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Pension contributions: Warning as some may ‘never be able to afford to retire’ – check now

Pension income is a crucial, yet fragile element of retirement. In the modern economy, a person’s ability to retire is largely dependent on how much they were able to save in their working life but this brings with it certain challenges.

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Today, Scottish Widows released research which found that workers in certain sectors could face a lifetime of “playing catch-up” with their retirement savings.

This has, of course, been exacerbated by coronavirus but many within certain fields were struggling to adequately save for retirement before the disease emerged.

Sottish Widows came to their findings using two rounds of research, the first being analysis of YouGov data from over 5,000 respondents.

The second focused on the impact of coronavirus and again utilised information from over 2,000 YouGov users.

The retirement report from Scottish Widows found that:

  • More than a quarter (27 percent) of those who work in travel and the arts have not yet started saving into a pension
  • Two-thirds (67 percent) of retail workers are worried that if they ever did retire, they would quickly run out of money
  • Three in five (62 percent) construction workers feel they are not preparing adequately for retirement
  • Only 18 percent of restaurant workers are optimistic about retirement

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These findings came before the worst of the pandemic kicked in, meaning that the situation could be even worse.

Those in particularly suffering industries are likely to struggle the most, an example being the retail and aviation sectors who have reportedly cut 11,000 jobs in two days.

Accommodation and restaurant businesses have also suffered heavy losses, with almost 50 percent of employees in these industries having been furloughed in recent months.

The pessimism on retirement within these sectors could also be attributed to working practices according to Scottish Widows.

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Their analysis detailed that employers within these fields will often only contribute the legal minimum into their pensions.

As an example, it was found that more than 85 percent of workers in accommodation and restaurant businesses receive an employer pension contribution of less than four percent.

Pete Glancy, Head of Policy at Scottish Widows, commented on the dire state of affairs “A record high three out of five people are now saving adequately for retirement.

“Yet, long-term prospects are still to a large degree defined by the industry in which people work.

“That’s because, while auto enrolment has transformed the retirement prospects of millions, minimum contributions are still far below what is needed to provide a good standard of living.

“We recognise that the next 12-18-months is going to be about businesses getting back on their feet, but many individuals have taken a substantial hit to their finances and the fear is that the gap can’t be closed, meaning they face a lifetime of work as they struggle to afford to retire.”

Pete concluded by explaining what could be done to fix this problem: “We must face up to the fact that the pension system unfairly penalises those who are in low paid work.

“Scrapping the minimum earnings threshold would allow millions of multi-jobbers to benefit from auto-enrolment like everyone else, and is long overdue.”

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Mrs Hinch shares her £1 radiator cleaning hack to remove dust and rust

Mrs Hinch has shared thousands of cleaning hacks over recent years which has inspired millions to clean their homes. Radiators are often an overlooked place when it comes to cleaning and they should be cleaned regularly for many different reasons. Mrs Hinch has shared how she gets her radiators clean and dirt free.

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Radiators can harbour a lot of dirt and grime but many people forget to even wipe them.

Mrs Hinch often shares quick cleaning hacks to make cleaning more enjoyable and easier.

Using a diluted Zoflora mix in her favourite scent, the cleaning sensation sprayed a cloth with the mix and wipes the radiators in her home.

When used correctly, Zoflora can get rid of nasty bacteria and germs in the home.

This banished any dust that was visible as well as disinfecting them, removing any germs and bacteria.

Zoflora also leaves a lasting fragrant smell in the home for many hours.

When diluted 1:40, that is one capful of Zoflora with 400ml of water, it can kill germs, bacteria and even some viruses.

Zoflora is a concentrated disinfectant that claims to kill 99.9 percent of bacteria on surfaces.

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The product starts from £1 a bottle, and is then diluted in water to create the cleaning product.

It has also been proven to be effective against other common household bacteria including E.coli, Salmonella, Listeria, and viruses such as Influenza-Type A.

