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  1. All contractor rates being cut 20% from Jan 1 in the oil major I'm currently working for.
  2. I've been trying to get rid of my (share of a) house for seven years (long and bitter tale of woe) - completion finally set for today and the banks go t1ts up and can't process the transactions...
  3. I stand corrected - but is it not still the case that you can only take 25% as a lump sum? What are you allowed to do with the other 75%? Depends upon the sort of financial difficulties you find yourself in and whether any benefits would be available to you or sufficient for your needs.
  4. Your point? I'm simply saying evaluate the risk, consider the alternatives and decide what is best for you in your circumstances. I suspect too few people think about risks associated with pensions as they are sold the upsides by government and financial advisers and blinded by the thought of 'saving' some money that would otherwise be taken from them as tax. I'm just pointing out the downsides.
  5. Yes a pension is an investment with risk (a bet), but I think that some (many?) people don't view a pension in the same terms as a BTL, a trade on the stock market, a flutter on the horses or a punt on gold. I expect many get a pension as that is "what they are supposed to do" and then simply do not think about it anymore, telling themselves they've followed the advice of the government and financial advisers so they don't need to worry about their old age. With a pension the government will help subsidies your stake with a tax incentive but the hitch is that you can't get your chips out of the casino until you are over 55 and even then there are limits on how much and when.
  6. Indeed - I know people who lost on Equitable (don't know how much but they certainly weren't happy!). I have a family member who paid for nearly 30 years into a company pension scheme only for the company to go bust (not sure the scale of the hit he will take but it will be substantial) - the company was a multi-national, market-leader over 100 years old - he couldn't conceive of the company suddenly going under until it happened. For me the tax upside (which may not be as great as people think - depending on tax rates/thresholds when the pension is drawn) just doesn't outweigh the downsides and risks, most notably that of not having access to the money in 'emergencies'. I paid 'money I really didn't need' into a pension for 12 years then suddenly found myself in very different circumstances where access to that money would have made a tremendous difference. My life has now changed again - I have left the UK and will be setting up a company overseas - once again access to that money could help me massively but I cannot touch it. I do not plan on returning to the UK so now I will have the added uncertainty of exchange rate fluctations and who knows what hassles trying to draw the pension from overseas when the time comes. Due to the recent stock market slide, the pension itself is now worth less than I paid into it. All I'm saying is that people need to think carefully about the drawbacks instead of getting a pension just because of the prevailing wisdom that says "that's how you make provision for your old age". A pension is not the right choice for everyone.
  7. Just to put a counter argument… I would rather have the money in my control (albeit 40% less of it after tax) than locked away in a pension. The future may have a tendency to come up fast but is also has a tendency to be unexpected. I am no expert but AFAIK if you put the money into a pension: • You cannot touch any of it until 55 (although that can change, it was 50 when I started a pension so best not to make any plans) • At 55 you can only get 25% of it back • The remaining 75% has to be used to purchase an annuity • You only have a small window of time to purchase your annuity and if rates are bad at that time, tough! • The income from your annuity is subject to tax (so you are only deferring your tax and hoping that the bill will be less when you are drawing your pension – yes, this may be likely but who knows what may happen with tax rates decades into the future?) If a great business/investment opportunity comes along you can’t get your money out to take advantage of it. If you get sick you can’t pull the money out to pay for treatment or care (except for a small number of terminal diseases) or make your final days more comfortable. If a family member gets sick you can’t pull the money out to pay for treatment or care. If you go through a hard patch financially you can’t pull the money out to help keep you in your home, keep your business afloat, keep your kid in school or whatever. This is before you get into questions of what are you going to invest your pension in and whether it will actually give you any kind of return... See here for more: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ftse-100-index-unlikely-to-see-6900-level-again-for-15-years-596778.html
  8. I think that's the point I'm reaching. I was lucky enough to have had the material things... they're not all they're cracked up to be. One option may be to get the occassional job in the Middle East now I have contacts here. Few months of slaving away in the sun followed by long breaks somewhere with a more relaxed way of life enjoying skiing, kayaking, hiking, etc.
  9. I imagine NZ must feel pretty isolated and insignificant (on the world scale) to a youngster - which is exactly why I imagine it would be a nice country to live in. A colleague moved out to Oz with his family a year or so ago and seems to be loving it, although I've heard of plenty of stories of Brits giving up and heading back to the UK. I'll be looking for quality of life, not a mega-bucks job. Unfortunately in the UK you seem to need the mega-bucks job (with the stress and hours that go with it) to afford even the basics - hence not much scope for quality.
  10. Unfortunately I'm the wrong side of 30 for one of those 12 month work visas although it looks like I could get a visa if I got a job offer (degree educated, professional qualifications, work in IT). I've already made my break with the UK and I'm something of a nomad now so it's not exactly moving 'lock stock' or at least what the 'lock stock' consists of is little more than a few suitcases worth and a healthy bank balance Well, that and a house I co-own with my ex-gf but haven't lived in for three years and hope to be shot of within the next six months... but that's a whole other thread!
  11. Currently applying for an Irish passport. Part of my travelling may involve an overland trip from UK to OZ through places where Brits are not the most popular nationality.
  12. No, not planning to stay in the Middle East - I'm definitely here for the money, although it is an interesting experience for a couple of years. I plan to go travelling when I finish my job here (possibly April but chance of an extension) - by that time I can afford to take a long time exploring the world and seeing where I'd like to settle. Australia and New Zealand sound appealing but I'll reserve judgement until I've spent a couple of months getting to know what they're really like.
