a result, get more than you are entitled to. This is NOT is different 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 !
AgeUK also have a series of videos by a
financial advisor dealing with debt,
annuities and retirement. They have helped thousands of people gain
I was surprised to find that I had not got a link to http://www.carersuk.org/ one of the principal organisations which help Carers. (checked 2019)
An AgeUK magazine suggests some pointers if you are considering a move to a care home :
Get an assessment from your local authority to find out what sort of care home you need and explore other alternatives such as sheltered accommodation
Think carefully about location. Do you want to be near local amenities or nearer family. How easy will friends and family be able to visit ?
Always ask for a care home's most recent inspection report
Costs vary and, even if the local council is funding you there may be a maximum they will pay and expect the difference from you or yours
Read the free Care Homes leaflet from AgeUk 0800 169 29 39 or www.ageuk.org.uk/findingcare
Disabled Living Allowances there are some useful explanatory (government) films about these with sound, subtitles and BSL
The LaterLife site has produced a page on pensions at http://www.laterlife.com/retirement-c5/Retirement-Pensions.htm. Follow he links therein.The Mail suggests the following links for financial help : As a rule Org Uk addresses are 'not for profit'
Government Pensions Tracing Service https://www.gov.uk/find-lost-pension .
NationalDebtline.co.uk 0808 808 4000
Financial Services Authority now the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA.org.uk)
Unbiased.co.uk Used to be Independent Financial Advisor Promotions. Recommend advisors
See also http://www.pensionsorter.co.uk/
Annuities Anyone who is buying an annuity should shop around for the best rates. Find the best Annuity Rates on the market by using annuity information and comparison sites such as Retirement Supermarket See rates at http://www.sharingpensions.co.uk/annuity_rates_purchased.htm (Checked 2019)
SIPPs. SIPPs. One of the most tax efficient ways for under 75s to 'put something away' is via a SIPP (Self Invested Personal Pension). You choose where to invest your contributions from thousands of funds, shares, ETFs, investment trusts, bonds, gilts and cash. Contributions attract up to 50% tax relief – the higher your rate of tax, the higher the tax relief you receive. So someone who pays £16,000 into a SIPP and is on the basic 20% tax rate actually has £20,000 invested in their pension, as the taxman automatically adds £4,000. Higher and top rate taxpayers can claim back even more through their tax return –up to another £4,000 (extra 20%) for higher rate taxpayers and up to £6,000 (extra 30%) for top rate taxpayers. This means £20,000 in a pension could cost as little as £10,000! Most people can contribute to their SIPP up to as much as they earn - with an effective cap of £40,000 per tax year – and receive tax relief. Even non earners can pay up to £2,880, to which the taxman adds £720, to make a total contribution of £3,600. Hargreaves Lansdown is the UK’s largest SIPP provider and has been voted ‘Best SIPP provider’ by 'What Investment' readers for 6 years in a row. See the SIPP section of the Hargreaves Lansdown website for more information via www.hl.co.uk
An article Entitled "Retirement Income Options" : See also thisismoney.co.uk/drawdown It suggests that the vast majority of people converting their pension fund into a lifetime income (an annuity) tend to just request it from their insurer. They say this can be MUCH less (for life) than they can get from shopping around. But there are many alternatives to a standard annuity. For instance, someone who is a smoker or who has other health issues may get considerably more. Obviously the age of the person at commencement is an issue. But also
An annuity may be for a person and their spouse with a five or ten year guarantee. Meaning that the annuity would continue for that number of years after the death of the insured (e.g.for his wife)
An annuity could provide (indefinitely) for a 50% or 66% annuity for the spouse.
An annuity can be for a fixed term (5 or 10 years) after which they could buy a traditional annuity from the capital that is deemed to remain.
An annuity can be linked to an investment fund (with the normal risk related to that fund)
An annuity might also include increases annually.
Naturally any annuity that increases the financial commitment of the provider will reduce the amount received each year.
So, as you can see, there is need for
impartial advice when taking this important
Better Retirement Group
Key retirement Solutions
Money Advice Service (Government booklet "Your Pension - It's Time to Choose")
The Gifted Housing Service. See http://www.ageuk.org.uk/home-and-care/housing-choices/gifted-housing/. Basically you gift your house to the AgeUK charity in return for receiving :
Maintenance, repairs and external decoration to their property are organised and paid for by the Charity
Council tax, water rates and building insurance all covered by the Charity
Essential upgrading and improvement to the property where necessary
An annual contribution towards gardening costs
Heating and hot water system maintained or renewed if necessary
Regular visits from a Care Coordinator and Housing Manager
Help in arranging care and support at home
Advocacy and support at times of crisis or serious ill health
Contributions towards care costs
including residential care, should this become necessary
As they rightly say, the gifting of a major asset should only be done in consultation without professional advice on the advantages and disadvantages of such a decision, which could have favourable or adverse implications on personal circumstances in the future.
A useful question and answer site on this very complex (and in many aspects still undecided) issue is at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-11708875 Many of the answers still say that we will have to wait until the Green Paper on pensions is issued - and when it becomes law.
