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The Covid-19 pandemic has meant many people are adjusting to working from home and during this latest lockdown many parents again find themselves trying balance home schooling their children as well.

A new study by the University of Oxford suggests that the pressures of lockdown have increased the levels of stress, depression and anxiety in parents and carers.

The researchers found that between mid-March and the end of December 2020 parents and carers were:

·       having difficulty relaxing

·       being easily upset or agitated

·       feeling hopeless

·       lacking interest and pleasure

·       feeling fearful and worried

·       being more irritable, over-reactive and impatient

According to John Jolly, head of the charity Parentkind, the research highlighted “the additional stress and pressure that partial school closures place on parents”. He suggests that policymakers listen to the concerns of parents regarding the “safety and reopening of schools, the fair allocation of grades in the absence of exams, and remote learning provision”.

However, employers can also take measures to mitigate some of the stress parents are facing during these challenging times.

Here at Corinthian, the management team got together as soon as this current lockdown was announced and discussed what more we can do to support the mental well-being of our team members. We decided that with immediate effect we are giving our employees who are home-schooling two hours off every day to enable them to focus on home learning with their children.

If, like me, you are constantly being interrupted while on a Zoom or Microsoft Teams call, then take a look at our stay at home schooling guide. This is a great resource full of useful links to fun and educational websites, to help entertain your children when you need to get some work done.

I’ve also found it helpful to establish a routine and create a dedicated work area. For more resources and support while balancing working from home and home schooling, visit our website at: https://corinthianbenefits.co.uk. If you are an employer, ask yourself what you’re doing to support your employees during this difficult time.

As we are operating primarily remotely at the moment, we can offer a telephone call, or video Zoom to answer your questions. Please contact us at [email protected] Tel: 0845 241 9541

We lost our beloved lurcher, Woody, on 2 November 2020 to kidney disease, aged 12.  Heartbroken, we agreed not to get another dog for a couple of years.

Sonny arrived from Spain 7 weeks later on 20 December 2020.

There was just such a void in the house, and with another lockdown looming I found myself looking at dog rescue websites.  Somebody mentioned rescuing from Romania, but I was drawn to the Spanish Stray Dogs website.  Rescue dogs in the UK get a better life than those abroad whilst waiting to be rehomed and it felt the right thing to do, to give a good home to one of these poor souls.

I fell in love at first sight with Sonny on the website within minutes. He was my kind of dog. Black and tan, with film star good looks. They said he was about 3 years old and his name was Fernando.  My husband agreed he was the boy for us – we renamed him Sonny and started the adoption process.

The charity Spanish Stray Dogs is excellent and really cares about their dogs, we had a virtual home visit and masses of advice and support on how to help these types of dogs adapt to life in the UK.

The date of his arrival drew closer – as experienced dog owners we know how much hard work a dog with behaviour problems can be, so we were quite apprehensive. The charity said he was a loving dog, but they also said a lot of the dogs can freak out at certain things and can leap 6 foot fences to escape!

We were instructed to pick him up from Cobham services at 1pm on 20 December.  We duly arrived and soon two vans with “Animals in Transit” on the side arrived.  Expectant new owners circled the vans to collect their dogs.  We waited patiently while dogs were got out of the vans, one by one, and handed over.

As the excitement was building, my phone rang and a man with a Spanish accent informed me that Sonny was delayed by 2 hours.  “Oh no, it’s ok, “I said, “he’s here now, we are just waiting for him to be got out of the van.”   The man said he didn’t know what I was talking about and repeated the 2 hour delay.

My husband went over to one of the men getting the dogs from the vans.” Are you with Spanish Stray Dogs?” He replied, “No, Mate, we’re Greek Stray dogs!”

2 hours later Sonny arrived.   He had been on the road for 30 hours and was shattered.  Just as lovely in real life, we popped in the car and bought him home.   He slept for 2 days solid, then he decided to let himself out of the utility room by opening the handle (street smarts) and came and laid beside our bed. He was home.

