Category Archives: Financial & Poverty Avoidance Advice

FINANCE: Care Costs Compared

Research collated by Age UK indicates that the average cost of residential care varies drastically depending on where in the UK you live, creating a postcode lottery for vulnerable people in need of care.

In 2016/7, the divide between counties in the North and South of England was as much as £230 a week in some cases. Perhaps unsurprisingly, London was found to be the most expensive region to obtain residential care, at a weighted average of £741 a week, whereas the North West was the least expensive at £511. Funding support may be available from your local council if you need help paying for your care.

 

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MONEY: Make the most of your Savings

New from Age UK, this is a great set of tips, by personal finance expert John Husband, on making the most of your savings.

You can find a lot more financial advice on the Age UK website

1. Make it a Date
To make sure you save regularly, set up a monthly payment into a savings account. Also, whenever you get a pay or pension increase, increase the amount you save – this makes saving near painless.

To work out how much you can save, keep a check of every penny you spend for a month, then set a budget that covers all the essentials and see how much is left.

2. Be prepared
Your first priority should be to build up a ‘rainy day’ reserve for emergencies. Ideally aim for 3 months’ income in accounts you can draw on immediately.

3. Take aim
Saving is easier if you set yourself goals such as paying for a holiday, Christmas, presents, a car or your dream retirement home.

4. Beat the taxman
Remember that as of April 2016, the new Personal Savings Allowance means that the first £1,000 of interest earned on savings is tax-free for basic-rate taxpayers, and for higher-rate taxpayers, the first £500 of interest is tax-free.

If you’re a taxpayer, you can use Individual Savings Accounts – ISAs – to put your money beyond reach. You can put up to £20,000 into a cash ISA this tax year – and your partner can do the same. An ideal home for that rainy day reserve.

If your spouse is a non-taxpayer, or pays less tax than you, it’s possible to reduce or even avoid paying tax altogether by putting your savings in their name.

5. Be a detective
Start by finding the ‘Best Buy’ savings tables in your newspaper, or on money comparison websites.

Now for the detective work. Better rates are offered on accounts operated on the internet or by phone only. If you’re not comfortable with that weed those out.

Many ‘best buy’ rates are inflated by temporary bonuses paid for anything from 3-12 months. Exclude those where the bonus lasts for less than a year.

Now, check what access the account offers. Fixed notice and fixed term accounts pay more, but that’s no good if your money is beyond reach when you need it. So be sure that enough of your savings are accessible in an emergency.

6. Sleep tight
No investment is worth sleepless nights, so don’t put your money with providers you don’t know or are uncertain of, simply because they offer fantastic rates.

Remember the Icelandic banks! If a deal looks too good to be true it usually is.

7. Disloyalty pays
Few providers offer better terms to loyal customers nowadays. Most sucker you in with a great deal hoping you’ll be too lazy to move your money when the deal ends.

So shop around regularly to be sure you still have the best paying account. If you have one with a temporary bonus put the expiry date in your diary.

8. Beware the inflation dragon
Few accounts pay rates that match, let alone beat, inflation. You’ll need to shop around for savings accounts with good interest rates. Otherwise the only sure way to protect yourself is to invest in real assets, such as buying your home – if you can afford to.

AGE UK: Thinking about end of life

“Thinking about end of life” is a new guide from Age UK. It is for those who want to plan ahead and get their affairs in order, or those that have a life-limiting illness and want to know their support options as their illness progresses.

What the guide is about

Thinking about the end of life can be difficult, but being well informed can help you consider all your options at a time that’s right for you. Taking steps now can give you confidence that your wishes are documented so that people close to you know what you would want if the time came when you could no longer make your own decisions.

Making plans now can make things easier for those close to you down the line. And remember, you can always change your plans. If you know you have a life-limiting illness, this guide also
explains what options and services could be available as your illness progresses. If this applies to you it will help to know the questions to ask so you can you make the best choices for you.

It explains how to make your wishes and treatment preferences known, and helps you consider where you would like to be looked after towards the end of your life. You may have already put some plans in place, and there may be some things that you don’t feel ready to plan for yet.

Planning for the end of your life is a very sensitive and personal experience so pick out the sections in this guide that are relevant to you.

Download/Read the guide

Age UK also produces LifeBook, a handy book where you can keep useful information in one place. For your free copy, please call them on 0845 685 1061.

GUIDE: Choosing A Care Home

Choosing a care home, either for yourself or for a relative or friend can seem like a daunting challenge. However, there are professionals who can advise you and a number of web-based tools that can make the process a lot easier and allow you to make a decision based on a broad spread of information.