A good site that deals with GRANTS of various kinds is at http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/protect/grant-grabbing Check for the latest Benefits, Pensions and Jobs at Department of Works and Pensions page.
**IVPPs Hargreaves Lansdown sent me information about Immediate Vesting Personal Pensions (IVPP) where people under 75 can arrange an annual pension payment at a far higher rate than is now available from savings. There is a limit each year that you can put away and the money is lost on death. The pension is taxable and, once committed cannot be withdrawn. But, if you feel you will beat the odds and expect a long life, this is where an IVPP would pay off handsomely !
Couple's Allowance Click on
You should be getting this tax allowance where at least one of a
or civil partnership was born before April 6th 1935. For
before December 5th 2005 the allowance goes to the husband. (For
on or after that date the allowance goes to person with the higher
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.
There is a useful site at http://www.taxvol.org.uk/retired.htm/ (free tax advice to older people by volunteers)Tel. 0845 601 3321 email firstname.lastname@example.org. They may even make home visits for disabled people https://www.gov.uk/
The current tax allowances can be seen at https://www.gov.uk/ (IHT, Income etc)
For older people a good site is the AgeUK site or phone their SeniorLine on 0808 169 6565 for free advice on financial matters.EQUITY RELEASE You can get a free booklet on this subject. The Mature Times guide, produced in association with In Retirement Services, is the first step to finding out. Call freephone 0800 082 65 70 quoting MATN080507.
Equity Release is where you release part of the value of your house but
remain in it. The money is then used for living or invested to produce
No repayments have to be made until the person dies, when all the cash
rolled up interest is taken from the value of the house. This
not be done whilst the spouse still lives in the house. The cumulative
can mount up considerably over a period of years but the total sum will
exceed the full value of the house (so beneficiaries of the will will
be left with a debt) It may be particularly suitable for
dependents and who do not have children to which they wish to will the
or for single people who wish to reduce their IHT liability
People on means tested benefits should be aware that these would almost
be affected. Two alternatives to releasing equity are
a cheaper property and/or taking in a lodger.
Financial Mail also has a free guide called Home Truth (Tel 0800 068 6065) . The government's Financial Services Authority, now the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA.org.uk) also have one called Raising Money from Your Home. And IFA (Independent Financial Advisers) can put you in touch with members on 0800 085 3250 or www.unbiased.co.uk Norwich Union (Aviva) has launched an informative film (available in VHS or DVD format) available to consumers and intermediaries alike. To request a copy consumers can call 0800 404 7137.
UK's leading over-the-phone specialist in equity release.
Some equity release plans impose an early-repayment charge, so you could incur charges should you wish to pay them off before your death. However, like a standard mortgage, these will vary from plan to plan, reinforcing the benefit of Age Partnership’s specialist equity release advice before you proceed
Compare the entire Equity Release market at Key Retirement Solutions, the UK Equity Release specialists. They do a booklet about remortgaging to release money called Home Truths. Phone 0800 531 6027. But they ARE in the business and you may be also offered a 'no obligation consultation'. A basic consultation is free but if you require an in depth one they will charge and they will charge a percentage of any loan raised.
Check for Benefits, Pensions and Jobs at Department of Works and Pensions page.
A useful article on you liability to pay for care is at http://www.caredirections.co.uk/
For other home care options see
Since April 2019 the contributions have increased.
Empoyer : 3% (2%) Employee 5% (3%) Total 8% (5%) This in
addition to deductions for National Insurance. As an example
someone paying in £40 (a month) would have an employer contribution of
£30. With £10 added from the taxpayer the total going in their pension
pot would be £80 a month. It is currently possible for an employed to
opt out of the scheme and request the money back.
An Independent Financial Adviser specialising in pension advice can be found at http://www.pensionlite.co.uk/
State Pensions The many benefits available are too complicated to describe here.
Anyone deferring drawing their state pension can get 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. But be careful. Two out of every five people don't make it to 70 ! And, in some poor areas of the country this is as much as three out of every five. For longevity live in Cornwall !
SOME PENSIONERS ARE MISSING OUT 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. Do you think that your National Insurance contribution record might be incorrect ? Look at this site for an explanation as to what might have happened http://nirs2.atspace.com/index.htm In fact, because people may now have paid into multiple pension schemes it is easy to lose track of them. The Pensions Service 0845 6002 537 www.thepensionsservice.gov.uk offers a free pension tracing service. They have a database of over 200,000 pension schemes.
For more information call the free phone line at Age Concern (now called AgeUK) on 0800 169 65 65 or the government Pension Credit helpline on 0800 99 1234 The Textphone number for deaf people is 0800 169 0133
The rules on Pension Credits are a little complex. e.g. the description of what constitutes a partner. The partner does not necessarily have to be over 60. In addition benefits may be payable to people who have additional pensions such as annuities. One can get an estimate of how much you could claim (and get an application form) from the tax office or Citizens Advice Bureau. But don't delay. Back pay can be claimed but only up to a year before a claim.
