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By J BRIGHT 23 Nov, 2017

Jonathan Bright, Managing Director of J Finance Ltd, highlights those elements of the budget most likely to affect individuals...

The Chancellor had little room for large giveaways and has signalled a wish to continue the move to get back to a ‘balanced budget’.

Whilst there are several positive signs for the economy, much is overshadowed by the growth forecast for 2017 being downgraded from 2% to 1.5% and further downgrading for the following 4 years. Read more on that here .

There are many reasons behind this reduction not least continued low productivity and the drag of Brexit uncertainty.

However, on the brighter side the annual rate of CPI inflation is forecast to fall from a peak of 3% towards 2% target later this year and another 600,000 people are forecast to be in work by 2022. 

Housing & Property

Stamp duty is to be abolished immediately for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000. To help those in London and other expensive areas, the first £300,000 of the cost of a £500,000 purchase by all first-time buyers will be exempt from stamp duty.

This was left until the end of Philip Hammond’s speech as a highlight of the budget and is welcome help to all first-time buyers. Its positive affect may be much more from the feel-good factor than its actual financial value and is a part of the overall plan to improve the housing market at the lower end.

The announcement of £44bn in overall government support for housing to meet a target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the next decade include many measures, including the announcement of new garden towns in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire; Taunton in Somerset and Harlow and Gilston in Essex and Hertfordshire, along with a further 14 garden villages. More on that here .

Councils have been given powers to charge 100% council tax premium on empty properties, compulsory purchase of land banked by developers for financial reasons, £1.1bn to unlock strategic sites and help to regenerate housing estates.

Closer to home, Oxfordshire has been promised a £215m package to build thousands of homes and support growth for the future generation. This will allow 100,000 new homes to be completed in the county by 2031.

Taxation

The Tax-free personal allowance on income tax is to rise to £11,850 in April 2018 and the Higher-rate tax threshold to increase to £46,350.

The increase to Tax Bands is as anticipated for basic rate tax payers, but is larger than expected for higher rate tax payers.

Vehicle excise duty for diesel cars that do not meet the latest standards are to rise by one band in April 2018 and the existing diesel supplement in company car tax to rise by 1%. This move may take some of the uncertainty away from those holding back from buying a new car which has been blamed by many in the motor trade for lower sales.

The normal increases in duty for wine beers and spirits have been frozen along with fuel duty indexation.

Pensions

Despite speculation ahead of the budget, there has been no sign of the anticipated hit for higher rate tax relief on pension contributions.

Business

Affecting business, the VAT threshold for small business is to remain at £85,000 for two years whilst rises in business rates are to be pegged to the CPI measure of inflation not the higher RPI. Learn more on that here .

There’s also no change to Corporation Tax which remains at 19% this year, reducing to 17% from April 2020.

There is to be £500m support for 5G mobile networks, full fibre broadband and artificial intelligence, along with £540m to support the growth of electric cars including crucially more charging points, whilst a further £2.3bn has been allocated for investment in research and development.

You can read the full Autumn Budget statement online here

If you would like to discuss how the Autumn budget will affect you and your family or to discuss any of the above points in more detail, please contact Jonathan Bright directly on tel: 01635 246305 or by email at: jonathan@jfinance.co.uk .

Established in Berkshire in 2004, J Finance Ltd is one of the leading financial planning companies in the area. We serve clients across the South of England including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire. If you would like to discuss this subject or any other financial matter, without obligation, please contact us on 01635 521 300 or contact@jfinance.co.uk.

 

 

By J BRIGHT 17 Oct, 2017

As the Bank of England hints that rates could be set to rise, what does this mean for anyone with a mortgage?

It’s been a decade since the last interest rate rise in the UK, so many newer home owners (and savers) may have never experienced any changes in their finances due to a move by the Bank of England to change the interest rate.

The market has been predicting a rise of around 0.25% from early 2018, although a recent Bank of England rate setting meeting has suggested that it could rise as early as November or December this year, thanks to higher than expected economic growth and inflation.

So what does this mean, and what should you be doing now to prepare yourself?

