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Covid: What are my money-back rights for holidays abroad?

The government is expected to lift some restrictions on overseas holidays in the next few days.

But with Covid still widespread, tourists will have to think carefully about their financial protection.

Where will I be able to go on holiday?

England will soon release a list of "green list" destinations, where people can travel without having to quarantine on their return (although they will have to take tests).

All other countries will be rated amber or red, and travellers will still need to quarantine after visiting them.

Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have not said when they might allow foreign travel.

Can I cancel my holiday if I would need to self-isolate?

There is always a risk that a green-list country could move to the amber or red list, although the government says it will give notice.

If that happened you would need to quarantine after the holiday - something that could be difficult for many people.

Operators do not have to refund you if this happens and you unexpectedly have to self-isolate on your return.

It is best to study their policies before booking, or see whether they can offer some support if you have already booked and want to cancel.

Will I be refunded if my holiday is cancelled?

If the government announces that travel to a particular country is not advised, then airlines and travel companies are likely to cancel any pre-booked flights or holidays there.

If this happens, you are entitled to a full refund, and you can choose to receive that refund in cash.

An airline should refund the money within seven days, although some people have had to wait longer.

A package holiday should be refunded, in full, within 14 days.

What if I make a decision that it's too risky to travel?

This is far less clear-cut. If you cancel, rather than the travel provider doing so, then you have no automatic right to a refund.

In this situation, it is worth contacting the airline or holiday provider to see what options you have.

Some may allow you to transfer to another date or destination, they may give you a voucher, or they may allow you to cancel and get a refund.

Will travel insurance cover me if I get Covid?

Travel insurers are offering different levels of cover. In part, this depends on how much you pay for a policy.

The majority will pay out if you test positive for Covid and have to cancel before you travel.

In most other Covid-related scenarios, only a minority of policies will give you financial cover, according to analysis by data specialists Defaqto.

For example, if a positive or missed Covid test stops you from boarding a flight back to the UK, only about one in 10 policies will cover you for costs.

If the Foreign Office advises against travel to a country, then all but a handful of travel insurance policies would be invalid.

Graphic - travel insurance policy cover during Covid

Why is this so complicated?

The rules are going to be fairly complex, given that the risk of Covid varies so much between different countries.

The government says it will publish a charter "that clearly sets out consumer rights and responsibilities when booking travel while Covid-19 measures remain in place".

It also says it expects travel operators to be "flexible" with customers given the circumstances.

 

source:https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51615412

Value of private property hits record level as equity release deals surge

With the value of private property on the rise, there are a number of equity release products available. This can help fund retirements and further investment for people aged 55 or older.

For the first time, the total value of UK private property surpassed £6trn, according to a report from the Equity Release Council. This happened near the end of last year as market activity recovered following the first COVID-19 lockdown. Discounting any mortgage debt, the amount of private property equity reached a record £4.6trn.

Regular mortgage repayments are below pre-COVID levels. This is likely due to those who have been negatively impacted by the pandemic. However, mortgage-holders still made £5.1bn worth of overpayments in the last quarter of 2020. Mortgage overpayments even topped about £192m per day. This shows that some households were able to put more savings towards paying their home off quicker.

Equity release options rising

Equity release can be used to free up some of the cash from properties and is available to those aged 55 and over. This involves releasing a lump sum of money from the property or taking out smaller amounts at a time. In recent years, there has been a rise in the number of people taking equity out of their existing home to invest in another property.

The number of products available in the equity release market increased to a record high. In the second half of last year, 100 new products were added to make 488 in total. This is over double the number of products available two years prior. Additionally, access to retirement interest-only mortgages improved in 2020 with over 100 products available for the first time.

David Burrowes, chairman of the Equity Release Council, says: “After the unprecedented upheaval of early 2020, the equity release market showed signs of recovery as households and businesses remained resilient against a challenging backdrop.”

