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Weekend reading: The house that Jack built

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What caught my eye this week.

Hard to believe now, but when Monevator was born in the summer of 2007, passive investing with tracker funds was still a minority pursuit in Britain.

Few investors did it. Newspapers and magazines rarely wrote about it, except in a “oh if you can’t be bothered you could buy an index fund and just accept the market return (you loser)” sort of way.1

People had to be won over. The financial crisis didn’t help – it’s hard to make the case for index tracking when the index has just fallen 50%! All the talk was of clever fund managers who would pick through the rubble, absolute return funds and structured products touting upside without downside, and hedge funds that hadn’t yet posted a decade of lagging a cheap 60/40 ETF portfolio.

The US was way ahead of us, though. That’s because North America was where Vanguard founder John ‘Jack’ Bogle had conceived of and launched the first index fund back in the mid-1970s.

Long time horizons

The Accumulator joined Monevator after a year or two. He told me Monevator was the only site he’d found that regularly translated US passive investing ideas for an everyday UK audience.

My co-blogger turbo-charged our efforts to bring Bogle’s key insights to wider attention here.

In the meantime global stock markets began rising. Passive investing took off in Britain, too, as more people started to get it. Eventually, index funds went mainstream.

We were in the wilderness for maybe two or three years. John Bogle was in the wilderness for two or three decades.

The $1 trillion man

Bogle was questioning the value of traditional investment approaches in the early 1950s. He finally launched the first index fund in the 1976 – labelled by competitors as ‘Bogle’s Folly’.

In other words it has taken more than 40 years for Bogle’s principles to give us the highly-efficient investing that most Monevator readers take for granted today.

Talk about long-term investing!

John Bogle died this week. He was 89. You’ll find coverage of his achievements in the links below. The impression he made is as clear as his legacy.

It wasn’t a given that the inventor and populariser of the low-cost index fund would be a humble, inspiring, and tenacious individual. Tracker funds are essentially run by computers. Their progress would probably have been assured eventually, simply on account of the remorseless reality of their mathematical cost advantage.

But happily, on top of that, index funds were championed by perhaps the greatest investor of all time – at least in terms of money he’s saved the world’s savers.

It’s been estimated Bogle’s innovations will have left investors with an extra $1 trillion in their accounts by 2023.

Good luck getting that sort of edge out of the latest Top Funds To Buy in 2019 list.

Think different

If our website has patron saints, I’d say they are Jack Bogle and Warren Buffett.

These two men are more similar than you might suppose.

Warren Buffett – probably the greatest active investing individual the world will ever see – urges us to use index funds. On his death his wife’s money will be put into a tracker fund run by Vanguard. Buffett recently won a 10-year bet pitching cheap index funds against handpicked hedge funds. Convinced of the index fund’s primacy, this week he said Bogle had done more for the individual investor than anyone else he’s known.

Quite the contradiction then, but what of Bogle? He’s also not as easily dumbed down as some of his adherents seem to think. Bogle took the career path that led Vanguard to $5 trillion under management almost on a whim. He was not against active investing per se – more high costs and poor results. He had money invested in his son’s active fund. Bogle was a market timer, and he was happy to say when he thought stocks looked expensive. He also invested all his money invested in the US market – an anathema to orthodox thinking today.

As we inevitably march towards a far future where the vast majority of people run their money with the market in cheap index funds – following prices set by a diminishing handful of thrill-seeking stock picking winners and losers – it seems fitting to me that the man who started it all also contained contradictions.

Thank you Jack

In as much as they’d heard of him, for most people Bogle was a man who synthesized the latest academic thinking and his own insights to dream up the low-cost funds that will leave them richer in retirement. Cheers Jack!

But really he was a philosopher king for the ages.

As the Bogleheads say: “While some mutual fund founders chose to make billions, he chose to make a difference.”

