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The new UK tax year: What has and hasn’t changed?

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

The 2019/20 UK tax year ticked over on 6 April 2019, resetting thresholds and allowances for the next 12 months. We explore changes that may affect expatriates and what you can do to make the most of existing rules.

Personal tax

The amount of UK income you can earn tax-free increases by £650 to £12,500. The threshold for the highest income tax rate of 40% rises from £46,350 to £50,000 (different rates and bands apply in Scotland). This represents an annual saving of £130 for basic rate taxpayers and £830 for those with income up to £125,000.

Although previous governments have suggested removing personal allowance benefits for non-resident British nationals, expatriates still qualify today. However, this could potentially change with a new UK government.

Remember: UK source income may need to be declared in your country of residence, even if it is not liable to taxation in either country.

Savings and investments

With no relevant changes here, the band of UK savings income that can be earned tax-free remains at £5,000 and the annual ISA subscription limit stays at £20,000. The dividend allowance stays at the reduced level of £2,000.

Note that investments like ISAs lose their tax-efficient benefits once you are no longer UK resident. Not only are non-residents ineligible to open and save into ISAs, any interest earned may become liable to taxation in France.

Take time to explore alternative tax-efficient arrangements that may better suit your particular set of circumstances, goals and risk appetite.

Pensions

The pensions annual allowance remains at £40,000. Meanwhile, the State Pension increases 2.6% in line with inflation (as defined by the Consumer Price Index), representing an extra £169 a year for those who started drawing benefits before 6 April 2015; £221 for others. Despite ongoing Brexit uncertainty, expatriates who are already settled in the EU should continue receiving these cost-of-living increases in future.

The lifetime allowance (LTA) also increases with inflation from £1.03 million to £1.055 million. This allows you to accrue an extra £25,000 in combined pension benefits before the 25% or 55% LTA tax penalties apply.

Even with this extra allowance, beware that today’s high transfer values for ‘final salary’ pensions make it easier to trigger lifetime allowance penalties.

Transfers to EU/EEA-based Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS) remain tax-free for EU residents. However, following Brexit, it is possible the UK may widen its 25% overseas transfer charge to include the EU/EEA.

In any case, take regulated advice to establish the best pension solution for your individual circumstances and goals – before the rules potentially change.

Inheritance tax

An inheritance tax review is underway, but for now the threshold remains frozen at £325,000 per person (as it has been since 2009). With the lifetime gift allowance also unchanged, you can still pass on up to £3,000 tax-free (without the requirement to live for another seven years).

The residential nil rate band increases as planned from £125,000 to £150,000 per person. This provides extra tax relief when passing on a main UK home to direct descendants, but starts to taper once joint assets exceed £2 million.

The good news for expatriates is that overseas property can qualify, provided it is your main home (although local inheritance taxes may still apply).

Capital gains tax

The capital gains tax exemption continues tracking inflation, increasing from £11,700 to £12,000 (£6,000 for most trusts).

From 6 April, the sale of commercial UK property owned by non-UK residents becomes subject to non-resident capital gains tax (NRCGT), whether it is owned by individuals or through a trust or company structure. This comes four years after UK residential property became liable, now bringing most UK property and land owned by non-residents into firing range for capital gains tax.

Property

Buy-to-let tax relief continues to taper. Now landlords can only deduct 25% of their mortgage interest repayments against rental income (compared to 75% in 2017/18 and 50% last year). Next year this relief is set to be replaced by a 20% mortgage interest tax credit.

In May, the government is due to finish a consultation on an additional 1% stamp duty for non-residents buying residential property in England and Northern Ireland, so there is a chance this will come into force in the near future.

This joins a range of measures targeting UK investment property that potentially make it a less tax- and cost-efficient option for capital. If this affects you, consider restructuring your wealth to reduce your tax liabilities.

While this new tax year brings relatively few changes, it is sensible to review whether you are making the most of all the available tax-efficient opportunities, in the UK and your country of residence. Take personalised advice from a cross-border specialist with understanding of both the UK and French tax regimes for the best results.

Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; individuals should seek personalised advice.

You can find other financial advisory articles by visiting our website here

Susan Keefe’s Bookshelf for your June reading

Bloody Coffee

by Michelle Dim-St. Pierre
Bloody CoffeeIn this traumatic and sometimes heart-rending novel we meet a teenage girl called Leigh, whose world has been turned upside down when she discovers that the man she has always known as her father isn’t actually her biological father.
This traumatic fact was not uncovered as you might think by accident, but as a result of being given by her mother, her own journals of that period in her life.
 
Although Leigh lives in New York, she travels to Tel-Aviv where her mother used to be a nurse to track down and meet her ‘real’ father Dr Ezra Sloan. However, by accident or because of the circumstances, (Who can tell?) this confrontation doesn’t go as planned and instead a distraught Leigh finds herself performing CPR on Sloan as he suffers a heart attack. With the ambulance sirens fading into the distance it is a confused Leigh who is left wondering what the future holds.
 
However, the plucky young lady is undaunted, and despite having to face the wrath of Sloan’s wife and sons, she has the fortitude to continue in her quest to discover the reasons why he is not in her life, and is surprised and confused by what she uncovers.
 