Retirement planning

Property can play an important role in retirement planning. Often property investment is viewed as one of the top additions or alternative to a pension. Some pensions are starting to decrease in real terms. Many people on the verge of retirement are beginning to consider all the options available to them. And property investment comes out on top when investing for the long term.

Some retirees are using equity release as a way to free up money for retirement. Many have benefitted from the drawdown after seeing significant capital appreciation in their homes over the years.

“Accessing property wealth will play a vital role in retirement planning, both now and in the years to come,” he states. “For today’s retirees, it can make the difference between making ends meet or enjoying a more comfortable lifestyle by boosting their pension income, improving or adapting their homes life and paying for domestic care support.

“For younger generations, it can open up the possibility of receiving a ‘living inheritance’ to support their own financial goals, such as getting on the property ladder.”

Increasing property wealth

Long-term property investment is continuing to provide strong gains for many property owners and investors. In the UK, property tends to increase in value of time. This means the longer you own a property the higher your returns will likely be. Compared to historically low savings rates, property is a long-term asset providing a much higher level of stability.

According to research by Savills, the total value of the UK’s housing stock hit a record high of £7.56trn. Despite the challenging past year due to the pandemic, house prices have increased rapidly. And long-term outlook for investment in the UK property market remains positive for the coming years.

David Burrowes comments: “Property wealth ranks second only to pensions in terms of its importance to household finances across the country. The transformation of later life mortgage products in recent years has given people more opportunities to access property wealth at affordable rates.”

Source: https://www.buyassociation.co.uk/2021/04/26/value-of-private-property-hits-record-level-as-equity-release-deals-surge/

March is Free Wills Month!

Free Wills Month brings together a group of well-respected charities to offer members of the public aged 55 and over the opportunity to have their simple Wills written or updated free of charge by using participating solicitors in locations across England, Scotland and Wales.

The solicitors have all taken steps to help keep you safe from coronavirus.

An up to date Will written by a solicitor ensures your wishes are respected. It also avoids difficult decisions and legal complications for your loved ones. Free Wills Month allows you to provide for family and friends and leave a gift to your chosen charities too.A gift in your Will costs you nothing now but can make a difference for years to come.To take part in Free Wills Month please scroll down and fill in a few details and click submit, we'll only contact you about this Free Wills Month campaign (unless you choose further contact from the charities), you will then get access to the details of your local participating law firms.

Source: - https://freewillsmonth.org.uk/

GET A FREE WILL

GET A FREE WILL - WILLS & LASTING POWERS OF ATTORNEY

Throughout March 2021 For anyone aged over 55 https://www.saifeesolicitors.com/ #Wills #willsandprobate #willsandtrusts #saifeesolicitors
Landlords & Tenants

We at Saifee Solicitors can assist with your property needs and our specialists

in the following matters: –

Residential:

Commercial:

Landlord and Tenant:

Please contact one of our team on 0330 124 3083 so that we can assist you with any of the above.

National lockdown: Stay at Home

You must not leave or be outside of your home except where you have a ‘reasonable excuse’. This will be put in law. The police can take action against you if you leave home without a ‘reasonable excuse’, and issue you with a fine (Fixed Penalty Notice).

You can be given a Fixed Penalty Notice of £200 for the first offence, doubling for further offences up to a maximum of £6,400.

A ‘reasonable excuse’ includes:

