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February Newsletter

Welcome to our February newsletter. In this issue we have young driver insurance as product of the month. Funeral bills soar. Dippy the dinosaur arrives in Rochdale and is it time to review your pension.

Product of the month


Young Drivers click here for free quotation

Hurray, you’ve just got your new car!…or maybe you are looking to get one soon. Exciting times!

Designed specifically for 17 – 24 year olds, our New Driver Insurance covers you in an affordable way and teaches you some invaluable safe driving skills.


Black box technology*


Our advanced black box technology for a young driver should make you a lower driving risk by helping you develop safe driving skills, plus our e-learning resource helps you improve your knowledge and skills.


No curfewsUnlike some other insurers, we won’t impose any curfews on you! However, we do ask that you add a parent to the policy (adding an experienced driver helps us to keep our premiums down!).

We cover you on a provisional and full licence We will insure you as a learner as well as after your test and won’t hike the premium up because you pass! So, no scrambling round to find new insurance when you pass (just a quick call to let us know!).

Our best price upfront

There are no complicated points schemes, no penalties for driving late, no cashbacks later on. Just our best price and up to 30% no claims discount at renewal if you drive well!


You may also be interested in free insurance with a new car

Funeral bills soar amid ongoing investigations into death monopoly

Click here for a free review  

Crippling funeral bills have risen by almost a quarter in the last five years, forcing more bereaved families into debt to cover the costs, according to a major study.

As the number of recorded deaths in the UK peaks this month, at an average of one every 44 seconds, the related bills could be upwards of £250m, according to SunLife’s latest Cost of Dying report. 


The average total bill to arrange a funeral and certain extras such a wake or other send off, including catering, flowers, venue hire and professional fees, now comes in at just under £9,500. The average basic funeral alone takes up more than £4,400 of that total. 


Just 37 per cent of people put aside sufficient funds to cover their funeral. That could mean that this month, which, according to the Office for National Statistics, sees 27 per cent more deaths registered than the rest of the year, bereaved family and friends may need to find £155m. 


More than one in 10 say paying for a loved one’s funeral causes financial concerns, prompting them to borrow money from others, take out loans and credit cards, and even sell belongings to bridge the funding gap.

In a bid to alleviate the pressure on those already dealing with grief, the Department for Work and Pensions finally announced an increase at the end of last year in the Funeral Expenses Payment benefit to £1,000, which will come in from April 2020. 

“While the cost of funerals has risen over the years, the government’s benefit to help with funeral costs has remained at £700 for 16 years,” said Louise Eaton-Terry, a funeral cost specialist at insurance firm Royal London. “Having tirelessly campaigned on this issue, we welcome the news that the Funeral Expenses Payment benefit is set to rise.”

“However, with bereaved families borrowing almost £2,000 to pay for a loved one’s funeral, more needs to be done to tackle funeral poverty. This is only the tip of the iceberg – the government must, at the very least, commit to annual increases of the benefit if it really wants to have an impact.”


But subsidising costs won’t solve the underlying problem of runaway bills. 

The funeral industry is currently the subject of a long-term, in-depth investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) over serious concerns about the recent price rises that hit consumers at their most vulnerable.

Organising a funeral could cost those on the lowest incomes around 40 per cent of their annual outgoings – more than they spend on food, clothing and energy combined. 


The cost of the most straightforward funeral – a direct cremation, with no accompanying service – has dropped in price in recent years to an average of just £1,626. But only 4 per cent of people have a direct cremation, according to Sunlife – largely because they don’t know about them. 


Cremations account for around three quarters of funerals, yet there are limited choices for most people in their local area and fees charged by crematoria increased by 84 per cent on average in the 10 years to 2018, more than 3 times the rate of inflation.

Those trying to arrange a funeral could save more than £1,000 by considering a range of choices in their local area, the CMA reported when it launched the investigation at the end of 2018. 

But they are often distressed and not in a position to do so, “making it easier for some funeral directors to charge higher prices”, the CMA said. It continued: “Prices are also often not available online, making it difficult to compare options.”


While some smaller funeral directors have sought to keep their prices low, others, particularly larger chains, have implemented policies of consistently high year-on-year price increases. 

“A number of these have now introduced lower cost funeral options, but this doesn’t go far enough to make up for years of above inflation price hikes,” the regulator reported. “The CMA’s evidence also indicates most people who organise a funeral remain extremely vulnerable to exploitation and future rises in charges.”

The investigation is set to conclude in September this year. 

Meanwhile, the Financial Conduct Authority is also working towards regulating pre-paid funeral plans, which have been criticised for failing to cover unexpected extra charges despite being sold as a way of securing a preferred funeral in advance and protecting the policyholder against future price increases.

The government’s Money Advice Service offers free, impartial advice for those who need to arrange a funeral, including how funeral costs break down, how to keep those bills down and what financial help is available.

Dippy the dinosaur finally arrives in Rochdale and it's a sight to behold


Dippy the dinosaur finally arrives in Rochdale and it's a sight to behold

The enormous skeleton is going on display as part of Dippy On Tour


It's been a long-awaited arrival but Dippy the dinosaur has finally made his way to Greater Manchester.

The world's most famous diplodocus usually lives in the entrance of London’s Natural History Museum, wowing visitors as its star attraction.

But since 2018 it has been on a nationwide tour and now it's Rochdale's turn to play host.

In fact the borough is the only place in the north west to see the 70 foot-long structure and there's huge excitement ahead of the official opening on Monday, February 10.


A team of technicians is busy putting Dippy together inside Rochdale Council's office at Number One Riverside, where Dippy will be on display until June.


He was delivered here on Saturday - its mammoth skeleton packed away inside 13 crates.

Described as an ‘absolute rock star’ of exhibits, Dippy is a cast of the original - discovered in America more than a century ago - and first went on show to the public in 1905.