Leigh’s dogged determination means that her life alternates between New York and Tel-Aviv, and as more and more of her mother’s past is revealed the questions mount up, and a tormented Leigh finds herself desperately searching for answers to her questions.
 
Throughout, the reader can clearly see both sides of this very emotional story. Although my heart bled for Leigh at times, and her torment was easy to understand, as the saying goes ‘you have to walk a mile in someone’s shoes, before you can judge them.’ As a parent and a mother Sharon’s decision to reveal the truth was a brave one, and with the resulting emotional backlash and recriminations, one has to admire her ability to support her daughter at times. After all everyone is entitled to their own secrets…
 
The author Michelle Dim-St. Pierre, was born and spent half her life in Tel-Aviv, before moving to America. In this very powerful novel overflowing with emotional turmoil and suspense, she uses her work and life experiences to keep her reader spellbound until the very last page. I highly recommended this book to lovers of fictional human interest stories, laced with intrigue and mystery.
 
Available from Amazon 
 

Anuk: Book of Words

by Suzanne Mondoux
In the author’s first book, The Adventures of Anuk: The First Leap, we meet Anuk on her 16th birthday. At the beginning of the story she is living with her adopted Mammal Beings Julea and Lucca, but she is an Assisi Human.
For those who don’t know, Assisi Humans are very special beings, half animal half human, and they have a very important responsibility, and this is to keep the harmony between the humans and other Beings.
However, on her birthday she is given a book of poems and two medallions with magical powers, and is told that she must follow her destiny and travel to her homeland of Roese.

This, the second book, opens with Anuk living happily on Roese Island, her home for several seasons. It is a time of great joy because she is celebrating her graduation. After causing a sensation on her arrival, now aged 23 she is an accomplished culinary explorer, and the islanders call her the ‘Island Chef.’ Talked about, and an inspiration to the young Being on the island, Anuk is very popular, is loved by her students, and is always welcome into their homes for the reading of poems.

Anuk meets with her Dragon friend Noga, and together they go to the graduation ceremony where Noga reads from the Book of Words. ”We are the last herd of Elephant Beings to walk the Orb.” The words are chilling, and everyone recognises that the book has a significance that no-one has realised before. Contained within its pages is a hidden map which reveals the location of Satao, the place where the last remaining Elephant Beings exist.

At The Round Table Council, Anuk is asked to read from the book. With mounting horror the council members discover how the Elephant Beings had to hide their tusks from the Etani, who were notorious killers of the Elephant Beings for their ivory tusks, and then about their massacre by the Poach under the command of the Empire.

Gradually Anuk understands the significance of the golden elephant tattoo which has been emerging between her shoulder blades. When she reveals it to the council it is complete, and she discovers that the Book of Words she was entrusted with aged 16 was actually written by the Elephant Beings, and it is her destiny to return to them, she is its one true guardian!

With this revelation comes another, the Empress has discovered the Book of Words is on Roese Island and is coming to retrieve it.

With the islands peoples in danger, Anuk is hailed as the ‘Change Maker’ and with Aye, Noga, Kinkajou, and EagleOwl as her companions, she embarks on her quest to return the book to Satao.

This spectacular adventure sees the intrepid troop facing real dangers, strange creatures and mythical beings, both friends and foes. However, together they stand united, listen to advice and have an heroic race against time to keep the Book of Words safe. But will they succeed in their quest, and reach their destination before the dreaded Etani or Poach?

The author’s incredible imagination and gift for writing has produced this second book in the Anuk series. Within, her readers have the opportunity not only to escape into a wonderful, magical, land, but also through its amazing characters to learn valuable life lessons about duty, giving to others and conservation.
 
 
 

Dynomike: Proud To Be Me

by Frankie B. Rabbit 
 
My granddaughter and I are great fans of the Dynomike books, she because of the lovely stories and bright illustrations, and myself because of the skill Frankie B. Rabbit exhibits in managing to put important life lesson skills within pages of a book which easily captures the attention of young children.

In this Dynomike book, Dynomike is visiting summer camp, something looked forward to, or dreaded by children each year. He arrives confident that he is going to have a wonderful time, playing and making new friends.

However, this is before Mr. Pop Sour announces that it’s time for kickball. Eager to play Dynomike is excited until he strips in a puddle and emerges covered in mud.

Poor Dymnomike, and if that’s not bad enough a nasty bully called Freckly Frock picks on him and taunts him, which isn’t very nice at all!

What a nasty character Freckly Frog is! His actions make Dynomike slink away, ashamed, and feeling afraid and insecure. The horrible bully has really made him sad.

Then, sitting in the cabin Dynomike realises that this scared person isn’t who he is. He has come to camp to enjoy himself and make friends. Empowered by this realisation, he decides that he will not be defeated and confronts Freckly Frog. When he does his words make the bully realise how horrible he has been.

This little story holds an enormous message, one of believing in your strength and self-worth. Children reading this will gain courage and learn through Dynomike how to deal with nasty bullies, and importantly, how to show friendship to them afterwards and ‘be the bigger person.’

