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We would all like to have substantial income so that we can stop or cut down on the amount of time we spend at work or even retire altogether. But what if you are facing a pension shortfall or need to meet an unexpected expense. Equity release may be an option to consider, as it allows you to unlock some of the wealth accumulated in your property without having to downsize. However, before you consider taking this option, there are key aspects of it which you must consider.

There are two main types of equity release scheme:

Lifetime mortgage – which is a loan secured on your home, it is repaid by selling your home when you die or go into long-term care.

Home reversion – Where you sell all or part of your home to a scheme provider in return for regular income or a cash lump sum, or both, and continue to live in your home for as long as you wish. To qualify for equity release you have to be usually 55 or over and own your own home. If you do have an outstanding mortgage and want to take out equity release, you will need to settle your mortgage first, which will affect the amount you then have access to for other purposes. You will receive tax-free cash as a lump sum, a regular income, or both, to use as you wish and you can continue to live in your own home. Remember though that it is still your responsibility to maintain the home.

Your equity release questions answered:

Q: Is there a minimum amount I have to take?
A: There could be a minimum amount you have to take, it will depend on the scheme and provider. But you may not have to take it all at once. Drawdown loans can be taken in smaller amounts over time.

Q: What happens to my partner if I die?
A: The scheme should be in both your names then the arrangements will continue. If you are using equity release to increase your income, make sure you consider the situation should you or your partner die. If the property and scheme were in your sole name, the property would have to be sold and your partner would have to move out, unless they could repay the lifetime mortgage in full.

Q: Does equity release reduce the amount of Inheritance Tax (IHT) due on my estate?
A: Equity release will reduce the value of your estate when you die, which may reduce a potential IHT liability. If you are considering using an equity release scheme as part of your planning for IHT, you should obtain professional financial advice.

Q: Is a sale-and-rent-back scheme the same as a home reversion?
A: No, because if you rent you may have to leave your home after the end of the fixed term in your tenancy agreement, which may only last a few years and you may have to pay a much higher rent than under a home reversion plan, and the rent could go up.

Q: What happens if we need long-term care?
A: Your equity release scheme will usually continue unchanged if care is provided in your own home or just one of you moves to a residential or nursing home. If you both move into a care home, the scheme will usually end and the property will be sold. Releasing equity from your home is a very big lifetime commitment, so ensure you have included your family in any decision you make. Equity release may involve a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan. To understand the features and risks, it is crucial to obtain a personalised illustration from a professionally qualified adviser because equity release is not right for everyone and it may affect your entitlement to state benefits and will reduce the value of your estate.
INFORMATION IS BASED ON OUR CURRENT UNDERSTANDING OF TAXATION LEGISLATION AND REGULATIONS. ANY LEVELS AND BASES OF, AND RELIEFS FROM, TAXATION ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE. Need more help? This feature aims to give some informal hints and McPhersons Financial Solutions are offering free advice so get in touch now to arrange your meeting.

Official figures have shown that the UK economic growth for the second quarter of the year was unrevised at 0.7%. The figure that was released in July was increased because of a sharp rise in oil and gas production.

On Friday, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) did not change the reading for the three months to June. The figure was higher than the 0.4% growth recorded for the first quarter of the year.

The biggest contribution to trade in four years came from net trade boosting GDP by one percentage point in the second quarter as exports jumped. However, economists believe that this could be temporary because the strength of sterling means that British goods are more expensive abroad.

Business investment is on the rise as it rose 2.9% in comparison with the first three months of 2015. In the first quarter, household spending had a 0.9% rise whereas it only increased by 0.7% recently.

Last year the UK economy expanded by 3% and the Bank of England has forecast a 2.8% growth this year.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said that government borrowing was in surplus by £1.3 billion in July. Official figures have also shown that the UK government spent less last month than it received in taxes and other forms of income.

The figures show that this was the first July surplus since 2012 and this is due to higher amounts of income tax receipts. The ONS stated that the month of July is usually a month of higher tax receipts.

In July 2015, the government received £59.1 billion in income and this is about 4% higher than last year’s figure.

