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Client Stories


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On the trail of unpaid IHT

HMRC has set up a new specialist team to target estates of wealthy deceased individuals in order to check whether a greater Inheritance Tax (IHT) liability may have been due than originally calculated by estate executors. This clampdown has seen record amounts of unpaid tax being clawed back by HMRC with levels

expected to rise further in the coming years.


Record sums recovered 

Data obtained through a Freedom of Information request has revealed that a total of £326m was collected by HMRC as a result of targeted IHT investigations in the year to March 2022. This was the largest amount ever recovered and represents a 28% increase on the amount raised by investigators in the previous 12-month period.


Threshold freeze 

The standard IHT rate is currently 40%, paid on the value of any estate above £325,000; in addition, homeowners benefit from an extra £175,000 allowance if they pass on their primary residence to a child or grandchild. These thresholds, however, have been frozen until 2028, which inevitably means more people are likely to be dragged into the IHT net. In 2021–22, families collectively paid £6.1bn in death duties, up from £5.4bn the previous year, and monthly data up to December suggests the figure for 2022–23 will be even higher.


Complex rules

More than 13,000 individuals have been embroiled in IHT investigations since 2019. While some of these bereaved families may have acted deliberately, others are likely to have made innocent mistakes and simply fallen foul of IHT rule complexities. Two areas where mistakes commonly occur relate to the provision of lifetime gifts and the valuation of personal possessions. 


We’re here to help 

If you have any concerns or need advice on any aspect relating to IHT then do get in touch; we’re always happy to help.


The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. Inheritance Tax Planning is not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

Rising prices adding to retirement costs

It can be difficult to understand what funds you’ll need to finance the retirement you dream about and how this compares to your projected pensions income. It’s even harder to keep track when the cost of living is spiralling.


Setting standards

The Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association (PLSA, 2023) developed its Retirement Living Standards to help us to picture what kind of lifestyle we could have in retirement at different levels and what a range of common goods and services would cost for each level. The cost of a Minimum lifestyle for a single person has increased from £10,900 in 2021 to £12,800 in 2022, a rise of 18%. For a couple, an income of £16,700 required in 2021 rose to £19,900 (19% increase). Costs factored into this lifestyle include – £96 for a couple’s weekly food shop, eating out about once a month, a week’s annual holiday in the UK and some affordable leisure activities about twice a week. But there is no budget to run a car. 


Want more than the minimum? 

At the Comfortable Retirement Living Standard, retirees can expect more luxuries like regular beauty treatments, three weeks’ holiday in Europe each year and theatre trips. The weekly food shop for a couple in this lifestyle amounts to £238 per week. At this level, the cost of living increased 11% to £37,300 for one person and 10% to £54,500 for a two- person household.


How much do I need to save?

For a comfortable retirement PLSA estimate that a couple who are both in receipt of the full new State Pension would need to accumulate a retirement pot of £328,000 each, based on an annuity rate of £6,200 per £100,000. 


Your lifestyle, your choice 

If you’re concerned about your retirement planning we can help you prepare for the

lifestyle you want to enjoy. Retirement planning involves visualising your key goals for your retirement years and setting up a plan to help you achieve those goals through financial planning.


The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates, and tax legislation.

Equity release – continues to rise

An increasing number of older homeowners are choosing to release equity, latest figures (Equity Release Council, 2023) reveal, with cost-of-living pressures still the main reason for tapping into the value of their home.

Equity release allows over-55s to access some of the value of their home as tax-free cash. In total, homeowners used equity release to borrow £6.2bn in 2022, a 29% yearly rise. Since 2017, the market has more than doubled. It’s not only higher amounts being borrowed; there are now more individual equity release plans too. In 2022, 93,421 people chose to release wealth from their property, up 23% from a year earlier. The number of new equity release plans taken out also rose by a fifth.

Everyday spending
Cost-of-living pressures continue to be the main prompt for people choosing to release equity. With household budgets stretched, equity release is a convenient choice for many older homeowners trying to meet rising bills.
Last year, more than half of new customers opted for lump sum plans, up from 43% in 2021. The average lump sum received was £128,382 in the final quarter.