A change in the interest rate can greatly affect anyone with a mortgage if they are on a variable or tracker rate that goes up and down with changes in the Bank of England Base Rate.

For instance, let’s say you have a £200,000 mortgage and have 25 years left to pay. If you are on an interest rate of 4.6% (the average UK standard variable mortgage rate according to financial data provider Moneyfacts ) you would pay another £28.72 a month on top of your £1,151.77 monthly payment, if the rate went up by 0.25%. If there were four interest rate rises of 0.25% (or a whole percentage point rise) over a year, your outgoings would be £117.10 more each month. Increases would be similar if you were starting from a lower rate too.

There is no need to panic, although now is the time to start thinking about fixing your mortgage. With an imminent interest rate rise looking likely, some mortgage providers have already started to raise their fixed rates, but there are plenty who have not, so it could be worthwhile reviewing your mortgage to avoid any unexpected or significant rises in your repayments, especially if you have a large mortgage.

It’s extremely worthwhile talking to an independent mortgage adviser, such as J Finance Ltd, who will be able to talk you through facts, figures and the best deals available to you. In light of the possibility of an interest rate rise.

Any rate rise is good news for savers though…

If you have savings, a rate rise could give a boost to your interest payments, but you’d probably need quite a lot to see any real difference - with the average instant access savings account offering only 0.14% in interest a year. It’s possible however, that banks may try to avoid passing on any benefits of a rate rise in order to increase their profit margins.

And finally, if you’re planning a holiday abroad, an interest rate rise could see the pound regain some of its strength, which would be a welcome treat for anyone heading overseas. However, it’s not going to make a huge difference, and it’s unlikely that the pound will be returning its 2016 level any time soon…

YOUR MORTGAGE IS SECURED ON YOUR HOME. THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.

Established in Berkshire in 2004, J Finance Ltd is one of the leading financial planning companies in the area. We serve clients across the South of England. If you would like to discuss this subject or any other financial matter, without obligation, please contact us on 01635 521 300 or contact@jfinance.co.uk .

By J BRIGHT 18 Sep, 2017

When and why you should consider making changes to your Will. The experts at J Finance explain...

If you’ve got around to writing a Will you’re ahead of the game - but don't get too complacent! If you have experienced a major life event such as a divorce or birth of a child, you need to take a second look at your Will to ensure that, should anything happen to you, your loved ones are taken care of as you wish.

Getting married or entering into a civil partnership?

Remember that as soon as you marry, any Will you already have in place is revoked (unless you wrote it with an explanation that the marriage was about to take place and provisions made in it had taken that into consideration). The same applies for civil partnerships. However, in Scotland the law is different.

A new baby?

You must rewrite your Will to include your new child or they won't be a beneficiary - even if you have already included your other children. Remember that if you have a new grandchild, you need to include them in your Will too.

A death in the family?

If a beneficiary of your Will passes away, it is important you change your Will, so that you can ensure the gift you had allocated to them is shared as you wish, rather than it going back into the estate.

Getting a divorce?

While your Will won’t actually be invalid if you should die after divorcing but before making a new Will, any bequests to your spouse or civil partner will be treated as if they had died on the date you divorced, with any cash or gifts going into the estate residue. Indeed, if you have written a Will stating that everything passes to your spouse or civil partner, then it would be as if you died without leaving a valid Will (intestate).

Another point to consider is that if your spouse or partner was named as an executor or trustee, they would no longer be able to carry out that role if you die after a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. (Again, this is not applicable in Scotland).

Changing your Will?

So how do you change a Will to take into account these major life events? It may not be necessary to write a new Will - it is possible to make some changes using what is called a Codicil. This is a kind of supplement to a Will and is for simple and straightforward alterations. If you are making small changes such as altering the amount of a gift you are leaving, or changing the name of an executor, trustee or guardian, a codicil will do the job. The codicil must be on a new piece of paper and should be signed, dated and witnessed.

However, if you are making major changes such as changing the main beneficiary (after a marriage or divorce for instance), or setting up a trust for a new baby, then a new Will is the answer.

No Will at all?

