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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

The clock is ticking to lock-in residency benefits in France post-Brexit

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

British expatriates in France should act now to secure residency and take advantage of healthcare and pension opportunities before Brexit changes the rules.

February’s Chinese New Year celebrations bring to mind a Chinese proverb that never dates: ‘dig the well before you are thirsty’. In other words, make sure you plan for your future needs early, before it becomes too late.

Such wisdom has particular relevance amidst today’s Brexit uncertainty. Despite many unknowns, now is the time for Britons living in France to take action to protect their position. We explore what you can do to secure the key areas of residency, healthcare and pension benefits in a post-Brexit world.

Residency and Brexit

December brought reassuring news for expatriates as the UK and the EU27 agreed to maintain existing residency rights for Britons settled in the EU. A joint statement confirmed that citizens “lawfully residing” on both sides can continue “to live, work or study as they currently do under the same conditions as under Union law”.

So as long as you are legally resident in France at the Brexit cut-off date, you should keep the right to stay and access the same benefits as today for as long as you remain resident.

The most secure position is permanent residence, available after a period of five continuous years living in France. While you will not qualify if you have lived in France for less than this, you may still be considered French resident for tax purposes. If you have not already registered at your local tax office, do so urgently to ensure your position is formally recorded. You could also consider applying for a ‘carte de séjour’ – although some Britons have been told they need not apply yet as this document is not required for EU citizens, it is still legally possible to obtain. This can help demonstrate that you are legally resident in France before the Brexit cut-off date and therefore eligible to benefit from the citizens’ rights agreement.

Those thinking about moving to France should act fast. While it may seem like Brexit is still a long way off, there is already an administrative backlog for residency applications and a surge of interest is likely closer to the cut-off date. Even if you would prefer to wait until more practical Brexit details are known, it is a good idea to relocate and start the residency process – as an EU citizen under current rules – as soon as possible. Post-Brexit, we can expect the requirements, time and expense for acquiring residency to be much less straightforward than today.

Securing healthcare

Under the existing Brexit deal, settled residents can continue receiving reimbursements for certain healthcare costs. This means the Form S1 system will carry on providing free cover in France for British pensioners, and holders of the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) remain eligible for free or reduced healthcare when visiting another EU country on a temporary basis, such as holidays.

To secure residency in France, you may be asked to show evidence of ‘comprehensive’ health cover. If you do not hold Form S1, you may therefore need to join the French healthcare system (a process that can take weeks) or prove you have sufficient private health insurance to qualify. Note, however, that being affiliated to the French social security system has potential tax implications, so take advice to assess your options.

Pension options

The UK has committed to continue yearly cost-of-living increases to State Pension payments for retired Britons living in the EU post-Brexit. As a result, British pensioners in France will receive annual increases linked to the ‘triple lock’ – whichever is highest out of the rate of inflation, earnings or 2.5% – until 2022.

When it comes to private pensions, current opportunities may not survive Brexit. Today, UK pension contributions and growth both benefit from tax relief in Britain, and can potentially be accessed by expatriates without paying UK tax (under double tax agreements). While this is unlikely to change with Brexit, the government may want to stem the flow of UK pensions abroad and keep more funds within taxable range.

Currently, it is possible for French residents to transfer UK pension funds to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS) in the EU or European Economic Area (EEA) tax-free. Doing this can unlock tax efficiency, estate planning advantages and currency flexibility. However, since 9th March 2017, transfers to QROPS outside the EU/EEA attract 25% UK taxation (unless you live in the same jurisdiction as the QROPS).

Post-Brexit, the UK could potentially limit how expatriates in France can access their pensions by widening this taxation net, or by making it harder to cash-in UK ‘final salary’ pensions tax-efficiently. Consider acting now under current rules, but take personalised, regulated advice to ensure a suitable approach and avoid pension scams.

A realistic timeline

Although the Brexit date is currently set for 29th March 2019 – and could potentially be extended by a transition agreement – it is sensible to work towards a much shorter deadline. If you cannot take action immediately, make sure you have put processes in place by September 2018 to allow at least six months before the Brexit clock runs down (pension transfers may need even longer).

Even if you are already permanently resident in France, do not wait for the final Brexit details to be confirmed before reviewing your situation. With just a few months of certainty left, now is the time to explore your residency, estate planning, investments, pensions and general tax planning options.

With suitable planning – done early – you can make sure you are in the best position possible to continue enjoying your life in France as you do today. A locally-based financial adviser who understands the interaction between both the UK and France can help you take advantage of opportunities and find the best solutions tailored for you as an expatriate, during the Brexit countdown and beyond.

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 are advised to seek personalised advice.

Blevins Franks accepts no liability for any loss resulting from any action or inaction or omission as a result of reading this article, which is general in nature and not specific to your circumstances.

Read more about the financial issues that can affect you on our website www.blevinsfranks.com

 

Your reading for February

by Susan Keefe

Lagrasse and the Corbières : Life in the deep south of France 

by Stuart Benton 

Lagrasse and the Corbières : Life in the deep south of France by [Benton, Stuart]A thoroughly entertaining guide to the Corbières region of southern France.

This wonderfully entertaining and informative book is not only a great read but it also offers priceless glimpses into the breath-taking Corbières region of southern France.

Stuart Benton’s love of France began when he was a child, and his character and insights into life make this book like no other.