Further reading:

  • “You cannot measure the quality of a man by the size of his bank account, but in John Bogle’s case, you can measure it by the size of your bank account.” – Rick Ferri, Forbes
  • John Bogle, who founded Vanguard and revolutionized retirement savings, dies at 89 – The Inquirer
  • “My ideas are very simple,” Bogle once said. “In investing, you get what you don’t pay for.”New York Times
  • Praise for John Bogle compounds, like his returns – Bloomberg
  • Jeremy Grantham: “What he meant to most people in the investment business was that he was a royal pain in the bottom… He was more concerned about the long-term benefits for society.”Bloomberg
  • CFA has made all Bogle’s papers free to read – CFA
  • “The only people who come across his message and then subsequently disagree with it are those whose careers depend upon their not believing.”Josh Brown
  • “Without a doubt, John C. Bogle is the greatest man I’ve had the privilege of knowing.” – Jonthan Clements, The Humble Dollar

[continue reading…]

  1. The Motley Fool website was a notable exception and an early champion of tracker funds, but it went in a different direction a few years into the new millennium. []

The Pension Protection Fund (PPF)

A photo of a real lifeboat, often an analogy for the PPF pension protection fund lifeboat

Back in the wild old days there were few protections for pension scheme members.

Long burnt into the public memory was the Maxwell pension scandal, for example, which saw around £400m of pension savers’ money plundered by a cash-starved newspaper mogul.

In the 1990s and early 2000s, greater consideration was given to protecting workers’ pensions. However it wasn’t until the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) arrived in 2005 that savers got bona fide protection.

Enter the PPF

The PPF – known colloquially as the ‘pensions lifeboat’ – was set up under the Pensions Act 2004 to protect people’s Defined Benefit (DB) pensions from being pilfered away.

The PPF has been a great success in preventing hundreds of thousands of people from losing their pensions when their companies went bust. Many big-name pension schemes have fallen into PPF over the years, including Carillion and Toys ‘R’ Us.

As of 2018, the PPF has picked up over 200,000 members and £30bn in assets under management.

How is the PPF funded?

Contrary to some righteous tabloid fury, the PPF is not funded by taxpayers. It is funded through a levy payable by almost all open DB schemes, and by investment returns on the assets it accepts.

That levy varies depending on how large and how risky a given pension scheme is. The largest, riskiest schemes pay the highest levy.

The levy is calculated in part every year, based on a valuation every three years (called the triennial ‘section 179 valuation’).1

Each year, the PPF issues a determination notice explaining how it will calculate the upcoming year’s levy. You need a brain the size of two watermelons to understand all the formulas.2

How do schemes fall into the PPF?

The starting point for entering the PPF is usually when the sponsoring employer (the company funding the scheme) thinks it’s on the verge of insolvency, or is insolvent.

It writes a polite letter to the PPF saying as much. How very British.

But insolvency alone doesn’t determine whether the scheme will go into the PPF.

First, the PPF starts an Assessment Period. This can take up to 18 months. During this time there are restrictions on the scheme (for example, no transfers out). In the background lots of smart finance people and lawyers look at how the pension scheme was funded (or not, as the case may be).

This Assessment Period culminates in what’s called a section 143 valuation.3 This valuation determines whether the scheme is ‘underfunded’ at the ‘PPF level’ or not.

A scheme will only transfer into the PPF if it does not have enough assets and money to pay for the same level of benefits that the PPF can provide (the aforementioned PPF level). It is deemed in this case to be ‘underfunded’.

If the scheme has enough assets to provide a benefit greater than the PPF compensation then instead the scheme must wind-up. It will normally seek a buyout from an insurer, which will provide the members a better deal than if the scheme fell into the PPF (sometimes called PPF+). The buyout process effectively sees the pension’s trustees hand the assets of the scheme over to the insurer. In exchange the insurer agrees to take on the liability of paying the scheme members their pensions.

Otherwise, where the scheme is underfunded, it falls into the PPF. The assets and liabilities of the scheme are again handed over by the pension trustees. This time the PPF takes control of the pension scheme and it pays out the scheme members’ pensions.

What happens to my pension if it goes into the PPF?

The PPF will pay you your pension if your scheme falls into its clutches.

The amount you get will probably be lower than if your scheme had not gone into the PPF.

The 90% level

There are two compensation levels: 100% and 90%.

If you have reached Normal Retirement Age (NRA) prior to the employer going insolvent then you get 100% of your benefits on the insolvency date. Your NRA depends on the rules of your pension (called the ‘scheme rules’). Usually the NRA is around 60-65.4

If you are younger than NRA, your pension payments are restricted to 90% of what you would have received.

The cap

A second way your pension can be reduced in the PPF regime is by the Compensation Cap.

