Retired women could be owed millions in underpaid state pensions

Older women are being warned that they should check for a missing ‘marriage uplift’ that could be worth £10,000 or more, following a series of mistakes.

Under old state pension rules, there was a promise to pay married women a basic state pension worth 60% of the full rate based on their husband’s contributions if their husband’s contributions were worth more than their own.

Women had to manually claim for the uplift prior to March 2008. The claim form was often sent to women’s husbands, meaning many missed out.

A further failure came after March 2008 when the pensions process changed so that the ‘marriage uplift’ changed to happen automatically. The uplift didn’t always kick in, leaving female pensioners out of pocket in many cases.

As a result of this, tens of thousands of women are estimated to have had their pensions underpaid for the last 12 years.

Unfortunately, women are not entitled to 12 years of backdated payments. In accordance with current pension laws, women are only being refunded missed payments for the last 12 months.

In response, a growing number of women are planning to make a complaint of “maladministration” to the parliamentary ombudsman. The women will argue that the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) failed to inform them about the need to make a second state pension claim when their husband turned 65.

Some of these women are now receiving refunds from the DWP worth an average of £10,000. Research from Steve Webb, a partner at pensions and investment consultancy LCP, suggests that a very small number of women could be in line for refunds of more than £100,000.

Steve Webb’s report identifies six distinct groups who may be entitled to repayments:

  • Widows whose pension didn’t increase when their husbands died
  • Widows whose pension is now correct, but who think they may have been underpaid while their late husband was alive
  • Divorced women
  • Women over 80
  • The heirs of married women who have died

Women are being urged not to sit back and wait for the DWP to contact them as there are concerns that many eligible women will slip through the department’s checks. You can contact the Pensions Service on 0800 731 7898 if you think you might have been underpaid.

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Should I change my pensions and investments in light of the COVID-19 pandemic?

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These are incredibly difficult times for us all. Our way of life has been turned upside down and many of us have experienced a huge impact on our livelihoods and personal wealth. Much of what we took for granted, from our health and freedom, to our jobs and financial stability, has been temporarily compromised and this has caused a lot of stress for many people.

We, as your friendly, local Windsor independent financial advisors, understand the challenges that the Coronavirus has unearthed and we can help. Despite the lockdown, we are still offering advice and consultations with clients via a webinar link. We have found this is a great way to advise and also reassure clients during this uncertain time.

A huge number of us are now working from home and may have more time on our hands. It’s time to take stock and, for some, an opportunity to reassess our finances and make changes that will help to secure our futures from a financial perspective. When there is so much uncertainty, evaluating our pensions and investments is something we can all do to regain some authority over our lives.

Should I be moving my investments to lower risk funds?

We all know that Coronavirus has hit the markets hard. However, previous evidence shows that pandemics in the past have only resulted in short-lived negative impacts on stock market performance. Although many will instinctively want to err on the side of caution with their pensions and investments in light of the impact of the virus, this isn’t necessarily the best option.

This is a great time to ask yourself whether your investment portfolio and the choices you have made in the past, with regards to your personal wealth management, need to be reviewed in light of the pandemic. Some of the recommendations we would make may not be in line with your expectations. It is possible to play it too safe, for example. Ask yourself, are you confident that your current investments are still suitable?

If the answer’s no, then maybe it’s time to give us a call and see if we can improve your portfolio and boost your returns. If you have some time to spare this week, why not dig out your pensions and investment policies and see if we can help you review their performance and charges. We always welcome calls from established or new clients.

Please call us to discuss your situation on 01753 290111.

Obviously, it’s important to acknowledge that no investment comes without risks and that returns can go both up and down and that past performance is no indication of future performance. We would always suggest that you take independent financial advice to assess your situation before changing your investments.


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Does Your Offshore Investment Policy Cost You the Earth?

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Offshore investment policies can be a great way to boost your wealth if you are an expat. However, timing is key, so it’s always best to arrange your policy before you move abroad. Some policies have been known to come with high fees and penalties that result in next to no return on your investment over a short period of time i.e. 5 years. Here’s our guide to avoiding the traps and getting the most from your offshore investment.

Why do expats use offshore investment policies?

Offshore investment bonds, if arranged by a regulated Independent Financial Advisor, such as Giles Warren, can provide legitimate tax benefits to those living overseas. They are reasonably complex products, but our clients trust us to explain how they work and their advantages and limitations.

