The House of Commons has voted in favour of ruling out a no-deal Brexit after voting by a margin of 318 to 310 in favour of Caroline Spelman and Jack Dromey's amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement. The agreement, which is not legally binding, proposes to add the words "[Parliament] rejects the United Kingdom leaving the European Union without a Withdrawal Agreement and a Framework for the Future Relationship" to Prime Minister Theresa May's final motion.
The FCA is consulting on new measures to stop consumers losing out on pension income when they access their pension freedoms. The regulator has previously expressed concern about consumers moving into drawdown and holding their funds in investments that will not meet their needs. It wants firms to offer ready-made investment solutions, known as "investment pathways", to the estimated 100,000 customers that enter drawdown without taking advice each year. Smaller drawdown providers will be able to refer investors to another provider or the Single Financial Guidance Body’s drawdown comparator tool. The FCA says it expects firms to "challenge themselves on the level of charges they impose on investment pathways" and could consider imposing a cap.
£1.9 billion was withdrawn from pension schemes under flexible pension rules in Q4 2018, according to the latest figures from HMRC. With £7.8 billion withdrawn from 2.3 million payments through the year to date, 2018 has exceeded 2017 by £1.3 billion in withdrawals and 614,000 payments. These are record numbers but that's only to be expected as more people reach the age they can take a flexible payment and awareness of flexible options increases. Our big problem is that we don't have any 'what does good look like' benchmarks to compare these figures to, plus they are only a partial snapshot. “Billions of kinds of tax free cash payments are not included in these figures nor are many other pension withdrawals, such as small pot withdrawals or purchases of guaranteed income for life solutions. Nor do the figures tell us how many individuals have withdrawn money, how much they have withdrawn or how often.
Changes to pension credit could leave some couples £7,000 a year worse off, Age UK has warned. Earlier this week, the Government announced changes to benefits for mixed-age couples which will be introduced from May 15 2019. Age UK said the change could leave "some of the poorest pensioners paying a hefty price for having a younger partner". The charity said the changes effectively mean some couples may find themselves in the "absurd position" of being financially better off if they split up and live apart. It said this is because, once the change is implemented, the pensioner partner would, in many cases, be eligible for more money from their pension credit than they and their partner would get together from Universal Credit .
The housing market outlook over the next three months is the worst for 20 years, surveyors say. A net balance of 28% of Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) members expect sales to fall in the next three months. It's the most downbeat reading since records started in October 1998 and the pessimism is blamed on the lack of clarity around Brexit. Lack of supply and affordability also continued to affect the market. Sales expectations for the next three months are now either flat, with no change predicted, or negative, indicating falling sales, across all parts of the UK, the report said.