Finance and Property

Financial Planning for 2019

Eight Finance Tips to Take into the New Year

Liz Alley, Divisional Director, Financial Planning, Brewin Dolphin offers the following tips to help you plan your finances for the New Year.

Get yourself an action plan

Start by digging out your financial records, including: savings, investments, insurance plans, both general and life, pensions and mortgage statements. Understand what you have and where. This gives you a full picture of your financial situation.

Track your spending and establish a budget

If you don’t have a budget, then you probably don’t where all your money is going. This is a great financial habit to gain control of your finances. Draw up a budget showing your monthly income and outgoings. Start with essential expenses that must be paid for and absolutely cannot be given up such as rent or mortgage payments, utility bills, council tax and basic food bills. Then consider where else your income goes each month and whether you could be spending your money more effectively.

Try to pay off any debts

Before you think about updating your saving habits, it’s a good idea to prioritise paying down expensive debt like credit cards or loans. As you are likely to be paying more in interest on the debt than you are earning on your savings. Borrowing rates may currently be low, but the Bank of England has started to raise the Base Rate and so it makes sense to repay debt now while rates are still low.

Save for specific goals

If you’ve followed the previous steps you should now have a pretty good idea of how much extra you can afford to save each month, it’s worth now thinking about what you want to achieve. If you have set them aside for a short-term goal such as paying for a holiday or home renovations, it probably makes sense to place them in a cash savings account.

For medium or longer-term goals, like school fees/university tuition, paying off your mortgage or funding your retirement, investing in the stock markets offers the potential to earn higher returns.

Save tax efficiently

Initially the tax savings may not amount to much. But over time, particularly if you take out an ISA every year and the value of your investments grows, the tax benefits can really add up. With a stocks and shares ISA, while you could get back less than you invested, there is the potential for inflation-busting returns. You can also spread risk, by including fixed-income products and alternative assets; place your income-producing assets in the tax-efficient ISA wrapper; and shield your investments from capital gains.

If you have children you can open a Junior ISA in their name, meaning that you don’t need to use your own tax-free allowance to help fund your children’s future. If you invested £100 a month over the next 15 years into a Junior ISA they could amass a savings pot of £24,600[1] over this time.

If you are employed, join your company pension scheme. You will benefit from employer contributions on top of your own. The government also effectively refunds any tax you have paid on your contributions at your highest income tax rate – 20%, 40% or 45%. Contributions to Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) receive no tax relief. However, investment returns and withdrawals are tax free.

Re-invest dividends

Reinvesting dividends can be a powerful way to boost your long-term returns from the stock market. Compounding has a snowball effect, reinvesting dividends buys more shares, which then pays you more dividends, which buy more shares – and so on. If you had invested £5,000 in the FTSE 100 index of leading UK shares back in 1985. That £5,000 would have grown to £27,211[2] by 2017. However, if you had reinvested the dividend payments into the FTSE 100, your original £5,000 would have grown to £91,4582, over three times as much.

Think about your pension or start a retirement savings plan

Whether this is establishing retirement goals or reviewing your pension contributions thinking ahead to your retirement is key. Working out what retirement income you will need can be tricky. Your life in retirement will be different from your working life. The traditional rule of thumb is to have a pension income of two-thirds of your annual salary.

The amount that you should be saving will depend on what you have already accumulated. For most people, there is a limit on pension contributions of £40,000 a year, which includes contributions by your employer. Employer top-ups can really increase the value of your pension contributions, so it is worth checking you are making the most of any workplace generosity offered.

Sort out your will

Check that your will is up-to-date, or perhaps, you are one of millions who have not got around to drawing one up in the first place. Making a will is crucial for anyone wanting to protect their family from a huge headache after they die. If you do not draw up a proper Will, you risk depriving your family of their home, increasing their inheritance tax burden and leaving parts of your estate in the wrong hands.

For more information about Brewin Dolphin visit   

Cash in Your Attic

Dr Who Memorabilia Could Mean Cash!

