Pension: Follow this advice to ‘get your retirement savings back on track’ – expert guide

Pension income is one of the few things people can rely on in retirement. State pensions provide a relatively low amount of income and nowhere near the same amount of flexibility, making private schemes very valuable financial assets.

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Because of these factors, it can be incredibly painful to see pensions fall in value, especially when the cause is something out of the holder’s control.

Coronavirus has hit many people’s pension pots and while younger workers may be able to ride out the damage, those approaching retirement are unlikely to have similar options.

Thankfully, there is advice available for people stuck with these problems which can help them plan out their next steps.

Joel Kempson, a Personal Finance Expert at money.co.uk, provided insight on what options people have, even when factoring coronavirus: “COVID-19 has created turmoil in global financial markets, hitting many people’s pension pots.

“Combined with job losses, reduced incomes and low saving rates, it means now is an incredibly worrying time for anyone hoping to retire in the near future.

“Even though around 1.5m workers in the UK over 50 have said they will need to delay their retirement plans due to the pandemic, there are still some steps you can take to help get your retirement savings back on track.”

The first topic he covered focused on professional advice, a complicated and often costly option that some may be intimidated by.

Getting the right advice

“Take the time to think about what your financial goals are without letting panic about the present drive your decisions for the future.

“Any decision about your pension may have long-term consequences on your retirement income, so you should think about getting independent advice from a qualified financial advisor.”

Within the UK, there are thousands of companies and independent financial advisors offering this type of service, meaning it can be daunting to even know where to start.

Fortunately, Joel highlighted a number of sites and service providers that can help narrow down the options: “Sites like Unbiased.co.uk and VouchedFor can be good starting points to find affordable and independent advice.

“This is especially helpful when thinking about things like the tax implications of any decisions relating to your pension pot.

“You can also get information and free planning tools from The Pensions Advisory Service (TPAS). TPAS is a government-run body which gives information and guidance to members of the public on their company, personal and state pensions.”

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Pension options

The UK has very unique pension laws which provide people with large amounts of freedom in how they access their pots.

From the age of 55, British savers can dip into their pension assets but Joel warns that people should think twice before taking action: “If you’re aged over 55 and you’re planning on getting access to your pension soon, you may have to think about taking a lower income than you had originally planned.

“By leaving more in the pot now, it is possible that you’ll be able to benefit from future increases in the value of your investments.”

Some people may also be considering buying an annuity, which can provide income in retirement.

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These annuities can be impacted by interest rate movements and Joel touched on how Bank of England decisions can alter the costs involved: “You may be planning to buy an annuity. Annuities are financial products you can buy with your retirement pot which guarantee you a set income for the rest of your life.

“The cost of getting an annuity is influenced by a number of factors, including the Bank of England base rate. The Bank has recently reduced the rate in order to soften the economic impact of the coronavirus.

“This is likely to affect the cost of an annuity, and you may face additional charges as a result.

“Again, it’s worth getting independent financial advice from a trustworthy source before you buy an annuity.”

Job losses

Finally, Joel commented on the unfortunate reality facing many people in the UK at the moment.

Coronavirus has forced many people out of work who may then have no choice but to fall back on their savings and pensions to fund them.

This is understandable, but Joel implores people stuck in this problem to consider any other options they may have: “If you are aged 55 or over and you’ve been made redundant due to COVID-19, it could be tempting to start drawing on your pension as soon as possible.

“But think carefully before you do this. If you weren’t planning on withdrawing money from your pension at this point you should think about what other short-term options are available.

“The longer you can reasonably hold off taking your pension the more time there will be for your pension investments to potentially increase in value after any coronavirus-related fall.

“You may be entitled to financial support from the government through at least one of several benefit schemes, including Universal Credit, New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance and New Style Employment and Support Allowance.”

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Premium Bonds: June 2020 winners announced – jackpot winners face big change

Premium Bonds holders are in with a chance to win prizes of between £25 and £1million so long as they’re entered in a monthly draw. The prize fund in total for June was £104million and the total number of prizes for this month was more than 3.6 million.

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Each month, there are two jackpot winners who win the maximum prize of £1million.

The first millionaire winner for this month was a female from Nottingham.

Her winning bond number was 292ME808065 and she had a holding of £50,000 – the highest amount possible.