If you haven’t got around to writing you Will yet, please don’t continue to put it off.  If you’re not married, and your home is not in your partner’s name, they could lose it in favour of your children, siblings, parents – or even the state. Dying intestate (ie, without a Will) can also make sorting out an estate far more lengthy – and even costly; they may have to hire a lawyer to fight their case for them.

You could also subject your family to all kinds of unpleasant disputes if you haven’t made it clear how your estate should be split. You may have told your favourite nephew that he can have your vintage car if you die, but that promise will be worth nothing if it is not written down. You also need to consider who will be guardian to your children should the worst happen and both parents die - be aware that if no arrangement has been made, the courts might have to make that decision for them.

Finally, no one likes paying tax - and making a Will can ensure that as much of your legacy is passed on to the people you care about, rather than going to the taxman.

Speaking to a specialist will ensure you get everything right - don’t assume that you won’t be leaving enough for it to matter!

If you would like to discuss any changes to your Will, we would be happy to help. Please contact us without any obligation.

Established in Berkshire in 2004, J Finance Ltd is one of the leading financial planning companies in the area. We serve clients across the South of England including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire. If you would like to discuss this subject or any other financial matter, without obligation, please contact us on 01635 521 300 or  contact@jfinance.co.uk .


By J BRIGHT 08 Jun, 2017

J Finance Ltd has added another string to its bow with the announcement that it has been given approval by Help to Buy South to help home buyers access the Scheme.

The latest accolade for the Berkshire company – which was founded in 2004 and is jointly owned by Directors’ Jonathan and Sallie Bright – means that it can now help would-be home buyers acquire a property using the government’s Help to Buy Scheme. The advisers work with clients across the South of England including Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire.

The Help to Buy Scheme has been introduced by the government to help working people take their first steps towards buying their own property. It is also available for subsequent purchases.

A Help to Buy Equity Loan , meanwhile, provides the cost of 20% of a newly built home – leaving the buyer to find just a 5% deposit, along with a mortgage for the remaining 75%.

There is also Help to Buy: Shared Ownership , where payments are divided between rent and mortgage.

J Finance will assess the entire market to establish which products and services will work best for each client.

As well as mortgage advice, the financial advisers help their clients with everything from investments to pensions and insurance advice, and pride themselves on providing reliable, unbiased advice and guidance.

Jonathan Bright, Managing Director at J Finance Ltd, welcomed the news, saying: “We are all looking forward to working with our clients and hope that we can now bring something extra to our current offering, and help more of them reach their goal of buying their very own home.”

For further information, visit the webpage here , or contact Jonathan Bright on tel: 01635 521300.

By J BRIGHT 01 May, 2017

The ‘pension freedoms’ introduced in April 2015, by the then Chancellor, George Osborne, started a pension revolution.

This has significantly changed the way in which an individual can access their pensions, and the ideals of freedom, control and simple inheritance have captured the imagination of many pension holders. This desire for change also extends to people with final salary pensions, to whom the freedoms are largely unavailable.

Jonathan Bright, MD of J Finance Ltd said, “There has been an increase in people looking to transfer to a personal pension arrangement and take advantage of these new freedoms. If you are in a final salary pension, you can usually transfer to a personal pension, as long as you are not already taking your pension.”

Final salary pensions in brief:

If you have a final salary pension, effectively you own a deferred annuity. Annuities are insurance contracts that give guaranteed income payments, but are inflexible, lock in current interest rates and lock out further investment opportunity. Further, they give you little ability to control your retirement income.

If you want flexible income payments or want more control over your pension funds, then a final salary transfer gives you the option to cash out of a potentially expensive insurance and take advantage of the new flexible pension freedom rules. Furthermore, as the cost of annuities have soared so has the cash value of transfer offers, meaning you could benefit not only with the freedoms but also financially.

Reasons to stay with your final salary pension:

  • You’re attracted by the thought of a secure lifetime income, with limited risk and with no effort on your part.
  • You have no or little experience of looking after investments or savings and don’t want the responsibility.
  • The defined pension benefits offered by the scheme exactly match your yearly income requirements based on what you think you will need during your retirement.

