Grandparents greatest christmas wish

Article date: 12 December 2000

BRITAIN'S PENSIONERS have one wish this Christmas - to seefamilies overseas they've not seen in years, a study revealstoday.

But if Father Christmas were to grant their wishes, he'd have tofork out over half a billion pounds in airfares.

More than a third of the nation's grandparents would like tovisit their families abroad this Christmas, but only one in tenwill be able to afford to see them, according to Norwich Union'sGlobal Families study.

And more than half say Christmas is the hardest time of year tobe apart from their family living abroad.

The research reveals that of the 2.4 million over 60s who havefamily living abroad, more than half have not seen them for morethan five years.

And while one in ten over 60s have embraced new technology anduse e-mail to communicate with their family abroad more than halfstill write letters to keep in touch.

Norwich Union's Global Families study also found:

  • Australia topped the poll as most common place for relativesto live - more than a quarter have relatives in Australia,followed by Europe and the United States
  • More than half of the over 60s have a child living abroad andmore than a third have a brother or sister
  • When visiting their family, a third of grandparents staybetween one and two weeks and only one in ten visit for longerthan six weeks
  • A third of all people say the cost of travel is the main thingthat stops them seeing their family abroad more often
  • A quarter of people would travel if they had a financialwindfall, but almost half would give the money to family

Daren Carter, head of equity release marketing for NorwichUnion, said: "Our study shows that 20 per cent of the entirepopulation over 60 have close family living abroad. And more thanhalf of these people have lived apart from their family for morethan 15 years.

"A third of people with family abroad don't travel because theycan't afford to, not because they don't want to. Our researchhighlights the fact that grandparents want to spend Christmas withtheir families, but simply cannot afford the cost of the trip."

Mary MacLeod, chief executive of the National Family andParenting, said: "Families are the most important thing in mostpeople's lives and at this time of year, family members of all ageslike to spend time together. With the nation's celebrations in fullswing, Christmas can be very hard for relatives who have to beapart.

"Research shows that contact between the generations is good forgrandparents and good for children too. The love and care thatgrandparents can give is an important ingredient in a child'sdevelopment."

Now Norwich Union offers a choice of equity release plans -which allow homeowners over 60 to unlock the cash tied up in theirproperties*. And one common use for the extra money is to visitrelatives abroad.

People interested in finding out more about Norwich Union'sequity release products should call 0845 300 2493 or talk it overwith their own Financial Adviser.

For further media information, contact Anja Kueppers or MatthewBuchanan at QBO on 020 7379 0304 or Louise Zucchi at Norwich UnionPress Office on 01603 684 506.

Notes to Editors:

Norwich Union commissioned an independent survey of 300 peopleaged over 60 who have family living abroad. The survey was carriedout in November 2000.

* Norwich Union offers two options for people wanting to releasecash from their home. The Flexible Cash Release Plan releases acash lump sum and the Flexible Income Release Plan enablescustomers to receive a regular income - or the option to take up to25 per cent of the money released as a cash lump sum as well as aregular income. Loans are secured by a legal charge on theirproperty.

There is nothing to repay during the customers lifetime unlessthe house is sold or they need to go into long term care.

The plans should be seen as a lifetime commitment. Substantialearly repayment fees may be payable if the loan is repaid for areason other than death or long term care needs.

Full terms and conditions or a personal illustration areavailable on request.

The income under a Flexible Income Release Plan is provided by aNorwich Union Immediate Life Annuity. The annuity has no cash invalue at any time. The income received under a FIRP is taxable assavings income.

Entitlement to state/tax benefits may be affected by taking outan equity release plan.

Norwich Union only advises on its own products.


CGU and Norwich Union merged on 30 May 2000 to create CGNU plc -the world's 6th largest insurer, the UK's largest insurance groupand one of the top-five life insurers in Europe with substantialpositions in other markets around the world.

CGNU's principal business activities are long-term savings,general insurance and asset management with worldwide premiumincome and retail investment sales of £26 billion and assets undermanagement of more than £200 billion.

The combined life and pensions, general insurance and retailfund businesses in the UK operate under the Norwich Union brand,while the institutional business operates under the Morley FundManagement brand.


Workings out for figure of half a billion pounds (paragraph2)

Average cost of return economy airfare in December 2000 for theeight destinations where respondents have family abroad (Australia,Europe, United States, Canada, New Zealand, Asia, South America,Africa)

Average cost is £679.13

Multiply that figure by 792,000 - which is 31 per cent of the2.4 million (the number of over 60's with family abroad that wantto see them this Christmas but cannot afford to)

TOTAL figure: £538 million

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