The specific bond that won it for her had a value of £25,000 and it was purchased in January 2017.

The second jackpot winner was a man from Stoke-On-Trent.

His winning number was 384CP325978 and he had a total holding of £27,500.

The winning bond was purchased very recently in February 2020 and its value was £14,000.

Of course, while there are only two winners of the £1million jackpots, there are many people who win other high value prizes.

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For June, there were six winners of £100,000 spread across the UK.

There are 14 winners of £50,000, with one of whom having purchased their winning bond number all the way back in 1989.

There are hundreds of winning numbers in total and all of them are now available to see on the NS&I website.

Premium Bond holders can also utilise the government-backed saving bank’s prize checker to see if they’ve won.

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The NS&I prize checker just requires the user to enter their holder’s number and it will detail if they’ve won or not.

This prize checker can be used on NS&I’s website but it is also available via app.

Jackpot winners would usually be visited by the “Agent Million” who would arrive at the millionaire winner’s doors to give them the good news.

However, due to coronavirus this will no longer occur and instead, Agent Million will contact jackpot winners through other means.

Premium Bond winners have a number of options available to them.

Their prizes can be paid directly into a bank account of their choosing, which is detailed as the quickest and safest option.

The prize money will be paid into the account by the seventh working day of the month.

Winners can also automatically have their winnings reinvested, purchasing more premium bonds for future draws.

NS&I details that they contact everyone who has won a prize but sometimes it’s not possible to reach the winners.

Thankfully, the prizes are held by NS&I until someone claims them and there is no time limit for these claims.

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Millions of fake face masks and hand sanitisers seized at Heathrow

LTS, as part of its yearly campaign, reports that the majority of masks seized had been labelled with false claims or fake safety certificates and around 4.25 million had to undergo label amendments before they were subsequently released.  

However, 2.25 million have been found not to comply with legal safety standards.

Trading standards teams examined a further 1.5 million face masks and no issues were found.

Many of the consignments were referred to trading standards by Border Force teams at the airport.

The teams also seized 8,000 fake hand sanitisers, branded Andrex and Comfort, at Heathrow Airport. 

Suspicions were raised as they had identical packaging and labelling, except for the brand name, and the same batch code on the entire consignment. 

Identical fake sanitiser products have been found on sale in Bexley by trading standards officers. 

A further 4,500 hand sanitisers with false labelling were seized at the airport, according to LTS.

Hillingdon and Hounslow Councils’ Trading Standards services provide product safety inspections at Heathrow Airport on behalf of the UK Office for Product Safety & Standards (OPSS).

As well as stopping dodgy imports, trading standards are increasingly concerned about unsafe UK-made hand sanitisers being sold that fail to meet safety standards.  

Tower Hamlets Trading Standards have for example recently found UK-made hand sanitiser on sale online from a local shop that contains the banned substance Triclosan.

Ealing Council’s Trading Standards team recently detained 454,500 face masks described as “anti-virus”, where fake safety certification was supplied.

Ealing also seized 60,000 face masks that failed to have the necessary importers details, batch, declaration of conformity or test certificates available to demonstrate compliance.

The borough also seized 3,390 hand sanitisers, which lacked any legally required information regarding ingredients, batch, traceability, warnings or instructions.

London Trading Standards operations director, Stephen Knight, said: “Trading standards teams at Heathrow Airport and around London play an important role in protecting consumers from unscrupulous businesses seeking to bypass EU and UK safety laws.

“There has been a surge is firms attempting to import sub-standard face masks, many with false labelling or faked safety certificates. 

Trading standards teams are being pragmatic in seeking to let these important goods through, once misleading labelling is removed, and the necessary safety compliance can be shown.

However, we will continue to protect consumers from unsafe goods.”

Cllr Ray Puddifoot, Hillingdon Council leader and London Councils’ Executive Member for Health & Care, said: “As these results show, dishonest businesses are seeking to exploit COVID-19 pressures by bringing in significant quantities of unsafe equipment – but we’re not standing for it. 

“The checks carried out by trading standards officers at Heathrow and by local teams across the capital are crucial for identifying fake and sub-standard products, upholding the law, and keeping people safe.”