Drawbacks of a final salary pension:

  • On your death, you can only pass benefits to a spouse, partner or dependent child aged up to 23 years of age, or in full time education.
  • These schemes are inflexible and funds can only be taken based on the scheme’s rules.
  • If you have no partner or qualifying dependents, when you die, payment of your benefits will stop, even if you have received them for a limited period.

Compelling reasons to consider the transfer your pension:

  • You will have more flexible access and won’t be tied to any pre-defined guarantees.
  • If you are single or divorced, childless or no longer have children in full-time education, you will be able to pass funds to any beneficiary.
  • You will be entitled to a 25% tax-free lump sum and the flexibility to take the remainder as income subject to your personal retirement requirements.
  • Transfer values are at historically high levels

  Things to be aware of:

  •   Misleading transfer reports - some advisers will use an externally produced and semi-automated report which can throw up misleading calculations. Check that any report is personalised to your own needs and wishes.
  • Excessive investment risk - having secured a generous transfer offer from your Final Salary Pension provider, you don’t want to lose it, so beware of unregulated investment schemes (UCIS) and plans that take a greater amount of investment risk than you are comfortable with. Discuss this with an adviser before you invest.
  • Excessive fees you may incur advice fees, pension account fees, fees for administering withdrawals or fees for investment and fund charges. You may want to seek a quotation from a number of advisers to ensure the amount you pay for advice is competitive.

Talk to a pension specialist:

As the ‘pension freedoms’ now allow funds to be passed on to any beneficiary, you might wish to transfer to a personal pension arrangement in order to protect your wealth and have more flexibility, rather than accept the pre-defined guarantees of a defined benefit scheme. Anyone with a defined benefits transfer value of £30,000 or more, is now required by law to take advice from a UK registered ‘Pension Transfer Specialist’ before a transfer can be completed.

Your individual situation will determine the way forward.

Please note, there is no commitment, no charge and the enquiry will not affect your current benefits.

Jonathan   Bright concluded,  “There are a number of important things to consider before transferring your pension, it’s not a decision to be taken lightly and it can be confusing. J Finance is regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority and we will be delighted to make enquiries about your pension on your behalf, with no obligation and no fee”.  

If you have one or more Final Salary Pension schemes, aren’t currently taking your pension and would like to find out more, please contact Jonathan Bright, Managing Director at J Finance Ltd on telephone: 01635 521 300 or by email to jonathan@jfinance.co.uk .

The rules on how you can access your defined contributions pension savings from age 55 have changed. For further information on ‘Pension Freedoms’ and the changes that came into effect in April 2015, please visit www.gov.uk/government/news/pension-changes-2015 .

J Finance Ltd is regulated by The Financial Conduct Authority. You can check the details of regulated financial advisers and Firms on The Financial Conduct Authority’s website  www.fca.org.uk/register .


By J BRIGHT 23 Nov, 2017

Jonathan Bright, Managing Director of J Finance Ltd, highlights those elements of the budget most likely to affect individuals...

The Chancellor had little room for large giveaways and has signalled a wish to continue the move to get back to a ‘balanced budget’.

Whilst there are several positive signs for the economy, much is overshadowed by the growth forecast for 2017 being downgraded from 2% to 1.5% and further downgrading for the following 4 years. Read more on that here .

There are many reasons behind this reduction not least continued low productivity and the drag of Brexit uncertainty.

However, on the brighter side the annual rate of CPI inflation is forecast to fall from a peak of 3% towards 2% target later this year and another 600,000 people are forecast to be in work by 2022. 

Housing & Property

Stamp duty is to be abolished immediately for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000. To help those in London and other expensive areas, the first £300,000 of the cost of a £500,000 purchase by all first-time buyers will be exempt from stamp duty.

This was left until the end of Philip Hammond’s speech as a highlight of the budget and is welcome help to all first-time buyers. Its positive affect may be much more from the feel-good factor than its actual financial value and is a part of the overall plan to improve the housing market at the lower end.

The announcement of £44bn in overall government support for housing to meet a target of building 300,000 new homes a year by the middle of the next decade include many measures, including the announcement of new garden towns in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire; Taunton in Somerset and Harlow and Gilston in Essex and Hertfordshire, along with a further 14 garden villages. More on that here .