Doctor Who memorabilia hiding in British homes could be worth thousands of pounds according to expert research. Shopping specialists have revealed the high price tags that could be attached to relics from previous series, to coincide with Jodie Whittaker’s triumph as the first female in the famous TV role 

The research should alert Brits to their potentially valuable Doctor Who collectibles stashed away – it could be time to exterminate the clutter and make some quick, easy money.

Prized possessions are generally memorabilia with a limited release or associated with older series, such as two original Daleks that sold for £36,000 in 2005 and £38,500 in 2016 respectively.

The former was a Dalek Supreme from ‘Destiny of the Daleks’ (1979) and ‘Revelation of the Daleks’ (1984).

The latter, meanwhile, was sold by a collector who was clearing out his home and downsizing at his wife’s strict instruction and fetched double its expected price at a Derbyshire auction house, despite being repainted red.

A full-size model that a fan can get inside and move, with an operable Human Detector and Dalek Ray, the pricey Dalek was from the 1966 film ‘Daleks – Invasion Earth: 2150 AD’. It was one of three given away for free in a 1967 competition by Sugar Puffs, which asked children to rank the top six qualities for fighting Daleks.

A series 19 Cyberman from the same collection sold for £2,000 and a Tardis from a stage show for £1,000, both also in 2016.

Other Cybermen models have sold for eight and nine thousand pounds at auction in recent years, whilst a headpiece accessory from ‘The Caves of Androzani’ episode (Peter Davison’s last, in March 1984) sold for £5,000 – several times its guide price.

A Malus head mask from episodes called ‘The Awakening’, aired earlier in the same series, was valued at £3,000 and a 1971 Auton head mask from ‘Terror of the Autons’ was priced above £5,000.

Most TV worn costumes from the 1970s and 1980s, such as Kroll, Magma Beast and Sea Devils, will too range from hundreds up to thousands of pounds in price, with the right provenance and condition.

Mass produced toys from recent years are unlikely to have gained much value, but even a limited edition sonic screwdriver could fetch a few hundred pounds to the right buyer.

Items used in broadcasts this century, though, are often still collected and cherished by Sci-Fi fans, with a David Tennant Christmas special costume and a Matt Smith suit sold for £5,000 and £2,625 respectively in 2010.

Darren Williams from  says, “Brits who think they might have Doctor Who memorabilia languishing in lofts should start digging immediately, as they could be sat on a large windfall.

“Collectibles from the Sci-Fi series always seem to astonish auctioneers and quickly exterminate their guide price.

“There have been over eight hundred episodes of Doctor Who, making it a national TV treasure.

“Anything that has been seen on screen with the time lord will have big fans queueing up to give you their money, as these items only get rarer over the years.”

Find out more about Promotional Codes at

Save Money by House Sharing

House Sharing
with Cohabitas

Fed-up living alone and want to save some money? House sharing is a great option.

Home sharing, or co-living as it’s called these days, is more and more popular in later-life as it offers not only financial benefits, saving on household expenses, rents and mortgages etc, but also because it offers the possibility of having help around the house and companionship.

House sharing is not a new idea, but it is more unusual for older people to house share. However, with an increasing number of people either living in houses that are too big for them and not being able to look after a big house, or living in small one-person dwellings and feeling a bit isolated from other people, more and more people are considering this option.

Sharing with other like-minded people can be fun and provides companionship

When Nick and business partner Eva recognised that their parents were feeling lonely and that they themselves, now in their 50s, had also found it hard to rent a room they struck upon the idea of creating a service for older people.

Cohabitas is a house sharing website specifically for people in later life. It offers advice and inspiration for those new to house sharing or who haven’t shared for a while, and also connects people looking for a like-minded house or flat mate with those who have rooms.

Who is Cohabitas and house sharing for?