These types of products aren’t always suitable for expat investors, and we unfortunately have seen several clients come to us with unsuitable offshore investment policies. We would therefore encourage our clients, existing and new, to consult us before moving abroad so we can help them find the right kind of policy.

What should you watch out for?

Investors taking out offshore investment policies often find that there is a lack of transparency because most jurisdictions are unregulated, unlike UK advisers. Expats are often sold products that can leave them with high charges and early redemption penalties.

Not only do many expats take out policies that are inappropriate for their needs, but they often have no idea what ongoing fees they are committing to when they first take out their bonds.

How to get the most from your offshore investment policy

There’s a simple way to ensure that you don’t fall foul of an inappropriate policy with outrageous charges, and that’s to arrange your policy with a regulated IFA, such as Giles Warren before you move abroad. If you’re already an expat, get in touch with us by email so that we can assess your requirements and perhaps book in a meeting when you’re next visiting the UK.

Offshore investments can provide expats with a welcome boost to their wealth and, when allocated correctly, can help to save tax and boost your wealth. However, we would recommend using a regulated IFA with the job of arranging these complex products for you or you could find yourself lumbered with a policy that has high early redemption penalties and is taxable when you return to the UK.

The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may get back less than the amount invested.

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Get involved with our Reverse Advent calendar food bank scheme this Christmas

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In a bid to help those in need this Christmas, we are encouraging our clients to get involved with the Paradigm Reverse Advent calendar scheme. We are supporting our local food bank in Bracknell and would love it if you could find time to donate a few food items this festive season to make sure that everyone, no matter their circumstances, gets to enjoy some Christmas treats this year.

How can you help?

The Reverse Advent idea has been thought up by the clever people at Paradigm with whom Giles Warren Financial  works. The idea is to add a food item to a box or bag each day of advent, before donating the bag in time for Christmas. The food is then distributed to those who can not afford to buy what they need for their families over the Christmas season.

More and more people are living below the poverty line in the UK and the food bank charity, The Trussell Trust, reported experiencing a 23 per cent increase in demand for emergency food parcels in the six months from April to September 2019. This was the sharpest rise in demand for five years.

Christmas is a time for celebration and fun, but it’s also a great time to reflect on how lucky we are and how the festive season can be a difficult time for less-fortunate members of the community. By gathering food over the advent period and donating food staples and treats to hungry people living nearby, we can all give a little something back this Christmas.

How to donate

Once you’ve gathered your Reverse Advent food donations together (you don’t have to include 24 items, just whatever you are able to put together – all donations are welcome!) take them along to the Giles Warren Financial offices, at 59-60 Gainsborough House, Thames St, Windsor SL4 1TX. We will donate your bags and boxes to the local food bank in Bracknell to ensure they get to the people that need them most.

Alternatively, you can take your donations directly to your local Trussell Trust food bank. Click here to find your nearest branch.

Remember: you’ll need to ensure that the food items you donate are non-perishable. Tinned meat, tinned fruits and vegetables, tinned fish, biscuits or snack bars, fruit juice or cordial, pasta sauces, tinned sponge puddings, tinned tomatoes, cereals, custard, tea or coffee, pasta and rice are all good options.

We hope to see you at our offices soon! Thank you from the team at Giles Warren Financial Ltd.


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Can looking after your grandchildren help to pay your pension?

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Over the past decade or so, family dynamics have changed fundamentally. Parents with adult children are increasingly sharing their homes with their offspring well into their 20s and 30s. With the housing ladder beyond the reach of so many younger people and the burden of student debt hanging over their heads, it’s now normal to start adult lives under mum and dad’s roof.

Alongside this change is the growing role that grandparents are playing in their grandchildren’s lives. Once your adult offspring have finally flown the nest and started their own families, you may find that you become vital childcare providers for their little ones.

Back in 2011, the government realised how important this childcare role is and changed the National Insurance rules to allow grandparents to receive NI credits for looking after their grandchildren.

What is the Specified Adult Childcare Credit?

This credit works by transferring the National Insurance credit associated with claiming child benefit, from the parent of a child (under 12) to a family member who has taken on a childcare role for that child when the parent returns to work. To be classed as an eligible family member, you will need to be:

1) a ‘non-resident parent’

2) grandparent, great-grandparent or great-great-grandparent

3) brother or sister

4) aunt or uncle

There are also some other relatives by marriage that be considered, so check here for the full list.

How can the Specified Adult Childcare Credit help you?