Sarah Fozzard, Head of Home Hygiene at Zoflora said: “With research suggesting that viruses can remain infectious on surfaces for a matter of days, using Zoflora to clean and disinfect hard surfaces at home, in places of education and in the workplace is one way to protect yourself and your family.”

Zoflora can also be used around most pets as well as being used to clean outdoor furniture. This can help remove pet smells and odours that would usually last in the home for hours.

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An all round purpose disinfect, Zoflora can leave your home smelling fresh and fragrant for many hours as well as banishing any nasty harbouring germs.

The radiator should be cool when cleaning it otherwise it may be too hot to touch.

The back of the radiator is quite difficult to clean and so a hand held hoover attachment may be great in trying to suck up the dust that can build up behind the radiator.

A microfibre cloth may be suitable for cleaning the radiator because they can absorb more liquid, making them much more effective for cleaning.

Mrs Hinch has previously revealed that Zoflora is her favourite disinfectant and she uses it on many surfaces around her home.

To remove stubborn stains, one Mrs Hinch fan shared how she used The Pink Stuff paste to get rid of her rust stains on the radiator.

It is available to purchase in stores like B&M and Home Bargains.

The product costs usually around £1 but some fans have shared how they have managed to find it for cheaper when on special offer.

The product is very versatile and can be used on stainless steel taps, work surfaces and to clean hobs.

Star Brands, the company behind The Pink Stuff say the cleaner is a: “Hardworking, cream cleaner designed to help you remove stains from around the home whilst being gentle on surfaces.”

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Stamp duty: ‘Government needs to take immediate action’ to fix rules – costs explained

Mortgage bills could be made even more expensive than they already are if stamp duty is involved. In England and Northern Ireland, people will be liable to pay stamp duty when they purchase a residential property or piece of land costing more than £125,000 (or £40,000 for second homes).

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This tax will apply to both freehold and leasehold properties, regardless of if they’re being bought outright or with a mortgage.

The actual rate charged will depend on the property itself and the circumstances in which it’s bought but the bill can easily top several thousand pounds.

Property has become a big focus for people in recent months as coronavirus impacted people’s ability to not only move, but also just conduct viewings.

Many people are understandably worried about the impact this will have on people’s lives as well as the wider economy.

Chris Denning, a partner at MHA Macintyre Hudson, provided his thoughts on the “immediate action” the government should take to support the economy further.

Noting that as a taxing tool, stamp duty may be surprisingly ineffective: “Stamp duty has long been an arbitrary barrier in the housing market.

“pricing people out of purchases while generating less than two percent of the government’s overall tax take.

“In the current extraordinary circumstances lowering stamp duty, even temporarily, would be an important stimulus for the housing market and wider economy.

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“Tax losses from a reduction in the rate could even be recouped by an increase in the number of sales.”

Cutting stamp duty could even benefit a new normal way of life that may emerge as the lockdown ends, as Chris continued: “A stamp duty cut would help people with existing plans to move home, and people considering a move, for example out of the city, because they’ll now be working remotely more often.

“As working arrangements and personal financial circumstances change, the UK will require a degree of right-sizing between homes.”

Stamp duty bills may be levied in a wave of movement soon as some people may be keen to get back to their mortgage concerns once the economy opens up.

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In this haste, it may be likely that some people could forget about the short term obligations that stamp duty presents.

Any SDLT due must be paid within 14 days after the effective date of the transaction.

If the payment is late, interest will be added to the bill, creating a bigger problem down the line.

While properties valued less than £125,000 will not have SDLT levied, there are other circumstances where it may not be due.