For people who have spare rooms:

Reluctant down-sizers: As a recent Gransnet research report discovered, around 1/3 of people planning to downsize do so reluctantly. Having a lodger allows these home-owners to stay in their beloved home for longer, earning valuable rent and getting some help with chores around the house and the garden.

Live-in landlords: Many people need to have a lodger for some years to help pay their mortgage or rent. Because larger shared flats and houses are cheaper per person to live in this benefits both the landlord and the tenant; it’s just a case of finding the right person.

Those who are widowed or separated: after a few years of living alone and the initial shock of finding yourself alone, many people seek companionship and support from having someone else around

For people who want to find a room or house to share:

People who want to save money: there are an increasing number of people in mid to later life who do not own a house or flat and who need to find cost-effective ways of affording a comfortable and secure home. House sharing provides financial savings because it is cheaper to run a shared flat than a single-dwelling.

People who want to have some fun and meet people: even if financial reasons are not top of your needs, then having company and enjoying life is important. People increasingly choose to live in larger flats and houses with others to allow them contact with others. Especially after retirement, divorce or separation, building new social connections is key.

People who want to relocate to a new area: moving into a shared house or flat is a great way to get to know a new area. Your house mates can give you advice on where to go and even introduce you to local clubs and services, making the whole thing seem less stressful and challenging.

Relocating or establishing a new life after a bereavement or a
separation can be challenging

How Cohabitas can help – matching people up

The clever thing about the website is that it places an emphasis on the people you share with. It’s free to register and you are only asked for basic information like age and gender, but you are encouraged to add more detail about your sharing preferences later to enable better matching.

The website at allows you to search for potential house mates by gender, age and of course location. You can choose to research everything yourself and it’s completely free to do so, only once you want to contact someone you need to buy a membership, which starts at just £9.90 for one month, but is as low as £4.95 per month when you buy for 6 months.

In the near future Cohabitas hopes to offer a ‘No worries’ service providing help with finding the right house mate and then handling the contract and financial aspects for you. If you are interested in this level of support, please contact Nick and Eva via the website.

Key pages on the Cohabitas website

Home page explaining the service; news and inspiration for those new to house sharing; room listings, with details of the live-in landlord or owner.

For more information about Cohabitas visit

Renting Property with Pets

SpareRoom Launches Think Tank for Pets

The first ever think tank of its kind, a think tank for pets, has been formed to address the severe lack of pet-friendly rented accommodation across the UK. A committee of animal-loving economists, charity representatives from Crisis and RSPCA, property pros and vets front the unique all-pet policy institute, which was initiated by SpareRoom.

What’s more, SpareRoom plans to employ cats and dogs as ‘research assistants’, to help better educate landlords and emphasise the positive effects that pets can have on tenants and properties. The pets’ role would be to visit rented homes and demonstrate to landlords how well-trained cats and dogs might behave and treat their properties.

The purpose of the think tank for pets is to develop ideas and policy suggestions to encourage more landlords to consider allowing pets into their properties – an issue that’s becoming ever more important in the era of ‘generation rent’.

The potential benefits of allowing more pets in rented properties aren’t limited to increased income for landlords, but also include improved physical and mental wellbeing for tenants, a reduction in the number of pets that end up in rehoming centres and even a potential reduction in homelessness.

In the process of developing ideas to address the lack of pet-friendly rented accommodation, the think tank members studied original research by SpareRoom, conducted among tenants and landlords. A summary of findings from that research is provided here:

78% of tenants said they have struggled to find rented accommodation that will allow their pet(s) to live with them.

•  This has resulted in 21% of tenants keeping a pet in their property without their landlord’s knowledge – and breeching the terms of their rental contract in the process.

  Despite the popularity of pets among Brits, figures from SpareRoom reveal that only 7% of ads in the UK on SpareRoom would ‘consider’ pets, with this dropping to just 5% – that’s one in 20 homes – in the London area. 

  Over two thirds (69%) of landlords said they wouldn’t allow pets in their properties.

