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'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

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. 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.

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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.

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.

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. 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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George Osborne tweets 'Northern Powerhouse' plans

Chancellor George Osborne has tweeted his plans to create a 'Northern Powerhouse' to rival London as he gives keynote speech in Manchester.

Economic growth is fastest in North, says Chancellor

Chancellor George Osborne has said the fastest growing economic activity right now is in the North-East.

Giving a keynote speech in Manchester, he said people were also joining the jobs market there at the fastest rate.

Despite being a Londoner, the MP, who represents Tatton in Cheshire, spoke of his love for the North.

Being a Londoner I am proud to represent a northern constituency.

I feel the buzz and the energy every time I’m here. And I see it too in the Treasury data."

– George Osborne.

Create 'northern powerhouse,' says Osborne

Chancellor George Osborne gives his keynote speech in Manchester. Credit: Pool

A new high-speed rail connection and better roads could create an economic "powerhouse" in the north of England to rival the success of London, George Osborne said today.

The Chancellor is proposing the new transport link between Manchester and Leeds to connect a collection of northern cities, which if combined could 'take on the world.'

He said he was prepared to back it up with money in the sum of '£6 to 7billion.'

He said: "It's a vision of how you create better road and rail links across the Pennines.

"We are about to commit, later this year, many billions of pounds to investing in our economy to try to bring together a vision of how the north of England can have this northern powerhouse."

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