Tag Archives: pensions

Autumn Statement 2016: a summary

The Chancellor announced his first (and last) Autumn Statement on 23 November, and some of the main focuses were in housing, allowances and infrastructure.

We went into the streets to ask what people would do if they were chancellor. Watch the video to find out!

The main headlines – a brief summary

Housing

A £2.3bn housing infrastructure fund is to unlock land for housing, which in doing so is set to create 100,000 new homes in areas of high demand.  There’s also a further £1.4bn to build 40,000 affordable home, as well as a new venture that aims to give the Right to Buy for housing association tenants.

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How does the drop in interest rates affect you?

Yesterday, one month later than most experts had predicted, the Bank of England announced a historic change in interest rates, the first change since 2009 – and rather than the upward rise that had been widely predicted for the past few years, it fell from 0.5% to 0.25%.

 So what does this mean in practical terms?

Mortgages – For those on a tracker mortgage, as long as your lender passes on the cut to its own base mortgage rate (or if it is linked directly to the BoE base rate), your rate (and monthly payment) should go down.  In all, there are about 1.5 million trackers in the UK.

However, some banks and building societies have a ‘tracker floor’, which means there is a limit to how low the percentage can go above the Bank of England base rate. In this case, your rate (and mortgage payment) would be unlikely to change.

If you have a fixed rate mortgage, you wouldn’t be affected if the rates went down during your fixed period, but when the time comes to re-mortgage – or if you’re a new homebuyer – , the options open to you could potentially be more favourable, with some experts suggesting long-term fixes even going below 2%.

Savers – In the event of an interest rates cut, it may depend if banks chose to pass on the cut to savings accounts. Some savers may decide to switch to bonds or shares, which could have the effect of driving those prices higher.

For pension savers who are using an annuity, a rate cut could make annuity rates fall by putting pressure on the long-term. This could have a potential negative effect on employee pension schemes too.

Needing currency for holidays – While interest rate cuts can often mean a weakening of the pound, it may well be the case that the currency markets will have been factoring in a cut for some time already – hence there may be little change if it does eventually happen.  Interest rate cuts can be done sometimes to provide an economic stimulus – to encourage people to spend rather than to save – so perhaps this could help improve consumer confidence and boost the pound.

But what about when it does rise? – Mark Carney, Governor of the Bank of England, has warned against expecting interest rates to stay low forever in these uncertain times, and suggested that homeowners would do well to prepare their finances to be ready for a potential rise of up to 3% in the coming years.

Many homeowners, particularly those who’ve joined the market in the past seven years, will have never been faced with an interest rate rise, and tighter borrowing conditions in the future could make it harder to cope with a rise.

How your credit score could help –  Having a higher credit score could mean you get better deals or lower interest rates on credit, loans and mortgages. The Experian Credit Score is a guide to help you understand your Experian Credit Report, and how the way you’ve managed the credit you’ve had in the past might affect applications you’re making now.

It can also help you to monitor your progress as you get your finances in order before you apply. Getting your credit score up could open up the potential chance to get better rates.

(original post 14 July 2016, updated 5 August 2016)

What do the new pension freedoms mean?

retired-couple-in park-300April 2015 saw the introduction of ‘pension freedoms’, which essentially gave those aged 55 and over wider access to their pension funds.

In previous years, this meant being able to take a quarter of their ‘defined contribution’ pension (ie: one based on how much they paid into it) as a tax-free lump sum, but invariably using the rest of the money to buy an annuity designed to pay out an income each year for the rest of your life.

Video: How we manage money has changed over the generations

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5 key takeouts from Budget 2016

tax-hat-300How will #Budget2016 affect you?  The Chancellor said “we have to act now so we don’t have to pay later”, and we’ve heard proposals for cuts, funding and changes that could affect all of us around the country in different ways.

We’ve picked out 5 key areas from #Budget2016.

–          Changes to income tax – As promised in last year’s summer budget, tax-free personal allowance will rise from £10,600 in 2015/16 to £11,000 from April. It will then go up a further £500 in April 2017 to make it £11,500 that you can earn before you have to start paying income tax.

The 40p tax threshold rises from £42,385 to £43,000, with a further increase to £45,000 in April 2017 as the Chancellor speeds up attempts to increase it £50,000 by 2020. Continue reading

Budget 2016 preview – what’ll it bring?

How will the Budget impact you?

How will the Budget impact you?

The Chancellor’s spring budget arrives on Wednesday 16 March. It’s the last one before the nation goes to the polls for the referendum on EU membership, so it will be interesting to see what emerges.

Many of us are likely to be affected in different ways, from income tax to benefits, from housing to savings. What have the experts been predicting for the Budget 2016 headlines?

Income tax
As promised in last year’s summer budget, personal allowance (how much you can earn tax-free before you start paying income tax) will rise from £10,600 in 2015/16 to £11,000 from April, while the 40p tax threshold rises from £42,385 to £43,000.   Continue reading

So how might Budget 2015 impact you?

How will the Budget impact you?

How will the Budget impact you?

The final Budget before the General Election is here, and what does it have in store? We’ve seen announcements on pensions, tax, housing and much more that will affect all of us around the country in different ways.

Some of the headlines from Budget 2015 were:

Income tax
One big win for many is that the amount you can earn before being taxed – personal tax allowance –  was already due to increase from £10,000 to £10,600 from April, and is set to rise further  – up to £10,800 next year, and then to £11,000 the year after.

Some people will also benefit from the higher tax rate threshold – in other words, the moment you start paying 40p in the pound – being raised from £42,385 in 2014-15 to £43,300 by 2017-18, although some speculation had suggested it would go as high as £50,000. Continue reading