•  Landlord’s cited smell (57%), potential damage to the property (55%) and concerns they won’t be trained (37%) as their main reasons for not allowing pets in their properties.

Despite landlords’ reservations, 88% of pet owners claim they’ve never experienced any complaints and that their pets have never caused damage to the property.

Out of the tenants that already own a pet, 53% of these stated that they pay between £10 and £49 extra rent per month to allow their pet to live with them, with 32% paying between £50 and £99 extra per month.

After extensive debate and discussion among think tank members, the think tank’s first set of ideas to address the issue of pets in rented properties has been released in a 44 page report, which can be viewed here.

Among the think tank’s initial ideas and suggestions to convince landlords to accept pets are:

Working to get damage by pets covered, both in landlord insurance policies and by tenants.

Tenants agreeing to sign a contract to say that they’d pay for any damages their pet was responsible for:

Charging a subsidy for pets on top of a tenant’s normal monthly rent.

Creating a pet policy agreement between landlords and renters, which could be easily downloaded. The template would include conditions such as ‘regular landlord inspections’ to check that the property is free of mess and damage, and to check in with neighbours that they’re happy and have no issues with the pet.

Another key point raised by members of the Think Tank committee was that they’d like to see a set policy that all social housing providers must take pets

Matt Hutchinson, Communications Director for SpareRoom says, “With more of us renting our homes it’s vital we have a conversation about what that means for quality of life. We know that allowing pets into rented homes can be particularly beneficial – and in more ways than people might think. Pets can be a source of higher rental income for landlords, but they can also improve the wellbeing of tenants, reduce the number of pets given up for rehoming or, worse, abandoned, and they can even have an impact on reducing homelessness.

Ultimately, there’s no reason tenants shouldn’t be able to live with pets, subject to certain relevant conditions and checks being in place. By finding the obstacles and removing them, as well as seeing the positives, not just the negatives, we should be able to make it much easier for people to have a pet, whether they own their home or not.”

About SpareRoom

SpareRoom is the UK’s leading flat and house share site with over 8 million registered users. Founded in the UK in 2004, the company expanded into the US market in 2011 and has currently helped over half a million people find a room or flatmate.

SpareRoom holds weekly SpeedFlatmating events, helping people find their ideal flatmate in a relaxed, social setting, in London, Manchester and New York.

For more information about SpareRoom visit

Retirement Living

Active Downsizers Head To The River Gardens at Greenwich 

Older people are looking for more independence and are intent on maintaining their lifestyle according to research from the Institute for Ageing & Health at Newcastle University. Add that to the fact one in three people will now live to the age of 100, instead of one in 100, according to the Office of National Statistics, it makes sense more downsizers are looking at homes that offer a more active lifestyle.

For buyers looking for life outside of a retirement village, while still offering a host of amenities, Bellway Homes’ The River Gardens in Greenwich will whet the appetite.

The River Gardens offers downsizers luxury living surrounded by riverside views, with exclusive access to a private gym and a swimming pool. There is also a 24-hour concierge service and while there are plenty of gardens and a tow path to get active on foot or by bike, the development is set in a peaceful environment for the best of both worlds.

Emma Hamlett, Sales Director at Bellway Homes explains, “For those seeking more independence, The River Gardens offers an excellent choice for downsizing. The use of the private gym and swimming pool allows those who like to keep active, to do so close to home, while incredible riverside views and the close proximity to the bustling, vibrant Greenwich make it easier to have everything to hand. We encourage anyone considering downsizing from their current house to a stylish apartment to come along and see our development for themselves.”

All apartments are finished to a high standard throughout, including open plan living spaces, balconies and quality kitchen appliances. A typical three-bedroom apartment, features a spacious, open plan kitchen, dining and living area, with integrated kitchen appliances. The bedrooms have plenty of storage space and an en-suite to the master bedroom. In downsizing, there is no need to sacrifice outdoor space, with the apartment featuring two balconies, to tend to pot plants and admire the views. There is a modern ‘family’ style bathroom, all fitted to the highest quality specification.

