November Budget Overview 2017

Budget 2017 Overview

Round-up of key measures in chancellor’s autumn budget

Chancellor Philip Hammond unveiled a series of changes on 22 November 2017, with a focus on housing. Here’s a quick summary of the measures announced:

Housing

  • Stamp duty to be abolished on properties up to £300,000 for first-time buyers
  • £44 billion in government support for house building
  • Councils empowered to charge 100 percent council tax premium on empty properties

Personal tax

  • Tax-free personal allowance rises to £11,850
  • Higher-rate tax threshold increased to £46,350
  • Time limits for HMRC assessments of offshore tax non-compliance tripled

Business

  • VAT rate threshold for small businesses unchanged at £85,000
  • Business rates rise to be pegged to CPI inflation measure, not RPI

Pensions

  • Annual allowance to rise to £1.03 million from April 2018
  • Comprehensive summaries of the 2017 budget can be found on the BBC and Financial Times* websites.

*Subscription required.

Ask the expert

Clyde & Co’s Claire Petts discusses excess charges in medical indemnity

“It’s well established in many parts of the insurance industry that excess charges can reduce premiums. Vehicle insurance premiums, for example, can be substantially reduced if customers are prepared to pay a bigger excess in the event of a claim. If you’re confident that you are unlikely to have an accident, then you may feel that’s an acceptable risk to take.

With medical indemnity, there is a real possibility that a practitioner may be subject to multiple claims. If this happens, an excess charge that initially seemed like an affordable risk could become a significant financial liability, because it is payable on every claim. It’s important for medical professionals to bear this in mind when evaluating their options for medical indemnity cover.”

Winner of many awards, including Law Firm of the Year and Insurance Legal Firm of the Year, Clyde & Co provides legal services for PMP clients.

Good score

What our underwriter’s financial strength rating means

Why does “AA+” matter? If you’ve read communications from PMP before, you might have seen us mention that our policies are backed by underwriters who are rated AA+ for financial strength. We’re proud to be able to say this. But what does it mean? And in particular, what does it mean for a PMP customer?

If you ever face a claim and need the protection of your medical indemnity policy, underwriters will provide that protection. So their ability to protect you financially is critical. Standard & Poor’s (S&P), an agency that rates everything from countries to companies, uses a “financial strength” rating for insurers, which is an opinion about whether an insurer can “pay under its insurance policies and contracts in accordance with their terms.”

Our underwriter Berkshire Hathaway International Insurance Limited (BHIIL) scores AA+ on this rating. AA is the second-highest possible rating, meaning BHIIL has “very strong financial security characteristics, differing only slightly from those rated higher.” The “plus” means what you’d expect it to mean: that BHIIL has a high standing within the AA category.

For PMP customers, BHIIL’s AA+ rating gives you the peace of mind that if you need to use it, your medical indemnity policy is backed by recognised financial strength.

 

S&P Insurer Financial Strength Ratings

AAA Extremely strong
AA Very strong BHIIL
 A Strong
BBB Good
BB Marginal
B Weak
CCC Very weak
CC Extremely weak
R Under regulatory supervision
SD Selective default
NR Not rated

 

*Ratings from ‘AA’ to ‘CCC’ may be modified by the addition of a plus (+) or minus (-) sign to show relative standing within the major rating categories.

[Source for article and table] https://www.standardandpoors.com/en_US/web/guest/article/-/view/sourceId/504352

Around the world in how many days?

Long-distance sailing records fell fast in 2017 as yacht technology surged ahead

When Jules Verne wrote Around the World in Eighty Days in 1873, he couldn’t have imagined that sailing boats would one day be making the trip in half the time.

Yet that’s what just happened on 26 January 2017, when the French maxi-trimaran IDEC Sport arrived back in France having taken just 40 days and 23 hours to circumnavigate the globe and win the Jules Verne trophy. This superfast voyage, during which the 100-ft boat averaged an incredible 30mph, is just one of several record-breaking round-trips that have taken place within weeks of each other.

On Christmas Day 2016, Frenchman Thomas Coville took nearly 8 days off the singlehanded round-the-world record, finishing in 49 days. And at the end of the Vendée Globe race, which takes place every four years, winner Armel Le Cleac’h broke the solo monohull record in 74 days, finishing on 19 January 2017.

It’s a long way off the leisurely 313 days taken by Sir Robin Knox-Johnston when he became the first to circumnavigate non-stop in 1969. The records are tumbling fast today because of rapid advances in technology. Today’s speed machines feature hydrofoils to lift hulls out of the water, huge sails made from high-tech materials and sophisticated software that finds the fastest routes through complex weather systems.

How much further could these records fall? It’s hard to say. But one thing’s for certain – as with high-spec cars, this technology eventually “trickles down” to the kind of boats that amateurs and enthusiasts can sail, making the sport more exciting for all.

The age of consent

Montgomery judgement is still front-of-mind for insurers and clinicians

It’s over two years since the Montgomery v Lanarkshire Health Board case changed the process of informed consent between doctor and patient. In October 2016, the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) issued new guidance[1] for working with patients through the process of informed decision-making.

Although many professionals are becoming accustomed to the new consent process, legal commentators note that it is still very much a “live” issue. One legal and consulting firm predicts a rise in consent claims, suggesting that hospitals and clinicians need to take action to protect themselves. They even report hearing of Montgomery-related allegations being added to existing claims[2]. PMP’s legal advisers Clyde & Co, who won the first case after the Montgomery decision, have suggested that its effects “are yet to be fully worked through”.[3]

However well informed you are about this important legal shift, it’s always good to have access to support when you need it. PMP’s medico-legal helpline is available 24/7 to our policyholders should you ever have specific legal queries.

[1] Consent: Supported Decision-Making – a good practice guide https://www.rcseng.ac.uk/library-and-publications/college-publications/docs/consent-good-practice-guide/

[2] RPC Annual Insurance Review 2016, https://www.rpc.co.uk/perspectives/insurance-reviews/annual-insurance-review-2016, p20

[3] Discussion of alternative treatment options: it’s not optional, Clyde & Co, http://clydeco.com/insight/article/discussion-of-alternative-treatment-options-its-not-optional

More ways to enjoy the white stuff

The rise of winter sports alternatives

Not so long ago, winter sports meant little more than skiing. Then snowboards hit the slopes, opening up resorts to a new breed of thrill-seeker. But in recent years there’s been an explosion in creative ways to make the most of the winter sports season.

Some of the new ideas are great examples of lateral thinking. “Split boards” are snowboards that separate lengthways, so that you can a get a serious workout hiking uphill before reassembling your board and surfing down your powder run of choice.

Fat bikes mean that for keen cyclists, snow becomes an opportunity rather than a problem. As their name suggests, fat bikes feature super-wide tyres that offer great grip on slippery surfaces, opening up a whole new world of cycling.

Why not simply fly downhill on a blow-up board when the fancy takes you? Airboards are little more than high-tech cushions, yet with a bit of training you can hit 100kph on a downhill run.

With the limited space in this newsletter we can only scratch the surface of the seemingly limitless ways to slide around on snow in creative ways. We haven’t even touched on snowkiting (kitesurfing on the snow) or ‘skijoren’ (skiing while being towed by a horse). One thing’s for sure, though – if you’re planning for winter 2017-18, it seems there are more new sports to discover than ever before.