9 free and cheap things to do over half term

9 free and cheap things to do over half term

Find out how to keep the kids entertained on a budget over February half term 2020. 

Brean Horne
Tue, 02/11/2020 – 13:01


If you’re stuck for ideas on how to keep your family entertained over February half term, don’t fret!

There are lots of fun activities and events happening across the UK which won’t break the bank. 

We’ve rounded up nine free and cheap ways to keep the kids entertained over the break. 

1) Eat out for free

You can grab a free kid’s meal at Morrisons café (normally worth £3) for each accompanying adult that spends £4.50. The offer is available in all café locations from 3pm.

Sizzling Pubs is offering one kid’s main meal for £1 per adult meal when you download the Sizzling Pubs app. The offer is available Monday to Friday between 3pm and 7pm.

2) Watch a film for less than £5

Cinema chains across the UK offer low-cost tickets to children’s films.

Vue’s Mini Mornings, Odeon Kids and Cineworld’s Movies for Juniors have film tickets available from £2.59.

3) Get creative at an art gallery

Why not let your inner artist come alive at a free art workshop this half term?

The National Gallery, Manchester Art Gallery, York Art Gallery and many more are hosting free creative classes.

Some sessions are open to people of all ages while others are designed for younger children.

You can find out more information on their websites.

4) Time travel at a museum

The British Museum is taking families back in time with activities inspired by Trojan tales of gods, heroes and mythical monsters.

Activities are free and will run from 19 to 22 February. Check out the British Museum website for more details.

5) Explore a national park

If you fancy getting back to nature, have a wander around one of the UK’s 15 national parks.

Simply head over to the National Parks website to find out more about each park and decide where you’ll start your adventure.

6) Hang out with pets

Pets at Home run free workshops for children aged 5 to 11 during the school holidays.

The sessions teach children about animal welfare and how to keep their pets happy. 

They’ll get to interact with small animals like guinea pigs and hamsters and will be awarded a certificate or sticker once they complete the session. 

7) Take a free tennis lesson

Tennis For Free is a sports charity that offers free tennis lessons at locations across the UK.

Lessons are available for children of all abilities.

Check out Tennisforfree.com to find out where your local session is taking place.

8) Go for a bike ride

There are miles of beautiful coast and countryside to explore during February half term.

Visit the National Trust website to find the best cycle routes and trails to try.

9) Check out your local authority

Your local authority may be hosting free activities and events for local families. 

Head to GOV.UK to find your local authority then head to its website to check out what’s on during half term. 

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Romance scams cost victims £7.9 million last year – here’s how to spot one

Romance scams cost victims £7.9 million last year – here’s how to spot one

UK Finance warns that more than half of people who use dating apps or websites are vulnerable to fraud

Stephen Little
Tue, 02/11/2020 – 11:11


Victims of romance scams lost £7.9 million in the first half of 2019, up by 50% on the previous year, a new survey shows.

Romance fraud happens when the victim thinks they have met their perfect partner through a dating site, but in fact a fraudster has used a fake profile to gain their trust.

After the fraudster has gained the victim’s trust they will then ask for money or use their personal details to steal their identity.

With more and more people using dating apps, romance fraud is on the increase, up 64% in the first half of 2019 compared to the same period the year before, according to UK Finance.

It says that one in five people using online dating services say that they have either been asked for or given money to someone that they met online.

The survey of more than 2,000 people found that men (26%) were more likely to be asked for money than women (15%).

The average amount of money that was requested or given was £321, although some respondents were asked for greater sums.

UK Finance says that more than a quarter (27%) of respondents said they had been ‘catfished’ – when the scammer uses a fake photo or persona in the past 12 months.

UK Finance is warning that 55% of people who use online dating services are leaving themselves vulnerable to being scammed, by trusting the person they are in contact with before meeting in real life.

Katy Worobec, managing director of economic crime at UK Finance, says: “Romance scams are both emotionally and financially damaging for victims. The popularity of online dating services has made it easier for criminals to target victims, so we urge everyone to be cautious this Valentine’s.

“Although banks are always looking out for suspicious activity, customers must be on their guard and protect themselves too. Always be wary of requests for money from someone you’ve never met in person. If you think you’ve been the victim of a romance scam, contact your bank immediately.”

How to spot a romance scam

Victims are targeted through online dating websites, social media or apps.

Criminals will often ask lots of personal questions about you in a short space of time but won’t tell you anything about themselves.

They will also use fake photographs in order to trick you into thinking they are real, known as ‘catfishing’.

Sometimes, the fraudster will concoct a sob story about how they need they need a large sum of cash. For example, they might claim they have a relative who is ill or need the money for a plane ticket to see you.

Peter Janes, chief executive of secure payments firm Shieldpay, says: “With more and more people finding love through online dating, the risks are becoming increasingly prevalent and money from the well-intentioned ends up in the wrong hands.