It is an excellent fun to read travel guide which offers many personal observations and real life experiences of the places and festivals he has visited.

Within its pages the history of the region comes to life as we read about the medieval villages, majestic castles and landscape of the region. As he thoroughly embraces the expat life we join him in sampling the regional food, and discovering local traditions.

The wonderful scenery, clear rivers, and fantastic beaches which the author brings to life with his writing make you just want to pack your bag and visit it now.

Whether you are looking for somewhere interesting to go on holiday, or perhaps relocate to, love France, or perhaps just want an entertaining read, this is the book for you.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B078JRMCV4?pf_rd_p=bc486a6a-c166-4c68-a130-177a4d56ba70&pf_rd_r=RX1QKNQEPVR8RHGR90TN

99 Creative WOWs Words of Wisdom for Business

by Randi Brill

99 Creative WOWs Words of Wisdom for BusinessThe author of this highly motivational book at the age of 14 knew she was ‘Going to be in charge of something,’ and sure enough she has been in her own words ‘in charge of several “somethings” since then.’

Randi Brill received a BFA in Graphic Design from Carnegie Mellon University, and then her education really began in the real world! The experience she has gained so far in her working career through, hard work, forward thinking, the determination to succeed, and real guts made her the woman she is today. She admits to using personally, and sharing as Chief Creative Officer of QuaraCORE, WOWs or Words of Wisdom every day. It is her belief in the power of these that instigated her to produce this inspiring book so others can be energised and learn by them too.

The WOWs are categorised into Business, Personal and Creative, although the author says that they may well overlap for the reader. The whole book is so bright and attractively displayed that it is quick and inviting to read, yet the WOWs are so motivating that they stick in your mind.

Whether you are launching a new business, resurrecting an old one or looking to change your career or direction, these words of wisdom will not only inspire and motivate you, they will also give you food for thought. What I really loved about this book is that many of the words of wisdom come from experience and for me, and I am sure for you, they will either ring a bell straight away or if not, I am sure they will come to mind at some time in the future when you are in a particular situation.

The amazing achievements of this author in themselves are an inspiration, and in reading this fantastic book we are fortunate enough to gain from her words of wisdom, derived from her vast experience. This little book is a gold mine of tips and one I shall treasure for always and re-read frequently!

Reviewed by Susan Keefe
 

Dasharajna: The Battle of Ten Kings (Harappa Trilogy Book 3)

by Shankar Kashyap
Dasharajna: The Battle of Ten Kings (Harappa Trilogy Book 3)
Yet again Shankar Kashyap has combined thorough and detailed research, with his amazing ability to tell a fantastic story and written this the third book in the Harappa trilogy – Dasharajna – Battle of Ten Kings.
Traditional history books are sometimes difficult to get into, however the author has overcome this by using in this Harappa series the character of Upaas, originally a trainee physician, his friends, and wife Lopa. These characters and the people they meet, rich and poor, give the reader a real insight into what it was like to live in this period of history.
Set in the third millennium BCE, the legend of the Battle of Ten Kings can be easily determined to have taken place on what is now the banks of the River Ravi, in what is now the Punjab, Haryana and north-east Pakistan. The traditions, laws and everyday lives are fascinating to read as a wonderful background to the epic story which is the Battle of Ten Kings, a battle between King Sudas and the alliance between ten to twelve kings. The alliance was forged because the descendants of King Yayathi were unhappy that the central part of Bharatha was given by the king to his youngest son Puru, and not to one of his elder brothers.
The years have passed and Upaas now moves with Lopa and their baby Atreya to Ila to become the Royal Physician to King Sudas. Ila is a great capital city known as the centre of the world and stories of Upaas the physician of Harappa are well known, and he and his family are warmly welcomed by Sage Visishta.
However it is soon apparent that there is great unrest, the opposing forces are grouping together, and adding in numbers. There are rumours in Ila that the enemy has sixty thousand soldiers, fired by their rulers united sense of past injustice, intent on winning the battle over King Sudas.
As the opposing forces gather on the banks of the River Parushni (Riva) it is apparent to all that this is going to be no ordinary battle. Then begins this epic war with soldiers and the king fighting bravely, and Upaas tending the wounded. All would seem to be lost until man is taught an important lesson, one they should never forget….
Wow, is all I can say to this amazing story. Whether you are interested in Indian history, enjoy reading about life in times gone by, or are just looking for a totally fascinating story, this is the book for you, and I highly recommend, it.
Reviewed by Susan Keefe

Sunshine’s Excellent Adventures

by Reggie and Anita Hill
This is an absolutely enchanting little story which my granddaughter adored, about a real kitten and some of his adventures.

Sunshine is a really special kitten in lots of ways. Now I can hear you thinking that all kittens are special, however Sunshine really is special, he has something about him which is different from all other kittens, but I’m not going to spoil the story by telling you what it is.
He had a very happy kittenhood living under a pier on Topsail Island with his mummy, called Mama Motley, and all his friends. It was there that he learnt how important it was to treat others kindly, and discovered the first of many important messages which he passes on to the boys and girls who read about his adventures.

One day Sunshine was adopted by his human parents Reggie and Anita and they took him to live at their beach house called Summerhill where he is very happy. It isn’t long before he has made friends and quickly learns how to make Anita laugh with his antics, he decides it’s fun to make people happy!