According to the Money Advice Service, stamp duty will either be not be due or could be reduced under the following circumstances:

  • Slightly over rate band – If the price is only just within a higher band, the buyer can ask the seller or estate agent if they would accept a slightly lower price.
  • Transfer of property in separation or divorce – If a person is divorcing or separating from their spouse or partner, there’s no Stamp Duty to pay if they transfer a proportion of the home’s value to them
  • Transfer of deeds – If a person transfers the deeds of a home to someone else – either as a gift or in a will – they won’t have to pay Stamp Duty on the market value of the property

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Post Office credit card deals revealed – zero percent balance transfers are available

Post Office credit cards may not be the first thing that comes to mind when people plan out their finances. Not looking into what the Post Office has to offer could result in some missed opportunities however, as they offer various financial products that could rival those offered by banks, which includes ISAs and Mortgages.

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A Post Office credit card could be particularly beneficial for people looking to transfer their balances, as applicants may be eligible for zero percent balance transfers for up to 18 months.

Their credit card could also provide a level of financial security as it is globally accepted in over 70 million MasterCard locations.

Holders of this card will also receive 24/7 customer support online, through an app and over the phone.

Due to people’s differing needs, the Post Office has two versions available.

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Classic Credit Card

Their classic credit card offers the following features:

• 19.9 to 34.9 percent (variable) range of APR which Is dependent on individual circumstances

• A £200 – £8,000 credit limit

• An applicant may be eligible for zero percent on purchases for up to 12 months

• An Applicant may be eligible for zero percent on balance transfers for up to 18 months, although there is a 2.9 percent transfer fee

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For those who (usually) travel a lot or only use credit cards on holidays, there is also a travel card available.

Travel Credit Card

The travel credit card offers similar feature with a few noticeable differences/perks in other areas:

• 19.9 to 24.9 percent (variable) range of APR which is dependent on individual circumstances

• A £500-£6,000 credit limit

• Globally accepted in over 70 million MasterCard locations, online and offline

• No foreign exchange fees when money is spent abroad

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For those interested in setting up an account, the Post Office provides an eligibility checker that can be used before applying.

This checker can let people see if they’re likely to be accepted for the card before taking action, which should protect a credit score.

The checker falls into three categories which requires the applicant to enter personal information including “about you”, “where you live” and “work and finances”.

It should be noted that the Post Office is actually listed as the credit broker on the account, while Capital One is the exclusive lender and issuer of all new Post Office credit cards.

Once a person has a Post Office credit card, they’ll be able use an online portal for performing many operational tasks.

This can include checking a balance, credit limit and finding recent transactions.

The Post Office can be called for additional help but interestingly, there are different numbers for different account numbers.

If a card number starts with 5545 or 5425, the holders should call 0345 607 6500.

If it starts with 5185, 0344 481 0902 should be called.

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Tax credit error: What are tax credits as HMRC issues more than 1m incorrect notices?

Tax credit recipients have been warned they may have been sent inaccurate information by the HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC). In total, more than one million households are likely to be impacted. Express.co.uk has compiled a guide to explain what tax credits are and how you can claim these payments.

What are tax credits?

Tax credits are benefit payments made to those on a low or irregular income.

These payments are from the Government and are paid straight int your bank account.

There are currently two types of tax credit available: Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit.

Both of these tax credits are being replaced by Universal Credit, but almost three million people around the country still receive tax credits.

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Child Tax Credit is a benefit that helps with the costs of raising a child if you are on a low income.

Working Tax Credit is designed to top up your earnings if you work and are on a low income.

You can usually only make a new claim for Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit if you or your partner are getting the Severe Disability Premium.

With Working Tax Credit, you are eligible whether you are an employee or self-employed and do not need to have children to get this benefit.

For Child Tax Credit, it is paid in addition to child benefit and you do not need to be working to be eligible.

This year many of the HMRC’s automatic renewal notices contain incomplete information according to the tax authority.

The HMRC has apologised for the error but said the omission had not affected the calculations made for proposed payments.

Each year the tax authority sends recipients annual review packs which state or request income from the previous tax year and include other details.

These documents also include a demand for repayment of an overpayment if the resulting tax credit payment is too high.

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In 2020, about 1.2 million of those who received their automatic renewal notices had income details omitted.

The information, which is usually clearly stated was in fact missing.