For each week you provide childcare for your grandchild, niece or nephew, you can receive a Class 3 NI credit. These credits are needed to build up your State Pension entitlement. If you have gaps in your National Insurance Contribution, which could leave you with a reduced State Pension, this credit scheme could help you plug these gaps.

Am I eligible for the Specified Adult Childcare Credit?

In order to qualify, child benefit needs to be claimed for the child or children in question. If the parents are not entitled to child benefit, then no National Insurance credits will be available.

Another major eligibility issue is that the parent of the child must qualify for child benefit and must also have a qualifying year for National Insurance without the need for the Class 3 credit afforded to them automatically when claiming child benefit.

In order to receive the Specified Adult Childcare Credit, you must fill in an online application form, giving the following details:

· Your personal details

· The child’s details and the periods of care

· The child’s parent/the Child Benefit recipient’s personal information

· The signatures of both the applicant

If you currently work, you may find that you already have a full year’s NI contributions and therefore, there will be no need to claim the Specified Adult Childcare Credit. There is an online tool that allows you to check your NI record here. (Please note that by clicking the links in this article, you will be leaving our website and we can take no responsibility for 3rd party website content.)

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What happens to my life insurance if I don’t die?

woman-3186741_1920Taking out life insurance is one of those things that most people realise they should be doing at some point in their lives. For many, this is when they make a major life-changing commitment, such as buying a house, getting married or having children. We get to that point where we realise that the world doesn’t revolve around us and that others will be directly impacted by our decisions.

The decision to start paying out a sum each month to financially protect your family in the event of your death is a very selfless one, but this doesn’t make parting with the cash any easier. In fact, many people start to wonder, ‘can you get your life insurance money back’? and even ‘does life insurance pay out if you don’t die?’ Here’s my attempt to answer these (surprisingly common) life insurance questions:

Can you get your life insurance money back?

In the case of most whole-of-life life insurance and term life insurance policies, which are the two most common types of life insurance, you will not have your premiums returned to you. Whole-of-life life insurance covers you until you die and then pays out, regardless of when that is. Term life assurance pays out if you die within a pre-agreed term. However, if you do not die during that term, the policy will not pay out and you will not receive your premiums back.

There are some circumstances where you may be able to opt for a ‘return of premiums rider,’ which could mean that you get some or all of your premiums back in certain situations, but this could also lead to much higher premiums in the first place.


Does life insurance pay out if you don’t die?

Sorry guys, but we all know the old phrase, “nothing in this world can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Everybody dies. However, WHEN is a key factor in whether or not you will receive a life insurance payout.

If you pass away within the term of your term life insurance, or at any point if you have whole-of-life cover, you are likely to receive a payout. However, if you are still alive at the end of your term life assurance, you won’t receive a payout.

Term life insurance can be an option for those who feel they only need cover for a certain period. For example, if you feel your insurance is to protect your spouse against the cost of paying the mortgage alone, then you may decide to take out life insurance that lasts as long as your mortgage.

The advantages are that term life insurance is often cheaper than whole-of-life cover, however, there is a risk that you will never receive a payout.

Some life insurance policies include critical illness cover, which usually pays out when you are diagnosed with certain serious illnesses. If you have this type of cover, you could well receive a payout even if you don’t die.

Taking out life insurance isn’t always an easy decision to make and no one likes to think of their own or their loved ones’ mortality. That’s why it’s a good idea to talk to an objective third-party, like an independent financial advisor about your options.



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Common Financial Mistakes Made in Retirement

In my line of work, as an independent financial advisor (IFA), I have the pleasure of speaking to people at all stages of their financial life. Some are just beginning to consider major decisions like pensions and investment, while others have already retired but are finding they are struggling to make their money stretch as far as they were hoping.

There are many reasons why people struggle financially in retirement, and we have found that retirees are often still making financial mistakes well into their 60s, 70s and 80s. Here’s my list of some of the common mistakes to avoid in retirement.

1. Withdrawing your pension into a bank account

Citizens Advice has found that some 30 per cent of those who decide to cash out their pension early are then paying it straight into a regular bank account with little to no interest paid on it.

We now enjoy a few more freedoms to decide when to withdraw our pension cash, but this doesn’t mean that withdrawing the money early in your retirement is necessarily the right thing to do – especially if it’s going to languish in an account that pays less than inflation.