Councils have been given powers to charge 100% council tax premium on empty properties, compulsory purchase of land banked by developers for financial reasons, £1.1bn to unlock strategic sites and help to regenerate housing estates.

Closer to home, Oxfordshire has been promised a £215m package to build thousands of homes and support growth for the future generation. This will allow 100,000 new homes to be completed in the county by 2031.

Taxation

The Tax-free personal allowance on income tax is to rise to £11,850 in April 2018 and the Higher-rate tax threshold to increase to £46,350.

The increase to Tax Bands is as anticipated for basic rate tax payers, but is larger than expected for higher rate tax payers.

Vehicle excise duty for diesel cars that do not meet the latest standards are to rise by one band in April 2018 and the existing diesel supplement in company car tax to rise by 1%. This move may take some of the uncertainty away from those holding back from buying a new car which has been blamed by many in the motor trade for lower sales.

The normal increases in duty for wine beers and spirits have been frozen along with fuel duty indexation.

Pensions

Despite speculation ahead of the budget, there has been no sign of the anticipated hit for higher rate tax relief on pension contributions.

Business

Affecting business, the VAT threshold for small business is to remain at £85,000 for two years whilst rises in business rates are to be pegged to the CPI measure of inflation not the higher RPI. Learn more on that here .

There’s also no change to Corporation Tax which remains at 19% this year, reducing to 17% from April 2020.

There is to be £500m support for 5G mobile networks, full fibre broadband and artificial intelligence, along with £540m to support the growth of electric cars including crucially more charging points, whilst a further £2.3bn has been allocated for investment in research and development.

You can read the full Autumn Budget statement online here

If you would like to discuss how the Autumn budget will affect you and your family or to discuss any of the above points in more detail, please contact Jonathan Bright directly on tel: 01635 246305 or by email at: jonathan@jfinance.co.uk .

Established in Berkshire in 2004, J Finance Ltd is one of the leading financial planning companies in the area. We serve clients across the South of England including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire. If you would like to discuss this subject or any other financial matter, without obligation, please contact us on 01635 521 300 or contact@jfinance.co.uk.

 

 

By J BRIGHT 17 Oct, 2017

As the Bank of England hints that rates could be set to rise, what does this mean for anyone with a mortgage?

It’s been a decade since the last interest rate rise in the UK, so many newer home owners (and savers) may have never experienced any changes in their finances due to a move by the Bank of England to change the interest rate.

The market has been predicting a rise of around 0.25% from early 2018, although a recent Bank of England rate setting meeting has suggested that it could rise as early as November or December this year, thanks to higher than expected economic growth and inflation.

So what does this mean, and what should you be doing now to prepare yourself?

A change in the interest rate can greatly affect anyone with a mortgage if they are on a variable or tracker rate that goes up and down with changes in the Bank of England Base Rate.

For instance, let’s say you have a £200,000 mortgage and have 25 years left to pay. If you are on an interest rate of 4.6% (the average UK standard variable mortgage rate according to financial data provider Moneyfacts ) you would pay another £28.72 a month on top of your £1,151.77 monthly payment, if the rate went up by 0.25%. If there were four interest rate rises of 0.25% (or a whole percentage point rise) over a year, your outgoings would be £117.10 more each month. Increases would be similar if you were starting from a lower rate too.

There is no need to panic, although now is the time to start thinking about fixing your mortgage. With an imminent interest rate rise looking likely, some mortgage providers have already started to raise their fixed rates, but there are plenty who have not, so it could be worthwhile reviewing your mortgage to avoid any unexpected or significant rises in your repayments, especially if you have a large mortgage.

It’s extremely worthwhile talking to an independent mortgage adviser, such as J Finance Ltd, who will be able to talk you through facts, figures and the best deals available to you. In light of the possibility of an interest rate rise.

Any rate rise is good news for savers though…

If you have savings, a rate rise could give a boost to your interest payments, but you’d probably need quite a lot to see any real difference - with the average instant access savings account offering only 0.14% in interest a year. It’s possible however, that banks may try to avoid passing on any benefits of a rate rise in order to increase their profit margins.