Greenwich is a cultural hub famous for its Maritime history including the last-surviving tea clipper, the Royal Observatory, and London’s oldest enclosed Royal Park. Greenwich offers an excellent array of pubs, restaurants and bars, alongside a large variety of shops to satisfy all retail needs ranging from high-street brands and designer boutiques to the Greenwich Market, just a mile away, selling organic produce. Film fanatics can enjoy two cinemas close by, including the Greenwich Picturehouse that regularly host classic films.

The combination of five-star facilities and first-class connections make The River Gardens a sought-after location. With the Cutty Stark DLR Station just a short stroll from the development, residents can navigate the city with ease with frequent services to key London locations.

Prices at The River Gardens start from £445,000 for a one-bedroom apartment, £590,000 on a two-bedroom apartment and £740,000 on a three-bedroom apartment. Help to Buy is available on selected plots.

For further information and to register your interest please send an email to:

Or call 0845 257 6065.

For more information about Bellway visit

* Prices and house-types quoted above are correct at date of publication, and may change at a later date.

Earn Money in your Retirement

Home and Pet Sitters Wanted in Scotland

An ideal role for retirees wanting
flexible employment in 2019 

National home and pet sitting company, Homesitters Ltd is seeking homesitters in Scotland to look after people’s homes and pets when they go on holiday to meet growing client demand.

Home and pet sitting is a role that is increasingly popular with older people looking to continue working flexibly during their retirement.

A recent survey by YouGov for Age Scotland highlighted that 44% of Scots said they were planning to work into their late 60s and beyond to enjoy a better retirement lifestyle. More than a fifth also cited enjoying the social side of working and 19% worried they would get bored or lonely at home.

Alan Irvine, Managing Director of Homesitters Ltd says this trend is leading to older people seeking out alternative types of employment such as home and pet sitting.

Mr Irvine says, “Home and pet sitting suits active retired people in their 50s, 60s, and 70s who love animals but want a flexible form of employment. The role offers the chance for people to travel throughout the UK, stay in fantastic homes in rural and urban locations and care for a wide variety of pets.

“It’s a sociable role, plus it’s good for physical health. Many of our homesitters look after dogs that need walking. Being in new places also encourages people to go out and about exploring. Our homesitters can choose to do as many assignments as they wish each year, fitting around other commitments.

“Homesitters receive a modest remuneration to supplement a pension, a daily food allowance and travel costs to and from the homesit are reimbursed. People can also make savings, especially in the winter, on their own utility bills if they spend a lot of time away on assignments,” adds Mr Irvine.

One Scottish couple who have been enjoying homesitting for seven years is Iain and Helen Miller, both in their 70s and from Glasgow, who have travelled around Scotland looking after people’s homes and pets.

Being able to spend time with animals was the biggest attraction of the job for the Millers. Home sitting allows them to enjoy spending time with animals without the responsibility of having a pet of their own.

Iain says, “We love all kinds of animals, and one of our favourite assignments was staying in a home with a full menagerie. There were dogs, cats, guinea pigs, chickens, tropical fish, a pygmy hedgehog and even a tortoise.”

Iain and Helen’s assignments have all been in Scotland and they enjoy travelling the country from St Andrews to the banks of the River Clyde, exploring beautiful areas they may not have visited before.

Helen says, “One of our homesits was located on the Gairloch and the views from the house were stunning. The weather was lovely and one day we were lucky enough to see a nuclear submarine going on patrol down the loch from its base in Faslane.

“Another homesit was near beautiful Cramond Beach, just outside Edinburgh, so we were able to take the dogs for lovely long walks along the beach. We were looking after an Irish Wolfhound and a Rough Haired Dachshund – one is a very large dog and the other is very small so we often turned heads!”

Iain and Helen love home and pet sitting and would recommend it to others keen to spend time with animals and add a bit of adventure into their lives.