Chartered Trading Standards Institute chief executive Leon Livermore, said: “I wish to extend my congratulations to the trading standards teams at Heathrow Airport who have seized these counterfeit items. PPE and cleansing liquids have become essential commodities, and sadly, some have chosen to use this as an opportunity to defraud the public and health services.

“Trading standards and other organisations in the consumer protection sphere have been working around the clock defending the public from fraud related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am proud of their work and the contribution they have made to alleviating further harms during this unprecedented situation.”

LTS is highlighting a different area of trading standards response to consumer issues raised by the pandemic over the coming weeks as part of the annual LTS Week consumer awareness campaign, this year entitled: “London Trading Standards – Protecting Consumers, Safeguarding Businesses through COVID-19”.

To report concerns about fake products or false claims made about products, contact Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice consumer service helpline on 0808 223 1133 or via their chat service online.

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Universal Credit UK: How to get money on the day you claim – eligibility explained

Universal Credit pays an income which is dependent on the household’s circumstances. While the amounts paid will vary, claimants will get certain allowances as a minimum.

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Single claimants will receive a monthly standard allowance of £342.72 if they’re under 25.

Single claimants older than this will receive £409.89.

Couples will get £488.59 for both if they’re under 25, with older couples getting £594.04.

While some people may be able to tide themselves over during the initial delay, others may need to request an advance.

Claimants who need to cover their bills while they wait can apply for an advance.

This advance payment could be as high as the first official payment.

To apply for this advance the claimant will need to:

  • Explain why they need it
  • Verify their identity
  • Provide bank details for the payment

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Worried claimants will likely be reassured very quickly as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will usually confirm if the person will get an advance on the day they apply.

If the advance is awarded, the money will come through within three working days.

If the claimant needs the money sooner than this, they can ask the DWP to pay it on the same day if they have no other money to live on.

It should be noted that the advance will need to be paid back, lowering future payments in the process.

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Claimants will start paying back the advances from their very first official payment.

They will be able to choose how many months they pay the advance back over.

This will provide some control over the repayments but the total must be repaid within a year.

While an advance is a type of loan, no interest is added onto it.

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Washington recovers $300M in fraudulent unemployment claims

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Washington state has recovered $300 million paid to criminals who used stolen personal information to file fraudulent unemployment benefit claims amid the COVID-19 crisis, officials said Thursday.

Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine said that she could not yet reveal the precise amount that was paid in fraudulent claims, but said that the initial recovery — including $50 million set to be returned Thursday — was a result of the state’s collaboration with federal law enforcement and financial institutions across the country.

“This is a national attack by sophisticated criminals and isn’t just happening to Washington state,” LeVine said.

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LeVine first detailed the scope of the fraud last week, saying that the information of tens of thousands of people in the state was used to fraudulently pay hundreds of millions of dollars in unemployment benefits.

Much of it apparently went to a West African fraud ring using identities stolen in prior data breaches, such as the massive 2017 Equifax breach. Washington is one of several states where attacks have been detected, including New Mexico, Michigan and Montana, according to California cyber security firm Agari, which has monitored the Nigerian fraud group, dubbed Scattered Canary.

The fraudsters had money sent to prepaid debit cards associated with bank accounts, from which they have it transferred internationally or quickly exchanged for bitcoin or gift cards, according to Patrick Peterson, chief executive of Agari.

LeVine said that the state is recovering additional money from some of the victims of the identity theft who contacted officials after they received debit cards with unemployment benefits they didn’t apply for because the the impostor forgot to change the address on the account.

The state saw a significant decrease in initial claims for unemployment benefits last week, something LeVine said is likely due to the extra anti-fraud efforts taken in recent weeks, including delaying payments by up to two days in order to further verify claims.

Nearly 1.5 million claims for benefits — with some of that number reflecting people who filed multiple claims — were filed for the week of May 17-23, and more than $494.5 million was paid last week to 424,995 individual claims.

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To date, the state has paid nearly $4.7 billion in benefits to more than 807,000 people, including federal money that is providing the unemployed with an additional $600 a week on top of the state’s weekly maximum benefit of up to $790 per week.

Of the more than 323,000 still awaiting payment, LeVine said that a majority of them are cases where someone has filed an initial application but not a weekly claim, or those who haven’t applied since the federal program made them eligible. About 44,000 people are currently in adjudication, as one or more issues with their application is being investigated.