“Potential victims should be aware of the red flags – being pressured to send money or information on the spot is likely to be suspect.”

How to stay safe from romance scams

  • Never send money to someone you have never met.
  • Be careful about the personal information you give out.
  • Speak to your family or friends to get advice.
  • Profile photos may not be genuine, so do your research first.
  • Contact your bank straight away if you think you may have fallen victim to a romance scam.
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Renters will run out of money in retirement 12 years before homeowners

Renters will run out of money in retirement 12 years before homeowners

Future generations’ hopes for enjoying a comfortable retirement could be scuppered by failing to get on the housing ladder.

Emma Lunn
Tue, 02/11/2020 – 10:49


The Investing and Saving Alliance (TISA) is calling for automatic enrolment contributions to increase to 12% to be sufficient to ensure a comfortable retirement.

Currently the minimum contribution under auto-enrolment is 8%, but TISA says this will not generate a sufficient pension pot for those still renting in retirement.

TISA’s report Getting Retirement Right: Plan, Prepare, Enjoy, has modelled different scenarios for UK savers entering the workplace in the mid-2020s. The aim is to understand the levels of saving needed to meet moderate living standards in retirement.

For each scenario, TISA indicated the age at which private pension funds would run out based on contribution levels of 8%, 10%, and 12%.

Renters will run out of retirement cash

It found that the average UK household still renting in retirement is likely to exhaust the family’s pension provision 12 years sooner than homeowners on current levels of auto-enrolment contributions.

The modelling also suggests renters could exhaust their pension pot nine years before they reach the average life expectancy age of 90. With home ownership rates on the decline, the research illustrates the scale of the challenge facing future generations.

Renny Biggins, retirement policy manager at TISA, says: “We know from trends surrounding home ownership among younger people that renting could become much more common in retirement. Indeed, recent statistics have suggested that up to a third of millennials will be lifetime renters, if things continue as they are.

“Current levels of contribution at 8% clearly won’t cut it for those households that don’t own their home. Based on our research, increased contributions of even 12% would be insufficient in isolation for families unable to get on the housing ladder. Should renters also have to face care costs, they could quickly find themselves in pension poverty, without any housing wealth to fall back on.”

Steven Cameron, pensions director at Aegon, says the report is further confirmation that for most people the 8% minimum contribution under auto-enrolment is not enough.

He says: “This thorough analysis from TISA adds further weight to the evidence that while auto enrolment has been successful in getting millions more saving for retirement, the current minimum contribution of 8% is simply not going to be enough for most people to live the lives they want in retirement.

“But until now, little attention has been given to the impact of home ownership on income needs in retirement, and therefore on what proportion of earnings people should be saving. Homeowners who have paid off their mortgage are in a better position that those who anticipate renting in retirement, as ongoing rent will be a significant addition to their retirement expenditure.”

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Tesco shoppers urged to check their Clubcard points

Tesco shoppers urged to check their Clubcard points

£17 million worth of unused Tesco Clubcard vouchers are due to expire at the end of February.

Emma Lunn
Tue, 02/11/2020 – 10:04


Tesco Clubcard vouchers come with an expiry date of two years and the supermarket has revealed that vouchers worth £17 million are set to expire on Saturday 29 February.

The unused vouchers are equivalent to 650,000 weekly shops, with Tesco customers in London, Manchester and Bristol sitting on the most unused vouchers.

Clubcard holders earn one point for each £1 spent at Tesco and one point for every £2 spent on Tesco fuel. 150 points is worth a £1.50 voucher if you spend it at Tesco – but you can triple the points’ value by using them with one of the supermarket’s 150 reward partners, which include Thorpe Park, NOW TV, Pizza Express and the RAC.

Vouchers are sent out every three months as part of your Clubcard statement. Alternatively, you can request to have them added to your account instantly through the ‘Faster Vouchers’ scheme. 

However, Clubcard vouchers are only valid for two years after they’re issued, and Faster Vouchers for 21 months. 

Alessandra Bellini, Tesco’s chief customer officer, says: “We understand that our customers lead busy lives and may forget about the points and vouchers that they’ve built up over time.

“With a large number set to expire at the end of the month, we are encouraging people to check the Clubcard app to see if any of these unused vouchers are theirs.”

How to check your Clubcard vouchers

If you have a paper Clubcard voucher, it will have an expiry date written on it.

Alternatively, your Tesco Clubcard online account will show your voucher history, including any points that haven’t been spent yet.

You can also check using the ‘Vouchers’ section of the Clubcard smartphone app.

Once you’ve found your vouchers, you can spend them online using the code provided – or if you plan to spend in store, you can print the vouchers off or scan the barcode available on the app at checkout. 

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