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Women’s pension savings alarmingly lower than men’s, study shows

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IN a revealing study conducted by Handelsbanken Wealth & Asset Management, a stark gender gap in pension savings across the UK has come to light, with women’s pension pots alarmingly worth only half as much as men’s. The average pension pot for women is reported to be around £37,500, significantly lower than the £75,000 average for men, raising concerns over financial security for women in retirement.

Key findings from the report, “Gender and generation: unravelling the wealth gap,” highlight a concerning disparity in pension savings and awareness. Nearly one-third of women have pension savings under £25,000, whereas this figure stands at only 16% for men. This gap is further exacerbated by a lack of certainty about pension values, with 33% of women unsure about their pension pot size compared to 24% of men.

The situation appears slightly more promising among younger demographics, suggesting a potential shift towards narrowing the gap. However, with only a third of UK adults confident about achieving a comfortable retirement, the need for enhanced awareness and proactive pension planning is evident. The gender disparity in confidence about future retirement is stark, with 38% of men expressing confidence compared to only 27% of women.

The research also delves into pension management habits, revealing that men are more likely to take personal control of their pension plans than women. This trend underscores the urgent need for increased support and education around pension planning, particularly for women, to ensure equitable financial security in retirement.

Christine Ross, Head of Private Office (North) & Client Director at Handelsbanken Wealth & Asset Management, emphasizes the critical nature of the findings. She advocates for concerted efforts to bridge the gender gap in pension savings, highlighting the importance of supporting older women and encouraging younger generations to engage with pension planning from an early age.

This comprehensive study sheds light on the pressing issue of gender inequality in retirement savings, calling for immediate action to support women in securing their financial futures.

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Johnston holiday lodges expected to be approved

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PLANS for 20 self-catering holiday lodges in the Pembrokeshire village of Johnston are expected to get the go-ahead next week.

An application before the May 21 meeting of Pembrokeshire County Council’s planning committee by Peter Rawsthorne seeks permission for the short-stay lodges and associated works on land behind The Larder, Vine Road.

The application, sited near a collection of single storey buildings associated with Silverdale lodge which are currently in use as temporary emergency accommodation, is recommended for delegated conditional approval.

A report for planners says: “The application seeks full planning permission for the siting of 20 short-term stay holiday lodges.  The lodges would be positioned on concrete bases either side of a central access road running through the length of the site.

“Comprising of either two or three bedrooms, each unit would have the benefit of an associated car parking space and raised veranda to provide access into the unit and an external amenity area.  The lodges will be finished with timber or timber effect cladding to the walls under a shallow dual pitched roof of metal sheeting with a UPVC framed fenestration and rainwater goods.”

It adds: “The proposal will generate some noise, odours and artificial light nuisance in comparison to a currently vacant site.

“Given the close proximity, at the southern end of the application site, to existing residential in Silverdale Close and Acorn Drive the Head of Housing and Public Protection has advised that a Noise Impact Assessment (NIA) should be required prior to the determination of the application to allow for the assessment of all noise emissions from the proposed development and for this to set out proposed measures of how to attenuate any noise nuisance.

“Consideration has been given to whether requiring such an assessment would be reasonable or necessary to make the development acceptable.

“It is acknowledged that the nature of the use of the site as proposed could generate some noise and disturbance, and that there is likely to be a heightened awareness to this for existing occupiers when the site is first occupied, compared to the current vacant use of the site or its previous use as an informal garden space for occupiers of the Silverdale lodges.

“However, the residential occupation of the space, albeit by short-term visitors who may have less regard for existing permanent residents, is a use typical of and expected in this service centre sized settlement and could be satisfactorily absorbed.

“Excessive noise and anti-social behaviour are matters which can also be dealt with by other legislative controls.”

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Tafarn Sinc community pub’s call to keep disabled access granted

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A PEMBROKESHIRE community pub, which earned the support of a Hollywood star, has been allowed to keep a disabled access walkway and restored platform used for performances by local choirs.

In a retrospective application submitted to Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, Cymdeithas Tafarn Sinc sought permission to retain works at the Tafarn Sinc community pub in Rosebush.

In its submission, the community group said: “An existing platform adjacent to the pub has been restored and slightly expanded; with a new access walkway installed.

“The walkway was added for Health and Safety reasons and allows both able bodied and disabled people to safely access the platform. The platform is used for a variety of activities, such as performances by local choirs.