Remember, you can withdraw 25 per cent of your pension pot as a tax-free lump sum, but once that’s gone, it’s gone. You’ll then be limited to your personal allowance only, or you’ll be paying tax on the rest. If the tax-free lump sum amount is forming part of your retirement plan, it might be best to leave it where it is for a little longer.

It is important to remember that investments do not include the same security of capital which is afforded with a deposit account. Therefore, if you have any concerns regarding the level of investment risk your pension funds are exposed to, please contact us for a review.

2. Spending too much too soon

Retirement, for most, is a marathon, not a race. You could easily spend two or three decades in retirement. Withdrawing your tax-free lump sum to help your son or daughter onto the housing ladder might seem like the best use of your cash as soon as you can access it. However, what happens ten or 15 years down the line when your money runs out?

At the same time, we understand that it can sometimes be rewarding to spend more during the early years of your retirement when you can enjoy travelling more easily, for example.

Working with an IFA can help you get the balance right by planning out your retirement clearly with your personal hopes and dreams for retirement at the centre of it all.

3. Failing to review your pension investments regularly

Even before you’ve retired, it makes sense to regularly review where your pension is invested and obtain a clear idea of your options. Simply investing your pension and then forgetting all about it is a common mistake among working-age people. However, once you’re retired, it also pays to keep abreast of new investment and savings opportunities by consulting with an IFA.

Remember, retirement is a time for a little R&R, but it’s also a surprisingly expensive period of your life, especially if you want to continue to live life to the full. Therefore, seeking professional advice even after you’ve retired will ensure you don’t suffer unnecessarily.


Important note: Pension income could be affected by interest rates at the time you take your benefits. The tax implications of pension withdrawals will be based on your individual circumstances, tax legislation and regulation, which are subject to change in the future.

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A guide to deciding your investment risk profile

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Whether you are reviewing your pension or looking to invest for the first time, the amount of risk you are willing to take is one of the main decisions you need to make. As most people know, investing wisely is all about weighing up the risk against potential reward. Although you are never guaranteed to make money on your investment, as its value can fall as well as rise, getting your risk profile right can help you reach your financial goals.

Here is a Windsor IFA’s guide to the questions you will need to ask yourself to help you get your investment risk profile right the first time.

1. How long do you want to invest for?

If you are willing to invest over a longer period, you may be able to ride out investment fluctuations more effectively. When you make higher risk investments, you may find that your investment fluctuates more than a less risky option. Therefore, a short-term investment may hold more risk than a longer-term investment. This is because, over the long-term, stock market investments tend to rise above inflation – although there is no guarantee of this, of course.

2. What are your financial goals?

This is a key factor to be considered. If, for example, you simply want to invest your cash in products that will help your gains stay above the inflation rate, but anything over that is a bonus, then a relatively low-risk investment profile may be adequate. If your investment goal is to maximise gains over a particular term, you may want to invest in riskier products.

Your investment goals are likely to be affected by factors like your age, your financial status, your employment security, your family situation and your available assets.

3. What other assets do you have?

It is vital that you take the time to understand your actual financial position when considering your risk profile. Examining your assets and their value and future potential growth can help you to understand your financial goals. Speaking to an IFA can help you to take an objective view of assets such as existing pension pots, property and savings.

When weighing up how much risk you are willing to factor into your investment portfolio, this is a fundamental question to ask yourself. If you are investing just a small portion of your wealth, then a higher risk approach may be more palatable, whereas investing your life savings might need a more balanced approach.

Answering these four questions is just part of the process of deciding how much risk you are willing to expose your investment to. Personal finances can be an emotive topic, and, whatever your personal wealth, speaking to an IFA about your investments will help you to step back and make sensible decisions, which can increase your chances of achieving your goals.

Giles Warren, Independent Financial Advisor (IFA)

The value of your investment can go down as well as up, and you may get back less than the amount invested.

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Why is Financial Planning Important?








We all have goals in life, and to achieve these goals, it is important to plan for them. The old saying “If you fail to plan – you are planning to fail” is very true. Very often, people have a good idea of what all of their pensions and investments are worth, but they have no idea if they are going to meet their capital or income goals in the future.

Whether you’re interested in savings or investments, it pays to take a sensible approach to your financial future by consulting a professional advisor about the best ways to plan.

Here, Giles Warren, a leading Windsor-based IFA, discusses in a little more detail the importance of cashflow modelling and financial planning.

What is cashflow modelling?

