Archive for the ‘Parents & Families’ Category

Please help Freddie get a new kitchen for his friends!

2014-02-01 17.53.46Those of you reading this who know me will know that our son Freddie has special needs.

A little while ago Sue and I were looking for a club or activity that Freddie could go to on a Saturday. His brother and sister were off to swimming lessons and tag rugby and all manner of stuff but Freddie had nothing that he could go to.

It was then that we stumbled upon Melton Mencap and their Fun & Friendship Club on a Saturday morning. Based in Melton Mowbray; Melton Mencap is a charity that help people with learning disabilities and their carers. Those visiting the centre for their clubs and activities range from 8 to 80. They do a tremendous job and if you want to find out more click here.

Freddie absolutely loves the Fun & Friendship Club. He can’t wait to get there and we are almost always the last ones to leave the hall at the end.

We need your Vote!

Melton Mencap need your help. 44 Financial have submitted an application to the Aviva Community Fund for £3,600 for a new kitchen for Melton Mencap. The kitchen they have is well past it’s sell by date and gets constant use – seven days a week.

They’d love to install a washing machine and update their cooker so that they can help adults with learning difficulties to become more independent.

At a time when local authority provision for people with learning difficulties is contracting places like Melton Mencap do a great job in filling the gap.

How can I help?

Freddie needs your vote to help his friends at Melton Mencap get a new kitchen.

VoteYou can vote on the Aviva Community fund web site. Click here to find out more about our application and to vote.

Each person can vote up to 10 times so don’t be shy! It doesn’t cost a penny and will only take a couple of minutes – you can even use your Facebook account to log in and get your 10 votes.

It is so much more than a kitchen for all the people that Melton Mencap help to support.

Please vote if you can – Freddie will  be really pleased!



Nice to see you–to see you NISA!

Amongst all the major pension changes announced in the Budget you could have easily missed the fact that the ISA rules are also changing.

On 1 July 2014 the new rules relating to ISAs announced in March’s Budget announcement come into effect. The launch of the NISA is the biggest change to the ISA rules in 15 years. So – here goes – your five minute guide to the changes.

  • The limit has increased – from 1 July you can invest up to £15,000 into your ISA this tax year – this is an increase from £11,880. In practice many people stuck to the Cash ISA limit of £5,940 so that is quite an increase for most people.


  • You can hold cash in your Stocks and Shares ISA – if your existing Stocks and Shares ISA qualifies as a NISA (although the name will be staying the same) – this means that you can hold both cash and funds, within your ISA. Previously, you were allowed to hold cash temporarily within a Stocks and Shares ISA as long as you were going to invest it in funds.


  • More flexibility to transfer – from 1 July 2014 you’ll be able to transfer freely between Stocks and Shares ISAs and Cash ISAs, as many times as you like. However, you must transfer the whole current year holding each time.


    There are a load of other “what if” questions that you may have. We’ll tackle these in another blog post soon. For now that’s probably enough.

    As always, this information isn’t intended to constitute financial advice or suggest that a NISA is suitable for you. To get to the bottom of that thorny question you may need to sit down with an authorised financial adviser and get some personalised advice. Get in touch if you fancy a chat, a cup of coffee and, if you’re lucky, a biscuit or two!

  • Steve Clark


    We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns

    It’s been a long few weeks on Planet Pensions. The Auto-Enrolment bandwagon is creaking up to full steam with around 30,000 employers due to come into the new system this year.

    As a complete break from pensions and finance I was checking out the feeds on the Zite app on my iPad. I finally wrestled it away from my son and the grasp of Minion Rush! I came across this video that has a really powerful message.

    To me the video symbolises the fact that although we’re all different (and sometimes markedly so) in the end as the Scottish saying goes “We’re a’ Jock Tamson’s bairns”. Translated literally (for those of you that are not voting in September) this means “We’re all John Thomson’s children”.

    You can read more about the various interpretations of the phrase if you click here. Basically to me it means at the end of the day we are all the same. In this hectic world it’s something that we may tend to forget.

    Your 5 minute news round-up

    An airport in your pension?

    The Daily Telegraph ran a story on Tony Fowler, who now owns a 50% stake in the Isle of Wight airport.

    He and a friend bought it from the receivers and expect to restore it to profitability. Mr Fowler bought his share through his pension fund – an airport is a commercial property which is among the permitted assets for a self invested personal pension scheme. Mr Fowler now commutes from his home to the airport in his gyrocopter – but has to pay the same landing fees as everyone else.