Not only is this story one which all children will enjoy and learn from in a gentle way, but also the author has also kindly given his readers a free Dynomike book at the end.
 
 
 

A Future With Hope

by Carl S. Armato
 
A Future With Hope – what an excellent title for this book, it sets the tone perfectly for the inspirational and educational content.
 
The author, Carl S. Armato was diagnosed in the mid 1960’s with type 1 diabetes at the very young age of 18 months. However, the knowledge that their son was the youngest child ever to be diagnosed with diabetes in St. Mary Parish, Patterson, on the Gulf Coast in rural Louisiana enthused his parents, Lucien and Leona Armato, with a determination, and that was to change the whole family’s diet and lifestyle to fit in with the diagnosis. Their positive attitude followed Carl through the years and gave him the faith that he was master of his own destiny, not diabetes!
 
Although a pediatrician, Dr. Carmen Posada had an interest in endocrinology for type 1 diabetes and with her support and tutelage his mother learnt how to check and control his sugars, something which he in turn would learn and have to do throughout his life.
 
However, he was determined not to be defined by his diagnosis, and with the support of his family, friends, and wife Christi he has enjoyed his life, and enriched the lives of those he has known over the past 52 years.
 
With a philosophy that knowledge is power, he has become an expert on diabetes, so much so that in 2012 he became CEO of Novant Health, a hospital which outperforms all hospitals in the same data platform in terms of diabetes care. Embracing changes in technology and always happy to offer advice and support, it wasn’t until a few years after becoming CEO that he opened up about having the disease himself.
 
In writing this book, the author has culminated a lifetimes experience with the disease at all ages, which in itself offers the reader a real insight into the dedication to diet and exercise that is critically important to manage the disease, and how dangerous not paying attention to it can be. Throughout he stresses the necessity of having a good support system. Indeed, his family, friends and wife have also contributed to the book which gives other perspectives, and the admiration and respect he has earnt over the years from the medical profession and his friends is to be admired.
 
My husband has type 2 diabetes, and did for a period of time have type 1, so I am very aware of how the disease can make you feel. This book is incredibly uplifting, it is very easy to become depressed about the need to take sugar readings regularly, and the lifelong diagnosis, the positive attitude the author has embraced is an example to us all.
 
Interesting, well written, and full of information and inspiration, this book is a must read for not only those who have diabetes, but also their families.
 
 

Bubbles Galore (Super Speed Sam Book 11)

by Monty J. McClaine
Bath time can be great fun, especially if there are toys, and plenty of bubbles!
Yet again six year old Jack is up to mischief. Its bath time in the McClaine household, Molly is watching her favourite programme, the Cat Walk Kittens, and mum has just run Jack his bath, bubble bath included. However, once mum has left him to see to Molly, Jack decides he wants more bubbles, he concludes that mum must have read the instructions wrong on the bottle, and so he adds more bubblybath, and for good measure turns the taps up too.
Now, anyone who has done this knows just how quickly the bubbles multiply. Very soon the room fills with bubbles. Quickly Jack realises that it’s a good idea to escape, but poor Sam is left inside.
If you, like our family are fans of this series, you will know that Sam is extremely smart and has been given special powers, and it’s a good thing he has!
Thinking fast, Sam springs into action. However he soon discovers that paws are not very good at turning taps, or taking plugs out, and so he uses his special chant to change into his superhero persona, Super Speed Sam. Chant finished, and magically sensibly dressed for scuba diving, he sets off into the murky depths of the bathtub, hoping, now he is better equipped, although looking rather like a frog, he can save the day. It is not long however before he discovers that he is not alone. Incredibly, his chanting has created a magical underwater world, where the children’ bath toys have come alive.
As this adventure unfolds Sam realises that he must use all his cleverness skills to save the day by stopping the bathroom from flooding. The question is, if he succeeds, what will happen to his new bath toy friends when the water they live in goes down the plug hole?
Yet again, Monty J McClaine, the author of this series has written a wonderful story. It was thoroughly enjoyed, and captured the imagination of my granddaughter today, and I am sure it will be loved by all children who read it.

