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Covid crisis stops many young workers from saving into pensions

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covid crisis stops many young workers from saving into pensions

Two out of five young people have stopped or cut back on pension saving during the Covid 19 crisis, new research reveals.

Pay cuts, redundancy and worries over job security have forced workers of all ages to consider whether they can still afford to put money in their pension, even though this could damage their chances of a decent retirement.

But people aged 18-35 have reduced pension saving more than older generations during the coronavirus lockdown and economic downturn, according to research by Royal London carried out earlier this summer.

Job worries: Workers of all ages have been forced to consider whether they can still afford to put money in their pension

Job worries: Workers of all ages have been forced to consider whether they can still afford to put money in their pension

Job worries: Workers of all ages have been forced to consider whether they can still afford to put money in their pension

This could threaten the success of pension auto enrolment among the age group that stand to gain the most, as small sums saved when young will benefit from compound investment growth over an entire working life.

Under pension auto enrolment, workers contribute 4 per cent of their qualifying earnings – currently between £6,240 and £50,000 a year – employers put in 3 per cent, and the Government contributes 1 per cent in tax relief.

Opt-outs were low when these minimum amounts were increased in recent years, but Royal London’s research suggests that many younger workers have reduced pension saving by choice or necessity during the pandemic.

Some 12 per cent of people aged 18-34 have stopped making contributions and 28 per cent have reduced them as a result of Covid-19 – a massive 40 per cent overall.

By comparison, 16 per cent of 35 to 54-year olds have either halted or cut pension contributions, and just 9 per cent of over-55s have done so, the pension firm found.

Those who stopped saving into a pension because of redundancy might be more likely to pick it up again later, because they will be auto enrolled when they find a new job, whereas people who simply cut back might not have the impetus to resume saving.

However, separate research has found that redundancy does have a drag effect on saving for old age, and some people who lost the habit of putting money into a pension after the financial crisis in 2008 failed to start again. 

If you are made redundant, you might be able to continue paying into your existing pension scheme, assuming this is allowed and you can afford it – read more here, and see below for tips on how to keep your pension on track. 

Meanwhile, if you are furloughed, payments into pensions based on 80 per cent of salary are protected. 

Who pays what? How pension contributions stack up under auto-enrolment schemes (Source: The Pensions Advisory Service)

Who pays what? How pension contributions stack up under auto-enrolment schemes (Source: The Pensions Advisory Service)

Who pays what? How pension contributions stack up under auto-enrolment schemes (Source: The Pensions Advisory Service)

Royal London found 79 per cent of people who stopped saving into a pension during the Covid-19 crisis plan to resume or increase their contributions again later.

Some 11 per cent said they had already done so and 37 per cent planned to within the next three months. The pension firm surveyed 2,000 people across the country in June, before the lockdown started to be lifted

Lorna Blyth, head of investment solutions at Royal London, says: ‘The Covid pandemic has put a real strain on many people’s finances and the research shows many are looking to reduce their outgoings by cutting or even stopping contributions.

‘However, it is positive to see the vast majority of people have plans to resume or increase their pension contributions at some point, with some already having done so.

‘It is vital that people follow through with their intentions to resume contributions as soon as they are able if they are to avoid long term damage to their retirement prospects.’

Are you worried about how to afford pension contributions?

Royal London offers the following tips to young pension savers.

1) If possible keep calm and keep contributing. Retirement may seem like a long way off but getting an early start on contributing to a pension will really make a difference to the amount of income you receive at retirement – your future self will thank you.

Even contributing small amounts will really build up over time.

2) You may have seen pension values fall over the past few months but it’s important not to panic. Pensions are long term investments and it’s important not to view them through the lens of short term market falls.

You have time to make up any losses if you continue to contribute. Taking long breaks or stopping contributing to a pension means your pension value is less likely to recover which could affect your future plans.

3) You are also missing out on employer contributions and tax relief. In addition to your own contribution your employer will also make a contribution to your pension. 

You will also receive a further boost from government in the form of tax relief.

For every £80 a basic rate taxpayer puts in their pension the government will top it up to £100. This makes a massive difference to the amount of money invested into your pension over time

4) If you do need to reduce or stop pension contributions then make sure you resume or increase your contribution as soon as you can.

Some people forget and what was initially meant to be a short term break turns into a longer term one which could impact the amount you end up with at retirement.

How to sort out your pension if you fear it’s falling short

If you are worried about your pension and whether you will have enough, read a full 10-step guide to sorting it out here. 

* To get started, investigate your existing pensions. Broadly speaking, you need to ask schemes the following:

– The current fund value

– The current transfer value – because there might be a penalty to move

– Whether the pension is in a final salary or defined contribution scheme

– If there are any guarantees – for instance, a guaranteed annuity rate – and if you would lose them if you moved the fund

– The pension projection at retirement age.

