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How to make the most of your redundancy pay

by LLB Finance Reporter
26th Oct 20 8:03 am

Given the global impact of the coronavirus crisis along with many recent redundancy announcements, it is an inevitable and unfortunate fact that more redundancies are likely.

In fact, the Office for National Statistics have already reported that unemployment has surged to its highest level for more than three years to 1.52 million in August.

WEALTH at work provides money management support to help people understand their redundancy package, including ways to support their day-to-day finances and how to avoid common mistakes such as failure to pay down expensive debt. 

Below is an overview of some of the key areas covered in its workplace redundancy seminars, to help people understand some of the options available to them.

Taxation on redundancy payment – It is important to understand how much you will actually receive once tax has been paid. Usually the first £30k is tax free, with anything over this being added to your income and charged at the marginal rate. Please note, employee National Insurance is not deducted from a redundancy payment.

For example, someone who has an annual salary of £36k, has earned £15k so far this tax year and is offered £50k redundancy would owe £4,000 in tax on their redundancy pay.

This is because, the first £30k of their redundancy pay is tax free, but the remaining £20k is taxable. As they have earned £15k so far this year, even with the £20k added to this, they are still within the basic rate tax band, so tax of £4,000 is due on the redundancy pay (20% of £20k).

Please note, individuals could end up in a higher rate tax bracket, depending on their income and redundancy pay.

Review financial position and budget – Work out what assets you have, pensions, savings, ISAs, property and investments, and what liabilities you have e.g. mortgage, debt, childcare, insurance and utility bills.  Then look at any other household income and expenses. If the amount of money you need each month is more than the amount you have coming in, you can then work out what action you need to take to cover your costs.

The Money Advice Service has a great budget planner.

Debt repayment – If you can afford to, it might be worth using some of your redundancy payment to pay off expensive debts. There are many different types of debt with varying rates of interest.  Credit cards and overdrafts can have rates of 18 – 40%, with payday loans having rates of 1,500% and more!

For example, a debt of £3,000 with a rate of 18% APR, could take 10 years and 10 months to pay off if paying £50 a month, with total interest of £3,495 paid. If that monthly payment was increased to £100 a month, the debt would be paid off in three years and four months, and interest paid would be only £908. If this was increased to £300 a month, the debt would be paid in 10 months, with total interest of £252 paid.

Mortgage overpayment – Mortgage interest rates tend to be significantly lower than other debts, and can include payment holidays if you are made redundant. However, if you don’t have other debts, it may be worth overpaying on your mortgage.

For example – With a £200,000 mortgage which has a 3% rate of interest over 25 years, you could pay £84,527 in interest over the 25 years. If this is overpaid by £200 a month, the interest reduces to £62,905 over 19 years. If this is overpaid by £400 a month, the interest reduces to £50,209, over 15 years and 6 months, and if this is overpaid by £600 a month, the interest reduces to £41,825 over 13 years.

Can you afford to retire? – If you are nearing retirement age, you may consider the idea of retiring early.  Depending on your circumstances, this may be more achievable than you think. An individual could use their pension tax free cash to pay off any outstanding loans and mortgages, and as a result they may be able to maintain their standard of living.

For example, someone earning £30,000 per year, once they have paid income tax (£3,020), National Insurance (£2,460), pension contributions (£2,400), mortgage (£6,000) and loans (£2,400), they may end up with a disposable annual income of around £13,720. Realising that you may only need a retirement income of less than half of your  salary to maintain your standard of living can be an eye opener, and make retirement a more realistic option.

What happens to your company pension? – It is fine to keep your pension with your previous employer and it will remain invested and safe until you retire. Some people prefer to move their pension to their new workplace pension scheme, or a private pension. There are benefits to this in that all pensions are kept together in one place, however there can be a cost to transferring a pension; investment charges are not all the same and may not be lower, and the range of investment options vary between schemes. Make sure you check these things before moving your pension. 

Pay more into your pension – If you can afford to do so, it may be worth considering paying some of your redundancy payment into your pension to boost your retirement savings.  There are limits on the tax relief you can receive from pension contributions each year, so it will be important to check these carefully first.  For those approaching retirement, this may be a particularly attractive way of providing a final boost to the value of their pension pot.    

Beware of scams – Unfortunately there are some really unscrupulous people in the world, who won’t think twice about scamming someone out of their redundancy pay. If you are looking for somewhere to keep your redundancy pay beyond just your current account, make sure you do your research. Before handing over any money, always check the firm is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Jonathan Watts-Lay, Director, WEALTH at work said, “Redundancy can be a very difficult time and can be made worse if people don’t know their options.

“Some people don’t know that some of their redundancy pay may be taxed, while others don’t know what their monthly expenses are and therefore how long their redundancy pay needs to last if a new job isn’t round the corner.  Whilst paying off expensive debt may not be something that springs to mind, it can take the pressure off, and stop the debt from building up even more.”

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