Pension scam risk increases amid coronavirus crisis, warn MPs

Pension scam risk increases amid coronavirus crisis, warn MPs

MPs call for greater legislative protection against pension scams 

Brean Horne
Wed, 03/18/2020 – 15:49

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Pension savers face a greater risk of being targeted by fraudsters, new research from the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Pension Scams (APPG) has revealed.

The government has advised more people to stay at home amid the coronavirus crisis, which could increase their chances of being contacted via phone or online.

Investment markets plunging over recent weeks may also make people more susceptible to pension scams as they attempt to recover losses from their retirement savings.  

The figures show that up to £10 billion may have been stolen by fraudsters in 2018, with the average pension scam victim losing £82,000, the APPG found.

Current legislative initiatives are falling short of protecting retired workers, the APPG has found.

For example, the government’s ban on cold calling still leaves room for scammers to target people if they claim to represent a major pension provider.

If the person happens to have a pension with the company stated, they may not realise that the call is fraudulent.

The APPG on Pension Scams is calling for the government to do more to protect retired workers.

This includes improving early warning systems and communication between advisers, providers and regulators to prevent scams before they happen.

Simplifying official channels to help people identify and report fraud could also help reduce the risk of pension scams occurring.

Andy Agathangelou, Founder of the Transparency Task Force, a pro-consumer campaign organisation says:  “It is clear that there is a need for more and better thinking around what should be done to mitigate the risk of the UK’s pension-saving public falling prey to sophisticated scammers; and also to help those that have been scammed.

“We are doing all we can to support this initiative including acting as the Secretariat for the new APPG. I hope every Parliamentarian who cares will get in touch and get involved.”

 

 

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Sainsbury’s introduces shopping hour for older customers and limits on all food items

Sainsbury’s introduces shopping hour for older customers and limits on all food items

New changes in Sainsbury’s stores help customers during coronavirus crisis

Brean Horne
Wed, 03/18/2020 – 11:55

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Supermarket giant, Sainsbury’s, will introduce new measures to support elderly and vulnerable customers during the coronavirus outbreak.

On 19 March, Sainsbury’s will reserve the first hour in every store for elderly and vulnerable customers. 

Chief executive of the supermarket, Mike Coupe, hopes the change will “help those that need it the most.” 

Sainsbury’s will also close its cafes and pizza counters in addition to its meat and fish counters. 

The change aims to free up warehouse and lorry capacity for products that customers really need. 

It also hopes to allow store workers to focus on “keeping the shelves as well stocked as possible.”

From Monday 23 March, elderly and vulnerable customers will get priority access to online food delivery slots. 

Customers eligible for priority access will be contacted in the coming days with more details. 

Sainsbury’s will also be expanding its “click and collect” across its stores.

Customers will be able to place their order online as usual and pick it up from a collection point in the store car park. 

To further ensure that there is enough stock available for all shoppers, Sainsbury’s will expand the limit it has put on the number of products an individual could buy. 

From 18 March, customers will only be able to buy a maximum of three of any grocery product and a maximum of two of the most popular products. 

This includes toilet paper, soap and UHT milk. 

“We have enough food coming into the system, but are limiting sales so that it stays on shelves for longer and can be enough by a larger number of customers,” says Coupe. 

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Government announces three-month mortgage holiday for homeowners hit by coronavirus

Government announces three-month mortgage holiday for homeowners hit by coronavirus

Homeowners in financial difficulty because of the coronavirus outbreak will now be able to defer their mortgage payments

Stephen Little
Wed, 03/18/2020 – 10:41

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Homeowners hit by the coronavirus will get a three-month mortgage holiday under new plans unveiled by the Government.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has introduced a series of emergency measures to help households affected by the coronavirus on top of the promises made in the Budget last week.

Those experiencing financial difficulty because of the coronavirus – including the self-employed – will get a three-month mortgage payment holiday if they need it.

The announcement was made as part of a package of financial measures to help shore up the economy during the coronavirus outbreak.

Sunak says: “Following discussions with industry today, I can announce that for those in difficulty due to coronavirus, mortgage lenders will offer at least a three month mortgage holiday – so that people will not have to pay a penny towards their mortgage while they get back on their feet.”

Banks including Royal Bank of Scotland, NatWest, First Direct and Lloyds Bank, have already introduced measures to help borrowers affected by the outbreak.

People who work in the gig economy or are self-employed have been hugely affected by the coronavirus, with many of them seeing their incomes fall as work had dried up.

Mark Harris, chief executive of mortgage broker SPF Private Clients, says the three-month holiday is welcome news for those have been worried about their jobs and how they will pay the mortgage.

He says: “There is so much uncertainty that knowing the mortgage, which is most people’s biggest outgoing, will be paid, will remove a significant burden.”

What is a mortgage holiday?

A mortgage holiday is an agreement between you and your lender that temporarily allows you to pause or reduce payments on your mortgage.

The mortgage repayment is deferred for a period, during which the monthly payment changes to zero, and interest accrues for the period.

How do you apply for a mortgage holiday?

Lenders are offering customers who are up-to-date with their mortgage payments and impacted by the coronavirus the ability to self-certify.

Under usual circumstances, the lender would have to assess the customer’s finances, but this is being waived.

Customers who have been impacted by the coronavirus and are concerned about their financial situation should contact their lender as soon as possible.

What does it mean for your credit score?

Lenders will speak to credit reference agencies to make sure mortgage holidays do not have an adverse impact on the customer’s credit score.

What does it mean for your mortgage?

While the homeowner is not paying their mortgage, they are still accruing interest which will have to be paid at a later date.

This means that when your payment holiday comes to an end your outstanding mortgage payments and balance will be higher.

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Parents will get free childcare vouchers during coronavirus closures

Parents will get free childcare vouchers during coronavirus closures

Government commits funding for parents affected by coronavirus disruption 

Brean Horne
Wed, 03/18/2020 – 09:30

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The government will continue to pay funding to local authorities for the free entitlements for two, three and four-year-olds during disrupted care caused by COVID-19 (coronavirus), Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced.

Funding for the government’s early years entitlements will continue during any periods of nursery, preschool or childminder closures, or where children cannot attend due to coronavirus.

The government has also confirmed that there will be no rise in the fees paid by early years and childcare providers to register with Ofsted in 2020-21.

It follows a recent consultation with the sector, which took on responses on fees for the Early Years Register.

Education Secretary Gavin Williamson says:” Millions of parents rely on childcare and the vital service provided by nurseries, childminders and preschools.

“Making sure that young children can be cared for safely so that their parents are able to work where required is of the utmost importance now more than ever.

“In recognition of this, we will continue to pay for all free early years entitlements places, even in the event that settings are closed on the advice of Public Health England, or children are not able to attend due to coronavirus, and we will not be asking for funding back from local authorities.”

The advice from Public Health England continues to be that all educational settings, including nurseries, preschools and childminders, should remain open unless advised otherwise.

The Department for Education is providing daily updates to local authorities and early years sector organisations.

Children and Families Minister Vicky Ford says: “I want to thank all the early years practitioners who day-in and day-out do such an excellent job.

“I know these must be difficult times and I hope these announcements show that we are listening to their concerns and taking urgent action.

“I particularly want to thank the Early Years Alliance, the National Day Nurseries Association, and the Professional Association for Childcare and Early Years for their engagement at this critical time.”

The Department for Education also confirmed that Ofsted will temporarily suspend routine inspections of schools, colleges, early years settings, children’s social care providers and local authorities.

This aims to reduce the burden on staff who are providing vital services to the nation in response to coronavirus.

 

 

 

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