* You can use a pension calculator to see if you have enough – find This is Money’s here.

* You should add the forecast figures to what you anticipate getting in state pension, which is currently around £9,100 a year if you have a full National Insurance record. 

Get a state pension forecast here.

* If you are tempted to merge your old pensions, check out some tips on how to decide here.  

* If you have lost track of old pensions, the Government’s free tracing service is here. 

Take care if you do an online search for the Pension Tracing Service as many companies using similar names will pop up in the results.

These will also offer to look for your pension, but try to charge or flog you other services, and could be fraudulent. 

TOP SIPPS FOR DIY PENSION INVESTORS

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Fund tech revolution, Bank chief tells Chancellor

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fund tech revolution bank chief tells chancellor

Britain’s top economist has called on the Government to spearhead a tech revolution for millions of firms, creating a ‘faster and smarter’ economy as the country fights its way back from the Covid-19 crisis.

Bank of England chief economist Andy Haldane – writing in his capacity as chairman of the Industrial Strategy Council – said a new blueprint must be drawn up with a raft of measures, including tax incentives and access to finance to feed an ‘appetite’ among firms to adopt new technology. 

The surprise intervention – in a joint document prepared for The Mail on Sunday by Haldane and former John Lewis Partnership chairman Sir Charlie Mayfield – comes just weeks ahead of an expected Spending Review by Chancellor Rishi Sunak. 

Plea: Andy Haldane is calling on Rishi Sunak to draft a new blueprint for the economy

Plea: Andy Haldane is calling on Rishi Sunak to draft a new blueprint for the economy

Plea: Andy Haldane is calling on Rishi Sunak to draft a new blueprint for the economy

It is unusual for a senior official who also holds a high-ranking position at the Bank of England to make such broad-reaching policy recommendations. 

Haldane, who sits on the Bank’s Monetary Policy Committee, and Mayfield want small and medium-sized companies to urgently adopt or update software across key areas such as accounting, HR, customer relationship management and marketing. 

The paper says the economic recovery in July was ‘further and faster than anyone expected’ after the collapse in the second quarter. 

But the writers say it is vital to seize ‘the opportunities, as well as the obvious challenges, of Covid’ and ‘technologically upgrade our businesses and our economy’. 

UK business has been a ‘laggard’ in adopting new technology despite playing ‘a leading role’ in developing it, the paper says. ‘That is particularly true among the smaller and mid-sized businesses which employ nearly two thirds of people working in the UK. This explains why, despite rapid innovation, aggregate productivity among UK companies has flat lined for more than a decade.’ Haldane and Mayfield add: ‘Technology adoption needs to be at the heart of industrial policy. Levelling up the UK’s companies, through improved tech adoption, is an essential element of levelling up our regions.’ 

The paper – which the MoS has made available in full at thisismoney.co.uk – calls for ‘incentives for companies to make the right investment choices’ and to make it easier for them ‘to access finance to fund this investment’. 

It also calls for support through advice shared by large corporations with smaller firms, through local ‘tech hubs’ and online. A survey of 500 small and medium firms released alongside the paper reveals one in eight are using systems more than a decade old and another third using systems six to ten years old. A third said they have acquired technology that has barely been used. 

But the paper says the Covid crisis has presented a major opportunity because ‘rapid and radical technological adoption has been essential to the survival of many firms’. 

Mayfield chairs Be The Business, a Government-backed organisation set up to solve Britain’s sluggish productivity largely by encouraging wider use of technology. 

Its research has revealed adoption of new technology among businesses rose four times faster during the crisis than it did for the entirety of 2019. In many cases, firms were forced to act as they switched to working from home. Mayfield said last night: ‘Business technology has not kept pace with consumer technology. It’s not just about Zoom and it’s not about AI and advanced technology. 

‘It’s about wider adoption of pretty well-established tools that have been proven to improve growth of businesses that use them – accounting and HR software, CRM [customer relationship management] systems, online trading, export tools and really getting to grips with social media and marketing.’ 

But there had been resistance in the past from firms fearful of the disruption that implementing new technology can cause. ‘It’s hard work and it’s difficult,’ he said.

Referring to John Lewis’s experiences implementing new IT systems since 2014, Mayfield said: ‘I have the scars on my back from a well-resourced business that has found tech adoption difficult. It costs a lot, took longer than planned and at the end of it all the benefits weren’t quite as clear as they were at the beginning.’ 

‘But I’ve no doubt we did the right thing. If we hadn’t, the business would be in a far worse position than if it hadn’t,’ added Mayfield, who left John Lewis earlier this year. 