“We will pay people all the benefits that they are owed,” she said. “At the same time, we need to take these additional precautions to ensure that we’re not sending taxpayer dollars out to the criminals.”

Since March, more than 40 million people nationwide have filed for unemployment aid due to the economic impacts of the coronavirus.

Washington’s stay-at-home order has been in place since March 23 and the state’s unemployment rate jumped to a record 15.4 percent last month.

Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee announced a four-stage reopening plan earlier this month. He has allowed counties with fewer new cases to apply to move to the second stage, which allows some businesses to reopen, including dine-in restaurants at half capacity. As of Thursday, 26 of the state’s 39 counties have been approved to move into Phase 2.

More than 20,700 people in Washington have tested positive for the coronavirus, and at least 1,106 have died. The virus causes mild to moderate symptoms in most patients, and the vast majority recover. But it is highly contagious and can cause severe illness and death in some patients, particularly the elderly and those with underlying health conditions.

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Royal homes: How to give your front door a royal makeover with just a lick of paint

The Royal Family have been spending the lockdown in stunning houses around the country, giving their fans a glimpse of their homes as they post updates on social media. But with the weekly clap for carers and NHS staff every Thursday, royal followers have seen one part of their home more than most – the impressive front doors. The royal households provide stylish inspiration for anyone looking to update the exterior of their home. 

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While not everyone can live somewhere as grand as the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge’s Anmer Hall or Prince Charles’ and Camilla’s Birkhall, it’s easy to get the look of some of the most regal doorways. 

Many of the beautiful doorways that have been spotted during the Thursday night ritual feature bold, statement colours – which are simple to copy with a fresh coat of paint. 

A front door makeover is the perfect DIY project to do during lockdown, especially as hardware stores are starting to open again. 

Painting the doorway also requires it to remain open while it dries – which won’t be a problem as Britons continue to stay home to stop the spread of the coronavirus. 

Here’s how to get the look of three of the most beautiful royal doorways. 

Prince of Wales and the Duchess of Cornwall, Birkhall 

Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall appeared on April 23 to join in the clap for key workers from their home in Aberdeenshire. 

The royal couple, who are known as the Duke and Duchess of Rothesay when in Scotland, have a serene green shade for the front door of their home on the Balmoral estate. 

The soothing yet striking hue looks like it could be Farrow & Ball’s Breakfast Room Green No 81, but royal fans can also get the look with Valspar’s Coastal Touch R258D shade, available at B&Q. 

The elegant green tone has a touch of blue for a soft and calming finish. 

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Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Anmer Hall 

Kate Middleton and Prince William have been busy showing their faces on the nation’s screens in recent weeks, with virtual interviews and video links to talk about their charity work online. 

However, they also made a rare appearance on the BBC’s Big Night In event, clapping for carers live from their Norfolk home during the fundraiser. 

The whole family stood on the grand doorstep on April 23, with Prince George, Princess Charlotte and Prince Louis, who was celebrating his birthday. 

The country home has an old wooden doorway which beautifully contrasts the red brickwork and traditional wall lights. 

Though your DIY budget might not stretch to an antique oak door, the look is easy to replicate with the right paint, such as Crown’s Rosewood exterior paint shade from the Sadolin range. The paint comes with royal approval too – Crown Paints has held the Royal Warrant since 1949 as supplier to King George VI, a proud accolade that was then renewed by Queen Elizabeth II. 

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Mike and Zara Tindall, Gatcombe Park 

For a more modern finish, follow in the footsteps of Princess Anne’s daughter Zara Tindall and her husband Mike. 

The royal pair live in the Gatcombe Park estate in Gloucestershire and recently shared a snap from their doorstep on Instagram. 

Rugby player Mike posted the photo of he and his wife Zara in rainbow-print T-shirts which have been designed to raise money for the NHS. 

Zara’s front door has a modern countryside feel with a mint-green finish, which looks like it could be painted in Benjamin Moore’s Light Green or Pale Vista, with panelling detail for a stately home feel. 

Get the look on a budget with Valspar’s ‘Cabbage Juice R227F shade for a subtle yet stylish facade for your home. 

