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Winnie the Pooh 50p coin launches today – could it be in your change?

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winnie the pooh 50p coin launches today could it be in your change
Four versions of the design will be made available, selling for up to £1,125

Four versions of the design will be made available, selling for up to £1,125

Winnie the Pooh will become the latest character from a children’s book to appear on a 50p coin, complete with a jar of honey, although those hoping to find one in their change will be left feeling sour.

Launched a little more than a century  on from the birth of Christopher Robin Milne, the son of Winnie the Pooh creator A.A. Milne, the Royal Mint said the coin would be the first in a wider collection featuring the characters from the children’s books.

The Mint teased two other designs for upcoming 50p coins featuring Christopher Robin and Piglet, but if the first coin released from the Hundred Acre Wood proves as popular as previous sets then there is no doubt others will follow.

The bear, who first appeared in a book of the same name in 1926, follows other much-loved characters from children’s books like Peter Rabbit, Paddington Bear and the Gruffalo onto the face of 50p coins.

However, unlike the first two and other characters from Beatrix Potter’s books, Pooh will not be released into circulation and the coin will only be available to buy from the Mint.

Four versions of the design will be put on sale: brilliant uncirculated, coloured, silver proof and gold proof. 

An unlimited number of brilliant uncirculated coins will be available to buy, while there will be 45,000 coloured, 18,000 silver and just 525 gold coins put on sale.

Prices range from £10 for the basic brilliant uncirculated version all the way up to £1,125 for the 525 gold coins, enough to buy 833 jars of own brand honey from Tesco, collectively weighing 378.1kg.

The Winnie the Pooh is the first 50p to be released from a wider set, with the Mint teasing two other upcoming designs which could soon be released

The Winnie the Pooh is the first 50p to be released from a wider set, with the Mint teasing two other upcoming designs which could soon be released

Brilliant uncirculated, coloured (pictured), silver and gold coins are set to be released

Brilliant uncirculated, coloured (pictured), silver and gold coins are set to be released

Although the coin not entering circulation is a blow for collectors, especially those hoping to sell it on for a profit, commemorative children’s coins have proved incredibly popular in recent years.

Beatrix Potter 50p coins displaying the likes of Jemima Puddle-Duck, Tom Kitten and Flopsy Bunny have sold in the hundreds of thousands according to the latest Royal Mint sales figures, which cover commemorative coin sales as recently as 2017. 

The Mint sold 221,866 2017 brilliant uncirculated Peter Rabbit 50p coins, 165,668 Jeremy Fisher 50p coins and 159,302 Tom Kitten 50p coins. 

These are far lower numbers than the fabled Kew Gardens 50p coin. This circulating coin can now fetch more than £100 on websites such as eBay. 

And the release of three 50p coins featuring the Gruffalo in February 2019 sparked such a rush to the deep dark wood to get hold of them that the Royal Mint’s website crashed just after midnight, while This is Money found itself in a queue of more than an hour the next morning to even get onto the website.  

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Trainline boss Clare Gilmartin to step down for family reasons

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trainline boss clare gilmartin to step down for family reasons

Shares in the rail ticket firm Trainline dived today after the company revealed its CEO Clare Gilmartin will leave her post in February next year to spend more time with her family.

They fell 11.7 per cent to 294.2p as it was announced her replacement would be the group’s current chief operating officer Jody Ford.

Gilmartin took charge of Trainline in 2014 and helped oversee a period of rapid expansion for the company until this year when the coronavirus and the UK government’s advice to Britons to avoid public transport caused rail travel to slump.

Gilmartin scooped a massive £50million windfall last year when Trainline floated on the LSE

Gilmartin scooped a massive £50million windfall last year when Trainline floated on the LSE

Gilmartin scooped a massive £50million windfall last year when Trainline floated on the LSE

Its success has been partly predicated on higher purchases of tickets on mobile phones, but also because it offers a one-stop-shop to buy tickets on a fragmented UK rail network that contains multiple rail operators.

This growth enabled the Dublin-born boss to scoop a massive £50million windfall last year when her company floated on the London Stock Exchange, thereby becoming one of the country’s wealthiest female executives in the process.

Gilmartin will stay on as a ‘senior advisor’ at the business, but she declared that ‘the time has come for me to spend more time with my family.’

‘I am immensely proud of our progress over the last several years – including driving the advancement of digital ticketing and the customer shift online, our international expansion and our track record for meeting and exceeding expectations.’

Her successor only joined Trainline in September but has extensive experience in leadership positions. Mr Ford’s prior role was as CEO of Photobox Group, the parent company of greeting cards business Moonpig.

Like Ms Gilmartin, the University of Exeter graduate also worked for eBay, where he was its vice president of global growth. Before that, he was a consultant at McKinsey and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

Both Clare Gilmartin and her successor Jody Ford have worked in senior roles at eBay

Both Clare Gilmartin and her successor Jody Ford have worked in senior roles at eBay

Both Clare Gilmartin and her successor Jody Ford have worked in senior roles at eBay

Ford said he joined Trainline because ‘it is a tech innovator with huge growth potential’ encourages ‘greener travel choices’.