Public sector net debt excluding public sector banks is now at £1.5 trillion. This is 80.8% of gross domestic product (GDP), said the ONS. In addition to this, annual borrowing has continued to fall since hitting a peak in the financial year ending March 2010. This data is according to the ONS.

UK inflation rose in July with the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure rising to 0.1%. In June, the percentage stayed at 0% and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) stated that the main reason that inflation rose is because of the lower prices of clothing.

However, the Retail Prices Index measure of inflation has stayed the same at 1% and this will be used to calculate rail fare increases. The fares will remain the same until next year.

For the last six months, CPI has been almost flat and turned negative in April. This is the first time since 1960. CPI inflation strips out increases in energy, food, alcohol and tobacco. In addition to this, the underlying measure of CPI inflation rose to 1.2% in July, which is a five-month high. The ongoing supermarket price war could be the reason that CPI was held back, with a 2.7% year-on-year fall in the price of food and non-alcoholic drinks.

Taking all this into consideration, there has been question over when the Bank of England might raise interest rates. The Bank has a target inflation rate of 2%.

In the past two months, the drop in the price of oil has fallen by nearly a quarter, which is why analysts have said that the inflation rate could fall back again.

UK unemployment rose to 1.85 million in the April to June period. This is a rise of 25,000 on the previous quarter.

Despite this rise, over the last 12 months employment levels have continued to be higher with a total of 354,000 more people in work than a year before.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures have suggested that earnings growth is slowing but earnings including bonuses rose 2.4% from a year ago. This compares with 3.2% growth in the March to May period.

There was no change from the previous figure in terms of pay, which still stands at 2.8% in the April to June period. This excludes bonuses.

However, the number of EU nationals who moved to the UK to work over the last year has increased by 12%.

The employment rate is the proportion of people aged 16 to 64 who are in work. The rate is now 73.4%, which is an increase of 72.8% from a year ago. In the UK, unemployment was highest in the North East at 8.1% of England and lowest in the South West 4.4%.

 

 

With nearly three quarters of all trips abroad made by Britons in 2014 being to EU countries, EU countries are by far our most popular foreign destination. As many families prepare for their trips, both in the UK and abroad, Anneliese wants to make sure people are in the know on latest developments for travelling in Europe.

Anneliese said: “This summer, like thousands of people in Sussex, I’m looking forward to going on holiday with my family. Whether you’re flying to mainland Europe, or visiting one of our excellent Blue Flag beaches in the South East, like the Littlehampton Coastguards beach in Sussex, it’s important that you know your rights and what to expect on your holiday.

“From introducing a cap on roaming charges across the EU to make mobile phone bills cheaper, to bringing in high standards for clean beaches so you can be sure you’re swimming in safe water, the EU has done much to make holidays both at home and abroad safer and easier. Getting ready for a holiday, with all the packing, planning and remembering passports can be stressful, so it’s great that being part of the EU means you don’t have to worry about emergency healthcare, or spending thousands of pounds on phone calls back to the UK.”

Here are Anneliese’s six top things to remember before going on holiday:

  1. It’s easier than ever to move around Europe – you don’t need to worry about getting a visa to travel in the EU – all you need to move between countries is your passport.
  2. The beaches are cleaner than ever – there are 18 Blue Flag beaches in the South East, which means they meet the highest standards for water quality and safety.
  3. You don’t have to worry about healthcare bills – The European Health Insurance Card allows you access to the best free emergency cover anywhere in Europe – and best of all it’s completely free to get one.
  4. Making calls will soon be as cheap as home – from April 2016, you can’t be charged more than 4p per minute for calls, 1p for texts and 4p per MB of data. Better still, from June 2017 there will be no charges at all.
  5. Flights are the cheapest in years – meaning that holidays on the continent don’t have to break the bank. This is thanks to the EU ending airline monopolies.
  6. You can shop with peace of mind – no matter where you are in Europe, you are entitled to a refund within 14 days of unwanted items being returned. Also, if you have flight difficulties, and are travelling with an EU airline, they must help you if your plane is cancelled or delayed. This can involve booking you on the next flight or giving you a full refund.

Some airport shops are keeping the extra money they earn when passengers show their boarding passes and are being urged to pass VAT savings on.

