Do you recognise these key trends in the UK workforce?

During the recent general election campaign there was a lot of talk about “ordinary” people and the hard working people of Britain. It might be a seriously overused catchphrase but the workers of the UK do make a significant difference to the British economy and our experience of society. So, who are they? The services industry dominates In the 1970s or 80s, it was on the construction sites, in the factories and down the mines where you might find much of the bulk of the UK workers of Britain. However, today this is not the case. According to Office for National Statistics data we have evolved as a country from a manufacturing nation to a service industry driven economy. ‘Services’ includes public administration, retail, hotels, education, health, finance, business and transport. In total, a huge 81% of the country is working in some capacity in a services industry. Conclusion: we are no longer a country of industry. The work force is fairly evenly split down gender lines Our

How does the state pension work and what is the ‘triple lock’?

The state pension has changed radically since it was first introduced in 1909. It has had to – a century ago, just 500,000 people over the age of 70 were in receipt of the state pension which was, at the time, five shillings (25p) a week and was paid in full to individuals aged 70 or more with an annual income of £21 a year or less reducing to nothing for those making more than £31 a year. Today, there are an estimated 12 million people in the UK of pension age or above. That represents 32 per cent of the working population. Government figures estimate that by 2050 that number will have risen to 17 million people or 36 per cent of the working population. That means that the state pension is becoming progressively  less affordable and successive governments have been forced to make changes. How has the state pension changed? The entitlements for the state pension changed substantially in April 2016 for men who were born on or after April 6, 1951 and women born on or after April 6

How would a debt “breathing space” work?

There has been much talk in the media about how debt and repayments differ in the way that they are handled between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom. In Scotland, debtors are legally protected when they get into difficulty and enter into debt payment programmes. In these, a court assesses what a debtor can afford to repay over an agreed timescale and then freezes interest, penalties and other administration charges. There are also restrictions on the way that creditors can contact customers who are in this position. In England and Wales, however, there is nothing in law to stop a creditor from refusing to give a debtor breathing space, meaning that interest charges and penalties can continue to rack up, potentially putting the customer into very severe financial difficulties. The lack of rules over debt breathing spaces has led many people to claim that the situation harms both customers and financial organisations because it means that those who are in debt do not have any

Proposed revisions to the UK’s social care funding

It’s been dubbed the “dementia tax” and in the run-up to the General Election caused a huge controversy which resulted in Theresa May announcing a hasty u-turn in response to a backlash from Conservative-supporting newspapers and groups representing the elderly. But what is this tax and how would it effect families and elderly people across Britain? What is the dementia tax ? The so-called dementia tax is a series of a proposals from the Conservatives to reform the way that social care is provided and paid for. Under the Tory plans, anybody who decides to stay at home and receive care rather than moving into a residential care home would be able to pay for it using the value of their property once they have passed away. The plans put a threshold of £100,000 on the care meaning the entire value of the home apart from that first £100,000 would be reclaimable after a person’s death if he or she had social care in older age. The policy was announced by the Conservatives at the

The best and most resilient streaming services

The benefits of using streaming services have been well established. Whether you’re consuming film, TV or music, on the whole, you’ll pay less and have access to a wider range of options by signing up to Spotify, Netflix or one of the other large and popular services.  Of course, now that streaming services have become such a widely used option there are lots of different providers to choose from. Which can present its own set of issues: too much choice. Which provider is the ‘best’ and which one is the most likely to give you want you’re looking for over the long term? Netflix Best for: TV In almost every poll Netflix comes out on top when it comes to video streaming. The service has been up and running since 1997 and was one of the first to enter the market. It has real longevity and resilience with customers and is consistently a first choice for streaming TV and film. One reason for this is the cost, which Netflix has kept continuously low. Another reason is the value f

How to live the Good Life in 2017

The Good Life – being entirely self sufficient – has been a dream for decades. But whether you’re pursuing Tom and Barbara’s 70s hippy vision or something altogether more millennial where do you start when it comes to growing your own and turning green fingers into a great life? Back garden or allotment? If you’re lucky enough to have a fairly sizeable back garden then you’re off to a great start. If you don’t then there’s always an allotment. The idea of an allotment is that you’re allocated a patch of land that you can use to grow. Applications for allotments are made through the local council (search your local council website for details) and availability varies wildly from city to city. Most plots usually come in at between 100 and 300 square metres and will be located with other allotments managed by other local residents. The cost of renting an allotment is low – around £10 per year outside of London. The only complication with allotments is that, in areas

What are your Child Care Options in the UK?

The law in the UK makes it very clear that it’s not acceptable to leave a child on their own if it puts them at risk (it’s also a criminal offence). As a result, childcare is a requirement for many families, whether single or dual parented. According to the Department for Education, in 2016 there were roughly 3,092,100 childcare places available, split across nursery, childminders and group and school providers. However, finding the right provider, securing a place for your child and getting help with the costs can be a complex and frustrating experience. What help is available? Childcare costs make up a part of the Working Tax Credit and, if you’re eligible, you could get help with up to 70% of the cost of childcare (working families on Universal Credit could claim up to 85% of monthly childcare cost). To be eligible, parents need to be working at least 16 hours a week and earning below a certain level. There are also restrictions on the childcare provider you can use – the g