Category: General Interest

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It’s Unfair! But how Unfair?

It is now a well-documented fact that the pandemic was good for billionaires. According to Oxfam’s annual report on global inequality – always released to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos – the pandemic saw a new billionaire created every day.

The world’s ten richest men more than doubled their collective wealth between March 2020 and November 2021, seeing their combined assets increase from $700bn (£533bn) to $1.5tn (£1.14tn).

In contrast, said Oxfam, ‘99% of the world’s population became worse off because of lockdowns, lower international trade, less international tourism – and, as a result, 160m people have been pushed into poverty’. 

Oxfam clearly has an agenda. Many might disagree. 

After all, Jeff Bezos left a well-paid job on Wall Street to start Amazon (or Cadabra, as it originally was, until someone misheard the name as ‘cadaver’). In the early days, the company operated out of the garage at Bezos’ house in Seattle, so there are many people who’ll say ‘good luck’ to him. After all, Amazon has allowed thousands and thousands of small businesses around the world to flourish, it has allowed authors to publish books, and it has paid spectacular dividends to anyone who invested in the company in its early years. 

There are two sides to every coin. One thing that does appear to be clear though, is that the richest 10% of the world’s population are responsible for a hugely disproportionate amount of the world’s carbon footprint. A recent study in the journal Nature Sustainability concluded that the world’s richest ten percent are responsible for an estimated 47% share of global CO2 emissions. 

On average, a person in the bottom 50% income group produces one ton of CO2 every year – compared to 48 tons for the richest one percent. 

If we look at another measure, just four countries – the USA, China, Japan and Germany – make up over half the world’s economic output, if we take GDP as a guide. 

If we focus solely on the UK, then – according to the Office for National Statistics – the wealth of the richest one per cent of households is more than 230 times that of the poorest ten per cent. The top one per cent – with average wealth of £3.6m – hold 43% of all the wealth in the UK. 

Your view on whether this is right or wrong will almost certainly depend on your political standpoint. What is clear is that however much government’s might talk about ‘levelling up’ or ‘re-distributing wealth’ other factors, such as individual enterprise and initiative, or national and global events, play a far bigger part in shaping the distribution of wealth. 

Sources
Oxfam report https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-60015294#:~:text=Wealth%20of%20world’s%2010%20richest%20men%20doubled%20in%20pandemic%2C%20Oxfam%20says,-17%20January&text=The%20pandemic%20has%20made%20the,each%20day%2C%20its%20report%20claims.
Inequality and unfairness: the richest 10% = 47% of CO2 emissions https://www.zerohedge.com/geopolitical/visualizing-one-percents-huge-carbon-footprint
Rising inequality https://www.cityam.com/rising-inequality-wealth-of-top-one-per-cent-is-230-times-higher-than-poorest-ten-per-cent/
Four countries make up half the world economy https://www.zerohedge.com/economics/visualizing-94-trillion-world-economy-one-chart

What Does Rising Inflation Mean for Wage Growth?

The UK is facing a cost of living crisis, with inflation hitting 6.2% in February 2022, and according to the Office for Budget Responsibility, it could average at 7.4% this year. But people’s wages aren’t going up at the same rate, despite the words “high wages” effortlessly tripping off the tongues of government ministers only a few months ago.

For example, in an interview on The Andrew Marr Show ahead of his speech at the Conservative Party conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “Finally after all these years you’re seeing growth in wages.

“Wages are finally going up for the low-paid, and they’re going up faster than for those on high incomes. And about time too… Wages have been totally flatlining for more than a decade.”

Despite being challenged about wages going down, not up, in real terms, Mr. Johnson stuck with this line throughout the interview, and then in his keynote speech, he said the UK is becoming a “high wage, high skill, high productivity” economy.

What the data says

But the numbers back in October and the figures today tell a different story. According to the Office for National Statistics, average earnings did go up in the three months to January by 3.8%, up from 3.7% a month earlier.

However, this rate of increase is well behind the surge in inflation, which is currently at a 30-year high, and means wages fell by 1% in real terms. That’s the biggest real terms fall in wages since 2014, so claims that wages are going up are likely to ring hollow for many struggling households.