He said Be The Business was piloting ‘tech adoption labs’ across the country and large companies had offered ‘chief technology officers on demand’ to help firms cope.

‘We’ve got the template, we’ve got the playbook, we’ve got Britain’s best businesses and access to expertise – Cisco, Openreach, Amazon, Google. We are asking the Government to make this a priority for rebuilding the UK.’ 

He added: ‘Eat Out to Help Out has had a pretty dramatic impact on restaurants. What we need is a similar message for business leaders, something along the lines of ‘Tech Up to Grow Out’. It should become a fundamental part of the recovery.’ 

HOW DO GOVERNMENTS AND BUSINESSES ENSURE BOUNCE-BACK CONTINUES?

By Andy Haldane, chair of the Industrial Strategy Council, and Sir Charlie Mayfield, chair of Be The Business 

UK GDP had, by July, recovered around half of its Covid-related losses, rebounding further and faster than anyone expected. That’s the good news. The bad is that the economy remains 12 per cent smaller than at the start of the year. So how do Governments and businesses ensure this bounce-back continues and that the opportunities, as well as the obvious challenges, of Covid are seized?

A large part of the answer lies in improving levels of technology adoption among businesses. While the UK plays a leading role in developing new technology and innovation, it is a laggard when it comes to its wider adoption across companies. That is particularly true among the smaller and mid-sized businesses which employ nearly two thirds of people working in the UK. This explains why, despite rapid innovation, aggregate productivity among UK companies has flat-lined for more than a decade.

Yet, for all its challenges, Covid has shown what is possible on this front. With their normal business models disrupted so significantly, rapid and radical technological adoption has been essential to the survival of many firms. Even among the more mature aspects of technology, such as e-commerce, the pace of adoption has been rapid. Data from Be the Business shows tech adoption was four times faster during the crisis than the whole of 2019.

It is good news that many more businesses now have the appetite and experience to upgrade their technologies. The less good news is that many of the barriers to that wider adoption are long-standing and remain deep-seated. Understanding those barriers, and removing them, is crucial if the benefits of technology – for productivity, skills and jobs across every region – are to be unleashed.

Be the Business, with support from McKinsey, has just completed the largest-ever study of these barriers and opportunities to widespread adoption of technologies. Some of these blockages sit in firms themselves, through a lack of information or appetite for change. Others exist among the suppliers of technology, in particular to smaller companies. Both the demand and supply sides need fixing, at source and at speed, if the opportunity is to be seized.

To do so, we believe three things are essential.

First, businesses need access to independent advice and resources to guide them towards the right technology choices. At present, in particular for smaller companies, this is daunting. There are mountains of information and training available on how to use specific software and tools. But there is no one-stop-shop for this information and no clear guidance to help businesses understand what kit would best meet their needs – until now.

On the new website, Be the Business Digital, businesses have all the answers they need. It is full of real world experience of business leaders who have learnt the hard way about tech adoption – where they went wrong, why they persevered, and what it did for their businesses. It’s constantly being updated and developed, providing a guide to the many business leaders up and down the country who know they need more tech but aren’t sure where to start.

Second, business leaders themselves need access to expertise and training. Only big firms have Chief Technology Officers. Most businesses can’t afford them and nor can they afford the fees of professional service firms who might fill the gap. We need, in every region and major town or city, a place where businesses can come for help when they need it – local hubs for business support. This should not just be government provided support. The private sector must play a role here. More than 100 of the UK’s best firms, including our best tech companies, have already committed to supporting Be the Business’ efforts.

Finally, there is the role of policy. Technology adoption needs to be at the heart of industrial policy. Levelling-up the UK’s companies, through improved tech adoption, is an essential element of levelling-up our regions. That means creating incentives for companies to make the right investment choices – for example, with a level playing field between investing in machinery versus software.

It also means making it easier for businesses to access finance to fund this investment. The UK has led the world with its Open Banking initiative to make personal bank account data portable, enabling people to switch their accounts cheaply and easily to improve innovation and competition. There is a strong case for doing the same with business data, making this fully portable and thereby enabling companies to switch vendors easily and cheaply to unleash finance and innovation.

The Nobel Prize winning economist Robert Solow famously asked: if technology is so ubiquitous, why doesn’t it show up in productivity statistics? We now know why: much of that technology simply isn’t found in many British businesses. Now is the time to technologically upgrade our businesses and our economy, building back not just better, but faster and smarter.

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Rolls-Royce set to tap investors for £2.5bn cash boost

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rolls royce set to tap investors for 2 5bn cash boost

Rolls-Royce is on the cusp of launching an emergency fundraising to tap shareholders for between £2billion and £2.5billion. 