Cashflow modelling is all about projecting your expenditure and income, and applying a realistic growth rate to your investments and pensions, to work out how you are going to meet your financial objectives. As an IFA, I undertake this analysis in conjunction with a client’s preferred exposure to risk to help advise clients on the optimum investment approach.

Cashflow modelling means that IFA services can be tailored to each client more specifically. It also allows us to illustrate how their current approach to investment will look, and project this forward to meet the goals in the years to come. This helps clients to focus on their goals and weigh them up against the risks.

What is financial planning?

Financial planning is simply the act of working through your future, from a financial perspective, with an IFA to plan for security and prosperity during your working life and into your retirement.

This can be achieved through a combination of investments, savings, insurance, tax planning and pension savings. We may look at the following factors when examining your financial future:

· Your professional life/aspirations

· Your retirement plans

· Your investments

· Your property

· Your personal goals

· Your expenditure Vs your income

· Your Family Protection requirements

· Your children’s/grandchildren’s education

Effective financial planning will help you to put in place a strategy for growing your capital and future income over the years. We will also look at your cashflow, to allow us to build a solid financial foundation from which to safeguard day-to-day spending requirements and help you increase your disposable income in the short, middle or long-term.

How can financial planning help secure my family’s future?

Through effective planning, we help our clients to provide a plan to alleviate any financial worries and concerns that can blight even wealthy families.

We can help you obtain peace-of-mind and cope with the unexpected costs as they appear on life’s journey.

Of course, there’s no magic potion to remove all of life’s unexpected twists and turns, but we believe that proper financial planning is a fundamental process which can help you plan for them in the best possible way.

Please feel free to call us for more information on 01753 290111.

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A Guide to Pensions for the Self-Employed

Are you among the almost 5 million Brits who are self-employed? If the answer is yes, then you are also likely to be one of the two-thirds of self-employed people who aren’t yet saving into a pension. Giles Warren is here to answer some common questions:

Am I entitled to a State Pension if I am self-employed?

Yes, providing you have made National Insurance contributions, you will be entitled to a State Pension. Although there are some setbacks to being self-employed in terms of pensions, one thing you can depend on is your State Pension. Everyone who has worked is entitled to a State Pension, which, as of 2016, is linked entirely to your National Insurance Contributions record and currently (2019/2020) pays out at £168.60 per week. You can find out more about the New State Pension here.

You will receive the full payout if you have 35 years of NI contributions under your belt but will also need to keep these payments up until your pension age.

Will I receive any top-ups?

You can avail yourself of government pension top-ups if you start paying into a pension scheme of your own.

As you may know, employers must now set up workplace pension schemes for their employees. They must also pay into these schemes to help top up payments made by their employees. This is something self-employed people don’t get to benefit from However, the government will pay £25 for every £100 a basic-rate tax-paying self-employed person contributes to their personal pension scheme. Higher rate tax-payers can claim a further £25 for every £100 invested in their future through their tax return.

This contribution is not to be sniffed at and is a major incentive to set up a pension scheme today. The State Pensions is great, but it isn’t necessarily going to keep you in the way you have become accustomed, if you catch my drift. If you want a more comfortable retirement, paying into a personal pension can be the way forward.

Like all pension schemes, the earlier you get saving, the larger your pension pot will have become by retirement.

Are my contributions taxed?

You have a generous personal allowance of up to £40,000 in pension contributions, as of the 2019/2020 tax year, that you can make without paying tax (subject to certain earnings). Any contributions to your pension scheme made in excess of this allowance will be subject to a charge.

If you have had a few really good years of income and you have a surplus, even after you had paid the £40,000 into your pension for the 2019/2020 tax year, then you may wish to consider carrying forward your allowances for the previous three years. This may also reduce the amount of tax you will have to pay.

What type of pension should I choose if I’m self-employed?

There are choices to be made for self-employed people looking to set up a pension. The options include:

· Basic personal pensions

· Self-invested personal pensions

· Stakeholder pensions

· NEST pensions – if you are also an employer.

Each of these pension varieties carries certain charges and have various advantages and disadvantages, depending on your personal circumstances. Basic personal pensions, for example, are easy to come by and most pension providers offer them, and within Self-invested person pensions, you can buy commercial property, amongst other types of investments. Contact us today for guidance on which pensions might work best for you.

The tax treatment is dependent on individual circumstances and may be subject to change in future. The value of units can fall as well as rise, and you may not get back all of your original investment.

A pension is a long term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate taxation advice or some aspects of a workplace pension.

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