The Resolution Foundation, meanwhile, predicts that real household income per person will fall by 2.2% in 2022/23. This would be the biggest fall in a single financial year since records began in 1956/57. Estimates from the body suggest that the current fall in real wages won’t end until at least late 2023, by which time average wages will be no higher than they were in 2007.

Significantly, high wages were not mentioned even once in Chancellor Rishi Sunak’s recent Spring Statement – an acknowledgement perhaps that ministers have recognised that last autumn’s interpretation of the figures hasn’t landed with the public.

Employers under pressure over wages

The disparity between wage growth and inflation is also leading to some employers being placed under close scrutiny.

For example, supermarket chain Sainsbury’s has been urged by a group of investors, brought together by responsible investment charity ShareAction, to commit to paying all its staff the real Living Wage, which is set by the Living Wage Foundation charity and currently stands at £11.05 in London and £9.90 for the rest of the UK.

Earlier this year, Sainsbury’s announced it would increase its basic pay rate from £9.50 to £10 an hour, which is above the real Living Wage outside London. Staff in inner London are paid £11.05 an hour, in line with the real Living Wage, but workers in outer London are receiving £10.50 an hour, which falls short.

Martin Buttle, head of good work at ShareAction, said: “Low-paid workers in the supermarket sector are being hit incredibly hard by rising living costs, yet we all owe them so much following the pandemic.”

This is just one example of how pay structures at major companies are coming under close scrutiny as hard-pressed workers struggle to make ends meet, and something we could see much more of in the next few months as the cost of living crisis bites.

But employers aren’t immune to rising costs either, and following the Spring Statement, the CBI urged the government to do more to “tackle the current challenges facing firms.”

Ministers face a tough balancing act right now, as they seek to minimise the impact of rising inflation while encouraging consumers to spend and businesses to invest, in order to drive growth.

Sources
https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/uk-wages-rising-are-boris-johnson-claim-earnings-growing-data-explained-1233033
https://inews.co.uk/news/politics/uk-wages-rising-are-boris-johnson-claim-earnings-growing-data-explained-1233033
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-60898827
https://www.gov.uk/government/speeches/spring-statement-2022-speech
https://www.resolutionfoundation.org/publications/the-living-standards-outlook-2022/
https://www.cbi.org.uk/media-centre/articles/cbi-responds-to-spring-statement/

Do I Really Need to Make a Will?

What happens to your assets when you die? Doesn’t everything automatically go to your partner or spouse?

Well, no, and this mistaken belief might explain why so many people in the UK haven’t taken out a legally binding Will.

According to a survey by Will Aid, 49 per cent of people in the UK don’t currently have a Will in place, while 14 per cent of those who haven’t made a Will think their loved ones will automatically inherit when they die.

But that’s not what the law says, so if you die without a Will, your wealth won’t be distributed according to how you wish, even if you’ve made it known what you want to happen upon your death.

What Happens if I Don’t Have a Will?

The Rules of Intestacy govern what happens to a person’s Estate if you die without leaving a valid Will.

These state that once any tax and debts have been paid, the first £250,000 of what remains, your personal possessions and half of any outstanding wealth will go to your spouse or civil partner, and the rest will go to your children once they’ve turned 18.

So what does this mean in reality?

Firstly, it means that if you’re not married to your partner, they could receive absolutely nothing, even if you’ve lived together for many years.

Secondly, it means that if you’re separated but not divorced, your ex-husband or ex-wife will have a legal claim to part of your Estate.

Next, the rules mean that if your entire Estate is worth less than £250,000, the surviving spouse or civil partner will inherit everything, so conceivably, your children might not receive a penny.

And if you don’t have any living family members, all your assets will go to the state, whereas with a Will, you could have left it to an organisation or charity that you support.

So it’s in the best interests of both you and your loved ones to draw up a legally binding Will, so you can be sure your assets will go to your chosen beneficiaries and that nobody is left out.

A Will also lets you give clear instructions on other matters, such as whether you want to be cremated or buried, and who you want to be in charge of organising your Estate.