Iain says, “We’d highly recommend Homesitters and would advise others considering the role just to go for it – and enjoy. The company is very professional and nothing is too much trouble for them. It’s an ideal way to keep active in retirement.”

Homesitters Ltd is currently on a winter recruitment drive to recruit enthusiastic and reliable people throughout Scotland to join its expanding team of homesitters.

For more information on becoming a homesitter and to apply please visit

France Exhibition at Olympia

Visit the France Show at Olympia, London

The France Show returns to Olympia, London on the 25th – 27th January. The event, now in its twelve year, is a great day out for those that love French food and wine, enjoy holidays in the sun, and those looking for their dream French property.

The France Show’s Event Director Debbie Macleod explains what visitors can expect, “The France Show is a fully-immersive experience that showcases the best of France from its culinary specialities, right through to property. This year we have an exciting line up of experts and top chefs in our live theatres providing inspiring cooking demonstrations and wine and champagne-tasting sessions.

“The extensive French Market will be stocked with all the usual Gallic goodies, and of course no French event would be complete without can can dancers. Our dancing troupe will be on hand to entertain the crowds at regular intervals.”

For further information on The France Show 2019 visit  

Bill Management Service

Getting the Best Deal on Household Costs

Shane Clifford, CEO and Co-Founder of WonderBill advises on household bills

The New Year is here, and this brings another round of household bills and costs. Although January may be full of dark days and frosty weather, this is the perfect chance to get set-up for the year ahead.

A great way to kick-start this is to find a good deal. But, if you have ever tried to look for a deal before, you will know it can be overwhelming with the choice available – plus the worry about going for those that seem just too good to be true. So what can you do?

Shane Clifford, CEO and Co-Founder for WonderBill – a household bill management app – shares his top tips on how to spot a good deal for you, and to get you set for a positive financial 2019.

Deal or no deal?

Whether it’s through the letterbox or via emails, it seems as if every brand wants you to take advantage of their latest offer and ‘sign-up today for great savings’. Being able to search for deals online is brilliant in theory, but the reality is endless options and a lot of noise – making apples and pears comparisons.

Those offers that seem too good to be true, well the best advice is to avoid them if your gut is saying no. First off, look at what provides extras or benefits you would actually use. For example, some companies may offer vouchers for high-street stores. If you use that store regularly and it would save you money, then that’s great.

What to avoid is signing up for a contract that has ‘fantastic’ offers, but none of which you would find useful.

Waste not, want not

On that note, usage is a big factor in managing your household costs. Do you know how much energy you use on a monthly basis? Do you use all of the minutes on your mobile phone contract? We have enough important things to remember in our daily lives, and constantly thinking about how much of our household contracts we are using doesn’t feature high-up on that list.

That said, there’s a lot of waste in what we don’t use. Think of it like having a gym membership but not using it fully. That could be a £40 saving a month – which soon adds up. So you wouldn’t knowingly do that, however many of us are paying for extra household contracts than we need.

However there is an easier way to manage this. Companies are providing clever apps that do the hard work for you. All you have to do is put in your provider information once and it then provides a live update in the app of how much you use. When this could mean saving up to £300 a month on household bills, it certainly is worth the initial hour or two to get set-up.

Start small, save big

Well it might sound easy on paper, but we all know how busy daily life can be. With family, friends and social gatherings to attend the weeks can easily slip by. Plus personal finance is often a challenging thing for people, often relating to stress and worry.

So how can you take a more positive approach to household bill management in 2019? Start off small, perhaps this month download an app to help – or dig out all your paperwork to work out exactly what accounts you have. This can seem daunting but once it is done you will feel more in control.

Then the month after take another step in the right direction. Before long you will not only be feeling better about your household bills, but you could start to see the big savings rolling in.

