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Southport and  Mersey Reporter -  Your free online newspaper service covering the Merseyside region - (Greater Liverpool).
Covering the news in and around Merseyside

MERSEY REPORTER

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Issue:- 1 March  2012

RETIREMENT NATION NEEDS AN EXTRA £86 BILLION A YEAR TO FEEL FINANCIALLY COMFORTABLE IN RETIREMENT

NEW research from retirement income specialist MGM Advantage reveals that the average retired person feels they need an extra £140 a week, or around £7,300 a year, to be financially comfortable. For the retirement nation as a whole, this equates to around £86 billion a year.  However, MGM Advantage says if people shopped around before accepting the annuity rate or product offered by their pension provider, this could increase their income by as much as 50%, helping close the gap.

Aston Goodey, Sales and Marketing Director, MGM Advantage said:- "Financially, these are difficult times for the retirement nation. Inflation has increased the cost of living, while returns on savings have fallen due to the impact of historical low interest rates. This environment makes it even more important that people take the appropriate steps to ensure they maximise the income from their pension and claim any benefits to which they are entitled.  With the continued pressure on annuity rates, people should be shopping around to ensure they secure the best product and rate possible. Many people are unaware they might qualify for an enhanced rate due to underlying medical problems, some as common as high cholesterol or high blood pressure."

MGM Advantage has published a checklist of things for people to consider when making important decisions at retirement:-

1. Claim all state benefits to which you are entitled, to check, go to:- direct.gov.uk.  Data suggests that pensioners are missing out on up to £5 billion a year in unclaimed pension credit, housing and council tax benefits, as well as attendance and disability living allowances.

2. Keep a track on any old personal or occupational pension arrangements, if you think you might have lost track of an old pension arrangement, you can check via the Department for Work and Pensions tracing service here.

3. You can check if you have any old savings accounts which you might have lost touch with over the years by going here.

4. Donít just accept the annuity rate offered by your pension provider. You should shop around for the best rate and you might qualify for an enhanced rate for pre-existing medical conditions

5. Seek professional financial advice as this will help you get the best product and rate for your individual circumstances, to find an independent adviser go to here.

6. You may have old National Savings accounts or Premium Bonds, to check for unclaimed prizes please go to here.

MGM Advantageís recent Annuity Index revealed that the UKís Retirement Nation could raise their income levels by over 50% simply by using the OMO when purchasing an annuity. While annuity rates are at an historic low, the Index shows that the difference in retirement income between the top enhanced annuity rate and bottom standard annuity rate for those aged 65+ with a £50k pension pot is 55.2% for men and 52.2% for women.

Breaking down retirement income needs on a gender basis, MGMís research reveals that the average retired man says he needs an extra £153 a week, compared to £127 for a typical retired woman. Looking at the regions, retired people in Wales claim they need an extra £8,835 a year, which is the highest in Britain. The corresponding figure for Scotlandís retired population is £5,791, which is the lowest in the country.

TOP CYCLIST MARK CAVENDISH GETS SOUTHPORT KIDS CYCLING

WORLD champion Mark Cavendish is encouraging kids, parents and teachers from more than 10 schools in Southport to get on their bikes for the journey to school this March as part of Sustransí Big Pedal.  The Big Pedal is the UKís biggest school cycling competition to get kids active and raise money for the charity Sustrans; with the top prizes up for grabs for the schools that involve most people.

Britainís top cyclist Mark Cavendish said:- "Itís great to see more people out and about cycling and I always smile when I see a family or a child on a bike.  The Big Pedal is a great Sustrans competition to get more kids out on two wheels. So many kids want to cycle so we should make it easy for them to get around by bike and to be fit and healthy.  It's brilliant to see Sustrans encouraging children from a young age to be happy, independent and free-range, and maybe even feel inspired to become future British cycling champions."

Nearly half of all children want to be able to get to school by bike but only four per cent do. The three week competition will show children and their parents just how easy it is to get around on two wheels.

Peter Foster Sustrans Regional Director for the North West said:- "Itís amazing to see so many schools in our area signed up to take part in the competition. Sustrans is helping thousands of children across the country to be out and about, active and independent, with the freedom to get around on foot or by bike. The success of last yearís competition proves just how much kids want to be able to cycle to school and we know for a fact that plenty of children continued to cycle to school as a result."

The race is funded by the bicycle industry through its Bike Hub. Phillip Darnton Executive Director of the Bicycle Association added:- "The future of cycling depends on every generation of kids learning and wanting to cycle. What better way to get started than joining in the Big Pedal. The cycle industry through its Bike Hub levy is delighted to fund this event for another year. 2012 is a very special year; the Big Pedal marks the start of the Summer of Cycling; a new campaign bringing together everyone who cycles and encouraging them to introduce one new-comer to cycling during the year."

To get your school involved in the Big Pedal go online.

Schools involved in the area are:-

Birkdale Primary School
Farnborough Road Junior School
Holy Family Catholic Primary School
Holy Trinity Church of England Primary School
Kings Meadow Primary School and Early Years Education Centre
Larkfield Primary School
Shoreside Primary School
St Gregory's Catholic Primary School
St Jerome's Catholic Primary School
St Philip's Church of England Primary School

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