The HMRC has followed up this letter with a follow-up including the income details used in tax credits as well as apologising for the error.

Recipients are being urged to check their annual renewal carefully.

A HMRC spokesman said: “We are sorry that this happened, and for any inconvenience caused. We want to make sure we have paid customers the correct amount.

“A significant proportion of these customers are self-employed, and we need to confirm their previous tax year’s income has been correctly accounted for and to make sure they don’t miss the opportunity to give us an estimate if they are not certain about their income for this year.”

How to claim tax credits

If you are eligible for Tax Credits you will need to fill in form TC600.

You can get this form by:

  • Completing in HMRC’s Tax Credit claim form request online here
  • Calling the Tax Credit helpline on 0345 300 3900 (textphone 0345 300 3909).

How has coronavirus affected Tax Credit claims?

This year only 150,000 people were required to reply to their tax credits renewal notice, tens of thousands fewer than normal.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, nearly all claimants will have their tax credits automatically renewed.

Normally, people would be required to tell the HMRC of any change in their circumstances within 30 days so their tax credits could be altered to reflect these changes.

But this year, claimants are not required to do so, although those with significant changes such as redundancy must do so.

In April, HMRC announced Working Tax Credit recipients would receive up to £20 extra each week in the year to April 2021, as part of a package of coronavirus support measures.

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Mrs Hinch fan shares ‘game changer’ £1 oven cleaning hack to remove grease

Mrs Hinch is a well known social media sensation who rose to fame after posting cleaning hacks onto her Instagram. She inspires people to find their own unusual cheap cleaning hacks that work wonders on household items. One Mrs Hinch fan has said that her cleaning hack removes tough grease from the oven and has labelled it a ‘game changer’.

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Posting onto Facebook group Cleaning Tips & Tricks, one cleaning fanatic shared her incredible oven cleaning tip with this unusual item.

She wrote: “My new best oven cleaning tools. Please don’t judge i have been pre occupied with personal stuff but finally catching up.

“No more expensive oven cleaners elbow grease sprayed on with a glass scraper and all the grease comes straight off.”

The woman then revealed a series of before and after photos as well as a video showing the magic hack working wonders on her stained oven.

The before photos pictured a grease stained oven including the doors.

The after pictures showed a completely sparkling clean oven with no grease to be seen.

During the video, the woman shows how she sprayed one of Mrs Hinch’s favourite products called Elbow Grease into the entirety of her oven, including the doors.

The cleaning fan then showed her glass scraper working on the tough grease which managed to pick the grease up effortlessly.

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Fans of the hack were quick to rush to the comments to find out more about this unusual hack and how they could do this at home themselves.

One comment read: “Game changer x.”

“That video is very satisfying. Good job,” another fan said.

Other fans questioned where the amazing tool was from and how expensive it was.

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One fan commented: “Where did you buy that tool?”

The woman replied saying: “u can get in wilkos, poundshop, amazon just make sure they are glass scraper.”

The creator of the hack replied to a few comments ensuring people knew to buy a glass scraper instead of any other one. This is because other scrapers could be more harsh and potentially scratch the oven.

The Elbow Grease All Purpose Degreaser is loved by the cleaning guru as well as many of her followers.

The spray costs around £1 and can be used on many surfaces around the home unlike other cleaning products that are designed to be used on a particular area.

After leaving it on the oven for a few minutes to work, the woman then effortlessly scraped off the grime and grease with her new favourite cleaning tool.

Glass scrapers can be picked up for as little as £1 too, making this cleaning hack very affordable for those wanting to try it for themselves.

One woman revealed how she got her Mum’s tiles sparkling clean with just a small amount of the Elbow Grease spray.

Posting on a Mrs Hinch cleaning Facebook group she wrote: “My mum’s house has been a building site lately and has this awful lino that is so hard to clean – the dirt builds up in the tiny grooves.

“I’ve even tried bleach and so many cleaners but nothing worked.”