The original has 292 bones, but some have been fused together to make the 86-part cast easier to move around.

Lorraine Cornish is head of conservation at the Natural History Museum and is one of the team accompanying Dippy on his tour.

"It arrived in Rochdale on Saturday and they started putting him together on Sunday," said Lorraine. "There are around 20 crates altogether, including the tools and the base so it all takes a long time - usually around five days to put him together.

"I've worked with Dippy for a long time so I do feel responsible for him and there can be some hairy moments when moving him around. Each venue has its own challenges - this one is quite narrow but there's a high ceiling so that helps when placing some of the parts."

Once it was decided to take Dippy on tour, to make way for a blue whale skeleton called Hope at the NHM, venues were asked to put in their bids to host the skeleton - and Rochdale was among the eight to succeed.


"We had to look at places in terms of what building they had to house it and what visitor numbers they could get," added Lorraine.

"We also wanted to know what events people would be able to put on around it and and what Dippy could do for each area.

"We didn't want him to go into a museum, as not everybody wants to visit a museum, so this here in Rochdale is a fantastic choice.


"It's got the new shopping centre opening and some amazing people and buildings here and we feel it needs some love and attention. It's an ideal place to bring it and everyone is so excited. Dippy really is a national treasure."

It's free for anyone to turn up and see Dippy, including schools, and thousands of pupils have already signed up for tickets using the website here.


In addition to seeing the dinosaur skeleton in all its glory, Number One Riverside will be home to lots of accompanying activities, including a giant Diplodocus lego build, a sensory storytelling room, a dino discovery lab and more.

And there's a whole Dippy Exhibition taking place at the nearby Touchstones gallery, where there's a full events programme to enjoy.

Visitors will be able to get up close to some fossilised bones including teeth, eggs and even dinosaur poo, and will have the chance to meet mini beasts like spiders and scorpions.


Lisa O'Neill-Rogan, joint head of culture at Touchstones, said: "This the most exciting thing to ever happen in Rochdale. This will hopefully bring so many people here and it's a real opportunity to show what we have to offer.


"There aren't that many people in our communities and neighbourhoods who get to go to London, so to be able to come here and see it on their doorstep is fantastic."She added: "There's a big focus on climate change and working together - doing one thing to make big changes - and you can see the community participation that has gone into this. Nationally it's very high profile but the benefits are also very local."

Dippy will be at Number One Riverside, which is opening daily from February 10 until June 28.

Entry is free and more information about opening times can be found here.


How do I find out how much pension I have saved?


More than half of workers don't know the size of their pension pot: How to find out - and what to do if you've not saved enough?

  • Some 54% are unaware of the current size of their pots, and 8% couldn't answer
  • Only 38% said they did know - though a fifth couldn't say to the nearest £25k
  • Savers have to check with current and old pension schemes individually for info
  • What do you need for a comfortable retirement? Find out below 


Just two in five workers know how roughly much they have saved so far for retirement, research shows.

Some 54 per cent said they were unaware of the current size of their pots and a further 8 per cent couldn't answer, while 38 per cent said they did know. 

However, only four fifths of the workers who gave a positive answer could give a figure to the nearest £25,000 and the rest could not, according to the study by the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association.


Pension plan: Some 54% of workers are unaware of the current size of their pots, and 8% couldn't answer

An online pensions dashboard aimed at showing people their savings at a glance is under development, which should make it easier to investigate your existing pots, although there is no definite launch date. 

Until then, savers have to check with current and old pension schemes individually for information, and add the figures to their state pension forecast to get an idea of what they will have to live on in old age.

See below for what to ask your scheme, and what to do if you are worried you won't have enough for a comfortable retirement.

To help give savers an indication of how much they will need to meet everyday bills in old age, the PLSA published a 'retirement living standards' guide last year. 

In broad terms, it estimates a single person will need about £10,000 a year for a basic standard of living, £20,000 a year for a moderate lifestyle, and £30,000 a year for a comfortable old age. For couples, the figures are £15,000, £30,000 and £45,000 respectively.

The table below gives more details of what you will be able to afford at each income level for food, drink, transport and travel.


How do you find out how much pension you've got saved? 

Until the pensions dashboard is launched, it's a matter of contacting your current and all your old pension schemes to ask what you've got saved so far. 

Find out how to investigate your existing pensions here. 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 should add the forecast figures to what you anticipate getting in state pension, which is currently around £8,800 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. 

And 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.

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

The PLSA said 41 per cent of the nearly 1,000 workers it surveyed felt that they should be saving more, while 29 per cent thought they were saving enough, and 30 per cent didn't know. 

Women savers on course for pensions two thirds size of men's 

Women expect to have £168,006 on average when they retire, compared with the £255,328 pots men anticipate retiring on, research last year revealed. 

Low pay, childcare costs and high rent and house prices hamper many women's ability to save for old age, a separate report showed. 

Financial adviser LEBC has produced a guide offering practical tips to women on how to increase retirement savings and help close the pensions gap.

Some 56 per cent said they were concerned about whether they were saving enough.

Women were less likely to know how much they had saved so far at 60 per cent, while among men 49 per cent said they weren't aware.

Some 54 per cent of workers aged 18-34 admitted they didn't know, 57 per cent of those aged 35 to 54, and 48 per cent of those aged 55 plus.  

Nigel Peaple, director of policy and research at the PLSA, said: 'It's clear that savers are still unsure about exactly what their pensions are worth and what this will translate to in terms of real income in their retirement years.

'Through the publication of our retirement living standards last year – as well as the introduction of the pensions dashboard when it's launched – we believe that savers will have a clear understanding of their financial health and be in a better position to picture their futures.OP SIPPS FOR DIY PENSION INVESTORS



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