Greater flexibility
The popularity of equity release reflects recent improvements for consumers. For example, in March 2022, new regulation was introduced to guarantee that all new plans with Equity Release Council approval give customers the right to make voluntary, penalty-free partial repayments to reduce interest costs.

The best for you

When considering equity release, it is important to weigh up your options and make sure it is suitable for your unique needs. Get in touch today to see how we can help.

As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments. Equity release may require a lifetime mortgage or a home reversion plan. To understand the features and risks, ask for a personalised illustration.


Commercial Property Market Review

Spring Budget – Investment Zones announced

On 15 March, Jeremy Hunt delivered his “Budget for Growth” focusing on four pillars ‘Everywhere, Enterprise, Employment and Education.’ Encompassed within the ‘Everywhere’ pillar, Mr Hunt spoke about the government’s plans for ‘Levelling Up,’ including the launch of 12 new Investment Zones or “potential Canary Wharfs”. For each of the eight zones in England, £80m of support over five years will be available for skills, infrastructure and tax reliefs. The locations identified in England are East Midlands, Greater Manchester, Liverpool City Region, the North East, South Yorkshire, Tees Valley, West Midlands, and West Yorkshire.


The remaining four Investment Zones will be located across Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland (at least one zone in each nation) with the incentives for these to be agreed with the relevant Devolved Administrations. 


The tax incentives correspond to those currently offered to Freeports, including:

  • Stamp Duty Land Tax relief for commercial property
  • Business rates relief
  • Enhanced capital allowances – deduction for certain qualifying expenditure on plant and machinery
  • Enhanced structures and buildings allowance
  • Relief against the cost of Employer’s National Insurance contributions for new employees.

Capital values decline in February

UK commercial property performance measured by the latest CBRE Monthly Index for February 2023, highlights that capital values fell by 0.5% in the month, with rental growth registering a very small gain of 0.2% and total returns flat at 0.0%. 



All three sectors registered declines in capital values throughout the month, with industrial, office and retail falling 0.6%, 0.6% and 0.3% respectively. Focusing on the industrial sector, South East located industrials experienced a higher decline than those in the rest of the UK. Capital value falls in the office sector were primarily driven by offices located outside of the capital, with values in central London falling 0.1% and those in the rest of the UK and outer London/M25 falling 1.2% and 1.4% respectively.


Industrial and logistics sector – a ‘significant amount of investment capital is sitting on the fence’

Take up of industrial and logistics space in 2023, according to Colliers recent UK Market Pulse, is predicted to fall to around 30m sq. ft, down from 36.9m sq. ft. in 2022. Colliers are attributing this predicted contraction to occupier cost pressures and depressed retail spending. Other key findings from the report highlight an expectation that online spending will remain elevated when compared with pre-pandemic levels, positive news for the sector. With supply for industrial and logistics remaining low, predictions suggest an increase during the year, with a ’healthy pipeline under construction and some more space being returned to the market.’ A ‘significant amount of investment capital is sitting on the fence,’

according to the report. It is a possibility that values will be pushed higher in H2 2023 as commercial tension increases.


Commercial property currently for sale in the UK

  • London has the highest number of commercial properties for sale
  • Scotland currently has 1,129 commercial properties for sale with an average asking price of £310,863
  • There are currently 1,711 commercial properties for sale in London, the average asking price is £1,290,721.


No. properties

Avg. asking price




South East England



East Midlands



East of England



North East England



North West England



South West England



West Midlands



Yorkshire and The Humber



Isle of Man









Northern Ireland



*Source: Zoopla, data extracted 22 March 2023


Commercial property outlook

Investment enquiries – broken down by sector


  • The headline net balance for investment enquiries fell to -30 in Q4 2022
  • Declines in investor interest were reported across all sectors during the quarter
  • Overseas investment demand was down within each sector compared to Q3 2022.

