Belfast Telegraph

A beer-drinking, entrepreneurial north coast OAP? Well, you're in luck

By David Ellliott

Non-smoking Coleraine pensioners, with a pot of savings, an entrepreneurial spirit and a penchant for both bingo and the pub must be celebrating today.

That's because the chancellor went out of his way yesterday to make life easier for "the makers, the doers and the savers" in the UK during his Budget statement, not forgetting a nod to a new enterprise zone in the north west town.

The big one was pensions, an area which hasn't had as much tinkering in years and one which handed over the baton of managing the nation's post work finances to the people who have paid into them ie pensioners.

By giving more say to policy holders as to how and when they draw down their defined benefit pensions, there's likely to be an initial withdrawal of cash from overall savings but Mr Osborne's plan is designed to do the opposite.

He wants to make such pensions more attractive to savers and, by making them more flexible, that should happen over time.

The more cynical amongst you might be thinking Mr Osborne was thinking of the upcoming general election with this policy when you realise the average age of the UK voter is just under 50. Shame on you.

The increase in the tax-free ISA amount for both cash and share ISAs to £15,000 from around £11,000 had less potential undertones and will indeed be a boon for savers who have taken to the increasingly attractive product over the last number of years.

For workers there's the widely flagged prospect of another £500 increase in the amount of money you can earn before you have to pay tax, something that alleviates the pressure on low income households.

But the biggest cheers of the day in Westminster was reserved for bingo, after the chancellor announced a cut in duty on the activity by half.

Full houses are what the extension of the Help-to-Buy scheme is expected to achieve, although that was an odd one given the property market in other parts of the UK, particularly London, has rocketed in recent months while Northern Ireland's has lagged behind.

And then there was the old favourites of fags and booze, the former going up by 2% above inflation and the latter cut by a penny a pint.

So in essence, move up to Coleraine, start up a business, save into a pension, play bingo, stop smoking and have a beer.

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