The Scottish Mail on Sunday
Batten down hatches: life will be tough
LET US be under no illusion about the immediate future after Friday morning’s extraordinary General Election outcome. Life is going to be tough. Extremely tough. More battening down the hatches than grounds for optimism. Yet more uncertainty.
While Jeremy Corbyn would have brought the country to its knees with his reckless spending plans – and destroyed our own personal finances in the process – life is not going to be a bed of roses under the Conservatives and a hung Parliament. Far from it.
With the economy struggling, inflation rising, sterling weak and wage growth going nowhere, household budgets are going to come under extreme pressure in the months ahead. Even more so if unemployment starts to tick up. Perish the thought, we might even see a prolonged period of depressed house prices.
As regards personal taxation, the future is again uncertain. The Government is now severely compromised, meaning it will be extremely difficult for it to pursue an economic policy focused on absolute austerity.
While Corbyn may have lost in terms of overall seats won, he obviously struck a chord with the young – the millennials. Some of the issues he raised so passionately (tuition fees) and some he did not (exclusion from the housing market) must now be embraced by the new Government.
It is also inconceivable that the Government can now dismantle the state pension triple lock and plough on with its ill-thought-out plans on reform of social care.
All this is without accounting for the Brexit factor and the now precarious position the Government finds itself in. Soft rather than hard Brexit? Delay? At best, it will result in economic instability. At worst, economic and market turmoil.
In the coming months, the Personal Finance team at The Mail on Sunday will do its best to help you cope with the inevitable fallout resulting from political instability and the fraught journey towards Brexit. As always, we are here to help – unlike most politicians, feather-bedded from everyday life. SORTING out my late father’s financial affairs in recent days has gone far more smoothly than I ever envisaged. The proceeds from various small insurance policies have been paid without a hiccup while, touch wood, NatWest has amended my parents’ bank details without freezing the account.
Even British Gas has come up trumps, cutting my mum’s monthly direct debit in anticipation of lower usage. All done with compassion, a word not normally associated with British Gas. The customer services representative was so kind to my mother, asking whether there was anything else she could do for her.
Special mention must also go to the Bereavement Register and the Tell Us Once service, both simple to use. The register will ensure my mother will no longer get mailshots addressed to my dad. Tell Us Once means my dad’s state pension and my mum’s attendance allowance have been cancelled, preventing the pain of paying money back at a later stage.
The local council has been in touch asking mum to complete forms that will allow her to claim a 25 per cent single person’s council tax discount.
Of course, fraudsters thrive on bereavement. So my mum is on her guard against unsolicited phone calls.
My dad’s finances were straightforward (everything passes to mum) and have not involved getting tangled up in probate knots. Yet it is obvious that the rules surrounding estates and inheritance tax are ripe for an overhaul.
It is an issue that insurer Royal London is getting worked up about. It believes that executors of a will should be given more time than the current six months to pay any inheritance tax bill due.
Royal London makes a good point. It is one Revenue & Customs should address – in among dealing with the Hades that is the journey to Brexit.