Strange days indeed

As the year turned, we might have imagined that the decisive genera election result might bring some stability to 2020 after the turbulence of 2019. Some may have hoped we could turn our attention to pressing global issues such as climate change. But a new and even more immediate worry has eclipsed everything else: the Covid-19 pandemic.

As most of us adapt to working from home amid social distancing and concerns about the stocking of supermarket shelves, a strange new world is taking shape of online checking in with friends and family and keeping children focused on school work while balancing new work patterns where possible. The lockdown will be reviewed later in April, but meanwhile the police have temporary powers to fine people outside for any reasons other than those officially sanctioned. During this unprecedented shut down, many people will be fearing for their jobs and businesses and looking to make sure they have safety nets in place.

The postponed Budget turned into more of an emergency event as the Chancellor included the first of a raft of government measures for businesses and individuals struggling to carry on in the current climate. Over the following two weeks, Rishi Sunak appeared on our screens outlining additional coverage of wages, deferrals of VAT and help for the self-employed in a bid to ensure that the lives and livelihoods of most of the country can be safeguarded. The amounts are unprecedented and the economic fall out from the crisis already biting for many.

Amid the focus on the pandemic, there are still long-term issues that shouldn’t be entirely put to the back burner. In our Spring newsletter, we also discuss, the somewhat less dramatic but also important issue of how you might exercise your pensions freedoms in the light of data from the last five years since those options became available. New data is also available on the pensions gap for women. We also look at the increasing prevalence, benefits and pitfalls of intergenerational gifting. These may seem of less immediate significance, but they are no less important in the longer term.

Our next update will come in July, when we can but hope we are on the downward slope of the present crisis.