    Interest rates: what to do?

    With the recovery in the UK economy, many are predicting that interest rates will rise sooner than the Bank of England predicted with its ‘forward guidance’ in the summer.

    At that time, it expected its own base rate to remain at about current 0.5% level until 2016, but could that happen sooner? And what can you do to prevent a rate rise becoming a personal calamity? Both the Daily Telegraph and the Sunday Times asked the question. Both agreed rates could rise sooner than 2016. And both came up with only one positive recommendation: if you have a mortgage, fix the interest rate at today’s low levels to protect yourself from the possibility of soaring mortgage repayments.

    Cautious SMEs reluctant to grow

    Most small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) don’t want to grow, reports the Daily Telegraph.

    Over 80% of those surveyed said they wouldn’t borrow to expand, while only a fifth plan to increase their capital investment over the next year and 16% will increase R&D spending. Just under a fifth expect to take on more staff.

    Is it time to fix?

    Borrowers might do well to take advantage of current low interest rates, suggests the Daily Mail.

    With inflation currently at 2.7%, two-year fixes at 1.5% and five-year fixes at 2.5% look like a bargain. Rates may fall a bit further for the kind of higher loan-to-value loans supported by the government’s Help-to-Buy scheme (typically 90%+), but fixed rates for borrowers with lower LTV ratios have risen a little in recent weeks.


    The 50th anniversary of Dr Who has seen a boom in associated memorabilia, reports the Daily Mail.

    Real Daleks are pretty rare, but anyone still in possession of a 1965 Codeg clockwork Dalek – purchased for a princely 82p – can now get up to £800 for it, which is better than a lot of stock market investments have done.

    Tech boom forecast

    One of Britain’s most successful fund managers has predicted a boom in technology shares.

    Nick Train, manager of the Finsbury Growth & Income fund, is quoted by the Daily Telegraph as predicting a massive boom in tech stocks over the next decade. (For the record, Mr Train was not managing a technology fund at the time of the notorious dot-com bust). He holds a third of the fund’s investment in technology stocks.

    Carbon credit fraudsters closed

    The UK authorities have closed down 19 firms which, between them, had tricked 1500 investors into paying £24 million for worthless ‘carbon credits’.

    The scam played up the ‘green’ merits of carbon credits, but these certificates were sold at vastly inflated prices.

    Hoping for a Jisa boost

    The Daily Telegraph has been campaigning for a change to the rules on Child Trust Funds, to allow parents to transfer these CTFs to the newer and more flexible Junior Isa (Jisa) which replaced CTFs in 2011.

    According to the Telegraph, up to 6 million children have CTFs paying poor rates while better rates are available in Jisas, and Jisa schemes also offer a larger range of funds for longer-term investments. The Telegraph predicts that Chancellor George Osborne will announce a change in his Autumn Statement on December 5th.

    Affordability tests may spell trouble

    At least half of all potential borrowers under the second phase of the Help to Buy scheme could be disqualified by lenders, reports the Sunday Telegraph.

    The two biggest lenders that have signed up to the scheme – Lloyds and RBS – use ‘affordability’ tests which measure what proportion of a buyer’s income goes on mortgage repayments. These two banks require borrowers to be able to cope if rates rise to 7%, in effect almost doubling from their current level. Experts say this will prevent a great many potential homebuyers from securing a loan.

    Steve Clark

    40% of Nothing


    Pile of Pound CoinsBelieve it or not there are a large number of higher rate taxpayers are losing money by not claiming back their additional tax relief.

    Prudential has recently published a survey highlighting this issue. The survey found that:

    • 26% of employees paying higher rate tax do not claim the extra tax relief on their pension contributions.
    • It’s estimated 185,000 people are losing, on average, £1,255 per annum.
    • A further 15% (over 100,000) are not sure if they are reclaiming the extra relief they are due.

    As bad as these findings are there are also likely to be some of those 185,000 who have unnecessarily lost their Child Benefit due to the fact that their earnings haven’t been adjusted to reflect the extra tax relief. Add this potential on and it’s clear that some higher rate tax payers out there are losing a large amount of money.

    All is not lost

    If you haven’t claimed any relief it’s not too late. You can make a claim for up to four years. So any overpaid tax from 2009/10 can be reclaimed up to 5th April next year.

    If you’re not sure whether you have or haven’t we offer a tax relief review service that will analyse your pay slips and tax records to make sure that you are getting what you are entitled to. Just call us on 01163 800 133 to get this underway.

    Steve Clark