When Money Mail launched in 1966, our first headline was: ‘You slaved for your savings… now make them do the same for you.’
Today, more than 50 years on, we continue to champion thrift, prudent saving and careful financial planning every week.
Yet, as I write this, thousands of families up and down the country are losing everything they have worked so hard for — to care fees.
Betrayed: While ministers were alerted to the problem of finding a fair way to fund long-term care years — if not decades — ago, they have done nothing
Worst hit are those who have a relative diagnosed with dementia, where the cost of care can easily run into five figures.
But, while ministers were alerted to the problem of finding a fair way to fund long-term care years — if not decades — ago, they have done nothing.
Meanwhile, dementia sufferers are being forced to sell their homes to pay for their care, families face extra bills to keep loved ones close by, and private residents continue to fork out higher fees than councils looking after patients with no savings.
None of us knows what kind of help we will need later in life. Some of us will die in our own homes, while others might need round-the-clock care for years.
It doesn’t seem right that some will face catastrophic costs and others nothing.
That’s why the Mail is calling on our new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to set up a cross-party group to tackle the social care funding crisis properly.
It needs to consider everything from an insurance-type scheme, which could help pool this risk, to a host of incentives to help people save for the future.
In the meantime, Money Mail has compiled a series of essential steps families can take to protect themselves. You can find it here.
A cruel catch
While we are on the topic of thrift, 86-year-old Mary Morley should have been a brilliant example of how saving little and often can really add up.
For two decades, the former chambermaid, from Stibbington, Cambridgeshire, squirrelled away around £50 of her weekly state pension to ensure she would not become a burden on her family in later life.
She had no idea, however, that there are strict rules around how much you can have in savings when claiming housing benefit —and now her local council has confiscated almost all of it.
It is, of course, imperative that benefits are reserved for those who need them most.
But it is equally as important that those who are attempting to better themselves are not unfairly penalised.
The elderly widow had not lied on any forms. She didn’t have any savings when she first began claiming housing benefit after retiring more than 20 years ago.
But, by being frugal, she had managed to build up a nest egg of more than £30,000 and unknowingly breached the £16,000 limit.
Now, after all that hard work, her bank account is almost empty and she is struggling to pay her bills.
Punishing someone so heartlessly for saving too much sends a deeply worrying message.
Tax perk victory!
In cheerier news, Money Mail reader Peter has made my week.
After reading our article in last week’s edition about the marriage tax perk, he realised that he and his wife had been missing out.
The marriage allowance enables lower earners to transfer up to £1,250 of any unused tax-free personal allowance to their higher- earning partner.
It’s worth around £250 a year and you can backdate claims for up to four years.
Peter says: ‘I filled in the online form and then found out my wife could also transfer her blind persons allowance to me.
‘I rang HMRC and spoke to the most efficient person I have ever encountered. She ensured both applications went through and rang me half an hour later to say I would get a rebate of around £1,000 for the marriage allowance and £2,700 for the blind persons allowance — plus lower tax bills going forward.
‘And it’s all thanks to you guys. We all appreciate your efforts on our behalf.’
This is just brilliant news. If you have a personal finance victory to share, please write to me at Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email [email protected]