Customers show boarding passes so that retailers in the UK can avoid paying 20% VAT on purchases made by people who fly outside of the EU.

Buying without having to pay VAT is supposed to be for the benefit of travellers, said the treasury minister David Gauke. He also stated that it was not meant to provide a windfall gain for shops.

However, passengers do not legally have to show their boarding passes when they buy products at the airport. Passengers usually think that they have to show their passes but it is a request by shops so that they can avoid paying the VAT.

Boots is one of many retailers who operate in the UK airports and a spokesman said that the company did not claim back some VAT for non-EU passengers. This was to follow the rules that the government set out.

WH Smith on the other hand, said that having different pricing for travellers to EU and non-EU destinations would be impossible because it would mean distinguishing between each traveller.

Many shops were found to have some discounts in airports but still kept most of the savings.

On September the 3rd everyone will join together to cycle to work in order to help businesses overcome the rising cost of transport and travel.

Many jobs, such as an estate agent, involve driving from place to place to get to meetings. On this event it would be easy to say no to driving and yes to an electric bike. There is a free bike loan available to anyone who wishes to take part.

Also in the mix, there are events happening this summer in Eastbourne and Peacehaven where you can join others on a number of led rides. This was organised by the South Downs National Park and East Sussex Bikeability.

There is an opportunity to win 1 of 3 bikes on September the 3rd when taking part in cycle to work day.

Email rachael.cherry@sustrans.org.uk for any enquires or for help with promoting the cause at school or in a workplace.

 

 

 

 

The new Pitman Training Centre recently opened at Sussex Coast College in Hastings and aims to develop a clear path for career progression. There are both Centre-based and home-learning options, meaning students can visualize their end goals.

Students get the opportunity to arm themselves with the skills that employers expect. The Centre offers programmes that are specific to each individual, helping in areas such as office skills, PA and secretarial, keyboard and touch typing, business and management, finance and accounting, web and graphic design, self and career development and IT and Microsoft Office training.

Training with Pitman means that there are flexible hours to work around other commitments and support from course advisors in person as well as by email and telephone.

Over 70% of the students get a job within 6 months of completing a course and there is a 98% pass rate for a range of diplomas. There are a number of diplomas, training awards, courses and seminars from which certain programmes will result in an internationally recognised qualification. This includes AAT, CILEX, City and Guilds/AMSPAR, CompTIA and MCSA.

Contact: Judith Vandepeer Delgado,
Pitman Centre Manager
Station Plaza Campus, Sussex Coast College Hastings, 
Station Approach, 
Hastings,
 East Sussex, 
TN34 1BA

Email: ptchastings@pitman-training.net

Phone: 01424 458494

For the Facebook page click here.

Twitter: @PitmanHastings

 

Southern has been shortlisted for a number of awards at this year’s Community Rail awards, recognising a range of community and passenger improvement programmes.

The awards, organised by the Association of Community Rail Partnership Awards, provide an opportunity to recognise the unsung heroes and heroines of the community rail world, recognising hard work and dedication.

Southern has been shortlisted as finalists in the following categories:

Community Art Schemes – Renewable and Small Projects – Purley station subway art mural, which saw Southern work with a local school to produce a stunning piece of art to brighten up the subway. The work was the suggestion of one of the local team and the children used the local town and its location as the inspiration for the mural.

Most Enhanced Station Building – Development of Hassocks station. Over recent years Hassocks station has been transformed, with a brand new building, which is both modern and blended into the local area, and made accessible, with new lifts. Alongside this the station’s partnership has provided beautiful flowers and the new cycle hub includes a community-run bike hire shop.

Passengers Matter – This Is Me campaign, brought together feedback from passengers with access needs to create posters, leaflets and videos. For staff this has become part of the training and team brief process. The material was also used to promote the assistance services Southern offer to passengers. The campaign has been extremely well received, with our assistance feedback improving to an even higher standard.

Southern is also shortlisted with the Sussex Community Rail Partnership (SCRP) for two projects: the National Citizenship Project art mural at London Road (Brighton) and Chatsmore art project. The SCRP works closely with Southern across the south of the network and has a further four shortlistings with other partners too.

Winners of the awards will be announced on 1st October.