‘I am very much looking forward to bringing my digital experience to bear as CEO and continuing Trainline’s focus on working with the rail and coach industry to make travel as easy and friction-free as possible for millions of customers in Europe and beyond.’

The firm disclosed last month that it had processed over two million UK-based refund requests in the first quarter of the fiscal year due to the pandemic and had seen business sales drop to just 1 per cent of their equivalent level in the prior year.

International and UK consumer revenues were better, but at £79million, they were still only 9 per cent of what they took home in the first three months of the 2020 financial year. 

Office of Rail and Road figures showed only 35 million journeys were made on the rail network between April and June, its lowest amount since the mid-nineteenth century. Passenger numbers are now running at about a third of their usual size.

Senior company executives including Gilmartin took pay cuts in response to the tumble in rail passenger numbers. Nonetheless, she earned another £3million after selling 800,000 company shares in late August.

Figures from the Office of Rail and Road showed only 35 million journeys were made on the rail network between April and June, its lowest amount since the mid-nineteenth century

Figures from the Office of Rail and Road showed only 35 million journeys were made on the rail network between April and June, its lowest amount since the mid-nineteenth century

Figures from the Office of Rail and Road showed only 35 million journeys were made on the rail network between April and June, its lowest amount since the mid-nineteenth century 

Trainline has received further public attention during the pandemic for charging and holding onto large commission fees for tickets booked through its website.

This has happened while rail companies are required to hand over any money they have generated to the government under the terms of a rescue package it received from them earlier this year.

The move effectively renationalised the railways and ended the franchise model that had arisen after privatisation in 1994.

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‘Zero emission mandate’ could force makers to sell more electric cars

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zero emission mandate could force makers to sell more electric cars

Manufacturers could be forced to sell a rising share of electric cars each year to speed-up the shift to zero-emission vehicles, according to reports.

The Times said ministers are considering a California-style ‘zero emission vehicle mandate’, which would be similar to the one introduced in the US state in the 1990s and demand a minimum volume of plug-in cars are sold by brands.

MPs believe the mandate would be the most effective way of shifting the UK’s car make-up to electric vehicles, to bridge the proposed ban on sale of petrol, diesel and hybrid cars in 2035.

Mandate for electric cars: The government is considering plans to force vehicle manufacturers to sell a rising share of plug-in models each year to speed-up the shift to zero-emission vehicles, according to reports

Mandate for electric cars: The government is considering plans to force vehicle manufacturers to sell a rising share of plug-in models each year to speed-up the shift to zero-emission vehicles, according to reports

Under the mandate, car makers would be required to sell an increasing volume of zero emission vehicles as a share of their overall sales.

If they fail to meet their EV target, they would be able to purchase credits from other manufacturers.

The government said it would consider a mandate in a response to a Committee on Climate Change report published in the summer.

It said it recognised a need to ‘go further than the existing regulatory regime to reduce CO2 emissions from road transport’, and that it was are looking into a mandate as part of the Transport Decarbonisation Plan. 

Already in the first nine months of 2020, demand for battery electric cars is at a record high.

Over 66,600 pure electric vehicles have been bought by the end of September – a year-on-year increase of 184 per cent increase, which has seen registrations almost double the full-year sales of pure EVs for the entirety of 2019 with three months to spare.

These electric-only cars now account for 5.4 per cent of all vehicle registrations in the UK, with that market share set to continue an increase as demand for diesel cars in particular shrinks and more people convert to zero-emission model while grants are available.

If a mandate was put in place it would allow the government to retract these subsidies and tax incentives that are currently exclusively available to buyers of electric cars, such as the £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant and VED road tax exemption. 

Sales of battery electric vehicles are booming at the moment, as motorists are taking advantage of incentives, such as the £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant, when purchasing EVs

Sales of battery electric vehicles are booming at the moment, as motorists are taking advantage of incentives, such as the £3,000 Plug-in Car Grant, when purchasing EVs 

And the Government has made no secret that it wants to phase out the availability of electric-car deals, which it outlined in its Road to Zero document in summer 2018.

It said: ‘As the market becomes better established and more competitive, the need for direct government financial support will decrease.

‘We therefore expect to deliver a managed exit from the grant in due course and to continue to support the uptake of ultra low emission vehicles through other measures.’

The Times reported that ministers also believe a mandate would help to attract electric car manufacturers to setup production lines in Britain to boost the economy. 

It comes as government is expected to announce plans to fast-track the deadline for the banned sale of petrol and diesel cars, which could be brought forward to as early as 2030.  

MPs last week urged the Prime Minister to accelerate the ban to a decade’s time in order to help the Government achieve its target of reaching net zero emissions by 2050.

The plans, which would dramatically accelerate the transition to zero-emission vehicles, are expected to be announced later this year alongside a series of new clean energy policies.

Downing Street had intended to unveil the blueprints in September, but the announcement will now be pushed back as ministers focus on soaring numbers of coronavirus cases, energy and transport insiders told the Guardian last month.

The ban, backed by the Committee on Climate Change, is likely to be set out by the Government in autumn alongside plans for Britain to become a carbon-neutral economy by the middle of the century.

