The Scottish Mail on Sunday

Batten down hatches: life will be tough

- byJ­eff Pre­stridge

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.

 ??  ??

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK