Deadline extended for National Insurance top-ups

Deadline extended for National Insurance top-ups

People have been given more time to plug gaps in their National Insurance record – to ensure they can maximise their state pension entitlement.

Initially, people had until 5 April to make voluntary adjustments for gaps between 2006 and 2016, but the cut off has been extended to the end of July.

The original deadline had led to blocked phone lines.

In general, people need 35 years of qualifying contributions to get the full state pension.

‘Surge’ in calls

Some people may have spaces in their National Insurance record, for example if they have lived abroad or taken time off for caring responsibilities.

Top-ups have been permitted, as part of the transition to the flat-rate state pension which was introduced in 2016.

But blocked phone lines to HM Revenue and Customs left some worried they would miss the April deadline, and led to the latest extension which the government said was to ensure nobody would miss out.

“HMRC and the Department for Work and Pensions have experienced a recent surge in customer contact,” said financial secretary to the Treasury, Victoria Atkins.

“We’ve listened to concerned members of the public and have acted. We recognise how important state pensions are for … Read More

Government-backed Taskforce is tackling the North East female entrepreneur gap

Government-backed Taskforce is tackling the North East female entrepreneur gap

Only 6% of high growth enterprises (HGEs), as defined by the OECD, across the UK were founded by all-women or majority-women teams

The Taskforce – established last summer – is particularly focused on increasing the number of women-led high-growth businesses in regions outside of London. It is identifying the main barriers in accessing high-growth capital, influencing high-growth investors and the wider business community, and establishing areas to stimulate regional opportunities based on robust data and engagement.

The data, collected by Beauhurst, highlights the barriers to women. Although companies founded by men and women work in the same sectors, and high growth enterprises (HGEs) with at least one female founder have higher turnover (£125m v £93.6m), the evidence indicates that they receive around 60% of the funding companies with at least one male founder receive on average. In the last year HGEs with at least one female founder received on average £5.78m per funding compared to £9.55m for HGEs with at least one male founder.

This follows the Treasury-commissioned Rose Review, which found that, if women started and scaled businesses at the same rate as men, they could boost the economy by £250 billion.

Minister for Women, Maria Caulfield, says: “Women … Read More

Regulators take over Silicon Valley Bank as failure raises fears

Regulators take over Silicon Valley Bank as failure raises fears

US regulators have shut down Silicon Valley Bank (SVB) and taken control of its customer deposits in the largest failure of a US bank since 2008.

The moves came as the firm, a key tech lender, was scrambling to raise money to plug a loss from the sale of assets affected by higher interest rates.

Its troubles prompted a rush of customer withdrawals and sparked fears about the state of the banking sector.

Officials said they acted to “protect insured depositors”.

Silicon Valley Bank faced “inadequate liquidity and insolvency”, banking regulators in California, where the firm has its headquarters, said as they announced the takeover.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), which typically protects deposits up to $250,000, said it had taken charge of the roughly $175bn (£145bn) in deposits held at the bank, the 16th largest in the US.

Bank offices would reopen and clients with insured deposits would have access to funds “no later than Monday morning”, it said, adding that money raised from selling the bank’s assets would go to uninsured depositors.

Investor flight

With many of the firm’s customers in that position, the situation has left many companies with money tied up at the bank … Read More

Young parents and over-50s will be beneficiaries in Hunt’s Budget billions

Young parents and over-50s will be beneficiaries in Hunt’s Budget billions

The chancellor is expected to deliver a multibillion-pound “cradle-to-grave giveaway”, using his budget on Wednesday to announce childcare and pension reforms.

Jeremy Hunt is to relax the rules on the ratio of staff to children in nurseries as part of a package of reforms that will make childcare more “flexible and affordable” for millions of families.

To address concerns that the sector is understaffed and underfunded, Hunt is considering a big rise in the subsidy childcare providers receive from the government to cover free childcare to which parents are entitled. It is understood the payments will increase by hundreds of millions of pounds.

To encourage more people to work in childcare, a sign-up bonus of several hundred pounds is being considered.

Hunt will announce that the number of children per staff member allowed in nurseries will increase from four to five, bringing England into line with Scotland.

He will raise the sum that parents on universal credit can claim for childcare, from £646 a month for a single child to £950, and from £1,108 for two children to £1,630. It has been frozen since 2006, a large real-terms cut.

Hunt has also tasked officials with re-examining a proposal put forward … Read More