 

The front door is often the last place you’d think to paint for a DIY project, but it’s one of the quickest and most cost effective ways to make a real difference to your home’s first impressions. 

For flawless results, Sue Kim, Senior Colour Designer at Valspar recommended using sugar soap first to clean down the door, and then sanding the surface by going with the grain. 

Be sure to fill in any cracks and sand the filler gently before you delve into the paintwork. 

A primer and undercoat should go on first, and then once dry you can go in with your new royal-inspired colour, applying two coats for an even, professional finish. 

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Overdraft fee refunds exceed £47million – expert advises consumers on ‘outrageous’ figures

Overdraft rules have faced massive overhauls over the last few years, not just from the CMA but also from the FCA and government. The 2017 “Retail Banking Market Investigation Order” made it a rule that customers with personal current accounts must receive a text alert warning them of potential fees before banks charge them for an unarranged overdraft.

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Getting this alert is designed to give people time to take action and avoid unexpected costs.

However, some of the largest banks in the UK failed to heed these rules, which led to over £47million in refunds being handed over to customers.

According to new information published by the government today, the following banks have been forced to refund millions to their customers:

  • RBS – £2.2million
  • Santander – £2million
  • Metro Bank – £11million
  • HSBC – £8million
  • Nationwide – £7million

Andrea Coscelli, the Chief Executive of the CMA, commented on the figures: “Text alerts have been absolutely key in helping people to avoid unfair unarranged overdraft charges and, where banks have failed to comply, the CMA has worked to secure millions in refunds for customers.

“While these breaches are disappointing – and may have been preventable had the CMA been able to issue serious financial penalties – our action has put a total of more than £47 million back into people’s pockets.

“With responsibility for enforcing this now sitting with the FCA, the dedicated sector regulator, we’re confident that this will continue.”

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While millions being refunded to customers is undoubtedly a good thing, some may find the figures disappointing.

As the figure is so high, it highlights that unfair overdraft actions are still a problem in the industry, one that ultimately hurts the customer.

Salman Haqqi, a Personal Finance Expert at money.co.uk, reflected this in his reaction to the findings: “The figures from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) are a story of two tales. On one hand we welcome the CMA putting £47million back in people’s pockets.

“But on the other hand, the figures reveal the issue of unfair overdraft fees. And the fact that this figure only covers a two-year period is outrageous.

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“For far too long the most financially vulnerable have been penalised for being financially vulnerable. But, with the CMA highlighting these breaches, consumers should now start to be treated more fairly when dipping into their overdrafts.”

Some customers, especially at the moment with the problems that coronavirus is presenting, may have no choice but to utilise their overdrafts.

Many may underestimate the costs of doing so and Salman implores struggling consumers to really examine the T&Cs involved: “For those who find themselves frequently in their overdraft, we’d recommend they familiarise themselves with their bank’s fees, and then compare with the wider overdraft market.”

In some cases, it may even be worth looking for other financial products.

This may require more work from the customer, but it could pay real dividends as Salman explained: “Other products may be more suited to their needs – and cheaper too.

“Another step you can take is to look at 0 percent balance transfer credit cards.

“These can provide much needed breathing space, helping you avoid paying interest, and can help clear debt if managed well.

“For those who have seen their overdraft fees pause in line with the bank’s COVID-19 response, now is the time to check their accounts and ensure they won’t fall into a fee trap. Free overdrafts won’t be sticking around for long and consumers could face difficulties when fees are re-introduced.”

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State pension age? You may be able to get extra £90 each week – how to claim payment

The state pension can make up a significant part of regular income for those who are able to receive it. Those who have reached this age may also be able to claim an extra payment in order to help with day to day life.

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This is known as Attendance Allowance, a payment which helps with extra costs if a person has a disability severe enough that a person needs someone to help look after them.

The payment itself is paid at two different rates.

How much an eligible person gets will depend on the level of care that they need because of their disability.

The recipient does not need to have someone caring for them in order to claim.

The lower rate of Attendance Allowance is currently £59.70.

To get this rate, the government defines the level of help needed being: “Frequent help or constant supervision during the day, or supervision at night.”

Meanwhile, those who need “help or supervision throughout both day and night”, or who are terminally ill, can get the higher rate.

This higher rate is currently £89.15.