Source: RICS, UK Commercial Property Market Survey, Q4 2022


Capital value expectations – broken down by sector

  • For the industrial sector, the Q4 net balance reading of -18% marks the weakest figure for this metric going back to 2011
  • Capital value expectations fell across the office and retail sectors, posting net balances of -54% and -65% respectively in Q4
  • For the next 12 months, capital value projections are in negative territory across all three mainstream sectors.

All details are correct at the time of writing (22 March 2023)


It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. Information within this document is based on our current understanding and can be subject to change without notice and the accuracy and completeness of the information cannot be guaranteed. It does not provide individually tailored investment advice and is for guidance only. Some rules may vary in different parts of the UK. We cannot assume legal liability for any errors or omissions it might contain. Levels and bases of, and reliefs from, taxation are those currently applied or proposed and are subject to change; their value depends on the individual circumstances of the investor. No part of this document may be reproduced in any manner without prior permission.

Looking to buy? Get planning

Even in times of economic turbulence, the fundamentals of house buying remain mostly the same. For those looking to make a purchase in 2023, it’s never too early to start planning.


Why buy now? 

House prices have stayed high over the past year thanks to sustained buyer demand and restricted supply. Trying to predict future price movements is close to impossible; if you are in a position to do so, now could be the right time for you to take a step onto (or up) the housing ladder.


Preparation is key

It’s important to think about the whole timeline of house buying as soon as possible. Before applying for a mortgage, for example, it’s a good idea to check your credit score. Likewise, securing a mortgage in principle early in the process can give you a good idea of how much you’ll be able to borrow.


Know your price range

Using all this information can help you set your budget. When you start searching for properties in your chosen location, it’s useful to have a realistic estimate of what you can afford. Remember that the true cost of buying includes Stamp Duty, surveys, solicitors’ fees, removal costs and any extra furnishings you’ll need, as well as the headline house price.


Start saving

One of the most important steps towards homeownership is to save enough money for a deposit. Generally, you’ll need to have saved at least 5% of the property’s value in order to secure a mortgage. Start early and make the most of any help available, such as the 25% government bonus that first-time buyers can get with a Lifetime Individual Savings Account (LISA). 


To find out more about how you can make your home ownership dreams become a reality, get in touch with our team –

*As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments.

Selling your house this spring?

If you’re planning to put your home up for sale, there’s a lot to think about right now. As the first daffodils start to bloom across gardens and verges, the housing market usually blossoms too.

In 2023, with expectations of slowing demand and house price falls, it has never been more important to focus on the fundamentals of selling a house. Here are some things you should think about before the ‘For Sale’ sign goes up.

Buyers aplenty

The overall market might seem to indicate waning demand. However, to sell a house, you only need to find one keen buyer – and there are plenty still out there! The number of views of homes for sale on Rightmove soared by 20% between the week commencing 19 December and Boxing Day week (Rightmove, 2023). The “promising activity and familiar patterns over the festive period… are good signs for the year ahead,” commented Rightmove’s Tim Bannister.

Focus on what you can control

With house prices forecast to fall, some potential sellers are rushing to the market and others are holding off until conditions stabilise. It is important, though, not to become fixated on market movements. Instead, focus on the things you can control. Making your house as marketable as possible before listing will help you maximise your chances of achieving a good price. 

Some easy ways to add value and ensure a speedy sale include:

  • Removing clutter before viewings. Your house shouldn’t look empty, but prospective buyers need to be able to picture themselves living there
  • Making minor repairs can reassure buyers they won’t have too much work to do when they move in. Small details can make a big difference.
  • Controlling the smells of your home can make a big difference to a viewing experience. A fresh spring scent might not seal the deal on its own, but it won’t put buyers off!

Ask the experts

Are you looking to move this year? Have you considered your mortgage options? Get in touch today to see how we can help get you moving this spring.

As a mortgage is secured against your home or property, it could be repossessed if you do not keep up mortgage repayments.

Inflation and Current Markets

Inflation rises unexpectedly

The Bank of England’s Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) has continued its efforts to contain price rises by sanctioning another interest rate hike but said it believes February’s surprise jump in inflation was due to “one off elements” which will probably fade quickly. 