  13. I left the UK a year or so ago as my contract with a FTSE 100 was cut short (major retrenchment) and the first thing I was offered (through a combination of luck/word of mouth) was a job in the Middle East. Not massively convenient but availability of contracts in the UK was the worst I've seen it since 'going contract' over 10 years ago and while the rate was the same as UK there is no tax and all expenses are paid - nice! When I finish here I have no intention of returning to the UK. There are aspects of the UK I love and I have some ties there but as others have already said, the place is overtaxed, overcrowded, expensive, has poor weather for too much of the year and seems to be in terminal decline. It will either be one more job like this if I can get one or if not, a year or two bumming around the world trying to find something more fulfilling to do in a nicer environment. On the outsourcing of IT work: There are a lot of Indian IT workers on this project and I have to say they are pretty hopeless. Very little initiative, no attempt to work out what the customer actually needs (rather than what it thinks it needs), very poor communication skills and regularly reporting that a task is complete when it is not (telling the client what they want to hear). We have to modify our systems almost daily as they change/refine the way they want to implement things because they didn’t think things through properly or test things properly at the start of the project over a year ago. We often have to point out to them the problems with what they are planning to implement despite the fact they are supposed to be the experts in the system in question. I appreciate the above sounds racist but I’m afraid it is an accurate reflection of what I’ve encountered. I’ve seen a bit of outsourcing back in the UK and it seems that those taking the decision usually have more of a stake in the cost saving than actually seeing a delivered product and often have moved on to pastures new (based on their claim of cost savings) before the problems associated with the outsourcing become widely known and accepted.
  14. I'm an IT contractor and inclined to agree. I started contracting in the late 90's and have worked a variety of 'styles' of contract. Initially some on-site 9 to 5 stuff but all project based and as part of a loose 'consortium' and clearly differentiated from the permanent staff. When IR35 came in I changed my style of working to offering fixed prices on projects (i.e. payment on milestones/completion, not a day rate) and doing the work from home on my own kit. I have been IR35 investigated and it is not a pleasant experience (though they did 'clear me', as it was obvious from the way I was working at the time that I was operating as a business). I did later have to take a contract (through an agency) where I was sitting/working with the permies on a 9-5 basis on the client's site over a long period on what could have been considered the maintenance of an existing system rather than a stand-alone project. To most eyes I'm sure I appeared to be a 'disguised employee' however, when tough times hit the client was able lower my rate (on a take it or leave it basis - not sure how easy it is to do this with permies) and eventually cut my contract short several months (an employee would have got redundancy and the company would have had to go through a long drawn out process to show they had fairly decided who to get rid of). Personally I choose to work as a contractor as I don't like being a permie whereby my career/future is in the hands of incompetent managers and petty office politics. Yes, the money is a factor but I think I would still choose to contract rather than be an employee even if there were no difference in my take home pay. I would also argue that a main reason I can earn more as a contractor is that the work I do is very specialised and few companies would have enough concurrent projects requiring my level of skill to keep me gainfully occupied. I have also been in the position of hiring both contractors and employees for a company of my own and having contractors on the books was far less of a worry and provided the flexibility to increase/decrease capacity as required and I was happy to pay something of a premium for this. I had employees as well as some preferred to work this way and I felt it gave me a more stable base/core. If I could not have taken on contractors I would not have expanded the business as I couldn't be sure I would have enough work to justify permies over the medium/long term. In short, I think the ability to work as/hire contractors works for both companies and contractors and that contractors should be able to earn a higher rate based on the reduced obligations on the company (though IR35 and crazy UK employment laws have muddied the waters somewhat). As far as tax goes, everyone 'avoids' tax (remember, avoidance is legal, evasion is not). Do the permanent employees posting here take advantage of allowances, tax credits, child credits, etc? In doing so are you not 'avoiding' tax you don't have to pay? Aren't contractors just doing the same thing (avoiding tax they don't have to pay) by paying the greater share of their income in dividends? Also keep in mind that contractors would not be able to avoid so much tax were it not for the stupid UK tax system. If there was simply income tax (no NI and the hidden tax on jobs, Employer's NI) charged at the same rate on earned income, interest, dividends, etc then there wouldn't really be an issue. I'd far prefer that than the random IR35 system where you don't know whether or not you will be deemed a 'disguised employee' (in which case you will actually pay more tax than a 'normal' employee due to having to pay the Employer's NI yourself). I'd like to think that I can contribute relatively dispassionately on contracting and tax as I have now taken a job overseas where I pay absolutely no tax at all
  15. A few years back I hurt my foot. Strapped it up and drove (carefully) to A&E. Was seen relatively quickly, X ray revealed a broken bone but I was sent away with an appointment for the fracture clinic about a week later. Went to stay with friends (about 100 miles away) as I was obviously not too mobile. Wasted a day or two trying to get the appointment moved to the local hospital - eventually I was told to just (re-)present myself at the local A&E. Same story - x ray reveals broken bone, given an appointment for fracture clinic about 10 days later. Finally make it to fracture clinic (now nearly two weeks after the injury). Doc takes one look at x-ray and has a go at me(!) about foot not being in a cast, saying it should have been put in a cast straight away. No one took any time to explain to me how long I would likely be in plaster, how long I could expect it to be before driving, exercising, etc. Got so hacked off in the end I paid for a private consultation and x-ray just so I could get someone qualified to spend 15 minutes with me explaining the nature of the injury and expectations for recovery. Despite all the waiting (and resulting likely increase to overall recovery time) I'm sure this will still have been counted as 'within target'. The NHS has improved it's performance at ticking boxes but not at actually treating patients (based on personal experience).
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