If you are a 90% level member, your benefits are subject to a cap. The cap varies depending on your age. The PPF publishes the caps on its website, updating them yearly. For 2018, the cap is £39,006.18 per annum for a 65 year old.5

Increases may be restricted, too

A further reason your overall pension may be less than you expected is that the pension increases granted by the PPF are restricted. Let’s look at how this works.

With a DB pension, your benefit is built up – or in fancy pension language, accrued – each year you work. Depending on when you built up that pension, your pension is treated differently by law.

Someone who worked (and built up their pension) between 1985 and 1997 has their pension treated differently to someone who worked between 1997 and 2005. Your pension is split into blocks depending on when it was built up, and what law applies to it.

One of the legal provisions that differs between pension blocks is the rate of increase on your pension when it is paid.

When you take your pension (whenever that is) you should normally receive annual increases. These are designed to help your pension keep pace with inflation.

The minimum rate of these increases (if any) is set by law. The different rates for your pension blocks are illustrated below:

A diagram showing how different elements of your pension will be increased with inflation, depending on when they were accrued.

(Click to enlarge)

If your scheme goes into the PPF, the PPF pays your pension. Every year, while your pension is being paid, the part of your pension in the blue and red boxes in the diagram is increased by however much CPI has increased over the previous year (max 2.5%).6 Any other part of your pension isn’t increased (the green box).

For schemes that are not in the PPF, the increases you get each year depend on the scheme rules, but the minimum increases are shown in the diagram above. The scheme can be more generous.

You should be told what blocks your pension is split into and the rate of increases for each block in your benefit statements. If you don’t know ask your pension administrator.

As a result of all this, if your pension scheme goes into the PPF, it is entirely possible for your annual increase rate to go from 5% down to zero – for example, if you accrued all your pension before 1997.

About some fella named Hampshire

Due to the effects of compounding, this reduction in increases can significantly reduce the value of your pension pot. The reductions in benefits can also be substantial for high earners who have built up a very large pension and thus get hit by the cap.

One gentleman was particularly upset when his scheme fell into the PPF. Given he was looking at a two-thirds decrease in his payment, I’m not surprised! This chap took the PPF to court. In late 2018, the ECJ ruled that it was unlawful to have to have a reduction greater than 50% (Hampshire v PPF).

The result is that it appears there will now be a minimum guarantee of a 50% compensation level.

However it’s early days, and the full impact of the case may take some time to be clarified.

What can I do if my employer looks like it’s going bust?

Remember first that even if your employer goes bust, this might not mean your pension goes into the PPF. As we discussed above, the scheme may be sufficiently funded that the scheme must arrange a buyout instead. In that case, your payments will be better than you’d get in the PPF.

Unless you’ve got some magical pixie powers, you can’t stop your scheme sponsor going bust. You can though monitor the situation in advance. For example, you could sign up for notifications from Companies House and check the information produced by the pension scheme.

That said you are very unlikely to be able to do much pre-empting. The decisions around pension schemes are typically commercially sensitive and highly confidential.

You could potentially consider transferring out. However that’s a story for another time, and transfers out of a DB scheme should not be taken lightly.

Note you should be informed if there is an inkling that the scheme may fall into the PPF – because you must be told, by law.

Closing up

Hopefully this short article has helped to provide a little bit of information around the Pension Protection Fund.

The PPF has provided much needed security for pension scheme members, including many who had saved all their working lives into their company schemes, only for their employer to teeter into insolvency.

For my money the PPF has been a great success!

  • Have a look at a very helpful PPF welcome booklet on the PPF website.

Read all The Detail Man’s posts on Monevator, and be sure to check out his own blog at Young FI Guy where he talks about life as a financially free twenty-something.

  1. I know it’s a bit jargon-happy to refer to specific sections of the Pensions Act, but a pet peeve of mine is when different pension valuations are thrown around without context. We’ll see shortly why is important to differentiate between different valuations. []
  2. Also known as being an actuary – I’m not jealous, really. []
  3. Yes more jargon. A section 143 valuation uses a set of specific assumptions. Over time it’s become very similar to the section 179 valuation I mentioned in a previous footnote, but with a few specific differences. []
  4. Likewise, if you have a widows’ or inherited pension the compensation level is 100%. []
  5. Meaning a benefit cap of £35,106 per annum = £39,006 x 90%. []
  6. That is, if inflation is more than 2.5% in a given year, you only get a 2.5% increase on your pension for that year. Conversely, if inflation is negative, your pension does not decrease. []

How to get a 14% return from RateSetter

Mixing RateSetter’s £100 bonus offer and high interest rates should deliver a tasty return

Good news! RateSetter has brought back its £100 bonus for investors who put away just £1,000 for a year. To get the bonus, follow my links to RateSetter in this article. I will also be paid a bonus by RateSetter if you sign up via one of these ‘refer a friend’ links to claim your £100 bonus. This doesn’t affect your returns – it is paid by RateSetter.