Data released last month by ONS showed that the Consumer Prices Index (CPI) annual rate – which compares prices in the current month with the same period a year earlier – stood at 10.4% in February. This was a notable jump from January’s figure of 10.1% and significantly higher than the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of economists which had predicted the headline inflation rate would actually fall to 9.9%. 


ONS said the cost of food and drinks had the largest upward impact on February’s figure. Food prices rose at the fastest rate in 45 years partly due to shortages of some salad and vegetable items, while higher food and drink prices in pubs and restaurants also pushed the CPI rate up. 


Prior to the unexpected inflation jump, analysts had been evenly divided over the outcome of March’s MPC deliberations. However, after release of the inflation data, a rate rise seemed

inevitable and the MPC duly obliged, increasing Bank Rate by 0.25 percentage points on 23 March, the eleventh rise in a row. 


Minutes to the MPC meeting played down the significance of February’s resurgence in inflation, reiterating the Committee’s belief that CPI is ‘likely to fall sharply’ across the rest of this year. Indeed, the minutes stated that inflation is expected  to decline to a lower rate than previously anticipated due to the Chancellor’s ‘Energy Price Guarantee’ Budget announcement and further falls in wholesale energy prices, prompting speculation that the MPC may now pause its run of rate hikes. The Committee’s next decision will be announced on 11 May.



UK markets responded positively at month end after the UK’s 2022 Q4 GDP data was revised upwards, indicating that a recession had been avoided in the second half of 2022. Slower-than-expected inflation data in the US added to hopes of a pause in interest rate hikes from the Federal Reserve.


In the UK, the FTSE 100 ended March on 7,631.74, a loss of 3.10% in the month. The domestically focused FTSE 250 closed the month down 4.90% on 18,928.30, while the FTSE AIM closed March on 809.27, a monthly loss of 5.83%. 


Across the pond, the Dow Jones index closed March up 1.89% on 33,274.15, while the NASDAQ closed the month up 6.69% on 12,221.91. On the continent, the Euro Stoxx 50 closed the month on 4,315.05, registering a gain of 1.81%. In Japan, the Nikkei 225 closed March up 2.17%, on 28,041.48. 


On the foreign exchanges, the euro closed the month at €1.13 against sterling. The US dollar closed at $1.23 against sterling and at $1.08 against the euro. 


Gold closed the month trading at around $1,979 a troy ounce, a monthly gain of around 8%. The gold price continues to rise as demand for the precious metal holds firm with expectations of the Fed easing interest rate hikes and a crisis of confidence in some major European lenders and US regional banks. Brent crude closed the month trading at around $80 a barrel, a monthly loss of around 4.5%.


Value (31/03/23)

Movement (since 28/02/23)

FTSE 100



FTSE 250



















It is important to take professional advice before making any decision relating to your personal finances. The value of investments can go down as well as up and you may not get back the full amount you invested. The past is not a guide to future performance and past performance may not necessarily be repeated. If you withdraw from an investment in the early years, you may not get back the full amount you invested. 

UK expected to avoid recession

Revised forecasts from the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR) suggest the UK will not enter recession this year despite households facing a record drop in spending power. 



Chancellor Jeremy Hunt unveiled the independent fiscal watchdog’s latest projections during his Spring Budget statement delivered to the House of Commons on 15 March. Mr Hunt declared it was a “Budget for Growth” before announcing updated OBR figures which predict that, although the economy will contract this year, it will not now see two consecutive quarters of decline and thereby avoid the technical definition of a recession. 


The updated figures suggest the UK economy will shrink by 0.2% over the course of this year – which represents a significant upgrade from last autumn’s forecast of a 1.4% contraction – with growth then expected to hit 1.8% in 2024 and 2.5% in 2025. This improved outlook comes in spite of a sharp fall in real household incomes which the OBR said was “the largest two-year fall in living standards since records began in the 1950s.” 