However she revealed that she scrubbed the floor with the £1 miracle spray and revealed tiles that look good as new with no more dirt in the grooves.

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Carpet cleaning: Mrs Hinch fans share unusual hack to remove stains and freshen carpets

Looking online can be a great way for homeowners to get new cleaning tips. Mrs Hinch fans revealed the common household item that can remove stains and freshen up a carpet.

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Regularly cleaning a property is vital to keeping it looking fresh and tidy.

No matter how clean a home is, stained carpets will still make it appear grubby.

Mrs Hinch gained fans by sharing her simple cleaning hacks on social media.

She will post regular updates online detailing her favourite products and cleaning hacks.

Homeowners have now set up pages dedicated to her tips where they will also post their own cleaning queries and advice.

How to clean a carpet

A stain on a cream carpet is every homeowner’s nightmare and what one woman was recently faced with.

She explained a red marker pen had left a stain on her light coloured carpet.

Posting on a Mrs Hinch Cleaning Facebook page, she shared pictures of the mark.

The Facebook user wrote: “Any ideas how to get red semi permanent red hair dye out of my cream carpet? My dog decided to chew it!”

While there are plenty of carpet cleaning products on the market, splashing out on expensive brands may not be necessary.

Some homeowners recommended using a simple item that many people will have in their home.

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  • Washing machine: Simple trick to clean inside and out

Commenting on the post, a Facebook user wrote: “Try hairspray.”

“Hairdressers use hairspray on their work clothes to take out the dye,” another added.

Others shared their experiences with hairspray and explained it had also worked for them.

Cleaning carpets is an important task whether there are visible stains or not, according to experts at sofa and carpet specialist SCS.

They said: “Bedroom carpets can be ten times dirtier than a toilet seat.

“So it’s really important to clean them regularly.

“At least once a week, give your carpets a good vacuum, and use natural cleaning sprays for a quick refresh.”

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Average house prices slip down in June but prices rise in some regions over last quarter

Latest figures from the Nationwide released today indicate that average house prices in the UK dropped by 0.1 percent in June when compared to the same time last year, the first time that annual growth has been in negative territory since 2012. On a seasonally adjusted basis, house prices in June were 3.2 percent lower than in April, and also returned a month on month decrease of 1.4 percent. Having said that, UK house prices remain on average 19 percent higher than their 2007 peak.

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Robert Gardner, Nationwide’s Chief Economist commented: “It is unsurprising that annual house price growth has stalled, given the magnitude of the shock to the economy as a result of the pandemic.

“Economic output fell by an unprecedented 25 percent over the course of March and April, almost four times more than during the entire financial crisis.

“Housing market activity also slowed sharply as a result of lockdown measures implemented to control the spread of the virus.

“While latest data from HMRC showed a slight pick-up in residential property transactions from April’s low, in May they were still 50 percent lower than the same month in 2019.” 

Robert continued: “With lockdown measures due to be eased in the weeks ahead, housing market activity is likely to edge higher in the near term, albeit remaining below pre-pandemic levels.

“Nevertheless, the medium-term outlook for the housing market remains highly uncertain. Much will depend on the performance of the wider economy, which will in turn be determined by how the pandemic and restrictions on activity evolve, including any behavioural shifts.”

What is evident from this morning’s data, however, is that while the average figure for the UK has moved in a negative direction, that’s not necessarily the case when you look at the how regions have performed individually over the past three months.

The Nationwide report shows that the majority of English regions saw growth, albeit at modest levels and ranging up to five percent in the second quarter of 2020, when compared to the same period in 2019.

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The North West was the strongest performer, with annual price growth of 4.8 percent over the past three months, followed by the South West as the next best performing region, which saw 2.3 percent average increases in property values over the last quarter.

Other areas didn’t fare quite so well, with East Anglia only seeing average increases of 0.7 percent and the North East seeing no average growth at all throughout April, May and June.