I won’t cause any readers to fall to their knees screaming “No! How can it be? Why didn’t somebody tell me!” if I say it’s been hard to get a decent interest rate on cash for the past few years.

Even the Bank of England’s rate rises haven’t done much. High Street banks always drag their feet in passing on rate rises.

But in this article I’ll explain how you can effectively get a 14% return on a chunk of your cash by taking advantage of a bonus offer from RateSetter, the peer-to-peer lender.

True, this very attractive potential return does not come without some risk.

In practice, no Ratesetter investor has yet lost a penny. Every lender has received the rate they expected.

Nevertheless, peer-to-peer does not have the same protections as traditional cash deposits, so you should think about it differently to cash in the bank. More on that below.

If you can accept the risk and have the spare cash to hand, I believe this is a pretty safe – though not guaranteed – way to make a good return.

It also exemplifies how being nimble with your money can enable you to achieve higher returns – even in today’s low rate world.

Not a few Monevator readers have taken advantage of this win-win RateSetter offer over the past couple of years!

About RateSetter

RateSetter is one of the new breed of peer-to-peer lenders aiming to cut out the banks by acting as a matchmaker between ordinary savers and borrowers like you and me.

Rates change all the time, but as I write you can get up to 5.4% as a lender with RateSetter by putting your cash into its five-year market.

Since March 2018 you’ve also been able to open a RateSetter ISA, which means you get your income tax-free.

Meanwhile borrowers can get a loan charging less than 4%. RateSetter claims that rate is competitive with the mainstream banks, and says banks are its competition (rather than it simply getting all the bank rejects).

RateSetter charges no lending fees, which is great news for savers like us. Borrowers do pay a fee.

Over £2.5 billion has now been lent through the RateSetter platform. This is no longer a tiddly operation.

And importantly, of the 66,942 investors who’ve lent money with RateSetter not one has yet lost a penny of their investment.

In 2010 RateSetter set-up a ‘Provision Fund’, which is funded by charging all borrowers a risk-adjusted fee.

Money from the Provision Fund is used to repay lenders whose borrowers miss a payment, for as long as there’s money in the fund to do so.

It’s a different model to the initial approach of rivals like Zopa. Back then you were encouraged to spread your loans widely and accept a few would go bad, reducing your return.

The RateSetter approach is different.

But as sensible people of the world, we should understand there’s no magic here.

Downside protection

Some loans will still go bad. And those bad loans will still reduce the returns enjoyed by lenders in aggregate – because the Provision Fund fee levied against borrowers as part of the cost of their loan could otherwise have gone to lenders through a higher interest rate.

However what the Provision Fund does is share those losses between all lenders, reducing everyone’s return a tad.

This makes your returns predictable. Your outcome should be dependent on the interest you receive – rather than being distorted by the poor luck of being personally hit by an unusually high number of bad debts.

Note that the Provision Fund does not provide complete protection against a situation where all the loans made at RateSetter default. Far from it!

Rather the Provision Fund aims to cover the bad debts predicted by RateSetter’s models, with a margin of safety on top.

At the time of writing, Ratesetter says:

  • Future losses would need to be 1.23 times larger than it predicts before investors’ interest income starts to be at risk.
  • Future losses would need to be 2.48 times larger than predicted before investors’ initial investment starts to be at risk.

What would happen if losses did exceed the RateSetter projections?

First the Provision Fund would be used up, and ultimately exhausted.

After that interest payments could be redirected to repaying capital. You’d lose on interest payments, but it could cover lenders’ losses on capital unless the default rate got too high.

Finally, in a doomsday scenario with very high default rates, capital could be eroded. I’d expect other investments like equities and corporate bonds would also be taking a pummeling. But cash in the bank would not.

At the end of the day, I believe for most people the Provision Fund approach is preferable to the lottery of individual loans defaulting. But don’t mistake it for a panacea or a guarantee.

You could conceivably lose money if defaults are much worse than expected. More on that below.