Cries of Mercy

by Angela Beach Silverthorne
Can Bren and Joseph’s love for each other and faith in God overcome all?
Cries of Mercy is the third in the Cries Series written by Angela Beach Silverthorne, a Christian woman whose faith and character shine through in this incredible series.
The story is set in the small town of Silverton, a close nit Christian community, and the chief protagonist is Bren, a young woman whose life the readers have watched evolve in this series. She suffered a traumatic childhood, however found sanctuary at The Haven, where, through the teachings of her grandmother ‘GG’ she discovered her faith in God, and realised that she was a Lighten, which means a warrior of God, and to signify this she carries a crescent-moon birth mark. As a young woman Bren graduate as a nurse, and returns to The Haven to be the village midwife, and then eventually marries Pastor Joseph.
The scene is set at the beginning of this book with Bren reflecting on her marriage, honeymoon and deep endearing love for her husband Joseph. However, their past has also been tinged with great sadness as she has been pregnant three times, and each of her sons have died before or just after birth. These tragedies, although heart-breaking for the couple have united them through Christ and their deep faith in God.
Silverton is thriving and wonderful things are happening in their church and at the New Beginnings Empowerment Center. Some people believe that a jail should be built for troubled souls but Joseph strongly believes that the way through to these people is through rehabilitation. Empowered by His Spirit Joseph wants to increase his ministry teachings, however Bren is afraid initially. For her, memories of past incidents emerge, however, knowing her husband’s resolute faith in his path in life, she relents and Joseph starts doing tours.
As is usual in such a caring community, the residents each have their own stories, and have overcome demons and troubles. However, some of these have re-emerged from the past, and even Joseph discovers some buried family secrets which are set to shake the lives of those he loves. Birth and death are a part of life as we are reminded every day, and when a much loved member of the community and friend is diagnosed with terminal cancer there is much sorrow, yet even amidst the sadness there is joy when Bren discovers that she is with child again, and together the couple pray for a safe delivery of their baby.
As Joseph’s ministry to his flock and tours are increasing, there is unrest and faces from the past arrive in Silverton, bent on causing mayhem. Yet resolute, Joseph finds strength and values the advice of his good friend Dominique a Franciscan Priest, and together they fortify and strengthen the villagers in their fight against the demons of Satan.
As family secrets are revealed, and puzzles from the past are solved, the mysteries unfold, leaving Bren and Joseph looking forward to overcoming everything and being a family unit, but will their dreams come true?
This captivating story, although part of a trilogy can happily be enjoyed alone. It is a wonderful story in which the community of Silverton comes alive, and its characters, their lives, loves and experiences are richly described by the author, making it a truly outstanding read.

This weekend for a Roman extravaganza in Nîmes

From May 3rd Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 500 re-enactors from France, Italy, Croatia and Germany meet in the exceptional setting of the Arènes de Nîmes to take part in the ‘Great Roman Games’, a unique event which has established itself as the greatest historical reconstruction of antiquity in Europe, in the best preserved amphitheatre in the world.

For three days, the Nîmes coliseum offers to relive the legendary ludi as occured 2000 years ago. This will include the Imperial Court, a parade of Roman legionnaires, chariot races and gladiatorial combat.

This edition honours the Barbarian Kings and the invasion of the Cimbri, Teutonic and Ambron that the Romans had to face between 113 and 101 BC. The Barbarian Kings recounts the epic of the barbarians following their victory over the Romans in Arausio,  which is the French city of Orange, and the triumph of General Marius during the famous battle of Aix-en-Provence in 101 BC.

From the 1st to 5th passionate reenactors will live as in the Roman era, 24h / 24h for 5 days, setting up a Roman camp exactly as it was. There is the opportunity to interact with historians and archaeologists in period dress and to participate in several workshops and demonstrations.

About forty AERA specialists will offer a series of workshops, presentations, demonstrations and military trainingon Camp Romain.You can learn how to make Roman military bread and discover military tents decorated by the objects used at the time. The reenactors, in military uniform of different ranks, will present the packages owned by the Roman soldiers of the time. A centurion, a specialized historian, will present the different strategies put in place by the Roman army during their conquests.

The whole town of Nîmes turn out and it becomes taken over by Roman themed events and promotions.Enjoy “Cimbrious Wars and the Battle of Orange”by Alain Deyber, archaeologist and doctor of history and civilization of Antiquity with free conference on registration at info@arenes-nimes.com.

Conference “Marius, imperator of the Roman Republic”by Éric Teyssier, professor of Roman history at the University of Nîmes free registration at info@arenes-nimes.com.

  • Throughout the town there will be marching legionaries and Roman civilians, Celts and dancers
  • Saturday May 4th from 11h to 12h6 different courses in downtown streets.
  • Torchlight Night Paradeon Saturday May 4th from 11h from 21h to 21h30
  • Emperor’s triumphal parade
  • Ceremony of the imperial cult
  • The navy in antiquity
  • Antique marketthat takes up residence on the Esplanade in front of the arena and exposes during the 3 days of festivities, on about twenty stands showing faithfully reproduced helmets, textiles, pottery, antique jewels, belts, coins and other handicrafts.

And of course this year is the 60th, and so the diamond, anniversary of Astérix the wonderfully French protagonist of the Romans. Supported by Dogamatrix, Unhygenix,, Obélix, Vitalstatistix and others – Astérix holds out against the Roman overlords. Watch out as this anniversary promises to be one for the history books with a flurry of exhibitions and celebrations everywhere. For more information visit www.asterix.com.

But if you really want the truth . . . Head down to Nîmes this coming weekend and see how it really happened (well almost!)

Louvre pyramid art was a sorry mess a few hours after installation

from Languedoc Living

Just one day after it was opened to the public the anamorphosisart installation by the artist JR, to celebrate 30 years of the famous Louvre pyramid, had already become “unstuck” and damaged.

The piece, which was due to be exhibited at the famous art gallery from Friday March 29 to Sunday March 31, began to show signs of wear and tear within hours of being created. The artwork had been created by JR and a team of volunteers using a series of long digitally printed “stickers”, which were laid on to the ground piece by piece to create the anamorphosisdesign.Watching this video on www.youtube.com</a>, or enable JavaScript if it is disabled in your browser.</div></div>

“Anamorphosis”art is a style in which the artwork only makes sense from one single perspective.