Many disabled and elderly people are not claiming State Benefits which are theirs of right. Virtually all those in care homes will qualify for Attendance Allowance. Those needing help at home overnight, too, get a higher rate (and this is NOT means tested). In England, people with recognised medical need also qualify for a weekly payment from the NHS towards care costs. It is in three bands (see the link below). The level of payment is very different in Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. So much for a United Kingdom !
COUNCIL TAX BENEFIT In addition many people are missing out on Council Tax Benefit
www.taxvol.org.uk is a charity which offers free tax help to older people with a NET household income of under £20,000 Phone : 01308 488066
From 2012 everyone in employment in large or medium sized companies has had the equivalent of 7% of their salary saved into a pension scheme, 4% of which will come from the employee. A problem for the government is whether this will be a disincentive to work and save. As is the case now, people who saved hard for their retirement are penalised when it comes to means-tested benefits (from additional pensions to household expenses such as central heating installation and in many other ways). It has been the same since the introduction of the 'Welfare State' : if you waste your money during your life someone else will hopefully keep you in old age. I realise, however, that there are many people who have NEVER been in a position to save, even living frugally. This problem will never be resolved. One cannot, in a modern society, let people starve because they were not wise savers during their lives, as Malthus suggested. Our local workhouse still exists, but has been turned into modern flats !
See more on pensions, including SIPPS lower down
The endowment policy mis-selling scandal.
Recently some very
large organisations have had their knuckles rapped because of the
way in which they have been dealing with people who believe they were
The high court has ruled that the banks must take responsibility for this mis-selling. They are bound to appeal as the cost runs into billions. But it does seem likely that the majority of cases will be in favour of the customer
If you think you were mis-sold an endowment policy e.g. one that was supposed to cover your mortgage, you can ask an Endowment Investigation Company to take up your case for you. But they will charge a percentage of what you are awarded. This can vary between 10% and 50%! (one scandal after another) Or you can follow the procedure suggested in Financial Mail.
The Financial Ombudsman If you feel that you have exhausted all possibilities when dealing with a financial organisation you can consider complaining to the Financial Ombudsman at www.financial-ombudsman.org.uk
Impartial booklet from
The cheapest way to borrow money - for house owners - is still to re-mortgage. Vast sums are being borrowed in this way (mortgages represent the vast majority of the trillions that we owe in the UK). A number of Building Societies will lend money to Owner Occupiers at reasonable rates, keeping the same rate for a year or so. But see the Sunday Telegraph or Mail for the fees charged and whether there is a tie-in period ('redemption penalty') after this initial low rate. Those which don't tie in may still charge a low rate. But compare this with other forms of longer term borrowing and you can see the advantage of remortgaging. With deals like Intelligent Finance Natwest or www.oneaccount.com (RBS) you can reduce mortgage payments even further by linking your current account to the mortgage, so you only pay interest on the balance. It is a question of whether you are prepared to put the house up as collateral or are keen to keep the house value intact. There may be an arrangement fee, which would make it uneconomic if you are borrowing a smaller amount. It is difficult to imagine why ANY house owner would borrow large sums on credit card and store cards at their high rates.
Independent Financial Advice? It may be independent but it isn't free. Advisers have to earn a living and they will want you to buy something that pays them a commission. Purchasing Unit Trusts, for instance, involves initial charges and it is from these that the adviser gets his cut. Try www.unbiased.co.uk or www.fool.com Free investment guides are also obtainable from www.share.com
***********GARS ? Another guarantee to mull over. During the 70's and 80's, when insurance companies were rich and optimistic (and people were not stubbornly living to 84 and 87) hundreds of thousands of policies were sold on the basis of a GAR or Guarantee Annuity Rate with a minimum lifetime income promised. Although at least one insurance company tried to wriggle out of its contract (and was slapped down in the High Court) other companies are only giving policyholders a limited period in which to claim their GAR, resulting in a substantial loss of income for life if they fail to reply.
Life Insurance (generally for younger people). This is another area where it pays to shop around. A broker, such as Cavendish Online may find you a better deal than going to one particular company. In fact it can save you thousands over a period of 20 years.
If you are thinking of cashing in an endowment policy and it is worth over £2,000 you will find that you get a better deal by selling it as a 'going concern'.
AAP (link to http://www.aap.co.uk) is the largest endowment policy buyer & seller in the UK. Find out all you need to know about endowment surrender, selling endowments & cashing in policies with
Also have a look at www.policyplus.com (now called Surrenda) (0845 20 20 200). They buy and sell endowment policies. But not all policies are easily sold. You need to shop around and it may be worth considering 'freezing' the policy rather than just cashing it in, which almost inevitably results in a poor deal.
Finding a map to guide you through the new pensions maze can be challenging
pension fund freedoms, allowing savers to treat their
pension pot as a bank account at the age of 55 were revolutionary. But
what does this mean? What can people do with their new freedoms? How do
they find their way through the ever-expanding pensions maze?.
There are so many possibilities and the whole thing is such a minefield
one can only suggest that you consult a reliable advisor.
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