How to bag that 14% return from RateSetter

At last, the good bit!

RateSetter is currently offering a £100 bonus to new customers who invest at least £1,000 in any of its markets and keep it there for a year.

This £1,000 minimum investment can be made up of new subscriptions and/or transfers from other ISA providers.1

The £100 bonus is paid once that year is up. It will be deposited into your RateSetter account, after which you can choose to do with it (and the rest of your money) as you please.

Clicking on any of the RateSetter links in this article will take you directly to the sign-up page for the £100 bonus.

For full disclosure, RateSetter will also pay me a £50 bonus if anyone does sign-up via my links, which would obviously be very welcome! My bonus doesn’t affect your returns. It’s paid by RateSetter.

As for your £1,000 investment, you can put it into any RateSetter market, which range from a rolling one-month option to a five-year lock-up. But you must keep it within RateSetter for a year to get your £100 bonus.

To keep things simple, let’s assume you invest your £1,000 in the one-year market, which matches the period required to qualify for the bonus.

The one-year market is paying 4.7% as I type.

So after one year you’d have your 4.7% interest on your £1,000 and you’d also receive your bonus, which works out as a return of 14.7% on your £1,000.

Very nice!

I’ve ignored taxes here because everyone’s tax situation is different.

The good news on taxes is that:

  • You can now open a RateSetter ISA and collect the bonus. You can fund this with a transfer from another ISA provider. In an ISA the income you earn is tax-free.
  • Most people even outside of an ISA will pay no tax on cash interest, thanks to the new-ish Personal Savings Allowance that covers the first £1,000 of interest earned by basic rate taxpayers, and £500 for higher-rate payers.

Is this bonus too good to be true?

A great question.

Clearly it’s not sustainable for RateSetter to lend your money out at, say, 4%, while paying you an effective rate of nearly 15%.

(The cost is even higher to RateSetter if it pays me a bonus, too.)

RateSetter must be hoping this is the start of a multi-year relationship with its new sign-ups, after they become comfortable with its platform.

Once you get over the initial hurdle, peer-to-peer is straightforward. I’ve used these platforms for ten years now.

RateSetter will hope many customers deposit more than £1,000 and ultimately prove profitable in the long-term.

Like all peer-to-peer lenders, RateSetter will be aiming to scale as quickly as possible. Greater size will improve its margins and enable it to continue to meet demand in both the savings and loans market. Scale is a critical factor in virtually all money-handling businesses.

Finally, I expect the cost of this offer is allocated internally to its marketing department.

If 5,000 people sign-up for the bonus that’s clearly a lot of money – but it wouldn’t buy very much TV airtime. At least this way RateSetter can precisely calculate the return on its investment.

I do think it’s a smart question to ask, though, and it neatly brings us back to risk.

A final word on the risks

I have already stated that peer-to-peer lending is not a straight swap for a cash savings account.

The risks are higher.

Firstly and crucially, there’s no Financial Services Compensation Scheme coverage for peer-to-peer lenders. If you lose money, the authorities will not bail you out like they would for up to £85,000 with a High Street bank savings account.

That’s important because even though no savers have yet lost a penny with RateSetter, that’s not a guarantee they will not do so in the future.

The economic situation could change markedly, say, or RateSetter could get its sums wrong on bad debt.

In the most likely (in my opinion) worst-case scenario, the Provision Fund would not be able to cover all the bad debts. This would mean some loss of interest.

  • According to RateSetter, as of August 2018 the loss rate experienced to date is 2.29%.
  • It currently projects this to rise to 3.33%. (Loans take a while to go bad.)
  • If credit losses rose to 127% of expected losses, RateSetter‘s model indicates the Provision Fund would still cover interest.
  • In what RateSetter terms a severe recession, you’d get no interest but it believes you’d get your initial money back.
  • If we saw 400% expected losses, investors might lose 5.6% of their capital.

This illustration is summarized in the following chart:

Provision Fund figures correct as of 1st August 2018. (Click to enlarge)

Source: RateSetter

As for the worst worst-case scenario, like with any business it is possible to imagine catastrophic situations where you’d lose much more.

But to my mind these would probably require fraud or massive incompetence within the company, and/or a far deeper recession than anything we saw in 2008 and 2009. (Probably both at once – as Warren Buffett says you only see who has been swimming naked when the tide goes out.)

