Property funds, equity release, debt and pensions

Standard Life Investments has become the latest financial institution to announce plans to reopen its suspended property fund after declaring that the commercial property market had stabilised, The Times reports.
The announcement that its UK Real Estate Fund and associated feeder funds would be reopened on October 17 is regarded as an important move as it was the first fund to suspend trading after the Brexit vote.
It was one of several funds to apply discounts and suspend trading in July after what it described as ‘an unprecedented level of redemptions’ after the European Union referendum.
Property funds, equity release, debt and pensionsEquity release

Annual growth of £198 million in equity release lending between the first half of 2015 and 2016 is the highest level seen for over a decade, according to the autumn 2016 Equity Release Market Report from the Equity Release Council.

Consumer demand for releasing housing wealth to help fund later life is continuing to grow, with lending in the second quarter of 2016 exceeding £500 million for the first time and setting a new record for the highest quarterly lending total.


The number of people struggling with debts to rent-to-own firms and on guarantor loans rose by 16 per cent in the second quarter, as borrowers no longer able to get payday loans move to other, less heavily regulated forms of borrowing, according to The Guardian.
Citizens Advice said it had helped 7,500 people with rent-to-own debt problems over the last 12 months, a further 1,100 with guarantor debt problems, and 460 struggling with logbook loans.
Rent-to-own firms offer furniture and other households goods to customers who pay for them on a weekly basis. Interest rates are typically higher than on mainstream forms of borrowing – for example, two of the best-known firms, Brighthouse and Perfect Home, charge annual interest rates of just less than 70 per cent. Guarantor loans provide borrowing to people who can provide a friend or family member willing to step in if they are unable to repay, while logbook loans are secured on the borrower’s vehicle.

People over the age of 50 are spending more and more on holidays – including cruises – while younger people are travelling less, according to research.

Over the past five years, the older age group has increased spending on travel by 23 per cent, says a study by the CEBR consultancy for Saga.
Those under 50 have cut spending on tourism by 5 per cent during the same period. As a result, the older generation is now responsible for well over half the UK’s total spending on holidays. Last year, the over-50s spent £39 billion on travel, including £2.8 billion on cruises.

Gender inequality

There are very few women among the richest people in the UK and other OECD countries, according to a report published by the London School of Economics.

Out of the wealthiest 53,000 people in the UK in 2013, only 9 per cent were women. The report examined tax data from OECD countries where couples made separate tax returns.
It said a wealth ‘glass ceiling’ appeared to exist, with women a distinct minority of the very wealthy. A co-author of the report, Alessandra Casarico, said women were ‘rarer the higher one climbs’.
German car giant BMW is on a collision course with its UK workers over plans to stop 5,000 employees from making fresh contributions to its two gold-plated final salary pension schemes, according to the Daily Telegraph.
In a blow to employees, it has emerged that BMW wants all its UK staff to start paying into a less generous defined contribution pension plan, which it launched in 2014 and already has about 2,000 members. It plans to close its two defined benefit schemes to future accrual by so-called active members at the start of June next year and will consult with workers on the changes.

Far from being a burden and a drain on society and NHS resources, older people provide invaluable help with new research identifying that 6.2 million 55 to 74-year-olds volunteer.

As so many older people devote time to volunteering, the ageing population – 39 per cent of adults in Great Britain will be over 55-years-old by 2020 – will provide an opportunity to expand the country’s volunteering workforce.

Motor insurance Car Insurance is warning drivers not to assume that their comprehensive car insurance automatically affords them the same level of protection when they drive another car or lend their car to another driver.

Most policies reduce cover for driving other cars to third party only which just provides protection against third party claims – there’s no cover for damage, fire or theft to the ‘other car’ being driven.

The warning follows a comparison of over 250 comprehensive car insurance policies which revealed that 92 per cent provide only third party cover at best for the main policyholder to drive cars other than the one listed on the policy. The comparison also found that over two thirds of policies exclude ‘any driver’ cover.

Personal data

Nine in 10 people have no idea what companies do with the personal information the firms hold about them, a survey suggests.

The Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) survey of 2,500 people also found 57 per cent did not trust the companies to handle their data responsibly. And 51 per cent complained that they had been contacted by organisations that had misused their data.

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