However, Sunshine also learns that sometimes he has to go to the animal doctor and be checked out, but he takes it in his stride, he knows his human parents will keep him safe. Whether he is having Christmas at his human parent country home called Lakewood, or meeting new animal and human friends, for Sunshine life is just one excellent adventure, each day bringing new experiences and fun things to learn about.

As I read this lovely story to my granddaughter I was impressed at how many little life messages are woven in the story, and how beautifully written and illustrated it is. That Sunshine was a real cat doesn’t surprise me at all, for it is only when people have a close loving relationship with their animal friends that the true characters of the animals shine through, and we can enjoy not only them but the life lessons they teach us.

I would highly recommend this wonderful story for young children for their parents, grandparents and caregivers to read to them, and slightly older children to read themselves.

Reviewed by Susan Keefe

 

What can expatriates in France do with their UK pension in 2018?

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

When it comes to pensions, your long-term financial security is at stake, so take care to do what is right for you and your family. Expatriates also need to consider the tax rules and implications in France.

Start by understanding the options available for different pension types.

‘Defined contribution’ or ‘money purchase’ pensions

These pensions are made up of what you have paid into the scheme alongside employer contributions, tax rebates and investment growth. Examples include individual or group personal and employer pensions and Self-Invested Personal Pensions (SIPPs).

Since the pension freedoms of 2015, members of these schemes can usually do the following from age 55:

  • Take the whole fund as cash – 25% (the ‘Pension Commencement Lump Sum’ – PCLS) will be tax-free in the UK.
  • Make cash withdrawals when you want – unless you have already taken the PCLS, a quarter is free of UK tax each time.
  • Take regular income through ‘flexible drawdown’, leaving the remainder invested.
  • Take a secure, regular income for life through buying an annuity.

Expatriates also have the option to transfer UK pension funds to a Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS). QROPS benefits include flexibility to pass pension benefits to chosen heirs and to take income in Euros instead of Sterling. Once in a QROPS, funds are protected from lifetime pension allowance penalties and future UK taxation.

However, QROPS benefits and rules can vary between providers and jurisdictions, and a 25% UK tax charge applies on transfers to QROPS outside the European Economic Area (EEA) or Gibraltar. As transferred funds remain liable for five UK tax years, you risk being penalised if you become tax resident in a non-EEA jurisdiction within that period. It is important to take professional advice to first establish if transferring is suitable for you and then navigate the complex options.

‘Defined benefit’ or ‘final salary’ pensions

Here, your employer guarantees a proportion of your salary for the whole of retirement. As benefits last a lifetime and are often generous, these are viewed as ‘gold-plated’ pensions.

While you cannot usually withdraw cash from these pensions, you can transfer it to a defined contribution scheme or a QROPS. Traditionally, this has been considered less attractive than drawing a guaranteed pension for life. However, today, some struggling providers are tempting members to cash-in with ‘transfer values’ of up to 40 times the annual benefits due at retirement. Although a one-off sum could potentially provide a retirement income that exceeds the original annual payment, it is crucial to fully understand the consequences before giving up ‘gold-plated’ benefits.

Whatever type of pension you have, consider certain issues before making any decisions.

Taxation

While a quarter of a defined contribution scheme can be taken tax-free in the UK, French residents are liable to French taxation at the income tax scale rates up to 45%. Only withdrawals prompted by an ‘accident of life’, like invalidity, unemployment or death of a spouse, are exempt.

It may be possible to limit French tax on a UK lump sum to just 7.5% – with an uncapped 10% allowance – in certain circumstances. Generally, you must take the whole fund at once, so you may be ineligible for this rate if you have already started taking benefits.

All pension income also attracts annual social charges of 9.1% (7.4% previously), unless you hold EU Form S1 or do not have access to the French healthcare system.

Making your money last

Having the freedom to withdraw or transfer your pension does not mean that you should. You may even be better off taking no action at this time. If you choose to take some or all of your benefits as cash, make sure you have a plan to fund your long-term future that suits your personal circumstances and goals.

The threat of losing it all

Pension scams have never been more widespread and sophisticated – Age UK estimates £43 million has been lost to scammers since April 2014. Generally, if an investment sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Once you transfer your pension, it is too late.

Also, beware that many companies offering pension services are unregulated. Whether they aim to defraud you or not, unprotected investments risk losing your money, with no recourse if things go wrong.

Even amongst regulated providers, check for quality. The UK Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) found that less than half of those cashing in final salary pensions received suitable advice. Make sure your adviser takes account of your needs, objectives, personal circumstances and risk appetite to find a tailor-made solution for you and your life in France.

Getting it wrong could have serious and unexpected consequences. Take the time you need to do your research and establish your best approach for a prosperous retirement.

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; an individual is advised to seek personalised advice.