  • Work - you can only leave home for work purposes where it is unreasonable for you to do your job from home, including but not limited to people who work within critical national infrastructure, construction or manufacturing that require in-person attendance
  • Volunteering - you can also leave home to provide voluntary or charitable services.
  • Essential activities - you can leave home to buy things at shops or obtain services. You may also leave your home to do these things on behalf of a disabled or vulnerable person or someone self-isolating.
  • Education and childcare - You can only leave home for education, registered childcare, and supervised activities for children where they are eligible to attend. Access to education and children’s activities for school-aged pupils is restricted. See further information on education and childcare. People can continue existing arrangements for contact between parents and children where they live apart. This includes childcare bubbles.
  • Meeting others and care - You can leave home to visit people in your support bubble ( if you are legally permitted to form one), to provide informal childcare for children under 14 as part of a childcare bubble (for example, to enable parents to work, and not to enable social contact between adults), to provide care for disabled or vulnerable people, to provide emergency assistance, to attend a support group (of up to 15 people), or for respite care where that care is being provided to a vulnerable person or a person with a disability, or is a short break in respect of a looked-after child.
  • Exercise - You can continue to exercise alone, with one other person or with your household or support bubble. This should be limited to once per day, and you should not travel outside your local area.You should maintain social distancing. See exercising and meeting other people.
  • Medical reasons - You can leave home for a medical reason, including to get a COVID-19 test, for medical appointments and emergencies.
  • Harm and compassionate visits - you can leave home to be with someone who is giving birth, to avoid injury or illness or to escape risk of harm (such as domestic abuse). You can also leave home to visit someone who is dying or someone in a care home (if permitted under care home guidance), hospice, or hospital, or to accompany them to a medical appointment.
  • Animal welfare reasons – you can leave home for animal welfare reasons, such as to attend veterinary services for advice or treatment.
  • Communal worship and life events - You can leave home to attend or visit a place of worship for communal worship, a funeral or event related to a death, a burial ground or a remembrance garden, or to attend a wedding ceremony. You should follow the guidance on the safe use of places of worship and must not mingle with anyone outside of your household or support bubble when attending a place of worship.Weddings, funerals and religious, belief-based or commemorative events linked to someone’s death are all subject to limits on the numbers that can attend, and weddings and civil ceremonies may only take place in exceptional circumstances.

There are further reasonable excuses. For example, you may leave home to fulfil legal obligations or to carry out activities related to buying, selling, letting or renting a residential property, or where it is reasonably necessary for voting in an election or referendum.

source: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/national-lockdown-stay-at-home?priority-taxon=774cee22-d896-44c1-a611-e3109cce8eae#detailed-guidance-on-the-national-lockdown

Immigration Solicitor

Are you looking for a Immigration Solicitor,  do you need guidance or assistance with VISA applications,  if so get in touch using any of the details below:-

Leicester:

37 Beaumont Street,

Oadby, LE2 4DA

0116 243 8852

 

Hounslow:

Office 3, Duke of Cambridge House,

1-3 Kingsley Road, TW3 1PA

020 3621 4545

General – 03301243083

 

Immigration: Visa applications open under UK's post-Brexit system

New immigration rules will be "simple and flexible", ministers have promised, as the UK's points-based post-Brexit system prepares to go live.

From Tuesday all foreign nationals, including from the European Union, who want to work in the UK from 1 January will have to apply online for a visa.

Those seeking a skilled worker visa will need a job offer, to be proficient in English and earn at least £25,600.

Free movement from and to the EU will come to an end on 31 December.

EU citizens already living in the UK by 31 December and their families do not have to go through the new system but instead can apply to the EU Settlement Scheme, and have until 30 June 2021 to do so.

If they are successful, they will be able to remain in the UK and claim the same benefits as UK citizens if they become unemployed.

Irish citizens do not need to apply to the scheme and will not require permission to come to the UK, as the UK and Ireland are both part of a Common Travel Area.

The UK left the EU on 31 January but has been largely following its rules during the subsequent 11-month transition period, as the two sides try to reach agreement over a trade deal.

As talks continue in London, the UK is stepping up its preparations for leaving the EU's single market and customs union at the end of the year.

The government has announced it is setting up a new Border Operations Centre, which it says will ensure round-the-clock surveillance of goods and passengers coming in and out of British ports for the first time.

Border preparations stepped up

Cutting-edge software will be used to gather information about the flow of goods and passengers in the hope of minimising the amount of "short-term" disruption at the border in the days and weeks after 1 January.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove said the new system, which will be manned 24/7, would enable the authorities to identify and get on top of bottlenecks "quickly and decisively".