It may also be the case that Attendance Allowance recipients are able to get extra Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, or Council Tax Reduction.

Unlike some government payments, Attendance Allowance is not means-tested.

This means that what a person earns or what they have in savings will not affect what they are able to get.

If a person lives in a care home and their care is paid for by the local authority, then they usually cannot get Attendance Allowance.

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Those who pay for all their care home costs themselves can still claim Attendance Allowance.

Attendance Allowance eligibility

A person can get Attendance Allowance if they’ve reached state pension age and the following apply:

  • They have a physical disability (including sensory disability, for example blindness), a mental disability (including learning difficulties), or both
  • Their disability is severe enough for them to need help caring for themselves or someone to supervise them, for their own or someone else’s safety
  • They have needed that help for at least six months (unless they’re terminally ill).

Additionally, an individual must also:

  • Be in Great Britain when they claim – there are some exceptions, such as members and family members of the armed forces
  • Have been in Great Britain for at least two of the last three years (this does not apply if they’re a refugee or have humanitarian protection status)
  • Be habitually resident in the UK, Ireland, Isle of Man or the Channel Islands
  • Not be subject to immigration control (unless you’re a sponsored immigrant).

There are some exceptions to the conditions if a person is living in a European Economic Area (EEA) country or Switzerland.

If a person is terminally ill and not expected to live for more than six months, there are ‘special rules’.

These mean that there’s no qualifying period for how long a person has had the illness.

And, if they’re eligible for the payment, they will automatically get the higher rate.

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Pension: Those nearing retirement facing ‘particularly acute’ issues – three steps to take

Pension income can come from private arrangements as well as a state pension. While private pensions may be larger than a state pension, they are much more likely to be volatile which is a real problem at the moment.

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Private pensions are usually dependent on the performance of the assets they’re invested in, which can in turn be dramatically impacted by unforeseen problems.

Coronavirus has seen various investment markets drop in recent months and there are worries that economies across the globe will struggle to bounce back once this all ends.

Because of fears like these, some people may be looking at their pension pots apprehensively, worrying that if they don’t take action now further problems will emerge down the line.

A recently completed survey from Fidelity seems to show that a sizable chunk of the population approaching retirement are looking to make drastic changes.

Fidelity recently conducted an “Investor Survey” which, as they detailed, captured sentiment among the UK population since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

The research they conducted was based on a sample of 1,000 people which was representative of the UK at large.

The results found that almost half (48 percent) of respondents saw a fall in value in their retirement savings.

More than half revealed that they were worried about the level of income their pots would provide them with in retirement, with 54 percent detailing that they would likely need to defer their retirement plans and continue working for longer than anticipated.

Maike Currie, a Director at Fidelity International, commented on the findings: “Our research clearly shows investors are worried about protecting their pension pot post-pandemic.

“While investors of all ages will likely have seen the value of their retirement savings fall earlier this year as stock markets plummeted, the uncertainties facing those closest to retirement are particularly acute.”

Fortunately, Maike went on to highlight that people approaching retirement are not completely devoid of options: “Deferring your retirement isn’t the only option though, and there are other steps you can take to shore up your retirement finances.

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“The key is to make sure you’re informed, and to understand how your position might have changed.”

She highlighted three “retirement rules of thumb” which can help people evaluate their retirement needs, how much they’ll actually need and how much they should currently be saving.

Maike detailed that: “Thinking carefully about these questions can help you to understand whether you need to change your plans to ensure you achieve your long-term goals.

“And if you’re at all unsure of what to do it’s worth speaking to a qualified financial adviser”

Fidelity’s three steps for protecting a post-pandemic pension pot are as follows:

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Don’t discount an annuity

According to the Money Advice Service, an annuity is a type of retirement income product that people buy with some or all of their pension pot.

It pays a regular retirement income either for life or for a set period.

Maike kicks off the list by highlighting that this could be a first port of call: “While underlying annuity interest rates are low, remember that if you have a medical condition, you may be able to get an enhanced rate as this will be based on your life expectancy – therefore, make sure you complete a medical questionnaire thoroughly.

“Investigate this option and see what rate you can obtain – most rates will be different from person to person.

This way you can make an informed decision as to whether a) you can afford to retire on the annuity income or b) if you think it is worthwhile deferring in the hope of securing a higher income – through your health deteriorating or benefiting from mortality gain (although of course none of these are guaranteed to happen).

