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Retirees in line for bumper 3.9% state pension increase

Posted: Oct 17, 2019

State pensions are set to rise by 3.9% from next April - the biggest increase since 2012. 

This means that those receiving the old state pension (i.e. those who reached state pension age before 6th April 2016) will see their basic payment increase by £5.05 per week to £134.25, while those receiving the new state pension (those who reached state pension age since 6th April 2016) will see an increase of £6.60 per week to £175.20. 

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Annuity rates hit 25-year record low

Posted: Oct 08, 2019

Annuity rates hit their lowest level since 1994 in September, with implications for those making retirement decisions.

Since the introduction of pensions flexibility in 2015, annuities have become much less popular as a way of converting a pension fund into income. The most recent figures from the Financial Conduct Authority show that over five times as much money is placed in income drawdown now as goes towards annuity purchase.

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Who are the top 1% of income tax payers?

Posted: Sep 26, 2019

A recent report looking at who pays the most income tax reveals some interesting findings.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published a briefing note in early August with a detailed answer to the question of what it takes to enter the 1% club. Around 310,000 people make up this cohort, with some predictable and not so predictable traits:

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Probate delays affecting estate settlements

Posted: Sep 26, 2019

There are currently long delays in gaining probate on the estates of the recently deceased.

Late in 2018, the government issued a written statement announcing its intent to go ahead with controversial increases in probate fees for England and Wales. Instead of the current flat fees of £155 for applications through a solicitor and £215 for individual applications, draft legislation was issued with a sliding fee scale that rose to £6,000 for estates valued at over £2m. To many, the measure looked more like a new tax than a fee increase.

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Mind the insurance gender gap

Posted: Sep 26, 2019

Women generally insure themselves for much smaller sums than men, although both buy life insurance and critical illness cover in roughly equal numbers.

The average level of cover for a man’s life insurance policy is around £130,000, but only around £85,000 for women’s policies, according to an analysis of policies by software company IRESS. The gap is even larger with critical illness policies, which pay out if you are diagnosed with one of the listed critical conditions. Here, the average cover taken out by women is around half the average cover for men.

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Goodbye, Help to Buy ISA

Posted: Sep 26, 2019

The Help to Buy ISA (HTBISA) will be closed to new savers after 30 November 2019. Existing savers will be able to continue making contributions for a further ten years.

Nearly 220,000 homes have been bought using the HTBISA since its launch in 2015. The demise of this type of ISA is due to the launch in April 2017 of the Lifetime ISA (LISA), which also incorporates a tax incentive for homebuyers.

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Homing in on capital gains tax

Posted: Sep 26, 2019

Draft legislation confirms a further tightening of the rules on capital gains tax (CGT) and your home.

The government has been reforming the tax system to make investment in residential property less attractive. Actions have included increasing stamp duty land tax (mirrored in Scotland and Wales), reducing tax relief for mortgage interest and, from next tax year, creating a 30-day time limit for paying CGT on any residential property sale profits.

There will be two further new changes from April next year:

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Workplace pensions – good start but not enough

Posted: Sep 26, 2019

This October marks the seventh anniversary of the start of workplace pension auto-enrolment, perhaps proving that some grand government schemes can be a success.

Auto-enrolment has hugely increased the number of people in workplace pensions. By April 2018, nearly nine out of ten eligible employees were workplace pension members (85% in the private sector, 93% in the public sector), according to recently issued figures from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

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Time for a university fees shake-up?

Posted: Sep 26, 2019

A review of post-18 education in England has put student financing under the spotlight yet again – and could be the subject of another bout of reform.

The review suggested several major reforms in response to growing criticism of the level of university tuition fees. While these reforms focused on the system in England, they could prompt a response from other parts of the UK as well. The main proposals were:

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