Ann Widdecombe talks to ME & MY MONEY

Let's dance: Ann Widdecombe with Anton Du Beke on Strictly in 2010

Let’s dance: Ann Widdecombe with Anton Du Beke on Strictly in 2010

Ann Widdecombe, 76, is called a lot for her post-parliamentary profession as her time as an MP, having left Westminster to grow to be, amongst different issues, a TV character, pantomime common and, in fact, an alumni of BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, writes Angela Epstein. 

It was a present on which she lasted a barnstorming ten weeks. The collection additionally paid for the swimming pool in her Dartmoor house. 

The former Conservative member for Maidstone went on to seem on Celebrity Big Brother in 2018, the payment for which Ann says was ‘foolish cash’. It was rumoured to be £100,000. 

Despite her 23 years as an MP, and an extra 11 as an MEP, Ann was by no means referred to as to the House of Lords. ‘I used to be very upset,’ she admits, ‘however nobody has a prescriptive proper to go there.’ 

She was a member of the Brexit celebration from 2019 till it was renamed Reform UK in 2021. Ann rejoined Reform UK in 2023, which she calls ‘the one widespread sense celebration round’.

What did your mother and father educate you about cash?

MY mom was very fussy about financial savings – although for no explicit cause – and from an early age I had a robin-shaped cash field referred to as squawky: if you put cash in, it squawked. I moved on to a publish workplace financial savings account. But it did not actually final. If I’m requested if I’m a saver or spender I say I’m a spender, since I spend first and save what’s left. Savers do it the opposite manner round.

Have you ever struggled to make ends meet?

Oh sure, in the course of the credit score crash within the late-Nineteen Eighties and early-Nineties when mortgages went by way of the roof. At the time, MPs weren’t as properly paid as now, the allowances have been very tight and I had two properties: my flat in London and a tiny cottage in my constituency. So I actually needed to muddle by way of for a couple of years. I’d been an administrator on the University of London earlier than changing into an MP – not a banker or a lawyer – and but I nonetheless needed to take a pay minimize to enter Parliament.

What is the costliest factor you acquire for enjoyable?

Last 12 months, I took 11 members of my household for a vacation and safari in Kenya. It was pure enjoyable, a once-in-a-lifetime journey. I’d turned 75 and I assumed, properly, I’ve been round for 3 quarters of a century and there isn’t any assure I’ll get to 100. I had been to Kenya in 1989 when a pal was on the embassy there. I cherished it, did a safari and needed to do it once more. Although I nonetheless do not do holidays as a ritual. And earlier than this journey final 12 months I hadn’t had a vacation for 5 years. However, as a part of my work, I do give talks on cruise ships so I am going away free of charge. If I needed to pay for it, I would not do it!

What is your greatest cash mistake?

Probably the cottage I purchased for £56,000 in Sutton Valence in Kent once I grew to become an MP in 1987. It was tiny and all I might afford however I gave in to stress from constituents who needed their MP to personal a house within the space.

The downside was the allowances then have been nothing like they’re now. I already had a flat in London in Kennington (the place all of the MPs lived who could not afford a lot). So I needed to pay two deposits plus the capital repayments. It was fairly tough for a few years. That stated, some MPs took out interest-only mortgages and I used to be very glad I hadn’t as once I bought it, I had paid off a lot of the capital.

Game on: Ann as the newly elected Brexit party MEP in 2019

Game on: Ann because the newly elected Brexit celebration MEP in 2019

The greatest cash resolution you could have made

Well, I by no means lived as much as my Ministerial revenue which meant I paid off the cottage mortgage quicker. But undeniably the ultimate home I purchased in London, in 1999, was one of the best cash resolution I ever made. I had been pondering I would want to depart my flat for one thing larger to take care of my mother and father. So I went for a four-bedroom home with a backyard and a storage off the Old Kent Road. That was the quickest revenue I made on a property and was a strong funding. 

If I hadn’t retired to the West Country it could have been simply value seven figures now. I bought up in 2008 and was in a position to purchase one thing a lot larger – a five-bedroom Nineteen Seventies chalet bungalow close to Haytor on Dartmoor – for a similar worth. It wanted numerous work and I did not transfer in till 2010.

Do you save right into a pension?

The one factor I’ve received proper all my life was being very diligent proper from the outset a couple of pension. I all the time had occupational schemes and once I left my job at London University after being elected as an MP, I transferred it into the Parliamentary scheme and I labored lengthy sufficient to maximise the pension. I used to be the Pension Minister from 1991 to 1993 and I received this proper.

Do you make investments straight within the inventory market?

No. I can safely say I’ve by no means purchased a inventory or share. I’m not an excellent saver but additionally my father purchased shares in all of the nationalised industries after they have been privatised and it was fairly laborious to type out his will. I bear in mind pondering, I’m by no means going to get into this and by no means did.

How many properties do you personal?

Just one – in Dartmoor – which I purchased for the views (it wanted gutting). I can see proper throughout Dartmoor to Torquay. On a transparent day, the ocean sparkles and I really like sitting out on the terrace. Admittedly on a misty day I am unable to see a foot past the entrance door.

What was one of the best 12 months of your monetary life?

The 12 months I retired in 2010 as I had saved right into a pension, received a lump sum and likewise MPs received a resettlement allowance. I had earnings from books I had written – seven to this point and I’ve plans for extra.

Tub-thumping: Ann with Ashley James in 2018's Celebrity Big Brother

Tub-thumping: Ann with Ashley James in 2018’s Celebrity Big Brother

Have you ever been paid foolish cash?

Yes, for Celebrity Big Brother. I’ll by no means earn something on that scale once more.

I had advised my agent I’d by no means do the present. But he defined that for the following season they needed to name it Big Sister – although that did not occur – and that it could have a good time 100 years of suffrage. So there could be extra critical individuals than typical and there could be extra critical debates.

I stated, ‘Load of tosh.’ But my agent jogged my memory I would not be in Australia, within the jungle. It was Elstree and I might stroll out any time. So I did it on that foundation – pondering I’d final every week. But I stayed.

If you have been Chancellor, what would you do?

Reduce taxes instantly since that promotes development, encourages enterprise and fights inflation. I consider in a really small state.

Do you donate cash to charity?

There are three charities near my coronary heart: The Leprosy Mission, the Safe Haven for Donkeys within the Holy Land and the Buttercups Sanctuary for Goats. I’ve all the time had explicit affection for the leprosy mission. The manner I donate is thru talking engagements.

What is your primary monetary precedence?

In my working life my precedence was to maximise my pension and now that I’m retired, I believe I need sufficient to outlive into outdated age.