Business groups have said delays at the border are inevitable given the looming changes to customs procedures while Labour said "glaring questions" remained unanswered about what businesses needed to do.

"The government is putting the burden on businesses to prepare for the end of the transition period when it has not explained what it is those businesses are getting ready for," said shadow minister Rachel Reeves.

"The government is re-badging a basic element of preparation but still can't tell us how many customs agents are recruited or trained or whether crucial IT is ready."

 

To tackle what the Cabinet Office calls the "challenges" of potential disruption at the UK border next year, a Border Operations Centre will use big data technology to try to "identify the root causes" of hold-ups to passengers and freight.

The software system is produced by the controversial US tech firm Palantir and will pull together information from different government computers to monitor the flow of people and vehicles across the UK border.

Palantir has courted controversy in the United States, where its systems are used by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

This has led the human rights organisation Amnesty International to warn of "a high risk that Palantir is contributing to serious human rights violations of migrants and asylum-seekers".

The company denies the suggestion and says it remains extremely concerned about protecting human rights, privacy rights, and civil liberties in general.

The UK government has stressed that Palantir will only process data in Britain and that strict measures are in place to protect personal information.

 

What is changing in immigration?

The UK's new immigration system will determine who can work in the country from 1 January.

Online applications for visas via a range of new "routes" will open on Tuesday.

Applications for skilled worker visas will be judged on the basis of a points system, which is modelled on the system in place in Australia for many years.

Points will be awarded for a job offer at the appropriate skill level in an eligible occupation, knowledge of English and whether applicants meet a salary threshold - which will typically be at least £25,600.

The cost of applying will be between £610 to £1,408 and people will have to show they have enough money to support themselves as well as having proof of identity.

Applicants will have to wait about three weeks to find out whether they have been successful.

Route for 'exceptional talent'

Home Secretary Priti Patel said the system would be "simple, effective and flexible" and enable employers to fill skills gaps while also placing a greater onus on firms to train and invest in British workers.

Ms Patel and other critics of free movement have long argued it has left British firms overly reliant on low-skilled workers from the continent and put applicants from the rest of the rest of the world at a disadvantage.

But unions have warned of a looming crisis over the recruitment of social care staff under the new rules and says action is also needed to support those foreign-born NHS workers whose visas are expiring.

Applications also opened on Tuesday for Global Talent, Innovator and Start-Up visas designed to attract "those who have an exceptional talent or show exceptional promise in the fields of engineering, science, tech or culture".

New rules for international students came into force in October.

The rights of the more than three million EU citizens already working in the UK are protected under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement signed by the UK and EU earlier this year.

As of 30 September, 2.1 million people had been granted settled status and 1.6 million pre-settled status - ensuring they can remain in the UK.

 

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-55133506

 

#Solicitors #Leicester #Hounslow #Immigration #Wills&Probate #LegalAdvice #FamilyLaw #PropertyLaw #Matrimonial #SaifeeSolicitors

Solicitors Leicester

Are you looking for a solicitor in Leicester or Hounslow? why not drop us a call an see how we can help you,  we provide the following services:-

Family & Matrimonial

Property law

Wills and Probate

Personal Immigration

Business Immigration

Business Law

call us on 0116 243 8852 for Leicester Legal Services and 020 3621 4545 for Hounslow Legal Services

Coronavirus: What powers do police have if people break Covid rules?

The police's role in the coronavirus pandemic is simple: to ensure we follow the new restrictions on our lives.

But in practice, that is a huge challenge for police who are being asked to monitor behaviour that, until March, was perfectly legal.

How do police enforce Covid rules?

Since March, police chiefs have followed a system called "The Four Es". Before fines are issued to rule-breakers, police will first:

  • Engage with people to ask why they appear to be breaking the rules
  • Explain the law, stressing the risks to public health and the NHS
  • Encourage them to change their behaviour
  • Enforce by issuing penalty notices, only as a last resort

Why can you be fined for breaking Covid rules?