“The platform was formerly railway platform on a small branch line, and has been restored to look as it did when it was operational.”

The works were undertaken in 2022, the application said.

Tafarn Sinc had been in danger of closing when the old landlord and landlady retired back in 2017 but a huge fund-raising effort that attracted worldwide interest – including support from Hollywood star Rhys Ifans – meant it is now owned and run by the local community.

Campaigners raised a staggering £325,000 in little more than three months to buy the pub and keep it open and at the heart of community life.

Other public figures like Huw Edwards, Jamie Owen, Dewi Pws, Dafydd Hywel and ‘Heno’ presenter Mari Grug gave their support, with £200 shares bought by people from all over the world.

An officer report for the scheme proposed said: “The pub itself is constructed from corrugated metal and has an historical, industrial appearance. Historically, Rosebush Railway Station was adjacent and to the west of the pub building, built as part of the same development in the latter 19th century.

“A section of the Maenclochog Railway and platform still exist and form part of the pub and village’s visitor attraction. An inaccessible platform mock-up of a family of passengers had existed prior to this current development.”

Recommending approval it said: “The scale of proposal is proportionate to the existing ‘railway’ features and will create little impact on the special qualities of the National Park.

“There is concern however that the proposal could create an amenity impact for which this proposal has not been assessed for. An appropriate condition restricting the use of the development to prevent harmful noise pollution is therefore included.”

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Council set to lease Haverfordwest airport in bid for financial stability

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SENIOR Pembrokeshire councillors are next week being recommended to lease Haverfordwest airport as part of plans to make the council-run facility, which had a circa £119,000 deficit last  year, cost-neutral to the authority.

Last year, Pembrokeshire County Council’s Cabinet, members heard the financial position at the council-supported Haverfordwest/Withybush airport deteriorated in 2022/23, with an out-turn position for 2022/23 of £238,000.

In March of this year, Pembrokeshire County Council’s services overview and scrutiny committee backed a recommendation that a lease to an existing stakeholder / established aviation company was pursued, including a wider stakeholder consultation.

A report before members at that meeting said the £238,000 loss had been reduced to an expected £119,000 for 2023/24 “following an extensive review of the operations of the airport”.

The report listed reasons for the halving of this deficit, including: an increased profit margin on fuel £40,000; increased landing fees £7,000; reduction in staff training £8,000; reduction in equipment and equipment maintenance costs £10,000; and a reduction in one off costs of hedges and sewers £53,000.

Following the scrutiny meeting, a more detailed recommendation is to be presented to Cabinet on May 20, and, if approved, would be dealt with under the delegated authority of the Assistant Chief Executive, with relevant input from officers.

The report before Cabinet says, following discussions with existing stakeholders: “It seems likely that the council would be able to agree a lease of the airport to an experienced and well-established aviation company who is an existing stakeholder with a good track record.”

The lease would be for an initial 10-year term, with a requirement to obtain/keep a CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] Cat II licence and at a market rent.

It adds: “This option would make the airport cost-neutral to the council from the day the lease is signed whilst also ensuring that an operational airport remains for Pembrokeshire to benefit from.

“The council intends to exclude Hangar 5 [indoor trampolines] from any lease as it is not part of the operational area of the airport and doesn’t house an aviation-linked business. This enables the council to keep the rental income from this property.

“The council also intends to include an option to take back, at no cost, part of the airport that may have the potential to be developed as a solar farm or industrial units.  Any staff currently employed at the airport would transfer to any new tenant/operator.

“Any lease would have to allow the operator to run the airport on the commercial terms of their choosing to give a chance of long-term sustainability, so, the council will lose full control of how the airport operates.

“However, any lease will require that the airport be maintained to an acceptable standard and that a CAA Cat II licence is maintained. If these terms of the agreement are breached, then the facility will return to the council.”

The report finishes: “It should be of note that an alternative proposal has recently been put forward by another existing stakeholder who does not have aviation experience.

“The proposal is one of a land swap whereby the council would exchange the airport land for other land owned by the stakeholder concerned. If this option were to be taken, the council would relinquish all its interest and any element of control it has in the airport, and accordingly there is no guarantee that an operational airport would remain in the county.”

It is recommended the former proposal is adopted; that the airport is leased to an existing stakeholder and established aviation company.

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