Meet the team…Sam
This week, we introduce Sam, our super Head of Design here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Sam!
My job is to… lead the Design team and ensure the work we produce for our clients is clear, creative, inspiring and accurate. I also work closely with the Digital and Production teams to make sure we’re all on the same page.
I’m known for… being organised, open and having an eye for detail.
On weekends, I like… spending time on the South Devon coast with my husband and our mad Spaniel Baxter.
Meet the team…Mollie
This week, we introduce Mollie, our outgoing Communications Consultant here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Mollie!
My job is to… make pensions easy to understand through the use of simple language. I’m not afraid to try and make it fun! I regularly meet with clients to ensure their communications strategy is on track and suitable for the needs of people like you and me.
I’m known for… my organisation skills, positivity and storytelling.
On weekends, I like… being outside running around Greenwich Park before heading into London town to see my friends, eat food and drink beer!
The new daily commute
With everything starting to slowly open up, people are thinking about how they will travel to work in future. A popular way to get to work is by bike - it’s good for the environment, good for the body and also good for the wallet. Here’s why…
Enter the cycle to work scheme!
The Government introduced the cycle to work scheme around 20 years ago. The aim is to encourage employees to make better lifestyle choices and lets the budding cyclist to spend up to £1,000 on bikes and equipment tax-free (hooray!).
With most employers, it’s an anytime benefit. So when you’re ready, you can sign up. Simple!
The money then comes straight out of your monthly salary, allowing you to immediately start saving on tax and National Insurance (NI) and get on your bike.
So how much is it?
For example, if you wanted to spend £1,000 on a bike, this is the cost breakdown (if you’re a basic rate taxpayer):
|The money you ‘give up’ monthly
|Savings per month
|Savings per year
|Total payment towards a £1,000 bike
If your gross salary was £2,000 per month, you would normally pay £640 in combined tax (20%) and NI (12%). With the £83.33 salary you’ve ‘given up’, your monthly tax/NI burden is only £613.34 which means you’re saving £26.66 on tax. Cha-ching! That’s more money in your pocket for fun stuff.
At the end of the hire agreement, you then have the option to own the bike outright. This will vary between providers, so it’s worth double checking the rules.
If you’re unsure of what to do, or where to find information think about the following:
- Ask a colleague – they might already know how the process works and can talk you through it.
- Log in to your online benefits platform (if you have one), but if you don’t, ask your HR representative on how to start the process of opting into the scheme.
- Don’t forget to read the Terms and Conditions of your Hire Agreement – there will be important information in there you need to be mindful of.
- Practise cycling on the roads – busy traffic can be quite scary so it’s worth going on a cycling course to learn new skills.
- Dress the part – make sure you have a helmet and attach lights to your bike. Safety is key!
Meet the team… Jamie
This week, we introduce Jamie, our savvy Web Application Developer here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Jamie!
My job is to… build applications that help people make sense of the data needed to run their business. If your spreadsheets are getting out of hand, talk to me.
I’m known for… asking thought provoking questions, and my growing collection of interesting t-shirts.
On weekends, I like… sitting with a quiet cuppa and devouring the newspapers. I recently started learning virtual 3D modelling.
Protect your financial self
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been reports of a 400% increase in scams as a result of coronavirus-related fraud. Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime have seen reports where there have been total losses reaching nearly £970,000. Don’t let it be you!
We’ve put together some top tips to help you protect your overall financial wellbeing:
- Set up ‘two factor authentication’ – this is to secure your online banking and/or shopping accounts. You would sign into your account using your usual password and then the second stage would send you a specific code to your mobile phone.
- Review your credit report – check for any unusual activity. ClearScore is a free and trusted website and has recently installed a ‘Protect’ function that checks if your passwords have been copied on the dark web. Other credit report websites such as Experian and Credit Karma are also available.
- Check your email address – see if it has been compromised in any online scams on haveibeenpwned. Simply type your email address in the box and it will tell you if there have been any data security breaches connected to it.
- Review your passwords – if you use the same one for multiple accounts, it’s worth changing it. You can download LastPass, a free, safe and secure app to store passwords as well as autogenerate them. Other password managers are available such as Dashlane and Keeper.
- Strange phone calls – if you receive a call from anywhere asking to confirm any personal bank information, HANG UP! To double check if it was real, it’s worth calling your bank directly using a trusted telephone number from their website. DON’T use the phone number they provide you with.
- Money Saving Expert – Martin Lewis has been working hard to provide fact-checked information and his website is kept up to date at www.moneysavingexpert.com.