The police have a legal duty to make sure the rules are enforced, alongside council environmental health and trading standards officers. And enforcement only works in law if there are fines.

If you break the new England lockdown rules, you could get a fixed penalty notice (FPN), the Covid equivalent of a parking ticket. Since March, almost 20,0000 have been issued.

These now start at £200, rising to £6,400.

Large parties can be shut down by the police - with fines of up to £10,000.

In extreme circumstances, you could be prosecuted and face an even greater fine imposed by a court. Similar rules apply in all parts of the UK.

Can police fine me for being in the street?

Yes. During the England lockdown, you must stay at home unless you have a reasonable excuse to be outside. Your home includes any property associated to it - such as a garden or shed - and also access to it.

The lockdown law sets out in full examples of reasonable excuses.

Police won't fine you for going shopping for essential goods, or to obtain a service from a business that can remain open.

And you're not breaking the law if you go shopping for someone else in your household, or a vulnerable person.

Will police arrest me for exercising?

No. There was enormous confusion in March over how long people could exercise for - and where - leading to Cabinet Minister Michael Gove pronouncing that he thought half an hour was enough.

There are no restrictions in England on how you exercise and for how long - other than you cannot do it in groups.

So you can run or a wander with someone else from your household or, critically, one person you don't live with.

Sitting on park benches is definitely NOT banned. But don't form a gathering if you do because...

Will the police fine me for mingling?

They might. This refers to the ban on "gatherings".

The last version of the restrictions made it a potential crime to "mingle". That language has now gone from the law - but the rules are far, far stricter.

You can no longer meet anyone indoors - other than those in your family, support bubble, people you care for, or for other specific purposes, such as an emergency, or to carry out work.

So, the rules ban social visits - but they do leave wriggle room for lots of the necessities of daily life.

Outside, two people can meet - the law can't really criminalise bumping into someone in the street. Groups larger than that are a no-no for the same social reasons. Again, there are exceptions.

Even if break the rules, how likely am I to be fined?

The Home Office has given the police an extra £30m to pay for specific Covid patrols in England and Wales. Home Secretary Priti Patel met police chiefs on the eve of the new English lockdown - and told them that they now need to "strengthen enforcement" to save lives.

The National Police Chiefs Council hasn't abandoned the Four Es - but expect more fines and more officers asking people what they are doing.

What about the rest of the UK?

The rules differ across the UK - but all forces follow the general principle of the Four Es.

Police will be expected to continue enforcing new rules:

  • Scotland has introduced a five-tier system and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is considering a wider travel ban
  • Wales will leave its so-called "firebreak" lockdown on 9 November - and it is introducing a new system including a general ban on travelling to England, other than for work
  • orthern Ireland might extend its own version of a national lockdown by keeping hospitality closed
  • Can police make me cover my face?

    Yes, and, again, you could face a fixed penalty notice.

    In all parts of the UK you must now wear one in shops. You must also wear them when out in a pub, cafe or restaurant when not sitting at your table.

    Staff and security guards have no formal powers to enforce the wearing of masks. However, they can stop you from entering or demand that you leave their property.

    You must wear a face covering on public transport in all parts of the UK, although some people are exempt. In London, transport officials can issue you with a penalty ticket.

    • What are the rles for face masks or face coverings?
    • Can police check whether I'm isolating?

      If you have returned from an overseas Covid hotspot, or have been told by the NHS Test and Trace system to stay at home, you must quarantine for 14 days.

      The police can now check the NHS Test and Trace database to investigate a tip-off about a quarantine-breaker. Police won't get to see your personal health records.

Leicester:
37 Beaumont Street,
Oadby, LE2 4DA

0116 243 8852


Hounslow:
Office 3, Duke of Cambridge House,
1-3 Kingsley Road, TW3 1PA

020 3621 4545


General – 03301243083


Email us:info@saifeesolicitors.com

Opening Hours: M-F 09:30 to 17:00
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