Prior to the Chancellor’s statement, the latest monthly gross domestic product figures published by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) had confirmed that the UK economy is currently performing better than analysts had feared. ONS said the economy expanded by 0.3% in January; this represents a sharp rebound from December’s 0.5% decline and exceeded the consensus forecast in a Reuters poll of economists which had predicted a growth rate of 0.1%. 


Survey data released towards the end of last month also suggests the economy is likely to have expanded across the whole of the first quarter. The preliminary headline figure from the S&P Global/CIPS UK Purchasing Managers’ Index came in at 52.2 in March, a second successive monthly reading above the 50 threshold which indicates growth in private sector output.


*Content is for informational purposes only.

Estate planning – Take Control

Inheritance Tax (IHT) is once again in the spotlight following the Chancellor’s decision to freeze IHT thresholds for a further two years until April 2028. Extending the frozen thresholds, together with rising house prices and soaring inflation mean that more estates are likely to be affected. 


IHT receipts on an upwards trend 

The latest IHT figures released in October make interesting reading. Total HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) receipts for April 2022 to September 2022 were £3.5bn, £0.4bn higher than in the same period last year. 


Not just a tax on the very wealthy

IHT is a tax payable on all your assets when you die and potentially on some gifts you make during your lifetime. If the estate is liable for IHT, it is usually payable at 40%. These days, you don’t have to be hugely wealthy to be affected by IHT – the hated tax can cost your estate thousands of pounds when you die. 


A reminder of the thresholds 

An individual’s current threshold, or nil-rate band, is £325,000. A couple (married or civil partners) has £650,000. Any unused nil-rate band can be passed to the surviving spouse or civil partner on death.


 In 2017 the government introduced an additional nil-rate band when a residence is passed on death to a direct descendant. The main residence nil-rate band is £175,000 and when added to the existing threshold of £325,000 could potentially give an overall allowance for  individuals of £500,000. 


To reduce the amount of IHT payable, many families consider giving assets away during their lifetime. Some gifts will be automatically free from IHT; for example, £3,000 each financial year, certain wedding gifts and gifts to charities. 


Getting the right balance between gifting money during your lifetime and ensuring you have enough for your future years requires careful planning. Expert planning can legitimately mitigate IHT, meaning you can pass on assets to your family as you’d intended.


If you would like more information on how to plan for your family’s future, get in touch with our team today –


* Content is for educational purposes only.  A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.

Your investment focus for 2023

Your investment focus for 2023

By any comparison, 2022 was tough for investors with a series of shocks impacting markets and, in 2023, uncertainties remain. One constant on the investment horizon, though, is the requirement to be strategic with your portfolio. A sound strategy based on careful planning; making purposeful decisions, based on thorough research and reliable processes, will stand you in good stead. 


Last year saw markets struggle with bouts of volatility as a combination of high inflation, rising interest rates and the war in Ukraine brought about challenging headwinds and markets sought a stable footing. As a result, fund inflows slowed while cash as a percentage of investors’ portfolios rose, prompting warnings that investors need to be aware of limitations to the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) for cash balances.


Identifying opportunities

With large amounts of money on the sidelines, using our knowledge, we aim to identify opportunities and position portfolios to benefit from recession- resistant companies in which we have conviction. Those who still have the capacity to invest should consider adding back to their portfolios in order to take advantage of any potential low valuations.


Battling inflation

Investors also need to be aware of the erosive impact of inflation on cash-based savings. In the current economic climate, anyone holding a significant proportion of their assets in cash, even with savings rates improving, will inevitably see the value of their wealth decline in real terms. In essence, equities offer a better potential defence in the battle with inflation.


Trust in our process

Experienced investor or not, staying calm during periods of market turmoil is never easy but adapting your mindset and focusing on investment strategy rather than market sentiment is vital. Investing in the stock market does clearly involve a level of risk but the adoption of a carefully considered strategy based on sound financial planning principles undoubtedly offers investors the best chance of success.


If you would like help to refocus your investment portfolio after a turbulent 2022, get in touch with our team at


*The value of investments and income from them may go down. You may not get back the original amount invested. A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down. Your eventual income may depend on the size of the fund at retirement, future interest rates and tax legislation.