Looking at the figures for London Robert Gardener noted: “Annual house price growth in London edged higher, with prices up 2.1 percent in Q2. Average prices in the capital are now just 3 percent below the all-time highs recorded in Q1 2017 and 55 percent above their 2007 levels.”

Guy Gittins, managing director of London estate agency Chestertons agreed, and said: “This is broadly in line with what we expected given the considerable impact that lockdown has had on the housing market. It is encouraging that the fall in June is less than in May and a sign that the market is recovering.

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“Prices were always going to be hardest hit in the first few months of lockdown and we now appear to be in the first phase of recovery and expect prices to begin to level out over the coming months.”

Fellow London agent, Marc von Grundherr, director of Benham and Reeves concured, and added:“The first look at house price values during the most restricted period of lockdown was inevitably going to portray a market on its knees. 

“However, the reality is buyers and sellers weren’t so much down and out, just forced to check out momentarily. With such a severe lack of market activity, there was only ever going to be sharp declines across the board, and this is something we know turned 360 degrees overnight once the market did reopen.”  

Former RICS residential chairman Jeremy Leaf also observed:  “Prices are being kept in check by affordability issues and more supply gradually becoming available. But demand is picking up as some buyers emerge from enforced confinement in unsuitable property and or relationships to take advantage of continuing low interest rates, while sellers are more realistic.”

There are still significant challenges to overcome before the market is back on its feet again, particularly around the availability of mortgages. Figures from the Bank of England this week show that there were only 9,300 approvals for house purchase in May, down 90 percent when compared with February and 86 per cent lower when compared to May 2019.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients suggested: “It will be a shock for homeowners to hear that average prices fell for the first time in June since December 2012 but it is indicative of how devastating an impact the pandemic has had on the housing market and wider economy more generally.”

Mark continued: “Housing market activity was forced to grind to a halt during lockdown and June has seen the doors re-open and things start to get back to normal. Surveyors have been dealing with the backlog of valuations and lenders are dealing with requests for mortgage payment deferrals, staff getting back to the office and demand, in particular for high loan-to-values.

“As lockdown measures ease further, we expect the market to pick up further. Various government schemes to support the economy and incomes should help ease the pain of the next few months.”

Robert Gardner concluded: “The raft of policies adopted to support the economy, including to protect businesses and jobs, to support peoples’ incomes and keep borrowing costs down, should set the stage for a rebound once the shock passes, and help limit long-term damage to the economy. These same measures should also help ensure the impact on the housing market will ultimately be less than would normally be associated with an economic shock of this magnitude.”

Follow Louisa on Twitter: @louisafletcher

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State pension UK: How Rishi Sunak could maintain triple lock without hitting pensioners

State pension payments will increase every year by the highest of wage growth, inflation or 2.5 percent under triple lock rules. However, given the economic impact that coronavirus is having, the affordability of the scheme has been questioned in recent weeks and there have been reports that the government may be considering making changes.

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Recent analysis from Quilter showed just how this could work in practice.

According to their research, wages are expected to fall by 3.3 percent this year but then bounce back next year, creating a one-off spike in wage growth, boosting it by five percent.

They detailed that under the triple lock rules, the old-style state pension could increase by £532.20 a year by 2022/23 and the new style state pension by £694.67 a year.

All of this would occur at a time when many will be out of work and inflation will remain low.

Quilter went on to provide analysis on how a temporary fix could be found.

They explained that Rishi Sunak could maintain the triple lock but use a five-year rolling average for wage growth rather than using the year-on-year figure.

If this methodology were to be used, the old-style state pension will only increase by £374.88 a year in 2022/23 and the new state pension by £489.23.

According to their analysis, this would be equivalent to the government saving approximately £2.2billion by 2022/23.

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This methodology, Quilter claimed, would provide a short-term solution to the abnormal wage volatility issue next year while maintaining a link to long-term wage growth.

It could provide the government with an opportunity to consider whether a long-term solution is required to protect state pensions if the triple lock scheme needs to be removed.