For more information about WonderBill click on

Property in Bedford

Cut Your Commute Time in Bedford

According to the latest statistics, the average person in the UK, spends a staggering 13,356 hours commuting to work, over the course of their lifetime. Perfect for savvy commuters looking to cut back on a long commute into the city, properties at De Montfort Place in Bedford by Storey Homes are ideally located less than an 11-minute walk to Bedford train station, which connects to London in less than 40 minutes.

This beautiful new development in the heart of Bedford boasts a fantastic location with excellent transport links on the doorstep. Comprising a collection of 152 homes, De Montfort Place includes one and two-bedroom apartments, perfect for first-time buyers or downsizers, as well as four and five-bedroom executive houses, ideal for growing families. Offering a high specification home for everyone, the development provides city commuters with the perfect base.

Katy Jordan, Managing Director of Storey Homes says, “Commuting time is a key factor when looking for a new home. For many current residents at De Montfort Place, a huge attraction of the homes is the fantastic travel connections available, in addition to a beautiful modern new home. For those wanting an easy commuting journey without sacrificing on location, De Montfort Place is the home for you.”

Pembroke Court at De Montfort Place offers a collection of contemporary one and two-bedroom apartments, perfect for working professionals. Designed to suit modern life, apartments feature a spacious open-plan living and kitchen area. Bathrooms and ensuites feature contemporary white sanitaryware. A secure allocated car parking space comes within the gated development as standard with all apartments.

Providing the perfect home for families, the four-bedroom townhouse, The Melton, is situated across three floors. The ground floor is host to a spacious living room that leads directly onto the open-plan kitchen and dining area. The hub of the home is created by the open-plan living area, ideal for spending quality time with the family.

Moving upstairs, both bedrooms on the first floor are spacious and come complete with en suites as well as private dressing areas. The second floor offers a further two bedrooms which share the family bathroom. There is also a private study room, perfect for working from home.

Ideal for families, Bedford is home to a number of well-regarded schools, two acclaimed independent schools, the Bedford School and Bedford Modern School, and also boasts strong local state schools including the Sharnbrook Academy and St Thomas More Catholic School area.

Bedford train station offers fast links into London St Pancras, in just 39 minutes. By car, major roads are easily accessible from the development, with the M1 within a five-mile drive, and Luton Airport approximately 40 minutes away.

Prices at De Montfort Place currently start at £192,500 for a one-bedroom apartment and from £239,950 for a two-bedroom apartment.

The Melton, a four-bedroom house, is currently available from £450,000 and The Evesham, a five-bedroom house, starts from £515,000. Help to Buy is available on selected plots.

For further information visit the website at  

Or call 01582 742165 to register your interest.

Community Living

Living in a Retirement Community can Help Combat Loneliness

Alan Guinn, in the blue sweater, at Brunel Court, Portishead

New analysis from Age UK has revealed that increasing numbers of over-50s in England will suffer from loneliness in the coming years as a result of widowhood, ill-health and money problems.

The charity predicts that over two million people in that age group will be lonely by 2025, a rise of 49% from the 1.36 million who felt socially isolated in 2015 -16. Those aged over 50 were identified as particularly at risk of loneliness and the likely triggers. For example, widowers are more than five times as likely to report feeling ‘often lonely’ as their peers in a relationship.

Gillian Girling, Chief Executive of Girlings Retirement Rentals, the UK’s leading provider of retirement rental properties says, “Loneliness in later life is clearly on the rise with triggers such as the loss of a long-term partner or restriction of mobility leading to more people becoming socially isolated.

“Many of our residents live on their own, some have been widowed or divorced and they find comfort and friendships living in a retirement community where they can socialise and spend time with others of a similar age whilst still retaining their independence.

“Most developments have communal lounges and gardens where people meet and can enjoy cups of coffee together, plus many organise regular social events and outings. These can be a real lifeline, particularly for single people.”

One widower who has relished the social side of retirement living is 76 year old, Alan Guinn who lives in a Girlings apartment in Brunel Court in Portishead, Somerset.