Ministers are eager to pull the plug on grants, subsidies and incentives currently offered to owners of electric cars, stating that 'the need for direct government financial support will decrease'

Ministers are eager to pull the plug on grants, subsidies and incentives currently offered to owners of electric cars, stating that ‘the need for direct government financial support will decrease’

Greenpeace UK’s head of politics, Rebecca Newsom, gave her full support to a mandate. She said: ‘Moving the ban on petrol, diesel and hybrid cars and vans forward to 2030 is an absolute must if the government is to meet its legally binding climate commitments. Any later and it becomes almost impossible. 

‘But a ban alone won’t see this change take place without the policies that force it over the line. That’s why a zero emissions vehicle mandate for car manufacturers would be an incredibly smart move to bring new jobs to UK. 

In order to dangle the carrot for people buying a new car, the government must use the stick with manufacturers to ensure costs come down and sales go up.’

A new study by vehicle breakdown recovery provider Green Flag said the average UK driver now expects to purchase an electric car within the next four years. 

The poll of 1,500 drivers found that more than half (54 per cent) are today in favour of electric cars, with fuel savings and eco-friendliness the biggest perks, followed by lower servicing an maintenance costs and the convenience of being able to charge a vehicle at home.

Mark Newberry, commercial director at Green Flag, said: ‘Our research has found that the main concern for drivers converting to electric is running out of charge mid-journey. Try to think back to the last time that you broke down because you ran out of petrol?

‘We want to reassure drivers that it only takes a few small adjustments to enjoy an electric vehicle – if you look after your car, prepare for your journey and drive carefully you should see minimal changes to your driving routines.’

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Men and younger workers more likely to shun pensions during pandemic

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men and younger workers more likely to shun pensions during pandemic

A quarter of savers have stopped or cut back on paying into their pensions during the Covid-19 crisis and more are considering doing so, new research reveals.

Men and younger workers are more likely to shun pension saving to make ends meet than women and older workers in response to the upheaval in jobs and personal finances caused by the pandemic, the study shows.

The findings from Hargreaves Lansdown echo a separate survey, which found many people are pausing or reducing contributions because they need money for essential spending, were made redundant or were furloughed. 

Covid-19 crisis: Men and young workers are more likely to shun pension saving to make ends meet

Covid-19 crisis: Men and young workers are more likely to shun pension saving to make ends meet

Some 14 per cent of people have cut their contributions, and 11 per cent have cut them entirely, while 8 per cent may do so in future, according to the latest survey of 2,000 adults in September.

The trend could cause serious damage to people’s retirement prospects as they wind up with smaller pots, but auto-enrolment comes with a failsafe.

(Source: Hargreaves Lansdown)

(Source: Hargreaves Lansdown)

Employers must re-enrol staff who leave once every three years, unless they choose to stay opted out.

But employers do this on their own schedule, usually on a rolling basis starting from when they first introduced auto enrolment, not timed on when a worker dropped out.

Sarah Coles, personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown, says younger people may be quicker to stop contributions because their pension feels like a more distant consideration, so it is an easy cost to cut.

But she points out that the money you put in when you’re younger works the hardest for you – because compound growth boosts pots more over longer periods – so this will come at a higher cost than they expect. 

Coles adds that if you cut back or stopping paying into a pension the impact will also be magnified, because you lose pension tax relief from the government and free cash from your employer too.

Who pays what: Breakdown of minimum contributions under auto-enrolment 

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

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

But she acknowledges that if you are now on a lower income, have cut out luxuries and shopped around to minimise the cost of essentials and are still struggling, then you may need to pause pension contributions.

‘The good news is that the way that automatic enrolment works should stop temporary pauses in payments becoming enormous gaps,’ says Coles.

‘If you opt out of a workplace pension, you will automatically be put back in after three years, so even if you don’t get round to kick-starting payments yourself, you’re likely to accidentally do the right thing.’

Meanwhile, Coles says some people will have seen their pension funds drop in value due to big market falls early in the Covid-19 crisis, but some are well ahead of where they started the year, depending on where they are invested.

‘Most pensions aren’t just invested in equities either. Most will have a balance of different assets, so overall pension funds didn’t fall as far, and have recovered significantly,’ she says.

‘By the end of June, according to Moneyfacts, the average pension fund was only 4.4 per cent down from the start of the year.

‘It’s worth taking a look at where your pension is invested, and how it is performing, not just to see how it’s doing, but to be certain it reflects your aims and objectives.

‘If you have a workplace pension and you’re not sure how to do this, talk to your HR department, and ask them to send you details.’ 

Read our guide to checking if your work pension is up to scratch here. 

What should you do about your pension if you are strapped for cash?

Pension experts urge people to keep paying into pensions if they can afford it, to avoid harming their chances of a decent retirement.

Find out the three important rules to remember, and the options for what to do about different types of pension here. 

You can keep paying in to some types of pensions even if you have left your employer, and payments into pots based on 80% of salary are protected if you were furloughed. 

Read a 10-step guide to sorting out your pension here. We also have tips for people in their 20s wanting to get their pensions on track here, and help for older savers nearing retirement here. 

TOP SIPPS FOR DIY PENSION INVESTORS

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