Some areas of this design appear to have been damaged within hours of being placed, with reports suggesting that the adhesive did not hold in some cases, and that areas with heavy pedestrian traffic began to become damaged more quickly.

Others suggested that some visitors had torn off some of the work, to take home as a “souvenir”. Screens have been set up at the museum entrance, to show the artwork from the correct position, and also demonstrate the behind-the-scenes of its creation.

The artwork was created as part of the 30th anniversary celebrations of the famous glass pyramid designed and installed by architect I.M.Pei and officially inaugurated on March 29th1989.

The photos illustrate what it should have looked like . . . and what it looked like after a few hours.

 

 

Llama Trekking and Glamping in the beautiful Pays de la Loire

By Susan Keefe

Where ever you live in the world news travels fast in small communities. Here in France the same is true, so when I heard that there were llamas in our little village owned by UK expats I just had to meet them and discover their story, and this is it…

On a cold December day in 2017 Sarah & Nigel Young set off from West Sussex in the UK embarking on their French adventure, the adventure being to find and purchase a farm or smallholding with enough land to keep their llamas and chickens as well as future plans for goats, sheep and pigs. Their dream being to run a Glamping Farm stay where guests could come and savour the peace and tranquillity, soak up the Vallee du Loir sunshine, splash in the pool, whilst also benefitting from learning about, handling and trekking with the llamas.

Sarah has a background in hospitality and catering, Nigel worked for Lotus cars for the majority of his career, so it made sense to head to Sarthe, Pays de la Loire… Home of Les 24 Heures du Mans, and steeped in History with Medieval Tours and The Loire River, lined with its awe-inspiring Chateaus, within 30 minutes. They knew this area would offer beautiful rural countryside, lakes, forests, plus lots of activities, whilst remaining one of the least expat populated areas in France. It had the added benefit that it is just over 7 hours door to door from their family and friends in West Sussex.

Whereas many people take an age to find their dream home, not so Sarah & Nigel, on the 4th day, having only viewed about 10 properties, they found it. The farm named La Vente is just on the outskirts of a tiny village called Lavernat. It is approached down a long country track lined on one side with the woodland ofLa forêt de Bercéand on theother, fields, where beautiful white cows graze. As they pulled into the farm’s courtyard, Sarah, being an emotional person, had tears in her eyes and they knew before looking inside that they were home!

Loire Valley Llama Farm Stay is 17 acres of mixed meadows, woodland and a lake. Opening to guests in August 2018 it already has quite a following on social media and many 5* reviews. The beautiful and unusual Lotus Belle Tents are luxuriously kitted out with “proper” beds, a double and 2 singles in each tent, and have eye catching Egyptian cotton bedding, also provided are lamps, USB points and chargers powered by solar ~ no expense is spared to ensure your comfort. Loire Valley Llama Farm Stay opens early in spring each year and continues hosting guests until late into autumn, the tents have wood burners installed and Nigel & Sarah make no additional charge for as much wood as you need to keep snug.

The tents are thoughtfully located within the farm, one being secluded at the end of the fruit tree orchard, named the Tente Peche, as it has an abundantly fruiting peach tree in grabbing distance of the tents decking. All bedding, towels, cutlery, crockery and cooking utensils are included to make this self-catering holiday simple. The outdoor kitchen, under a spectacular flowering pergola, is equipped with fridges for each tent, gas and wood fired barbecues and a microwave and plenty of work surfaces. Shower facilities are plentiful with an outdoor solar heated private shower for each tent or an indoor plumbed-in shared shower.

Sarah & Nigel are happy and proud to share the produce from the potager; carrots, garlic, melons and aubergines to name just a few and encourage guests to pick the fruit on offer, apples, plums, peaches, pears, lemons and figs.

In such a short time, this original Llama Glamping Farm in Loire, is becoming not such a well-kept secret for semi off grid holidays and Llama Trekking excursions.

My daughter and her partner have stayed with them and thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. If you would like to contact them information can be found on their website https://www.loirevalleyllamas.com/

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/loirevalleyllamas   Instagram @portiathellama   Twitter @llamasloire

Your reading for May – by Susan Keefe

Your Body’s Environmental Chemical Burden: A Resource Guide to Understanding and Avoiding Toxins

by Cindy Klement

The title of this book caught my attention as a health conscious, environmental aware mother and grandmother.

Reading the preface I discovered that its content, and publishing was as a result of the author attending a lecture in the fall of 2013, where the presenter used the term ‘body burden.’ This choice of phrase piqued her interest and being a professor, with good access to the university online library she discovered that the body’s environmental chemical burden was something she needed to know more about.

Considering herself a ‘healthy and health conscious eater having been virtually organic since the late 1970’s, in March 2014 she asked her friend and personal physician Dr. Lev (Ed) Linker to run a toxicant profile on her. The results of these tests both surprised and horrified her. Determined to discover more she read countless studies and her findings made her increasingly concerned for the health of future generations, as a result of worldwide environmental chemical contamination.