Read more about the financial issues that can affect you on our website www.blevinsfranks.com

 

Manish’s Zodiac Predictions for February 2018

Aquarius ( 20 January – 18 February ) – You find yourself more accountable than ever when it comes to your work and output. You become more and more aware of all of the “fluff” that surrounds your daily routines and your work, and spring cleaning becomes necessary. If you’re in a committed relationship, there might be some discussions regarding a joint project or an older project might come back into the spotlight. You might renew a relationship with the help of friends or advisors, or meet again a former lover thanks to some collective event. Favorable Dates : Feb 2, 4 11, 13, 20, 22 Favorable Colors : Black & Blue

Pisces ( 19 February – 20 March ) – Periods of pronounced intimacy occur and it can also bring wonderful career opportunities. The period is most likely to bring work challenges, but could also represent a taxing period for a partner. You may come into the limelight in a positive fashion. Authority figures, elders, or influential people in your life tend to support and respect you during this cycle. They are more willing to help you on your road to success. An event may occur that expands your career or professional interests, and you derive more pleasure from these activities. Favorable Dates : Feb 2, 6, 11, 15, 20, 24 Favorable Colors : Red & Green

Aries ( 21 March – 19 April ) – This is an excellent month for promoting your talents, image or the services you offer. Your long-term goals and wishes tend to be broad and perhaps unusual or ahead of the times, and you take great joy in dreaming up ideas for the future. You will also be learning about your need for self-expression through adventure. The demands of your personal life are now paramount. Striking a balance between energy spent on work and energy spent on domestic matters is essential now. Emphasis might be put on topics related to children, pregnancy or parenting. Favorable Dates : Feb 3, 6, 12, 15, 21, 24 Favorable Colors : Blue & White

Taurus ( 20 April – 20 May ) – You’ve got big dreams, and even bigger plans and the trick to all this is to know that nothing is going to hold you back from that finish line. Connections that further your career goals are made and come seemingly out of the blue–at exactly the right moments. You’ve got a lot on your plate and at times, it might even seem like your drowning in responsibilities. This period also stirs your sexual impulses, your romanticism and spirit of adventure and offers favorable amorous circumstances and predisposes you toward falling in love. Favorable Dates : Feb 4, 6, 13, 15, 22, 24 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Red

Gemini ( 21 May – 20 June) –. You need to get aggressive when it comes to money and the material world and a good course of action is to strengthen your reserves. There are at least a few creative ideas kicking around in your skull, so choose one, and run with it. If the idea of hard work discourages you, force yourself to continue on. You are continuing to expand your mind through contact with a diverse set of acquaintances. It’s a great term for rediscovering your sexuality, for new erotic experiments and re-launching your current relationship through sex. Favorable Dates : Feb 3, 9, 12, 18, 21, 27 Favorable Colors : Blue & Red

Cancer ( 21 June – 22 July ) – Any financial pursuit has to be carefully thought upon, and negotiations must be handled skilfully. Be very careful about what you contract and sign. Support may arrive for generating new business income. You will be learning about letting go of your attachment to the drama of romance and personal relationships, as well as your wilfulness. You are called upon to learn about the value of the team. You may need to give freedom to your romantic partner instead of expecting him or her to follow a script of your own making. Favorable Dates : Feb 2, 5, 11, 14, 20, 23 Favorable Colors : Green & Red

Leo ( 23 July – 22 August ) – New perspectives open for you, favorable circumstances come your way and propel you forward Some form of pleasant culmination in your professional life brings rewards and recognition for you. Your intuition tends to be spot on when it comes to career matters. Remember that the more you trust your intuition, the more it becomes available to you. This is an excellent period for starting new regimens to better your health and well-being, such as regular exercise, more structured and productive use of your time, and so forth. Favorable Dates : Feb 3, 9, 12, 18, 21, 27 Favorable Colors : Blue & Yellow

Virgo ( 23 August – 22 September ) – You continue to be especially ambitious this month and there is a little less focus on family and personal matters, although changes are likely in the home, which can include moves, repairs, and changes in the structure of the family. You will try to enhance your income, your entrepreneurial senses sharpen, you make decisions that regard your budget, your family’s or the firm’s (if you have one). Depending on your age and life circumstances, “significant partnerships” culminate and it can mean partnerships with loved ones or business partnerships. Favorable Dates : Feb 2, 3, 11, 12, 20, 21 Favorable Colors : Blue & Red

Libra ( 23 September – 22 October ) – Your work is efficient throughout this month, and associations and collaborations are very significant. A useful alliance or cooperation might be born. This month your love life seems to be somehow conditioned by money, or maybe financial decisions are motivated by love. You will find you have reason this month to stand your ground and defend yourself in relation to interaction amongst loved ones. Friendships with people whose cultural background is very different than yours could be enlightening. This month prompts responsibility but is also generous with fun and pleasure. Favorable Dates : Feb 4, 7, 13, 16, 22, 25 Favorable Colors : Blue & White

Scorpio ( 23 October – 21 November ) – You’re efficient, you organize your affairs well, you shine at accomplishing tasks of the outmost responsibility, your evolution is solid, and can be the basis for some long-term projects. This period brings with it a fair measure of reality and objectivity, so that whatever relationships you may have now or want to have will be defined and re-defined. Relationships are seen now as serious matters. Reaching out beyond your personal circle can certainly open doors to you and bring joy into your life during this cycle. Favorable Dates : Feb 2, 8, 11, 17, 20, 26 Favorable Colors : Yellow & White

Sagittarius ( 22 November -21 December ) – This is an excellent month for promoting your talents, image or the product/services you offer. It brings the reaping of many benefits from this increased respect for what you do. Some interesting events that reek of synchronicity occur on the career front. Your business income improves, and you now focus on going after your fondest hopes and wishes, not only material and career goals. There could be a promotion, new job opportunities, a diploma or other form of major award, or possibly even a marriage. You may come into the limelight in a positive fashion. Favorable Dates : Feb 3, 5, 12, 14, 21, 23 Favorable Colors : Red & Blue 

 