He is an absolute joy, a dream to train and already a much loved member of the family.

We are going to keep him bi-lingual, just for the fun of it.  Buen perro, Sonny, te amamos!

Significantly boosting employees’ communication about pensions could be as simple as changing the language used to describe them. 

A survey, by Invesco, Nest Insight and maslansky + partners, found some common misconceptions about pension savings, and identified the barriers when it comes to engaging with workplace finances.

Its five key findings were that:

  • 40% of the survey participants were unaware they could choose how much they pay into a pension
  • One in three participants thought AE contribution rates were the ‘recommended’ level of savings
  • 68% of savers remain at the default saving rate
  • More than half (52%) of those saving into a pension were unaware of government tax relief on contributions
  • 33% weren’t aware that their employer also pays into their pension.

This research suggests people rarely think about how much they are saving, and many don’t understand their different pension options.

Policy makers and pension professionals can make simple changes, particularly in the way they communicate with savers, to increase these engagement levels.

The research recommends that all communication follows four basic principles, that it dubs the four Ps”: positive, plausible, plain spoken and personal.

  • Positive: Too often, messages focus on how savers are missing out, not what they can get if they act. ‘You can’ is more likely to engage than ‘you should’.
  • Plausible: People are pragmatic. A credible presentation of the benefits of saving is more likely to connect than visions of a dream retirement.
  • Plain spoken: Employees want to hear what they will get out, not what they put in. Outcomes need to be shown in pounds and pence, not percentages. An estimated income figure, rather than pot size, was found to be most helpful, enabling people to think about what lifestyle they will be able to afford relative to their current annual income.
  • Personal: ‘You’ is more engaging than ‘us’. People are more likely to want to make their own choices if they know they are on a ‘default setting’.

If you really want to improve knowledge and understanding of pensions, it is beneficial to state in plain English that people can contribute more into their pension, they can make a difference to their financial security when they’re older by rethinking contribution levels and that the contributions made when younger, work harder for people. For maximum efficacy, these statements should be backed by concrete examples using pounds and pence.

Below, we will go over some pension jargon, to help you gain a better understanding of what it’s all about.

Annual Allowance

This is the maximum amount of pension savings you can get tax relief on each tax year. In the 2020-2021 tax year the Annual Allowance is £40,000, for most people.

Annuity

A retirement income product that provides a regular income, either for life, or a set period of time.

Automatic enrolment

This means employers have to enrol their eligible workers into a pension scheme.

Defined Benefit pension

This pays a retirement income based on your salary and how long you have worked for your employer. Usually, this is only available from the public sector or older workplace pension schemes.

Defined Contribution scheme

Your contributions, and your employer’s contributions, are invested in the stock market. This builds up a pot of money, the size of which will vary based on the amount paid in, how long it is paid in for and how well the investments have performed.

Income drawdown

Also known as a Flexible retirement income product. This means you can use your pension to provide a regular retirement income. Although the income is not guaranteed for life, it allows you to change how much you take out, or to later switch the rest of your pension to a more secure retirement income product.

Lifetime Allowance

This is the highest value of pension savings you can build up before you incur a tax charge when you draw out your savings. For the tax year 2020-21 the Lifetime Allowance is £1,073,100.

Money Purchase Annual Allowance (MPAA)

This is triggered if you withdraw money from your defined contribution pension. It means you will usually only get tax relief on your pension contributions up to 100% of your taxable earnings, or £4,000, depending on which is lower.

Self-invested Personal Pension (SIPP)

This type of pension holds investments until you retire. It provides the same tax relief as other pensions. It is more flexible as you can decide what you want to invest based on your retirement needs.

State Pension

This is the weekly pension payment you receive from the UK government when you reach State Pension age. The amount you receive is based on your National Insurance record.