Jon Greer, the Head of Retirement Policy at Quilter, commented on the triple lock situation.

As he detailed: “The triple lock has worked well in reversing the relative decline in the state pension so that it has made up much of the ground it had lost relative to earnings during the 1980s and 1990s.

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“However, once the furlough scheme ends later this year and wages recover to their normal levels, the current triple lock will provide a considerable boost to the level of state pension at a time when many are out of work and the government struggles to control the deficit.

“This is untenable both in terms of its fiscal sustainability and intergenerational fairness.

“Despite a pledge to maintain the triple lock in his government’s election manifesto, this quirk in the system could mean the triple lock is high on the Chancellor’s list of fiscal changes when he sets out the government’s post-Covid recovery plans in the coming weeks.

“The government could temporarily amend the triple lock by uprating the state pension based on the higher of 2.5 percent, inflation or five year rolling average wage growth. This will smooth any abnormal wage effects whilst protecting real incomes and saving the government a considerable amount each year.

“Maintaining the triple lock in its current form is simply not an option.

“The government should use this opportunity to carefully consider the merits of moving to a long-term solution, such as a smoothed earnings link, so that pensioners share in the proceeds of economic growth, whilst protecting their income against inflation and ensuring intergenerational fairness”.

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Premium Bonds winning numbers: What are the winning results for July 2020?

The Premium Bonds winning numbers for July have been published and with millions up for grabs. Amid the coronavirus pandemic it is more important than ever to check if you have become one of the lucky winners. Two people will become instant millionaires in this month’s draw. But what are the winning numbers for July 2020?

The total number of prizes in July is more than three million. 

Two people scooped the £1 million jackpot this month. 

In total, there was a prize fund of more than £106m available in July, with a massive 3.7 million prizes in total available.

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The first was a male from Tyne on Wear who had £35,000 invested.

His winning bond number was: 392SK696449.

The bond worth £20,000 was purchased in May 2020. 

The second was a woman from Surrey who had £50,000 invested.

Her winning bond number was: 392SK696449.

This winning bond is worth £23,000 and was purchased in March 2017. 

In July, there were also seven winners of £100,000.

In addition, 12 winners won a total of £50,000 each and 27 winners of £25,000.

There were also 67 winners of £10,000 and 132 winners of £5,000.

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How to check if you are a winner?

Customers can use the prize checker on the NS&I website here.

You can also download the official Premium Bonds prize checker app, which is free on iOS or Android.

Amazon Alexa owners are also able to check if they have won via the new NS&I Premium Bonds prize checker skill on the device.

To do this you need to enter your details and then simply ask Alexa if you’ve won.

She will also let you know what you have won in the previous six draws and if you have any unclaimed prizes.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Premium Bonds customers have been asked to monitor and check if they have won products online.

Jill Waters, NS&I’s Retail Director, said: “We are currently asking new and existing customers to do everything they can with NS&I online.

“Customers who invest with NS&I online will be automatically registered so that they can manage their savings online or by phone.

“This will allow them to check their balances, pay money in or take it out, choose to have any Premium Bonds prizes paid directly into their bank account and also to transfer money between their NS&I accounts.

“For any customer wishing to invest into an existing NS&I account, the quickest way to do this is to make a transfer from their bank account or to set up a standing order.

“Customers can invest into all of our on sale products using this method.”

How to check if you have any unclaimed prizes?

Each year, NS&I produces a list of the Bond numbers of all unclaimed prizes, dating back to June 1957.

A prize that remains uncashed for 18 months is classed as unclaimed.

There are 1,667,922 prizes worth £63,507,550 won 18 months or more ago and 624 prizes worth £27,600 won 18 months or more ago by bondholders whose names are unknown, as of October 2019.

You can find a full list of all unclaimed prizes from June 1957 to March 2018 here.

You can also check your Bond numbers to see if you have missed any unclaimed prizes here.

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