As I read on, I discovered at the turn of every page interesting and quite frankly extremely worrying facts about the chemical contaminants found in our food, products, and environment. This chemical exposure is present quite simply every moment of our being, dare I say it, even before we are born. What’s more, despite all the ‘agencies’ and ‘labelling’ in place to ‘protect’ us, many of these chemicals simply don’t have to be declared.

This book is very well structured. The information within is easily assimilated by non-academic readers,  and it is presented in such a way that they are not only given thorough information about the chemical contaminants the author features in the book, but also much more, by highlighting pertinent subjects under subheadings such as human exposure, dietary exposure, and occupational exposure. Throughout, warnings are given on occupations and where exposure to contaminants can be excessive. Throughout the book there is advice on how we can empower ourselves, and the author suggests other resources if the reader wishes to pursue a particular subject in more detail. At the back of the book there is a comprehensive Appendix and Glossary.

I found this book extremely interesting and one which I strongly feel should be read by all. Our environment, how we live and what we put in our bodies is in our control. In this modern world well researched and factual reference books like this should be read, and available on the bookshelf of every home.

Available from Amazon        https://www.amazon.co.uk/Your-Bodys-Environmental-Chemical-Burden-ebook/dp/B07QB9G97G/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1556273371&sr=1-1-spell

 

Reach for the Sky (Super Speed Sam Book 2)

by Monty J McClaine

Can Super Speed Sam save the day?

Yet again my granddaughter was captivated by the wonderful adventures of Super Speed Sam, or Sam, as the loveable Basset Hound hero of this delightful story is called.

The self-appointed guardian of the whole family, Sam’s quiet demeanour and big brown eyes hold a secret, Sam has hidden powers. My granddaughter and I discovered how, and why he got his secret powers in the Christmas Super Speed Sam book, Santa’s Rescue Dog. However in this, the second book in the series we discovered how he used these powers to protect his young master Jack, save the day, and all without revealing them to his loving family.

You see, mysteriously Molly’s favourite rag doll Ted has disappeared, normally it never leaves her side, and Molly always sleeps with it. Where it had gone was a mystery which her mum really wanted solved.

Playing in his bedroom with his train set was Jack, Molly’s six year old brother. He is in trouble, he is being punished because of naughtiness a few days before, and of course he thinks it is quite unfair. As his frustration rises at his inability to complete a task without the things he needs, his desperation leads him into a dangerous situation. Luckily Sam, who appears to be slumbering in his bedroom notices, and saves the day. However, the big question is, will Molly’s rag doll reappear, or will it be lost forever? To discover the answer you must read the book.

This series of books are wonderful for young children. Each one is beautifully illustrated, and they are a perfect length to capture a child’s imagination and attention.

Available from Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/Reach-Sky-Super-Speed-Book-ebook/dp/B01ECP5UXA/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=&sr=

Should you transfer a final salary pension? Six questions to help you decide

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

Transfer values for UK final salary pensions may be high, but would you really benefit from giving up a lifetime retirement income for a one-off payment?

If you were offered £235,000 now or an inflation-proofed £10,000 a year for the rest of your life, what would you choose?

This is a similar dilemma faced by many Britons with ‘final salary’ or ‘defined benefit’ employer pensions, as those figures represent today’s average pay-out for members who forfeit their pension benefits for a one-off sum.

Final salary pensions pay a minimum income throughout retirement, usually with yearly cost-of-living increases, until the member dies. Benefits then usually pass on to the spouse at a reduced rate for their lifetime. As such, they are considered highly valuable, even ‘gold-plated’ pensions.

Although the high transfer values offered in exchange for giving up future benefits can be tempting, the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority stresses that most people are better off staying where they are.

While there is no right or wrong approach here, it is essential to take extreme care before making major pension decisions. Start by considering six key questions.

  1. What is your pension worth?

The £10,000-a-year example sounds low but could well be enough to provide for a modest retirement, especially when combined with other savings and income. But a one-off sum of £235,000+ could also provide an adequate retirement income if properly managed over time, with potentially more flexibility around withdrawals and currency options.

If you are considering a transfer, be mindful of the UK lifetime pension allowance (LTA). If combined UK pension benefits (excluding the State Pension)breach the 2019/2020 limit of £1.055 million (previously £1.03 million), charges of 55% on lump sums or 25% on income applies on the excess, even for non-UK residents.

The default transfer value for final salary pensions is 20 times the annual retirement income, which means LTA penalties are usually triggered when transferring pensions worth £52,750+ a year. However, this does not factor in other pension benefits and will obviously decrease with more generous transfer values.

  1. Do you have other resources for retirement?

The UK State Pension currently pays a maximum of around £8,700 a year, so most people need something extra to see them through. Is your pension transfer value high enough to outweigh the benefits of drawing a guaranteed income for life? Or will your other pensions, savings and investments provide for your future? If so, you may be more inclined to forfeit a final salary pension for a one-off reward.

However, if your final salary pension is a large part of your retirement wealth, the certainty of a regular lifetime income will hold more value.

  1. How long do you need it to last?

Final salary pensions provide income for as long as you live – with today’s increased life expectancy, that could be 30 years or more from retirement age. Those in good health may benefit more from a guaranteed lifetime income; the opposite may be true for those who do not expect to outlive their resources.

