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Dividends wobble with 40% cuts

Posted: Jun 18, 2019

Recent dividend announcements have been an unwelcome reminder for some investors that peaks also have downsides.

Dividends matter to investors in UK shares. The UK stock market has historically been one of the higher yielding of the world’s major share markets. For example, on 24 May the average dividend yield in the UK, based on the FTSE All-Share Index, was 4.26% against just 1.94% across the Atlantic, as measured by the  S&P 500 Index.

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Another take on long-term care costs

Posted: Jun 18, 2019

A new set of proposals for funding long-term care has emerged from a significant source.

The funding of long-term care is an issue that beats even Brexit in terms of protracted political procrastination.  A Royal Commission on the subject was established in 1997 and reported in 1999. Its proposals were rejected by the then Labour government as too costly.

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Pension flexibility: too taxing for many

Posted: Jun 18, 2019

Recent HMRC statistics highlight the over-taxation of some pension benefits.

More than one million people have received flexible pension payments thanks to  therules introduced just over four years ago. HMRC’s most recent statistics, to the end of March 2019, show that 1,113,000 people have withdrawn over £25,600m from their pensions, across 6,136,000 payments. The amounts withdrawn and the number of payments have both increased each tax year – in 2018/19 there were over 2,400,000 payments totalling £8,180m.

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How well do you understand inheritance tax?

Posted: Jun 18, 2019

A survey by HMRC published in May concluded that the public have a relatively poor knowledge of inheritance tax (IHT) rules and lack of confidence in what they do know.

HMRC recently commissioned a survey of 947 people who had made gifts in the last two years. To assess knowledge of the IHT system among these donors, they were asked eight questions, which are shown below. Now it is your turn to try:

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Riding out investment bends

Posted: May 22, 2019

Professional investor interest has been focusing on US government bond yields, with potential lessons for long term investment.

Source: US Treasury 

On 22 March the US stock market caught a sudden – and brief – chill.  One of the main reasons was the red line in the graph shown above.

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Doctors tapering off as pension tax rules bite

Posted: May 22, 2019

Measures designed to limit the cost of pensions tax relief to the Treasury are having some unwelcome consequences, as some senior doctors have found their incomes disappearing.

Some members of the medical profession have found changes to legislation mean their earnings are getting swallowed up by the tax system. According to a recent Financial Times report some NHS consultants are being landed with tax bills of up to £87,000, prompting them to reduce working hours or even take early retirement.

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How long do you want to work...?

Posted: May 22, 2019

As people are living longer, a parallel older-age profile is emerging in the labour force.

Source: National Statistics 16/4/2019

Labour market statistics for the period December 2018 to February 2019 revealed some impressive results. In the UK, employment of those aged 16–64 was running at 76.1%, the joint highest level ever and up 0.7% on a year ago.

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Happy 20th birthday to ISAs

Posted: Apr 04, 2019

6th April marks the 20th birthday of the Individual Savings Account (ISA).

When the ISA was introduced in 1999, many thought it to be little more than a rebranding of the two schemes it replaced: the Personal Equity Plan (PEP) and Tax Exempt Savings Account (TESSA). The following 20 years have proved ISAs to be much more.

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Living longer, but…

Posted: Apr 04, 2019

A recent report shows that life expectancy is still improving, but not as quickly as was once expected.

“British life expectancy falls by SIX MONTHS for men and women”

That was one recent headline in response to the latest report of the Continuous Mortality Investigation (CMI) of the Institute and Faculty of Actuaries. While it was not inaccurate, like many such headlines it was open to misinterpretation.

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An overshadowed Spring Statement

Posted: Apr 04, 2019

The Chancellor’s Spring Statement was almost obscured by other events in mid-March.

Ever since he announced a move to an Autumn Budget in 2016, Mr Hammond has made it clear that he wanted to avoid the Spring Statement counterpart becoming a mini-Budget. His vision was that in March he would be presenting a brief response to the latest forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR). As the Treasury website stressed, “there will now only be one major fiscal event each year”.

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