Keep contributing

Finding the will or ability to contribute to a pension can be very difficult at the moment.

Because of coronavirus, millions have seen their income reduced or lost employment altogether.

The idea of putting money into a pension could feel like the wrong choice at the moment but Maike warns that now is the time to embrace contributions as much as possible: “Keeping up your pension contributions during difficult times might seem like a daunting task, but it’s important to try and continue with your pension contributions to make the most of tax relief and pound cost averaging.

“If you are going on ‘furlough’, unless told otherwise, both your own pension contributions and your employer’s will continue at the current rate but will be based on the amount you are paid while on furlough.

“Think carefully before you reduce or suspend your contributions, or opt out of your pension plan, as it will have an impact on the value of your pension savings when you come to retire.”

Keep an eye on your income

Income needs may force people to sell certain assets just to keep their head afloat.

While this may be unavoidable in certain circumstances, Maike detailed that some people may not need the income at all: “Company dividend cuts may be a concern as this will impact your income payments.

“Unless you have other income sources, such as rental income, guaranteed pensions or a ‘rainy day’ fund then you may be forced to sell units.

“This is why, if you are investing in drawdown for retirement, you need to ensure you have at least six to 12 months of savings in cash to help see you through the bad times.

“If you are receiving a regular income through drawdown, now would be a good time to reduce withdrawals to protect the fund as you are unlikely to need as much income – with everyone locked down, your discretionary spending will have reduced.”

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Clever iPhone trick lets you find ANY photo in your camera album in seconds

ALWAYS failing to find certain snaps in your iPhone camera roll? Apple has built a simple trick to help you track down old photos.

You can search for exact photos using keywords – just like a Google Image query – including "lake", "dog" or "cheese".

It's handy when you've taken a photo a while ago and can't find it manually.

Simply search for a key term in the app, and all the photos that match should appear.

That's because Apple has designed the Photos app to recognise senes and objects using machine learning.

You can even search for events, like a concert you went to: "Photos for iOS can use the time and location of your photos along with online event listings to find matching photos."

It's also possible to search by location, so you can enter a place name – like Birmingham – to track down photos of your trip to Brum.

How to search Photos on iPhone

First, open the Photos app on your iPhone.

Next, tap on the Search tab in the bottom right-hand corner – which has a magnifying glass as its icon.

Then simply type in the name of a place, a search term, or even a person's name (if they're assigned in your Photos app) to find matches.

And if you're worried this means Apple is snooping on your photos, don't.

iPhone tricks to try today

Here are some of the best…

  • Typing cursor – When typing, hold down the space bar to turn your keyboard into a trackpad, letting you move around words and sentences more easily
  • Close all Safari tabs – To do this in one go, simply hold the overlapped squares in the bottom right-hand corner, and press close all tabs
  • Delete lots of photos quickly – Hold down on a photo and then drag your finger diagonally in Photos to select lots of images at once, then hit delete
  • Convert currency quickly – Swipe down from the top of your Home screen (or swipe left to right on an iPhone X), then tap in the bar and type a currency (like $200) and it will automatically covert to your local currency
  • Check if you're due a battery upgrade – Batteries inside smartphones degrade over time. Just go to Settings > Battery > Battery Health, and check out the Maximum Capacity reading. Generally a battery is considered worn when you're down to 80% capacity. If you're below, you can buy a battery swap from Apple
  • Move apps around faster – Hold an app until it starts wiggling, then (while still holding) tap other apps, causing them to stack so you can move them around easier

All of the processing happens on your iPhone, rather than being sent up to Apple's servers in the cloud – so there's no risk that anyone at Apple can actually see your snaps.

"When you search your photos, all of the face recognition and scene and object detection are done completely on your device," Apple explains.

"Apple harnesses machine learning to enhance your experience — and your privacy. We’ve used it to enable image and scene recognition in Photos, and more, without requiring your data to leave your device."

In other news, there's an iPhone trick that makes it quicker to re-arrange your apps on the Home screen.

One simple button press can improve bad iPhone signal instantly.

And read our guide on how to text on your iPhone faster.

Do you know any genius iPhone tricks? Let us know in the comments!

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