- Phishing emails – emails with bad spelling, grammar and an urgent tone should be a cause for concern. Don’t click on any of the links included. Just delete the email if it looks suspicious.
- Smishing texts – just like emails, scammers can target your mobile phone. Ignore and delete any messages from numbers you don’t recognise.
Remember, if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is!
Meet the team… Lee
This week, we introduce Lee, our quick witted Head of Operations here at Concert.
Hi I'm Lee!
My job is to… look after production and ensure that the team at Concert have everything they need to create great work for our clients as well as all of our processes. I also look after some of our clients’ consultancy needs.
I’m known for… my project management skills, print knowledge and relationship building.
On weekends, I like… being on the golf course with friends or out in London with my wife. We also like to travel and get away as much as possible.
Decoding your tax code
We’re over a month into the new tax year and for some, the subject of tax can be confusing. Put simply, Income Tax is a tax you pay on your earnings – but, you don’t have to pay tax on all types of income.
You do need to pay Income Tax on things like:
- money you earn from working
- profits you make if you’re self-employed
- some State Benefits (e.g. Jobseekers Allowance, Carer’s Allowance)
- most pensions (e.g. State Pension, employer and personal pensions)
- rental income (i.e. if you own a house and rent it out)
As of 6 April 2020, the Personal Allowance didn’t change and remained at £12,500.
On the plus side, you don’t have to pay Income Tax on things like:
- premium bond wins or National Lottery
- interest on savings within your savings allowance
- some State Benefits (e.g. housing benefit, child tax credit)
- Individual Savings Accounts (ISAs) and National Savings Certificates
Most people in the UK have a ‘Personal Allowance’, which entitles them to a certain amount of tax-free income. This allowance is then translated into a tax code, but did you know that your personal tax code changes each year?
You can check your Income Tax online to see what your tax code is, how it is worked out and how much you’re likely to pay. Your tax code will usually start with a number and end with a letter. For example, L is the current tax code used for most people who have one job or a pension.
Each tax year starts on 6 April and ends on the 5 April the following year. Anyone who’s required to file a tax return will receive a notice letting them know they need to do this for the year that has ended.
For further information on money and tax in general, visit www.gov.uk/browse/tax. There’s lots of useful information on other topics such as how to deal with HM Revenue and Customs, Inheritance Tax and National Insurance.
Meet the team… Charlotte
Over the next couple of weeks, we shine a spotlight on Concert’s team who are based in both Bristol and London. It’s a good chance to get to know us and find out who we are what we do (while having some fun too).
If you want to get in touch to chat about our work and how we can help your members, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org
First up, we introduce Charlotte, one of our talented graphic designers here at Concert.
Hi, I’m Charlotte!
My job is to… create engaging designs to help simplify communications that could otherwise be overwhelming. I use my passion for design to create fresh artwork, tailored to each client’s needs and more.
I’m known for… my organisational skills, communication and openness.
On weekends, I like… baking healthy recipes, drinking Italian wine with my friends in my hometown of Bristol, and supporting Newcastle United FC on the telly.
Save at home while staying at home
During lockdown, we haven’t been able to go about our daily lives like we normally do whether it’s travelling to work on the train, buying lunch from the local sandwich shop or even Friday night beers. Have you found that you have a bit more disposable income? Have you considered saving it?
Being an early bird and paying into your pension from age 25 is better than waiting until you are 35 or 45. Bottom line, the longer you wait to contribute to your retirement savings, the more expensive it’ll be to catch up.
You could miss out on:
- Tax relief – this basically equates to ‘free money’ from the Government (depending on what your tax rate is).
- A helping hand from your employer – however much you pay in from your own pocket, your employer will make monthly payments into your pension savings too.
- Seeing your money grow (or not!) – your overall contribution is invested in a fund with a provider or investment company and it’s designed to work for you, to make its own money. Remember that with any investments, your money could go down as well as up and isn’t always guaranteed, so take this into consideration.
You should also think about:
- Timing – your money might run out sooner than you predicted (but not if you buy a guaranteed income for life). If you retire with a small pension pot and expect to live on a high income, or you live to a ripe old age, your money might not last.
- The State Pension – don’t just rely on this. You’ll only get this if you’ve made the qualifying amount of National Insurance contributions. Even so, by the time you retire, it might not be enough to live on alone, so you’ll need your own pension savings to help bridge the gap.
- Early retirement - you may have to retire earlier than planned. All being well, this won’t happen, but you may fall ill, or have to leave your job to care for a loved one. So, it’s really important that you have enough money to survive on if this happens.
And don’t worry, Friday night beers will be back. Hopefully soon.