  1. How stable is your pension scheme?

Many final salary employers are struggling to meet their obligations. Benefits are usually financed through investments in UK bonds, which have generally under-performed through years of low interest rates. With higher-than-ever life expectancy – meaning benefits must be paid for longer – plus Brexit uncertainty, many are facing significant shortfalls.

The government’s Pension Protection Fund (PPF) found that 3,117 schemes were in deficit at the end of February, with a combined shortfall of £8.6 billion.

While the PPF offers a safety net, it currently only compensates up to £40,020 a year at age 65. If your pension is high value and your scheme is vulnerable, take regulated advice on whether transferring may be in your best interests.

  1. What will happen when you die?

Most final salary pensions will transfer half the value of the pension to your spouse on death – then go no further. Transferring funds could unlock more estate planning flexibility, such as the option to pass pension funds to other heirs, even across generations, and potentially even reduce inheritance tax liability.

  1. What do you want to do with your funds?

Clearly, anyone transferring their pension for extravagant purchases, like a sports car or luxury property, may leave little left for retirement expenses. However, any kind of investment comes with risks.

Benefits in a final salary pension are protected – even if the value of funds goes down, the scheme provider is obliged to make the guaranteed payments.

Once transferred, you gain more control over how you invest and access your funds, and can take advantage of tax-efficient opportunities for France. However, your money is no longer safeguarded and becomes vulnerable to unpredictable markets. Even money in the bank can be eaten away as inflation outpaces returns in this low interest rate climate. While investments can obviously go up as well as down, without proper guidance you risk losing everything to unregulated investments or pension scams.

Whether you should transfer a final salary pension depends on numerous factors and your unique set of circumstances and goals. Taking regulated advice is compulsory if you have benefits worth over £30,000, but it is an important step for anyone considering their pension options.

 

Remember: once you transfer your pension, you cannot reverse your decision. Take locally-based, UK-regulated advice to fully understand the long-term implications and establish what is best for your financial future in France.

 

Tax rates, scope and reliefs may change. Any statements concerning taxation are based upon our understanding of current taxation laws and practices which are subject to change. Tax information has been summarised; individuals should seek personalised advice.

You can find other financial advisory articles by visiting our website here

 

Why you should consider an LPA

By Alice Williams

Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) – what are they?

An LPA is a legal document where you appoint someone to look after your affairs. The chosen person(s) can then make decisions such as dealing with your bills and bank accounts or deciding on your medical care.

There are two types:

1.Property and financial affairs LP

  • This gives a person powers to make decisions for you relating to money and property.
  • This type of LPA can be used either when you have lost capacity to make your own decisions, or when you give consent.
  • It could include giving someone power to pay your mortgage, pay your bills,buy and sell property for you, manageyour bank account or make investments for you.
  • You can choose what decisions can be made on your behalf.
  1. Health and welfare LPA
  • This gives a person powers to make decisions for you about your health and welfare.
  • This type of LPAcan only be used once you have lost capacity to make your own decisions.
  • It typically includes giving someone powers to make decisions about your daily routine, your medical care and what hospital treatment you are given.
  • It is a good idea to put this in place now in case you lose capacity in the future.

LPAs – not just for the elderly

  • LPAs can be useful to allow someone else to manage something on your behalf such as selling your property.
  • At any age, something could happen you which causes you to lose capacity, so it important to consider putting an LPA in place even if you are young, fit and healthy.

LPAs and spouses

  • You should not assume that just because you are married or live with someone that they will be able to deal with your financial and property affairs or make healthcare decisions for you.
  • Without an LPA they are unlikely to have the authority to do this.
  • Spouses should consider LPAs so if need be, they can deal with each other’s affairs.

No capacity and no LPA

  • If you do lose capacity to make your own decisions and you do not have an LPA, it is likely there will be a lengthy and expensive process to put a Deputyship in place. This involves applying to the court.

It is a good idea to think of all eventualities and make plans well in advance. Putting an LPA in place covers the ‘what if’ scenario and means your affairs can be looked after either with your consent or if you loose capacity and can no longer do it yourself.

Alice Williams is a trainee Solicitor at Sykes Anderson Perry Limited, Solicitors, Advocates and Chartered Tax Advisers in London, England

 This information has been prepared by Sykes Anderson Perry Limited as a general guide only and does not constitute advice on any specific matter. We strongly recommend that you seek professional advice before taking action. No liability can be accepted by us for any action taken or not taken as a result of any information or advice given or omitted.

Where did BA actually come from?

A potted history of BA:

On August 25, 1919, British Airways’ forerunner company, Aircraft Transport and Travel Limited (AT&T), launched the world’s first daily international scheduled air service between London and Paris.

In 1924, Britain’s four main fledgling airlines, which had by then evolved into Instone, Handley Page, Daimler Airways (a successor to AT&T), and British Air Marine Navigation Company Limited, merged to form Imperial Airways Limited.

By 1925, Imperial Airways was providing services to Paris, Brussels, Basle, Cologne and Zurich.  Meanwhile, a number of smaller UK air transport companies had started flights and in 1935, they merged to form the original privately-owned British Airways Limited, which became Imperial Airways’ principal UK competitor on European routes.