Take Charge of What Happens to Your Estate

Once you’ve taken out a Will, it’s then crucially important that you keep it up to date. Otherwise, it might not reflect changes in your life that may have happened since the original document was written, such as a marital separation, the death of a named beneficiary or the birth of a new child or grandchild.

Taking out a Will can also make a big difference to those loved ones you’ve left behind. For instance, if you’ve clearly laid out your wishes and these are legally binding, there’s no room for dispute over who gets what and what should happen to your money.

A Will also allows you to make sure you’re not paying more Inheritance Tax than is necessary, which again could be a great relief to your family and save them unnecessary stress at what’s already going to be a difficult time for them.

Ultimately, the advantages of taking out a Will are many, and it lets you be in control of your money and where it goes – and that can provide invaluable peace of mind to all concerned.

Sources
https://www.which.co.uk/money/wills-and-probate/passing-on-your-money/reasons-for-making-a-will-a4mzh4b503jc
https://www.slatergordon.co.uk/wills-trusts-tax-probate/will-writing/reasons-to-make-a-will/
https://www.willaid.org.uk/latest-news/14-uk-wrongly-assume-loved-ones-will-automatically-inherit-after-death

Do You Want a Shorter Working Week?

Today, there’s no single definition of a typical working day. Many will go to the office for eight hours, work irregular shifts or set up a laptop in their front room, spare bedroom or favourite coffee shop.

That has massively fuelled the debate about moving away from a traditional five-day working week, with many arguing that switching to a four-day week could improve people’s productivity and work-life balance.

A six-month trial of a four-day working week began in Scotland last month, which sees participating organisations across different sectors doing four days a week with no loss of pay, while committing to maintaining their productivity.

This real-world trial, organised by 4 Day Week Global, is running alongside similar schemes in other countries, including the US, Australia and the Republic of Ireland.

This means that in only a few months, we’ll have far more empirical evidence about the costs and benefits of switching to a four-day week, rather than promises, theories and speculations. And that could significantly fuel calls to more heavily embrace this way of working in the future.

The idea of a four-day working week certainly seems popular in Scotland, with research by IPPR Scotland showing that more than eight in ten working-age Scots would back adopting this approach with no loss of pay.

Some 80 per cent of those polled said they believe a four-day working week would improve their wellbeing, while 65 per cent think it would have a positive impact on Scotland’s productivity.

The debate about a four-day working week is raging in Wales as well. Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner and the thinktank Autonomy have prepared a report outlining how this approach could benefit the Welsh public sector, and it’s produced some interesting findings.

For example, estimates suggest a four-day week with no loss of pay would create 37,859 public sector jobs in Wales, including nearly 27,000 full-time positions.

Figures also showed that 62% of the Welsh public would choose to work a four-day week or less if they were given the option.

Will Stronge, co-director of Autonomy, said all the evidence suggests this approach would be a “win-win” for both workers and employers in Wales.

“Moving to a four-day week would boost productivity and workers’ wellbeing and create tens of thousands of new jobs in the Welsh public sector,” he commented. “The potential benefits are too large to ignore.”

Sophie Howe, Wales’ Future Generations Commissioner, has urged the Welsh government to pilot a four-day working week, as she believes this will lead to increased productivity and a happier, healthier workforce.

“The working week has not changed for more than 100 years, and now seems the perfect opportunity for the Welsh government to commit to a pioneering trial and build evidence for greater change across Wales,” she said.

While polls show that the Welsh and Scottish public are largely in favour of the idea of a four-day week, trials around the world will help to solidify the business case for making this change.

Higher productivity and reduced absenteeism are two obvious benefits, so it will be fascinating to see from the trials what effect a four-day week has had on the balance sheets of participating firms.

Sources
https://www.personneltoday.com/hr/wales-shorter-week-trial-would-create-thousands-of-jobs-report-finds/
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/wales-welsh-government-autonomy-government-manchester-b2014776.html
https://www.insider.co.uk/news/scottish-businesses-begin-four-day-25975624

Could Ukraine Crisis Force National Insurance U-Turn?

