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Osborne: 'Free and impartial advice' over pensions

Chancellor George Osborne has said that "free and impartial advice" on pensions will be delivered by the Government using organisations like Citizen's Advice Bureau and Age UK.

Mr Osborne said the steps meant people could "make the right choices" and know that they are getting "good, independent guidance that is right for them".

Read: Pensioners to receive independent 'impartial' guidance

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Money Advice Service welcomes pensions advice role

Planning for retirement is a crucial life stage, and it is important that people feel well-informed and confident in the decisions they make, the chief executive of the Money Advice Service (MAS) said. Caroline Rookes added:

The Money Advice Service welcomes the Treasury's announcement that we will have a role in the provision of the retirement guidance guarantee.

We are pleased to have this opportunity to build on our existing work helping people as they approach retirement and with wider money issues.

– Caroline Rookes, chief executive of Money Advice Service

'Impartial' pensions guidance 'a real game-changer'

Millions of people will get free, impartial advice on how to make the most of their retirement savings under George Osborne's radical shake-up of the pension system. Pensions expert Ros Altmann, the Government's older workers' business champion, said:

The decision that guidance must be impartial and separate from the industry is a real game-changer and will help equip people to make the right decisions for them.

The challenge is now firmly with the industry to develop the products that people need, rather than simply the products they wish to sell.

– Ros Altmann, Pensions expert

Read: Govt to detail pensions overhaul with tax reforms

Govt to detail pensions overhaul with tax reforms

The government will publish new rules for the pensions industry giving retirees greater access to their savings and free financial advice, fleshing out reforms announced earlier this year that shook the share value of British insurers.

Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne.
Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. Credit: PA

Chancellor George Osborne caught Britain's pensions industry by surprise in March when he scrapped a rule forcing people to buy an annuity, a financial product which converts a retiree's pension pot into a guaranteed retirement income.

"It's right to support hard working people that have taken the long-term decision to save for their future and I'm pleased that the responses we had to our proposals on making pensions more flexible have been overwhelmingly positive," Mr Osborne said.

Chancellor dodges maths question from schoolchild

George Osborne refused to multiply seven by eight. Credit: PA

George Osborne has dodged a basic maths question from a primary school pupil.

Seven-year-old Sam Raddings asked the Chancellor if he knew the answer to 7 x 8 in a Q&A on Sky News.

Smiling, Mr Osborne swiftly replied that he had "made it a rule in life not to answer a whole load of maths questions."

In 1998 Stephen Byers, then Labour's minister for schools, wrongly answered that 7 x 8 was 54 when questioned on a BBC radio programme.

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What does national insurance pay for?

  • Dating back to 1911, national insurance was first implemented so working class people had some insurances against illness and unemployment.
  • This was expanded after WW2 to help fund the NHS and other social security schemes.
  • The Government has set national insurance at 12p for every pound earned.
  • It has grown up in parallel with income tax, which traces its roots to the 18th century and is administered separately.

Osborne wants radical tax shake-up after 2015

Income tax and national insurance will be merged into one "earnings tax" under plans the Chancellor is considering for the Conservative 2015 manifesto, it has emerged.

George Osborne
The Chancellor believes merging the two taxes will make the system easier to understand. Credit: PA

Reported in the Times, George Osborne is said to be planning to simplify the tax system by combining the two taxes, which come straight out of almost every worker's pay packet.

David Cameron's closest ally was said to be considering the change for last year's budget, but backed out because of problems integrating computer systems.

The move would mean basic-rate taxpayers handing over 32% of their earnings and higher-rate taxpayers returning 52%.

Employers’ NI contributions are likely to remain unchanged under the plan.

North to be offered 'devolution of powers and budgets'

Northern mayors could enjoy the same powers as London Mayor Boris Johnson.
Northern mayors could enjoy the same powers as London Mayor Boris Johnson. Credit: PA

Northern cities could be offered "serious devolution of powers and budgets" in return for electing mayors, George Osborne has announced.

The elected mayors of the North would enjoy similar powers to those of London Mayor Boris Johnson.

A referendum on the subject was held but rejected in 2012.

But Mr Osborne made clear that he was ready to offer a bigger carrot in terms of local decision-making power to tempt the cities to reconsider their opposition.

He said the combined economic and creative energies of Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Sheffield and Hull could compete on a global scale, just as the stars of their Premier League football sides could "wipe the floor with any competition" if they came together in one team.

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