Obviously I don’t think that’s at all likely, otherwise I wouldn’t have put any money into RateSetter.

But a hint of what might have gone wrong came in 2017, when the company intervened to restructure several businesses and cover repayments from one via its own funds. This prevented its bad loans from being defaulted to the Provision Fund. This decision to intervene reportedly2 delayed authorization from the FCA. It has subsequently been granted.

RateSetter says: “This intervention was an exception and will not happen again.”

As I understand it, RateSetter has since withdrawn from the wholesale funding operations that produced this situation. (Wholesale funding is when a company lends money to third parties, who then lend those funds on themselves.)

You invests your own money and takes your choice.

Personally, I am happy with the risk/reward here. Not everyone feels the same. My co-blogger, for instance, doesn’t use any peer-to-peer platforms.

As a halfway house to reduce risk one could perhaps only invest in RateSetter’s monthly market, in the hope this would give you more chance of getting money out relatively quickly if say the economy was coming off the rails. The price is a lower interest rate, of course.

I think it’s worth stressing again that nobody has lost money so far with RateSetter. And even if the economy turns very far south, you probably won’t lose more than a small percentage unless something very bad or criminal happens.

That would be a much worse situation than with cash, but not a catastrophe.

However we all know by now that bad things can happen, and every investment can fail you. Do not invest money you cannot afford to lose.

RateSetter and your portfolio

Personally I have always taken a pick-and-mix approach to spread the risk with these sorts of alternative opportunities.

For instance, I have used both RateSetter and Zopa, I’ve invested a little in mini-bonds and retail bonds, I have money with NS&I, and I have taken advantage of high interest rates and cashback offers with accounts like Santander 1-2-3 to boost my returns.

When putting money into the riskier alternative options, I only invest a low single-digit percentage of my net worth with any particular platform. Like this I aim to mitigate the risks of being hit by some sort of systemic or company failure.

I’m not going to labour the point on risk further. Most peer-to-peer articles barely mention it, and I’ve devoted half this piece to it. Consider yourself warned, and read the company’s extensive material if you want to know more.

I think peer-to-peer and other cash alternatives are interesting additions to our arsenal as private investors. But they’re not slam dunk safe bets. I size my exposure accordingly.

Get your £100 while it lasts

So there you have it – a hopefully even-handed assessment of the risk and reward potential of this £100 bonus offer from RateSetter.

From here you’ll have to make your own mind up.

I do hope some of you found this article interesting and enjoy those bonus-boosted returns.

  1. Note: Terms and conditions apply with transfers, so check the small print. The money must be transferred over within a certain time period, which may be down to the ISA provider you’re transferring from. Just setting up a new RateSetter ISA with a fresh £1,000 should be straightforward. []
  2. See this article at Reuters: https://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-interview-ratesetter/ratesetter-recovering-after-asteroid-strike-bad-loan-discovery-idUKKCN1BN1PF []
Weekend reading logo

What caught my eye this week.

Got your passport ready and your bag packed for the last flight out of Heathrow when Britain goes all 21 Days Later on Brexit Day?

The good news is even I don’t think that’s going to happen. We’ll be in for more months of Dad’s Army amateurism should we leave with no-deal on the 29th March. But the reviled metropolitan elites will immediately put their brains towards sorting out the mess foisted upon them, and anarchy will be avoided.1

The bad news is Britain has slipped again in the Henley Passport Index. This ranking of how many countries a citizen can visit without a visa is now topped by Japan. Its popular citizens can visit 190 countries around the world visa-free.

Britain has dropped to sixth place – from the top spot in 2015 – though to be honest that isn’t disastrous. You can still visit 185 countries without a visa if you have a UK passport.

Despite the tilt towards nationalism in the UK and US (which has also fallen down the list) most of the world increasingly recognizes the power of hassle-free movement. In 2006 the average citizen could visit 58 countries without a visa. That has nearly doubled to 107.

Brexit surely won’t change things much – it’s unimaginable you’ll need a visa to visit the EU anytime soon – although I do expect we’ll be doling out more visas to the likes of India and China after Brexit.

We’ll need the workers, and they’ll demand visas in trade deals that we can’t refuse.

[continue reading…]

  1. Before someone says “So what’s the problem then?”, an analogy here is that an expert surgeon can give you a quadruple heart bypass, but that’s not a mandate to chain smoke between bacon butties for 30 years. []