“Events, dear boy, events.” This famous quote is often attributed to former prime minister Harold Macmillan after being asked what could knock his government off course.

This could be a timely quote right now, as the horrific events in Ukraine look set to impact on consumers and businesses across the world.

The UK government will have hoped that the recent dropping of coronavirus restrictions would have kickstarted a period of strong consumer confidence and economic growth.

But rising food and energy prices have made its efforts to pay back the bill it racked up throughout the pandemic, such as a planned increase in National Insurance, hugely controversial.

Despite vocal objections, Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak recently joined forces and insisted the National Insurance hike would go ahead.

However, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is pushing up global energy prices even further, and the use of sanctions by the West means there are questions over the stability of Russian gas supplies in Europe.

That’s led to fears from some analysts that inflation could exceed eight per cent in the next couple of months, which could be devastating for both businesses and households who are already struggling in the face of ever-increasing costs.

As a result, Rishi Sunak is facing renewed calls to scrap his planned National Insurance increase.

Manufacturing trade body Make UK, for example, has urged the chancellor to postpone the tax increase until the UK is on a stronger economic footing, after a survey found that nearly three-quarters of manufacturing businesses would pass on, or be likely to pass on, the increase in their costs following the tax hike to their customers.

Meanwhile, the study showed that three-fifths of those polled believe the National Insurance increase could affect their hiring intentions.

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of Make UK, said: “The proposed increase remains illogical and will be even more ill-timed given how circumstances have rapidly changed since it was announced.

“The cost burden on business is continuing to escalate and, while some of these increases are due to global events, government must avoid shooting business in the foot by an entirely self-imposed decision.”

The government has already acknowledged that the consequences of the Ukraine invasion will lead to higher prices for consumers and businesses in the UK.

Foreign secretary Liz Truss, for example, told Sky News: “There will be an economic cost here in Britain. There will be a cost in terms of access to oil and gas markets.”

However, ministers have not been forthcoming about whether ongoing events in Ukraine will knock its domestic policy off course.

One thing that is clear though is that the voices that called for the National Insurance hike to be delayed or scrapped are likely to get much louder over the coming days and weeks, particularly as Rishi Sunak is gearing up to deliver his Spring Budget later this month.

Mr Sunak’s political opponents might also remind him that the Conservative Party had pledged not to increase National Insurance in its 2019 election manifesto.

The government’s argument has been that the coronavirus pandemic and the costs that came with it couldn’t have been foreseen at the time of the last election.

But many will argue that the same could be said about the Russian invasion of Ukraine, and that ministers need to be flexible in the face of an extreme situation, especially when so many homes and livelihoods are at stake.

Will Mr Sunak back down in the face of strong opposition or stick to the path he’s already laid out? We will have to wait and see.

Lasting Power Of Attorney: Why It’s An Issue You Can’t Ignore

Ageing and death aren’t easy subjects to think about, but as we get older, they’re topics that it would be foolish to ignore.

The average life expectancy in the UK is continuing to increase, which means many more of us might struggle to manage our own affairs and remain independent in the future.

That in turn means steps must be taken to make sure the right decisions are made on our behalf in later life.

While you may be of sound mind right now, this might not be the case in the future, and you might need to have a difficult conversation sooner rather than later about arranging a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA).

An LPA means a trusted person has the legal right to make important decisions on your behalf if you become unable to do so yourself.

There are two types of LPA in the UK.

Property and Finance

This includes paying bills, selling a property and managing a bank account.

Health and Welfare

This concerns issues such as medical care, making decisions on life-sustaining treatment and taking care of a person’s daily routine, such as washing and dressing.

Most Britons Haven’t Planned Ahead

Worryingly, many of us haven’t made any preparations for the future. In fact, figures from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG) show that less than 1% of adults in the UK have an LPA.

OPG data also revealed that nearly half of over-45s didn’t actually know anything about LPAs, and when given more information, nearly two-thirds weren’t interested in setting one up in the future.

That’s particularly interesting in light of a separate study by Solicitors for the Elderly (SFE) and think tank the Centre for Future Studies, which revealed 70% of the British public want a family member to make crucial healthcare and welfare decisions for them.