City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors, possibly through a rights issue and placing. 

Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley are believed to be among the investment banks working on the fundraising deal for Rolls-Royce. 

Emergency: City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors

Emergency: City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors

Emergency: City sources said the FTSE100-listed jet engine maker is close to securing the funds from investors

It had been thought Rolls-Royce may look to raise £1.5billion from investors. But sources claimed the blue chip firm is now seeking an extra £500million to £1billion, possibly from sovereign wealth funds. 

The move to launch such a large rescue fundraising comes as Rolls-Royce shares – which closed last week at £1.80 – flirt with a 16-year low amid concerns about the company’s financial position. 

Investment bankers last month told The Mail on Sunday that they had heard rumours the Government was ‘starting to get worried’, raising the possibility of state intervention. 

Rolls-Royce – in which the Government has a ‘golden share’ that gives it the right to block a takeover – has been hit hard by the pandemic. In part that has been because the company operates a power-by-the hour model, where it sells engines at a loss and later receives payments according to how much they fly. This arrangement has left the company bleeding cash. 

The firm is also particularly exposed to the collapse in long-haul travel because it makes engines for bigger planes such as Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner and Airbus’s A350. 

Rolls-Royce’s debt has been downgraded to junk status and major long-term shareholders, such as American activist ValueAct Capital, have been selling out of the company. 

In a note to clients several weeks ago, David Perry, an analyst at JP Morgan, said: ‘An £8billion hole will need much more than a £1.5billion rights issue. We believe RollsRoyce needs to raise at least £6billion [through equity raise sales and disposals] to put itself on a sound financial footing.’ 

Perry added that the company’s debt pile will be almost £19billion by the end of the year. He believes that £1.5billion may not be enough to save the firm. 

The analyst suggested that Rolls-Royce needs to issue £6billion of equity and this might not be possible by just relying on institutional investors. ‘We think there is a high chance of Government intervention,’ he added. 

Aside from tapping stock market investors for fresh cash, Rolls-Royce is also seeking to generate about £2billion from selling divisions – including ITP Aero – over the next 18 months. 

ITP Aero is Rolls-Royce’s Spanish engineering division that makes turbine blades for engines. 

A spokesman for Rolls-Royce said: ‘We continue to review a range of funding options to further strengthen our balance sheet. 

‘These could include debt and equity, but no final decisions have been taken. We have already taken swift action to strengthen our liquidity with £6.1billion at the end of the first half of the year and a further £2billion term loan agreed in the second half. 

‘We have also announced £1billion of cost mitigation activity in 2020 and launched a re-organisation of our Civil Aerospace business to save £1.3billion annually.’ 

Last month, the firm’s woes were compounded by the announcement that finance chief Stephen Daintith was leaving the business for online delivery firm Ocado. 

Daintith has said he will stay for a transition period.

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Casino boss: 10pm curfew will hit night-time industries

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casino boss 10pm curfew will hit night time industries

The boss of Britain’s biggest casino complex has warned that a 10pm curfew would be ‘disastrous’ for night-time industries. 

Simon Thomas, chief executive of the Hippodrome in London’s West End, said casinos make half their revenue after 10pm, and a national curfew would force him to make ‘substantial redundancies’ among his 700 staff. 

He already expects to make a ‘significant loss’ this year, after losing £1million a month during the five months the business was closed, and said the situation remains ‘fragile’. 

Losing streak: Visitor numbers are down 80 per cent at the Hippodrome

Losing streak: Visitor numbers are down 80 per cent at the Hippodrome

Losing streak: Visitor numbers are down 80 per cent at the Hippodrome

Visitor numbers are down by about 80 per cent since the Hippodrome reopened last month. 

‘The curfew poses an existential threat to theatres, hotels, bars and clubs,’ said Thomas. 

‘It is an unnecessary over-reaction to Covid and it would be a disaster for London.’ 

Thomas owns about half of the Hippodrome, which has casinos, restaurants and bars on six floors of a 19th Century former music hall and circus. His 86-year-old father Jimmy owns 20 per cent. 

He said he had worked hard to make the casinos safe, with gaming positions separated by flexi-glass walls, and the 80,000 sq ft premises prepared to receive just 400 people, down from 1,600. 

He has raised £10million of Government loans and bank debt. A consultation on redundancies has started, but the number of job cuts has not been confirmed while 300 staff remain on furlough. 

Thomas said: ‘It’s frustrating as the core business is excellent – the building is beautiful and a huge asset to London. We are very happy to pay tax, to provide jobs and entertain people – but we have to be allowed to do it.’

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