Capricorn ( 22 December – 19 January )You’re very agitated, in intense activity, have all sorts of initiatives, and feel the need to take the bull by its horns, to test yourself or fight for achieving a purpose or ideal. This is a period of growth as well as some form of blossoming or fruition. You would travel a lot, meet various people, receive or give a lot of information. This movement takes some of the pressure off romantic and creative affairs, as well as relationships with your children and shifts this same kind of energy towards your job, daily routines, and health. Favorable Dates : Feb 2, 8, 11, 17, 20, 26 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Blue

 

 

Manish’s Predictions for January 2018

Capricorn ( 22 December – 19 January ) – There may be tensions or communication problems with your nearest and dearest, and also with partners or close associates. There may be a necessary end to a personal cycle of habit or behaviour on your behalf. There could be changes that affect your home life, or the lives of children or women around you.You may be slowing down and caring for yourself because of changes in your own health and conditions. For some there may be changes or even losses or separations of some kind in the sphere of those you know and love.Favorable Dates :Jan 3, 6, 12, 15, 21, 24  Favorable Colors : Purple & Yellow

Aquarius ( 20 January – 18 February ) – Your financial state may benefit from family money or joint resources, thus altering your position dramatically. Whatever your position or circumstances, work together with your partner on a simple and achievable plan of financial betterment.For the single goat, you may well form a liaison with someone of status or importance who can perhaps open doors for you or provide you with opportunity. Keep a cool head and a good sense of balance with what is made possible. Be prepared to make necessary adjustments to make the most of what occurs. Favorable Dates :Jan 2, 3, 11, 12, 20, 21  Favorable Colors : Red & White

Pisces ( 19 February – 20 March ) – You may find that your responsibilities or professional demands become subject of confusion. You may be going over old ground to correct past mistakes. You may be dealing with difficult people who may challenge your views or ideas or even oppose you directly. You may even find that you are at odds with yourself because of your obligations or duties. If single, this may be an uneven time. You may be frisky but not inclined to stable effort with regard to your love life. For some, there may be meetings or connections that run on intensity or even compulsion.Favorable Dates :Jan 4, 5, 13, 14, 22, 23 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Blue

Aries ( 21 March – 19 April ) – The practical aspects of managing your financial life and stabilizing your position will be an important feature this month. New information and interests will be required if you are to continue with the way ahead. There’s something you can discover about yourself if you dig deep and commit to the long haul. The area of communications might be the most potent, but some of you may be drawn to academic or spiritual learning of some kind.Your relationship with your nearest and dearest or with any close associate could be tested at this time. Favorable Dates : Jan 2, 3, 11, 12, 20, 21 Favorable Colors : White & Green

Taurus ( 20 April – 20 May ) – This can be an exciting and interesting period of change as long as you give things time to emerge. There could be unexpected communications or changes with regard to siblings.Plans will take a good measure of time to carry out.You may be forced to revise your belief system or seek advice from those skilled legally or academically. Some of you may even consider a change of direction in your career.Matters of children, creative projects or lifestyle and recreation issues will be up for review and examination. Favorable Dates :Jan 1, 4, 10, 13, 19, 22 Favorable Colors : Red & Blue

Gemini ( 21 May – 20 June ) – Creative projects and spiritual teachings or development are highly favoured at this time. You may be drawn to investment or speculation or you might simply plunge in a little too deeply as far as the overdraft is concerned. Keep a clear head as to what can and can’t be done on your budget. Matters of joint finance and resources will be the focus, along with deeper issues of sexuality, the occult and the hidden forces of society.For those of you in a partnership, then this will be a common focus or interest.Favorable Dates :Jan 1, 8, 10, 17, 19, 26 Favorable Colors : Red & White

Cancer( 21 June – 22 July ) – This is a period to find some kind of strong base of beliefs or ideas spiritually or philosophically that will allow you to move forward and find what you’re looking for. You may have to review your financial plans or your money management to account for some unexpected expenses or changes to the financial sector of your life. New circumstances may take hold so take a new perspective.Keep a weather eye on business associates who could be working covertly against you. Stress and overwork will be a problem. Favorable Dates :Jan 1, 4, 10, 13, 19, 22 Favorable Colors : Yellow & White

 

Leo ( 23 July – 22 August ) – You will need to look at issues of self-confidence and examine any weaknesses you have in this area. Deeply transforming relationships may be expected, with a karmic tinge that may bring you face to face with those with whom you have had past-life connections.Serious developments may also be expected on the partnership front. Consideration for others and good communications will be an important part of the way forward .The emphasis shifts to a strong working relationship, rather than the whirl of romance after 23rd Jan. Favorable Dates :Jan 1, 6, 10, 15, 19, 24 Favorable Colors : Blue & Red

Virgo( 23 August – 22 September ) – There are developments in the offing as the period urges you to move forward, advancing your ideas and beliefs so that you can move into a new phase of life. You may be on the road of study or travel. Teaching or learning could be the theme and matters of law, religion or philosophy could become more important, setting new aspirations for you.Make sure you have a clear head and a sense of proportion though. Too much idealism may unbalance your efforts. Unrealistic hopes or deception may take you on a wild goose chase.Favorable Dates :Jan 3, 6, 12, 15, 21, 24 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Red

 