Yet nearly eight in ten have failed to even discuss their care or end-of-life medical wishes with family members, while almost two-thirds mistakenly believe their next of kin will automatically get the right to make decisions on their behalf.

Only an LPA can ensure this is the case, with chosen loved ones acting in your best interests if you’re unable to make life decisions independently.

Taboo Subject

So why are we avoiding or putting off dealing with this issue? Well, for many of us, death, disability and illness are uncomfortable subjects to discuss or even think about.

Yet it’s something that affects all of us at some point, so it’s something that can’t be left to chance.

Interestingly, an estimated 40% of adults in the UK have a Will, according to the OPG, which means many of us are happy to think about what happens to our finances and assets after our own death.

But many people appear to be overlooking what would happen if we aren’t able to make financial or healthcare decisions while we’re still alive.

Have The Conversation Early

While we won’t pretend that bringing up the subject of Power of Attorney with loved ones is easy, it can be made far less stressful by doing it in good time.

Discussing the subject well before there is any need for it ensures all issues are addressed without urgency, with every family member having time to understand their roles and responsibilities.

Sources
https://wwf.co.uk/solicitors-for-the-elderly-warn-of-capacity-crisis-by-philippa-pipe/
https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/359864/opg-lpa-infographic.pdf

What Will Rishi Sunak Say in his Budget?

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak is expected to deliver his Spring Budget on March 23rd, in which he’ll outline his view of the country’s fiscal position.

Mr Sunak has long been keen to stress that the money spent on the Government’s coronavirus economic support packages, such as the furlough scheme and the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, will need to be paid back eventually.

So with coronavirus restrictions now being removed completely in England, he may believe this is the time to start settling this bill, perhaps through a combination of tax rises and spending cuts.

But this could prove politically difficult in the current climate. For instance, consumer price inflation now stands at 5.5 per cent – its highest level in 30 years. And inflation could rise higher still, with some estimates suggesting it could hit more than seven per cent by April.

That’s led to the very real possibility of households struggling to meet their basic living costs over the next few months, as the cost of everything from energy to food soars.

The Chancellor will have hoped that ending coronavirus restrictions would have kickstarted a renewed period of strong economic growth and consumer confidence.

But the cost of living crisis means his hope for the economy to start firing on all cylinders could be hamstrung before he’s had a chance to pay back the Covid debt.

Mr Sunak has already had to announce new support measures to deal with the cost of living issue, such as a £150 council tax refund for some households and a £200 rebate to help with energy bills.

So will he go ahead with hitting people’s pockets even harder?

The prospect of tax rises in the Budget could prove hugely unpalatable to many, and not just hard-pressed members of the public, as many backbench Conservative MPs will consider low taxes a core part of their political ideology.

That means the option put forward by the Labour Party of hitting oil and gas companies with a windfall tax looks doubtful, even though the likes of BP and Shell have recently announced record profits.

However, at a time when he’s being routinely touted as a possible successor to Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, the option of increasing household taxes will be a big political gamble for the Chancellor.

And of course, the Government has already pledged to proceed with one high profile and hugely controversial tax hike – an increase in National Insurance, which the Government hopes will boost funding for health and social care.

The Government also needs to look at how it plans to fund its net zero strategy, which includes a commitment to end the sale of new fossil fuel cars by 2030, and its flagship Levelling Up strategy, a drive to improve services such as transport, broadband and education across the country, also by 2030.

Even in normal times, the Budget is a delicate balancing act, with the chancellor of the day weighing conflicting priorities, circumstances, pressures and calls to decide on a fair way forward.

But as the country moves from one crisis to another, and the political stakes are so high for the Chancellor personally, this could be a far more tentative Budget than what the Government might otherwise have hoped for, with Mr Sunak potentially going against his political instinct by borrowing and looking to pay back the money some time in the future.