Alan previously lived in Spain, but when he lost his wife and then became seriously ill himself he returned to the UK. He was diagnosed with a serious cardiovascular problem and underwent surgery.

He sold his flat in Spain but the proceeds were not large enough to purchase a property in the UK, so he decided to rent a retirement property instead and found an apartment at Brunel Court. 

When choosing his new home, the community at the development was really important to Alan, as well as having access to a 24-hour care line in case of emergency and a house manager on site too. He could also take his two pet dogs with him, which clinched the deal. 

Alan says, “Following my surgery I am now as fit as a fiddle and I put my recovery down to the fact that I am so relaxed living here. Being here has really brought me back to life, I’m not the type of person who can sit back and do nothing, I want to get involved in things so have been very active within the residential community which has made me feel worthwhile again.”

Alan says the development is full of people keen to socialise and they all get on very well. There are often events in the residents’ lounge including the monthly wine tasting sessions that Alan runs for the other residents.

Alan adds, “I am very proud of where I live, the location is perfect with everything I need within reach, there’s a Waitrose and a well-stocked library nearby. It’s a beautiful area and I thoroughly enjoy taking my dogs for a walk along the harbour every morning – I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.”

Girlings has over 2500 retirement apartments across the UK to suit all budgets, locations and aspirations. Most properties are located in purpose-built developments, designed for ease of living.

Facilities include a residents’ lounge, maintained gardens, a development manager on site to support residents alongside a 24 hour emergency call centre.

To find out more visit the website  

Pension Planning

Most Brits Massively Underestimate the Cost of Retirement

The UK’s future pensioners look set to be cash-strapped as most Brits either have no idea or are wildly underestimating the size of pension pot needed for retirement.

Over one in five adults (21%) believe they only need up to £50,000 for their pension pot, totalling approximately £3,333 per year, according to research by personal finance comparison site,

This is dramatically below the recommended pension pot required for a comfortable retirement. As the current state pension sits at just £8,767.20 per year, the recommended pension pot is from £260,000 to £445,000, depending on accommodation costs in retirement.’s survey revealed that Brits on average believe that just £100,000 is enough to fund their retirement.

Millennials least prepared for high retirement costs

The younger generation is expected to have the highest cost of living in retirement than any previous generations due to the house price epidemic, as many millennials are expected to either still be paying a mortgage later in life or will be forking out on rental accommodation.

With this in mind, almost a third of millennials are approximately £395,000 short in their estimation of how much they will need. Almost a third (32%) of millennials surveyed believe up to £50,000 will give them enough pension to live comfortably, compared to a quarter (25%) of Generation X and 19% of baby boomers who believe the same.

Perhaps even more concerning is the number of those working towards retirement that don’t know how much they need for their pension pot. Almost half (48%) of baby boomers surveyed by admitted they don’t know what they need.

For non-renters, the recommended pension pot is around £260,000 and worryingly, almost one in four (23%) of baby boomers may find themselves short by more than half of that, believing they only need up to £100,000 for their pension pot.

Commenting on the findings, Jon Ostler, CEO at says, It’s often not a priority at a younger age, but the cost of retirement for millennials is something to be prepared for, especially as a higher percentage of this generation are expected to rent in their retirement. 

It’s also concerning to learn that so many baby boomers are still yet to consider the cost of a comfortable retirement. Our study revealed that almost a quarter (24%) of this generation do not yet have a pension.”

“Despite the introduction of the automatic enrolment workplace pension a few years ago, over a third (35%) of those surveyed in our study said they still don’t have a pension. For those who do, 36% are unaware of how much they currently have in their pot, and a whopping 43% of Brits admit they don’t know how much they need to save for a pension.

Jon adds, “Employers must legally provide a workplace pension in the UK so it’s important that employees in the UK are aware of what they’re eligible for, as well as looking into a private pension to top up their pot.”

To find out more about’s pension survey and for further data click on

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