Following a Government review, Imperial Airways and British Airways were nationalised in 1939 to form British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC). Continental European and domestic flights were flown by a new airline, British European Airways (BEA) from 1946. BOAC introduced services to New York in 1946, Japan in 1948, Chicago in 1954 and the west coast of the United States in 1957. BEA developed a domestic network to various points in the United Kingdom, including Belfast, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Manchester.

From 1946 until 1960, BOAC and BEA were the principal British operators of scheduled international passenger and cargo services – and they preserved Britain’s pioneering role in the industry. The 1950s saw the world enter the passenger jet era – led by BOAC, with the Comet flying to Johannesburg in 1952, halving the previous flight time.

Additional airlines began to pass into BEA’s ownership and in 1967, the Government recommended a holding board be responsible for BOAC and BEA, with the establishment of a second force airline, resulting in British Caledonian being born in 1970.

Two years later, the businesses of BOAC and BEA were combined under the newly formed British Airways Board, with the separate airlines coming together as British Airways in 1974.

In July 1979, the Government announced its intention to sell shares in British Airways and in February 1987 British Airways was privatised.

In January 2011 the International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) was formed when British Airways and Iberia merged. IAG has since also become the parent company of Aer Lingus, and Vueling and in 2017, IAG launched LEVEL a new low-cost airline brand that operates from Barcelona, Paris and Vienna.

 

One size does not fit all when it comes to investments

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks 

There is no single investment solution that suits everyone; what will work for you depends on your own objectives, time-frame and risk appetite. The same applies to any financial planning – whether you are looking at investments, tax planning, pensions or estate planning, your approach should be tailored for your specific set of circumstances.

The price you pay for an ill-fitting investment portfolio could be costly. You could find that your money is not working as hard as you would like it to, or it is difficult to access when you need it. Even worse, it could be eaten away.

The good news is that with professional guidance you can find the perfect fit for you.

Identifying your risk appetite

First, you must be clear about how much risk you are willing to take with your money. Low risk means settling for low returns, but take on more risk and you could potentially face bigger rewards – and losses.

In the current low-interest rate climate – where rates hover near zero while the cost of living continues to creep upward – some risk is necessary to achieve returns that will outpace inflation. But your investment decisions shouldn’t keep you awake at night, so it is essential to pinpoint the right risk/reward balance for you.

It is extremely difficult to effectively assess your own tolerance for risk. An experienced financial professional is best placed to ask the right questions and use the appropriate tools to create a clear and objective risk profile for you.

Remember: without some element of risk, your returns could be eroded by inflation over the longer term. An adviser can present options to help control risk within your defined boundaries, such as through a carefully structured and diversified portfolio. You could also choose to stagger the timing of investments in riskier assets to reduce exposure to market volatility.

Defining your time horizon

Experts say ‘investing is a marathon, not a sprint’ for a good reason. The longer you have to invest, the more risk you can generally afford to take. With time, you can ride out market turbulence and also benefit from compound returns – interest made on interest. So if you have the means and the patience to invest in the long-term, you are more likely to enjoy better returns.

Understanding your time horizon is also the key to future-proofing your investments so you can get hold of them when you need to. If you are planning to retire soon, for example, you may want to ensure your capital can be converted into a retirement income at the right time.

In any case, you never know when your plans may change unexpectedly, so it is important to hold some liquid assets that can be sold to release capital if needed.

Reducing risk through diversification

The higher your concentration in one particular area, the higher the risk. This is an especially important point to note for expatriates whose investments are skewed towards UK-based assets and therefore more vulnerable to downturns in the British market.

A good portfolio minimises risk by spreading investments across multiple, unrelated areas through diversification. You can limit exposure to any single sector of the market by diversifying by asset type – cash, fixed income (government and corporate bonds), shares and ‘real assets’ such as property – as well as by geographic region and market sector.

Be mindful that many private banks and wealth managers often allocate a significant part of their investment portfolios to their own in-house funds. You can achieve greater diversification by choosing an adviser who uses a ‘multi-manager’ approach to spread investments out among several different fund managers, each selected for their expertise in specific market sectors.

The impact of taxation

Finally, you should never underestimate the effect of tax on your investments. Without suitable tax planning in place, you could find your returns are slashed by taxes that could have been avoided or at least significantly reduced.

British expatriates can make the most of tax advantages in both France and the UK with personalised advice from a regulated adviser whospecialises in both tax regimes. They can recommend tax-efficient structures that legitimately protect you – and your heirs – from paying more tax than necessary.

Remember that your circumstances and objectives change over time – as can tax rules – so what works for you now may not be suitable in years to come. It is crucial to regularly review how you manage your wealth to make sure it keeps up with your situation, especially at different life stages, such as retirement or when relocating.

As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is sensible to consider a financial ‘health check’ now to protect your wealth from Brexit uncertainty and take advantage of today’s opportunities while you can.

All advice received from Blevins Franks is personalised and provided in writing. This article, however, should not be construed as providing any personalised taxation or investment advice.

You can find other financial advisory articles by visiting our website here