Sources
Levelling up
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-60216307
Inflation
https://metro.co.uk/2022/02/21/how-rising-inflation-will-really-affect-the-cost-of-living-16139770/
Net zero
https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2022/jan/12/net-zero-climate-strategy-uk-government-sued
Soaring house prices
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-60463196
National Insurance hike
https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-60185741

You’ve made the Taxman a million

Publisher, entrepreneur and diplomat, Benjamin Franklin was almost certainly the most-quoted figure of his generation. He is popularly credited with ‘a penny saved is a penny earned’ and, in Advice to a Young Tradesman, Franklin wrote, ‘Remember that time is money’.

In November 1789, Franklin wrote to a friend in France: ‘Our new constitution is now established. Everything seems to promise that it will be durable. But in this world nothing is certain but death and taxes’.

Sadly, the quote was all too prophetic, as Franklin died five months later. ‘Death and taxes,’ though, has echoed down the years, and for the average household in the UK it may be echoing rather too loudly.

According to figures compiled by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, a typical household in the UK will pay over £1m in taxes in their lifetime, and that’s before the now-confirmed increase in National Insurance comes into effect. The study states that the ‘typical household’ will need to work for 18 years just to meet their bills to the taxman. The poorest households, faced with a lifetime bill of £450,000, will need to work for 23 years. 

As has been widely reported, once the National Insurance changes take effect and are added to an increase in dividend tax and the freezing of income tax thresholds, the tax burden in the UK will swell to its highest level since Clement Atlee’s Labour Government of the 1950s. 

Let us return to the wisdom of Benjamin Franklin: ‘a penny saved is a penny earned.’ Given the last paragraph, we might well amend the quotation to ‘a penny not paid in tax is a penny earned’.

Of course, we have to pay our taxes and tax evasion is rightly a crime. But arranging your affairs and your financial planning so that they are as tax efficient as possible is emphatically not a crime. It is simple common sense and it is an area where working closely with your financial adviser can pay significant dividends. 

Whether it is your pension, your savings and investments, capital gains tax or inheritance tax, a good, independent financial adviser can help reduce your tax liabilities and make sure that everything is part of a comprehensive, tax-efficient, long-term financial plan.

What holds good for individuals holds good for businesses as well. As all our corporate clients know, we are more than happy to work with your accountants and other professional advisers to make sure your company’s affairs are as tax efficient as your personal ones. 

Don’t ever hesitate to contact us if you have any questions: death and taxes may be inevitable, but efficient and effective planning can at least make the second one a lot less painful. 

Typical British household pays £1m in tax during lifetime https://www.cityam.com/typical-british-household-pays-over-1m-in-taxes-in-their-lifetime-before-national-insurance-hike/
Sunak to replace Johnson? https://www.skynews.com.au/opinion/peta-credlin/rishi-sunak-is-manoeuvring-to-replace-boris-johnson/video/b10772f405a9709817585b1f079ccba1
Sunak could scrap NI rise https://www.cityam.com/sunak-has-enough-room-to-scrap-national-insurance-hike-according-to-top-city-economists/

No longer a nation of shopkeepers?

Napoleon is often quoted as deriding Britain as ‘a nation of shopkeepers.’ In fact, the phrase was first used by the French Revolutionary, Bertrand Barère de Vieuzac in 1794 – and while the phrase may have been intended as an insult, there’s another side to the coin: hardworking, local, small-scale enterprises that served the community and provided jobs. 

But is that now coming to an end? 

According to analysis from Rest Less – which offers advice to older people – two years into the pandemic the UK has nearly 700,000 fewer self-employed people than at the peak in 2019. Two years ago there were 5m self-employed: that figure has now shrunk to 4.3m. 

It has to be said that changes to legislation have seen many previously self-employed contractors move to company payrolls, but that is still a significant drop. 

So has the UK lost its entrepreneurial spirit? Clearly a ‘nation of shopkeepers’ could now be interpreted as a nation of artisan bakers, web designers, photographers, hairdressers and a host of other professions. But the question remains: has the pandemic made people in the UK more security conscious – less willing to take the risk of ‘going it alone’?

The analysis from Rest Less shows that the number of self-employed workers fell across all age categories in the past two years, apart from those in their 70s and 80s. Interestingly, the 50-59 age group has more self-employed workers than any other age group. 

Stuart Lewis, founder of Rest Less, said, “The self-employed workforce has gone through a tumultuous couple of years [but] self-employment remains an attractive option for many workers in their 50s, 60s and beyond.” 

It is easy to see why younger people – with mortgages to pay and families to raise – will find the security of employment attractive in the current climate. It is also easy to see why self-employment is attractive later in life, especially if you have been offered an early retirement package. At that stage of life, perhaps the mortgage is paid off and the children have left home. 

Some of our more mature clients have gone down that route, now doing the job they were previously doing as an employee on a self-employed, consultancy basis. One thing we would stress though, is that going self-employed – at any stage in life – requires careful financial planning. There are clear implications for your pension and for taxation. There are questions around whether you trade on a self-employed basis or set up your own limited company. If you’ve taken a lump sum as part of a redundancy package, there may also be investment considerations. 

Moving from being employed to setting up your own business is a tremendous – and exciting – challenge. But it may represent a major change to your long-term financial planning goals. We are more than happy to talk through all the implications with any clients or potential clients who might be considering taking that step – whatever type of ‘shop’ you are planning to open…

Sources
https://www.cityam.com/pandemic-kills-off-entrepreneurial-opportunities-as-army-of-self-employed-in-uk-drops-by-shocking-700000/

IS your holiday back on after easing of Covid travel rules?

Ever-changing international travel rules have been the bane of the travel industry and sunseekers alike over the last two years.

But now that the rules on pre-departure tests have been relaxed, it looks like brighter times lie ahead for both the industry and consumers, as holiday bookings have shot up in the last few days.

Budget airline easyJet, for example, has seen its bookings go up by nearly 200% week-on-week, with Spanish tourist hotspots such as Malaga and Tenerife proving especially popular.

Sophie Dekkers, chief commercial officer at easyJet, has put the surge down to “pent up demand”, saying many are “desperate to get away this year”.

“This survey further underlines the fact that people want to make up for lost time as soon as they can,” she said.

Similarly, Jet2 has seen a “huge spike” in bookings, with bookings going up by 150% on Thursday and demand rising to “around pre-Covid levels”.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, chief executive Steve Heapy said the relaxation of travel rules has given people the confidence that “they won’t be caught in resorts quarantining”.

“We can’t just jump into lockdowns and further restrictions every time there is a new variant,” he continued.

“We have to learn to live with it and hopefully this is the beginning of the end and we can get back to some normality.”

For many people, going abroad to soak up the sun, immerse themselves in another culture, experience the buzz of a new city, is one of the great joys of life, and for people with loved ones who live overseas, the strict travel restrictions have been heartbreaking and kept countless families apart.

We can only hope that Mr Heapy is right when he says this relaxation marks the beginning of the end, and that 2022 is truly the year in which Covid moves squarely into the rear-view mirror.

So now that the rules on testing before departure have been eased, where do people want to go this year?

A new survey from ABTA – The Travel Association suggests there’s quite a mix, with many relying on trusty old holiday favourites and others heading to more distant destinations.

Spain, unsurprisingly, tops the list, with 29.3% of those polled said they plan to visit the country this year.

The USA came second in the rankings (18.1%), in particular, New York and Florida, followed by France (17.8%), Italy (16.4%), Greece (10.1%), Portugal (8.7%) and Germany (8.2%).

While European countries dominated, the USA was not the only long-haul destination attracting attention from British travellers. Australia and Canada made it to eighth and ninth in the list respectively, with Turkey rounding off the top ten.

But although the overwhelming view is that the travel industry may now be turning a corner, it seems that a bit of residual Covid-related anxiety is lingering, among consumers at least.

One in three people polled by ABTA said they’d now be more likely to book a foreign trip through a travel professional than they would have been before the pandemic. Some 47% of these people said this was because they could provide guidance on coronavirus travel regulations, while 46% wanted the security offered by a package holiday.

So while people are heading abroad in greater numbers, many, quite rightly, want a safety net to avoid getting tangled in a financial, logistical and bureaucratic mess. And who can blame them? There’s no doubt that we all deserve a holiday this year.