Libra( 23 September – 22 October ) – There may be a swagger in your step and a new sense of drama or creativity as you go about your life. This month may see you on the move or aspiring, especially creatively or spiritually. You can flourish under this influence if you extend yourself. It’s a ‘head in the clouds but feet on the ground’ influence. Make the most of it. Joint ventures are favoured as long as they are carefully chosen and well managed.Make sure you put in the groundwork and attend to the details of any new venture that you’re undertaking. Favorable Dates :Jan 3, 4, 12, 13, 21, 22 Favorable Colors : White & Red

Scorpio ( 23 October – 21 November ) – You may be revising your plans or going through changes with regard to friends and associates. People who have been important in your life may be on the way out or new ones may be coming in at this time. This process could eventually bring change in your working life or in your responsibilities Make sure you get the right end of the stick in matters of communication and make sure you work to see the other person’s point of view.Develop any interest in social welfare and expand relationships with workers and those in the services. Favorable Dates :Jan 5, 7, 14, 16, 23, 25 Favorable Colors : White & Yellow

Sagittarius( 22 November -21 December ) –This is your optimum period for growth and expansion. You may travel to meet someone or find that professional opportunity brings someone new into your lifeThis month may be a search for pleasure. Try not to overdo it. For those of you who do become involved, avoid becoming financially entangled too quickly in any new or growing relationship. There may be hidden consequences.Your focus may run much toward matters of your own life and you may not be inclined to take the demands of a new relationship very seriouslyFavorable Dates :Jan 5, 9, 14, 18, 23, 27 Favorable Colors : Blue & Yellow

Be the king of your own castle in 2018 with these French châteaux​

by Fleur Buckley, Property Services Manager, FrenchEntrée

As youngsters, many of us dream of living in a grand castle when we grow up. Most people’s ambitions change as they age, but for some, that fairytale never fades – and that’s where France’s plentiful châteaux come into play.

Of course, owning your own castle isn’t cheap, but the variety of styles, sizes and conditions on the market means that there are châteaux available to suit a surprising range of budgets.

“The region that a château is in can heavily influence the style. Pays de la Loire for example can be associated much more with ‘leisure’ châteaux, the historic playground of French aristocracy. Such châteaux were designed with elegance and aesthetics as the main concerns, whereas those in more contested areas, such as near to the Spanish border, were designed to be defendable.” 

When looking at cost, buyers are sometimes drawn to renovation projects as a more accessible way to realise their grand ambitions, but for those unfamiliar with large-scale renovation projects or converting truly old buildings, the eventual overall cost is important to consider. This can vary based on region, but the average figure per square metre for renovation work is €700 and €1,500 (the latter if it’s a total rebuild). If the property is merely in need of internal modernisation and refurbishment (for example kitchens, bathrooms and heating) then you can generally reduce this figure by almost 50%.

As such, it can be an attractive proposition to acquire a château that is already in great condition and, for the business-oriented, generating revenue. In Dordogne, this château can seem like a considerable investment, but its sizeable revenue can help offset the cost. With over 18 hectares of land and architecture dating back to both the 12th and 15th century, an imposing estate awaits those looking to take over the reins of a successful hotel.

Châteaux often make fantastic settings for luxury accommodation, restaurants and wedding venues, while ample grounds open the possibility of running equestrian schools, hunting and fishing activities and plenty more. Working orchards, olive groves and vineyards can also provide business angles for those keen to work the land as part of their fairytale dream.

Prices vary enormously based not only on the style and age of the château, but also its location. Buyers on a budget can focus their search around the South-west, while those with an eye for the pricier end of the market will delight in the châteaux available in Pays de la Loire and closer to Paris. Buyers looking to renovate a château typically come to FrenchEntrée with budgets ranging from €500,000 – €800,000 (excluding renovation), whilst those looking to buy already established have budgets of double that and upwards.

Either way, owning a château can’t be considered cheap. However, those with sufficient imagination, plenty of dedication and a head for business can find themselves living the dream for less than one might imagine.

Châteaux on the market:

For a truly impressive estate, this Loire château, 900 square metres in size, comes with not only its own moat but also 4 separate holiday cottages and 40 acres of land. Each cottage is larger than a typical 5-bedroom house, the largest of which is 270 square metres, almost a petit château in its own right. The château, rebuilt in 1863, has plenty of space to entertain, with 26 bedrooms and beautiful traditional features. On the market for €1,190,000.

A three-star, 33-room hotel and restaurant offers an existing château-based business in the Dordogne. The château was built in the 12th and 15th centuries, before being converted into its current arrangement in the 1990s. Stunning views and a pool of course come as standard. The business generates a turnover of €900,000 for eight months of activity per year, which will go some way towards covering the purchase price of €6.386 million.

Continuing the trend of châteaux belonging to multiple centuries, this storied châteaux situated in the Loire Valley will no doubt appeal. With parts of the building dating back to the 15th, 17th and 19th centuries respectively, France’s architectural history is well-presented. 10 bedrooms, 4 hectares of riverside gardens and stables – not bad at all for just €890,000.

For further information, contact FrenchEntrée on +44 (0)1225 463752 orpropertysales@frenchentree.com. You can also visithttps://www.frenchentree.com/property-for-sale/.

