Chair, Dr. Anne Kelly, had the pleasure of welcoming Peter Dickinson to the February meeting at the Plas Hyfryd Hotel. He had prepared a fascinating presentation on how to help manage our money more effectively and make informed decisions about financial matters.
It began by looking at ways to achieve energy efficiency and thus help combat the explosion in gas prices. After briefly outlining the main causes of this, such as increased demand from Asia, the UK’s huge reliance on natural gas for our central heating and its use for power generation, it looked at ways to find better energy deals. He suggested first using an approved online price comparison site listed at www.ofgem.gov.uk and also checking that we are using the best method of payment for our energy supplies.
Most energy suppliers offer some form of assistance to their customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills and there are public companies; for example, the Warm Home Discount program and the Home Heat Helpline. It’s also important to make sure your home is energy efficient, through insulation and heating upgrades, especially for older properties.
For low-income households, there are initiatives to help with these improvements, such as a Pembrokeshire County Council Home Improvement Loan or NEST, a Welsh Government scheme offering a range of advice and support. support to save energy and maximize income, as well as free housing. improvements for eligible households.
To qualify for a whole-house appraisal through NEST, you must own or privately rent your home and establish that it is energy inefficient and expensive to heat. You will also be eligible if someone who lives with you receives a means-tested allowance or suffers from a chronic illness.
Help is also available from the government through winter fuel payments and cold weather payments for households that experience sub-zero temperatures for seven consecutive days between November and March.
Peter then discussed ways to ask for help with water bills. Organizations such as Watersure Wales, Water Direct and HelpU can offer assistance with paying bills and installing a water meter. In addition, there is a customer assistance fund which is available for households with arrears over £150.
Peter also highlighted the need to write a will to protect family members, as well as having a permanent power of attorney in place for personal financial affairs, health and welfare. Without APL in place, bank accounts are frozen, bills may not be paid, partners cannot sell goods, and life-changing decisions about medication or long-term care cannot be made.
Anyone can make a durable power of attorney free of charge online via Gov.uk, or using paper forms. In all cases, someone must sign the forms, including lawyers and witnesses. The APL must then be registered so that your lawyer is, if necessary, able to make decisions for you.
Peter then reminded us of how we can actually make money using cashback sites. Cashback is a fairly modern phenomenon, made popular by the rise of internet-centric affiliate marketing. Retailers and service providers are often willing to refund small amounts to websites (“affiliates”) that refer successful transactions to them. For example, Quidco is one of the leading cashback services in the UK, has over 10 million members in the UK and over £1 billion earned in cashback.
Peter’s presentation also provided the most insightful insight into a wide range of financial issues, ranging from debt issues, saving and borrowing, to bank accounts, national utilities, pensions and budgeting. . President-elect Jane thanked Peter for his most helpful and interesting speech.
The meeting ended with the AGM and a summary of the activities of the previous year, despite the numerous covid-related restrictions. Thanks were extended to Anne for her hard work as President over the past two difficult years. Anne then passed the baton to Jane Davies, the new president of the Narberth Ladies Probus Club.
The next meeting will take place on Friday March 4 at 11 a.m. at the Plas Hyfryd Hotel. New members are always welcome.