What Do Care homes Provide? Support provided in a care home can involve: help with eating, washing, bathing, dressing and toilet needs, and caring for you if you become ill. Some homes provide services for people with more complex needs, including nursing care.

Choosing a Care Home: Choosing a care home is an important decision. You need to choose one that is right for you, both now and in the future. You can get advice from a social worker, district nurse or your family doctor. Alternatively, you can use a range of online tools to help you make the decision:

  • Calderdale Council: For a list of all the care homes in Calderdale, their contact details, information about the service they provide and links to their Care Quality Commission reports, visit the Calderdale Council’s website, where the information is stored in their Social Care and Wellbeing Hub. Calderdale Council also provide other key info on Care Homes on their website:
    Financial Guide to moving into a care home
    Gateway to Care – all Calderdale’s main care services are now under Gateway to Care.
  • Quality Care Commission (CQC) Map of Care Homes. The Quality Care Commission (CQC) has produced a map of inspection ratings for care  homes. The map is very easy to use and each care home marked on the map has an accompanying rating and report. You can search by postcode to find services near you.
  • Age UK: There is a lot of useful information about choosing a Care Home on the AgeUK website including a guide and a checklist which can be downloaded.

INFO: Independent Age’s FAQs

A charity formed over 150 years ago, Independent Age is dedicated to helping older people. Thye now have a really well-written and informative web-site which is always worth a visit for advice and information.

We were interested to see their top 8 questions they are most frequently asked and they pretty much sum up the cares and concerns of many older people and their relatives –

Questions Independent Age get asked most

  1. Are there any benefits I can apply for?
  2. My benefits have gone down and I don’t know why.
  3. I’m selling my home. Will this affect my benefits?
  4. I need to find a care home – where do I start?
  5. What happens when I’m discharged from hospital?
  6. Do I have to sell my home to pay care home fees?
  7. Why am I being charged top-up fees?
  8. I’m struggling to live at home. Can I get help?

Visit our information area

MONEY: Avoiding Investment Scams

Investment scams

Even experienced investors can fall victim to scammers. No matter how much experience and confidence you have with investments and finances, you could still be at risk. Age UK have produced this really helpful article and supporting information to guide you. They also have an extensive section on their website about the many different forms of scams out there, how to recognise them and how to avoid them.


How do I spot investment scams?

Investment scams are usually difficult to spot because they’re designed to look like genuine investments. The scammers may have a professional looking website and documents. However, there are some tell-tale signs that suggest an investment opportunity is likely to be a scam or risky:

  • Companies contact you unexpectedly about an investment opportunity via cold calls, emails or follow up calls after sending out a promotional brochure
  • They pressure you with a time-limited offer, e.g. offer a bonus or discount if you invest before a set date
  • They downplay the risks to your money, e.g. they talk about how you will own the actual assets they may sell if the investment doesn’t work as expected, or use legal jargon to mislead you
  • They promise you tempting returns that sound too good to be true, e.g. offer much better interest rates than those offered elsewhere
  • They call you repeatedly and keep you on the phone a long time
  • They say they’re only making the offer available to you or even ask you not to tell anyone else about the opportunity.

How can I avoid investment scams?

If you’re not sure whether a scheme or investment offer is a scam, contact the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06 for advice.


What do I do if I think I’ve been scammed?

If you’ve been scammed you should always report it. Don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed. Unfortunately, scams can be very sophisticated and people of all ages can and do fall victim to them. Report what has happened to the police. You should also report it to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040, or use their online reporting tool. They also have a 24-hour web chat service.

Visit our section on Support for scam victims for a list of organisations who provide support and advice to scam victims.

INTERNET: Older People Losing Out

In an increasingly digital world, those who do not use digital technology can feel they
are being left behind. Age UK have produced a report into the way that older people are being disadvantaged by not being able to access the internet.

Here’s their introduction to the report:

We regularly hear from older people who are told that they should be doing things online and who find that because they do not use the internet they can miss out on the best prices, have to wait longer for responses, and have less choice.

Of even greater concern is when pressure to access public services online makes it harder to claim vital support, or may put people off applying in the first place.

We carried out a mystery shopping exercise, ringing 100 randomly picked local councils in England, to ask what options people have if they want to claim help with their rent and council tax but do not use the internet. Experiences varied but around two-fifths (41 per cent) of councils told us that claims have to be made online, or by downloading a form from their website, and others strongly encouraged online claims.

Many older people are reluctant to claim the financial support which they are due and any pressure to claim online is likely to be an additional barrier. Local councils and other providers must make sure their services are equally accessible to all and not consign those who do not use the internet to second class services.

Read the full report on the Age UK website