 

One year to go until the beginning of the Elizabeth Line

Elizabeth line services will be introduced in phases, with the central London stations opening in December 2018   “The Elizabeth line will transform travel across London and the South East, with new state-of-the-art trains transporting millions of people quickly across London, providing a huge boost to the economy” Sadiq Khan, The Mayor of London New December 2018 Tube map featuring the Elizabeth line unveiled – images are available via Flickr Elizabeth line is expected to boost the economy by £42 billion overall The start of Elizabeth line services, which will transform transport in London with quicker, easier and more accessible journeys, is now just a year away. To mark the countdown, TfL has released a December 2018 Tube map with the Elizabeth line displayed. Its inclusion will be among the most significant changes to the look of the Tube map in recent decades.

The construction of the Elizabeth line has now entered its final stages and will open to the public in phases from December next year, when ten new state-of-the-art stations will open. The new railway, jointly sponsored by the Department for Transport and TfL, will connect stations such as Paddington to Canary Wharf in only 17 minutes, transforming how Londoners and visitors move quickly across the Capital.

From December 2018, the line will initially operate as three services:

  • Paddington (Elizabeth line station) to Abbey Wood via central London
  • Paddington (mainline station) to Heathrow (Terminals 2 & 3 and 4)
  • Liverpool Street (mainline station) to Shenfield

Fifteen trains per hour will run through the new tunnels, increasing to 24 trains per hour through the central section by May 2019.

From December 2019, customers from Reading and Heathrow will be able to travel all the way through central London to the West End and the City and beyond without needing to change trains. By linking Berkshire and Heathrow in the west, to east London and Essex in the east, the line will transform travel across the South East, carrying over 200 million passengers every year. It will increase rail capacity in central London by 10%, reduce congestion on the London Underground, and an extra 1.5 million people will be within 45 minutes commuting distance of London’s key employment districts.

The new stations and travel links are expected to boost the economy by £42 billion overall and support thousands of new jobs and homes in London and the South East.

Elizabeth line customers will benefit from brand new, longer trains with walk-through air-conditioned carriages, live travel information and free Wi-Fi. All 41 stations will be step-free from street to platform, in addition to the Mayor’s target for 40% of the London Underground network to be step-free by 2022.

Significant milestones have been met earlier in the year, including the completion of the 50-kilometre Elizabeth line track in September as well as the introduction of the first new Elizabeth line train in passenger service between Shenfield and Liverpool Street in June.

Ahead of the Elizabeth line opening next year, intensive works continue by Crossrail Limited and its contractors to complete the fit-out of the new stations and install the railway systems including power, signalling and communications equipment. Farringdon and Tottenham Court Road are nearing physical completion with work advancing at the other station sites. The installation of platform screen doors has now reached the half way mark and over two thirds of escalators have been installed.

Pickering’s views on Policy, Patents and Passports

by Richard Pickering 

Ins and outs  Data from the ONS reveals the largest annual drop in net migration to the UK for decades (75% of the reduction coming from the EU). The decrease from 336,000 pa to 230,000 reflects 80,000 fewer people arriving and 26,000 more leaving. The first signs of a ‘Brexodus’? Digging beneath the headline paints a slightly different picture. The reduction in arrivals is largely due to a drop in those seeking work here (130,000 down to 56,000), whereas those with firm job offers remained stable (at 187,000). The amount of high value Tier 1 visas granted was in fact up (7%) and skilled Tier 2 visas remained level. Those critical of Brexit have cited a brain drain  not something that is necessarily borne out by these numbers. On the other hand, some Brexiteers have described this as ‘progress’, which when compared with the promise of net immigration down in the ‘tens of thousands’ still seems still a long way off.

Bigger than Brexit  Brexit dominates the column inches, and with big figures like £50bn being discussed, this is perhaps understandable. However, there are bigger dice to roll. In my humble view, digital automation sits atop of this list; however, our domestic political positon also cannot be ignored. Morgan Stanley recently offered a view that a Corbyn government would pose a bigger threat to UK investors than Brexit. An unapologetic Jeremy replied: ‘When they say we’re a threat, they’re right. We’re a threat to a damaging and failed system that is rigged for the few.’ The question is partly aligned to digital automation. As Morgan Stanley noted, Labour with Corbyn at the helm would reprioritize our economy away from capital and towards labour, at a time where many industries are seeking the opposite to drive productivity. Nevertheless, Corbyn’s defiant message will resonate with large segments of the electorate, and let’s not forget, he remains favourite to become the next Prime Minister, (9/2).

Plan for the Future  If you’re looking for a bit of light reading, then why not check out the 524 page London Plan? The comprehensive document offers little surprise so far as housing is concerned: more (65,000 units pa), denser, higher and around transport nodes – ‘removing outdated constraints’. The document also addresses the changing times in which we live, stating that, ‘buildings and spaces should be designed so that they can adapt to changing uses and demands now and in the future’ (referencing the circular economy). One such factor is the blend of a new breed of light industrial (makers, last mile) with resi, including the use of vertical stacking. Another is the near eradication of car parking in inner London and around transport hubs (only developments at PTAL 3 or less will be eligible). The choice between car ownership and living in central London may soon be a necessary tradeoff, pinning further hopes on autonomous pool cars and perhaps ironically, on Uber’s successful appeal.