And finally, if you’re planning a holiday abroad, an interest rate rise could see the pound regain some of its strength, which would be a welcome treat for anyone heading overseas. However, it’s not going to make a huge difference, and it’s unlikely that the pound will be returning its 2016 level any time soon…

YOUR MORTGAGE IS SECURED ON YOUR HOME. THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.

Established in Berkshire in 2004, J Finance Ltd is one of the leading financial planning companies in the area. We serve clients across the South of England. If you would like to discuss this subject or any other financial matter, without obligation, please contact us on 01635 521 300 or contact@jfinance.co.uk .

By J BRIGHT 18 Sep, 2017

When and why you should consider making changes to your Will. The experts at J Finance explain...

If you’ve got around to writing a Will you’re ahead of the game - but don't get too complacent! If you have experienced a major life event such as a divorce or birth of a child, you need to take a second look at your Will to ensure that, should anything happen to you, your loved ones are taken care of as you wish.

Getting married or entering into a civil partnership?

Remember that as soon as you marry, any Will you already have in place is revoked (unless you wrote it with an explanation that the marriage was about to take place and provisions made in it had taken that into consideration). The same applies for civil partnerships. However, in Scotland the law is different.

A new baby?

You must rewrite your Will to include your new child or they won't be a beneficiary - even if you have already included your other children. Remember that if you have a new grandchild, you need to include them in your Will too.

A death in the family?

If a beneficiary of your Will passes away, it is important you change your Will, so that you can ensure the gift you had allocated to them is shared as you wish, rather than it going back into the estate.

Getting a divorce?

While your Will won’t actually be invalid if you should die after divorcing but before making a new Will, any bequests to your spouse or civil partner will be treated as if they had died on the date you divorced, with any cash or gifts going into the estate residue. Indeed, if you have written a Will stating that everything passes to your spouse or civil partner, then it would be as if you died without leaving a valid Will (intestate).

Another point to consider is that if your spouse or partner was named as an executor or trustee, they would no longer be able to carry out that role if you die after a divorce or dissolution of a civil partnership. (Again, this is not applicable in Scotland).

Changing your Will?

So how do you change a Will to take into account these major life events? It may not be necessary to write a new Will - it is possible to make some changes using what is called a Codicil. This is a kind of supplement to a Will and is for simple and straightforward alterations. If you are making small changes such as altering the amount of a gift you are leaving, or changing the name of an executor, trustee or guardian, a codicil will do the job. The codicil must be on a new piece of paper and should be signed, dated and witnessed.

However, if you are making major changes such as changing the main beneficiary (after a marriage or divorce for instance), or setting up a trust for a new baby, then a new Will is the answer.

No Will at all?

If you haven’t got around to writing you Will yet, please don’t continue to put it off.  If you’re not married, and your home is not in your partner’s name, they could lose it in favour of your children, siblings, parents – or even the state. Dying intestate (ie, without a Will) can also make sorting out an estate far more lengthy – and even costly; they may have to hire a lawyer to fight their case for them.

You could also subject your family to all kinds of unpleasant disputes if you haven’t made it clear how your estate should be split. You may have told your favourite nephew that he can have your vintage car if you die, but that promise will be worth nothing if it is not written down. You also need to consider who will be guardian to your children should the worst happen and both parents die - be aware that if no arrangement has been made, the courts might have to make that decision for them.

Finally, no one likes paying tax - and making a Will can ensure that as much of your legacy is passed on to the people you care about, rather than going to the taxman.

Speaking to a specialist will ensure you get everything right - don’t assume that you won’t be leaving enough for it to matter!

If you would like to discuss any changes to your Will, we would be happy to help. Please contact us without any obligation.

Established in Berkshire in 2004, J Finance Ltd is one of the leading financial planning companies in the area. We serve clients across the South of England including Oxfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Hampshire. If you would like to discuss this subject or any other financial matter, without obligation, please contact us on 01635 521 300 or  contact@jfinance.co.uk .


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