Tapered Annual Allowance

Your Annual Allowance is reduced (‘tapered’) if your adjusted income goes over £240,000 or your threshold income exceeds £200,000.

Tax-free lump sum

You can usually take 25% of your pension fund as a tax-free lump sum.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of pension jargon and feel more confident about your pension fund. When it comes to pensions or otherwise known as retirement savings, make sure you do your research, so you can get the most out of your retirement.

As we are operating primarily remotely at the moment, we can offer a telephone call, or video Zoom to answer your questions. Please contact us at [email protected] Tel: 0845 2419541

 

 

I hope that you, your families and colleagues remain safe and well, and that you were able to enjoy the festive break.  Despite the current lockdown, here at Corinthian we remain optimistic that 2021 will bring brighter times than 2020, and to once again let you know that we are all working remotely and we are here to help you and your colleagues.

As you may be aware the Chancellor Rishi Sunak, announced some additional support measures for businesses particularly in the retails, hospitality and leisure sector that have been forced to close.

The Chancellor has made available an additional £4.6 billion for the hardest hit businesses in the form of a new lockdown grant.  This is a one-off cash grant of up to £9,000 per business property to help businesses in the following sectors that have been forced to close:

  • Retail
  • hospitality
  • leisure

The funding is expected to benefit over 600,000 business properties across the UK and is allocated as follows:

  • £4,000 for businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or under
  • £6,000 for businesses with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • £9,000 for businesses with a rateable value of over £51,000

Local Councils will be given an additional £594 million discretionary fund to support other businesses not eligible for the above grant but that are affected by the restrictions. Those businesses should apply direct to their Local Authority for this.

I am also attaching an article (2 min read) that we recently published on our social media channels, which you may find interesting. As ever, please feel free to contact me or our Client Support team if you need us, and we will be happy to help.

Corinthian Vision 2020

2020 began for Corinthian Benefits as a year full of ideas and boundless energy. Our opening campaign was aptly named ‘2020 Vision’ – What is your employee focus going to be in 2020?”. Little did we know what 2020 had in store… for us, our families, friends, colleagues and, indeed, the world as we were, and continue to be, rocked by Covid-19.

Prior to the global pandemic, ‘furlough’ was an unfamiliar term to most, if not all, of us. Very soon, however, we became well acquainted with it. Our lives were propelled online, our kitchen tables became multifunctional office desks, we ‘zoomed’ to work meetings and got to know our neighbours better over socially distanced drinks.

The virus, lockdown and its ever-changing rules gripped our nation, its impact on livelihoods, social, financial and mental wellbeing was more profound than we could have ever imagined. Our 2020 Vision, like the missions of many of our clients, had to very quickly refocus. Here, at Corinthian Benefits, we swiftly took stock. We analysed the constant stream of Government briefings, issued client FAQs to aid understanding, held webinars, dispensed literature and videos, developed in-depth budgeting and furlough calculators. Our sole aim: To support our clients and meet their needs in every possible way.

Our ‘Time to Think’ team was launched and, with the help of our Marketing Agency, Big Orange Media, we were soon producing and sharing weekly videos from our home offices. No topic went unexplored, from home-schooling and fun ‘Friendly News’ videos to a practical and insightful wellbeing series.

Despite being so physically distant, it became evident that employers and employees now need each other like never before. Business owners are spinning more plates than ever while striving to ensure their employees can work safely and efficiently; both parties are pulling together and working harder to get through the pandemic’s peaks and troughs.

Understandably, many people say they can’t wait to see the back of 2020. Yet, before we do, we must take a look in the rear-view mirror, take on board the changes we have effected; the progress collectively made in adversity. Now, together with our colleagues, let us look forward to 2021 with hope, renewed energy and mutual support for the businesses we work for.

In hindsight, our 2020 Vision was precisely what we envisaged. Corinthian was here, and will continue to be here, to help your business see things more clearly.

Corinthian. For now. For the Future