Susceptible Services  The relentless march towards the digitization of retail banking continues as RBS / Natwest announces 259 (25%) branch closures in the same week as Lloyds announced the closure of 49. Meanwhile, travel agent Thomas Cook has announced 50 store closures for similar reasons. When we talk about the threat of e-commerce to the high street, most people will naturally think of online ordering and deliveries; however, here we have two service industries that are more affected than those who sell products. Whilst you’re not likely to get an online haircut (never-say-never), any service that you can perform more efficiently either on your mobile or through a digital platform, has the potential to reduce its physical footprint. We’re seeing the challenge on the High Street, but B2B poses more significant challenges to the office market. Surely the design of office space will focus on those industries which are more resilient to digitization, where the need is for human interaction and creativity.

Bristol to Bradford  New research from Zoopla highlights a growing disparity between asking and selling prices for resi across the country. The average disparity ranges from 1.9% in Bristol to 6.3% in Bradford. What does the increase tell us? It could be a sign of a sliding housing market, with offer prices not being marked to market. On the other hand, it could be about vendor aspirations to realise profits that don’t exist. It could also be about price competition among estate agents, with pressure to secure listings pushing up offer prices quoted to clients. For typical homeowners, house sales represent large one-off deals, so there is no question of dropping price to increase volumes. Setting a lower sale price will likely affect the time to sell, but for most vendors the time cost of money is low, as so longer trades at high prices are typically preferred. Finally, there is what is described in Prospect Theory as ‘reference dependence’; where buyers will appraise the success of their negotiation relative to the reference price, rather than the true value. More simply put, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Patently obvious  A couple of recently released patents illustrate business model innovation both on and offline. Online, Amazon have been awarded a patent whereby ‘a customer can select to watch a video advertisement on a detail page for an item, and the displayed price for the item will be shown to decrease as the customer continues to watch the video’. This opens doors to paid advertising, and price discounting models. Meanwhile offline, Walmart is moving the high street to the consumer, by proposing a ‘retail-access portal’ built into people’s homes. The portal would be restocked automatically by a drone using demand algorithms, and uses sensors to detect (and then charge) when items are taken out by the occupier. To be honest, I’m not sure where this would fit in my tiny inner-urban flat, but for suburban America it could be a good way to prevent running out of the basics.

Markle & Sparkle  News that the most eagerly anticipated event of next year will not, it seems, happen after all, has been met with disappointment across the country. Yes, Theresa May has intimated that there will be no bank holiday to coincide with Harry and Meghan’s nuptials. Surely that’s the whole point? Markle’s ‘Suits’ alter ego, paralegal Rachel Zane, suffers from test anxiety, initially failing to get into law school. However, it is now the US-born princess-to-be that will face a series of tests as she applies for a UK passport. Having already proven herself capable in interviews of discerning crisps from chips, and trousers from pants, the language test should prove a breeze. One might argue that she also has a significant headstart on the ‘Life in the UK’ test, wherein she will be asked challenging questions such as ‘Who is married to the Queen?’. With these tests behind her, however, proving that she will be not reliant on public funding is open to more philosophical viewpoints.

International boarding just got easier

British Airways has become the first airline to trial self-service biometric boarding gates on international flights out of the USA, working in partnership with Los Angeles Airport.

As part of the airline’s commitment to invest in innovation and new technology, British Airways has begun an exclusive trial that will transform customers’ airport experience by improving the boarding process and significantly reducing the amount of time it takes to board an aircraft.

The new technology, will create a smoother journey for customers, as they will no longer need to present their passport or boarding pass at the gate – only at check in and security. Instead travellers can simply look into a camera prior to boarding, wait for their biometric data to be verified, and then walk onto the aircraft.

Similarly to facial identification built into mobile phones, the biometric gates use high definition camera technology, and allow customers to pass through by recognising their unique facial features, and reconciling them with the digital facial scan taken as part of the immigration process.

Safety and security is at the core of biometric facial recognition technology, and British Airways has been working closely in partnership with the Customs and Border Protection Agency and the US government to develop and approve the scheme.

The gates have been installed on three stands at Los Angeles Airport and British Airways is the only airline with the advanced technology to offer purely biometric boarding to its customers.

The project, led by Los Angeles Airport, builds on technology already in use by British Airways on its domestic flights from Heathrow’s Terminal 5 – checking customers’ biometric data at the gate when they scan their boarding pass.

Low-cost airline Level to offer Paris – New York flights from €129

Low-cost airline Level is expanding its operations to Orly Airport in Paris, where it has announced it will be launching four new long-haul routes.

The long-haul budget airline owned by British Airways’ owner International Airlines Group (IAG) is due to launch in Paris in July 2018.

It will start by offering four flights to Montreal, New York, Guadeloupe’s largest city Pointe-à-Pitre and the capital of the French Caribbean island of Martinique, Fort-de-France.

Starting from July 2nd, Level will serve Montreal, Fort-de-France and Pointe-à-Pitre three to four times a week, announced IAG boss Willie Walsh on Tuesday.

And it will begin flying to New York-Newark from September 4th.

Passengers will be able to get a one-way ticket from Paris to New York and Paris to Montreal from the ultra-competitive prices of €129 and €99, respectively.

That price includes all taxes but not meals on board or checked baggage.

The move follows on from a successful opening for Level in Barcelona in June where it launched to compete with other long-haul budget airlines such as Norwegian Air Shuttles and Wow Air.

But the news is unlikely to be welcomed by Air France bosses who have launched their own low-cost subsidiary, Joon due to begin its long-haul offering from summer 2018.

Level is due to take over the 170 employees, the slots, the air transport certificate and the customers of Openskies, the British Airways subsidiary which specialises in flights to and from New York.