18 Changes to Your Finances This April 2017

You’ll win some, you’ll lose some when it comes to cash in your pocket from Saturday 1st April 2017, thanks to a slew of new laws and rules…

Chancellor Philip Hammond’s Spring Budget changed everything from your income and outgoings to your childcare and even the way you drive. From upping the National Living Wage and offering tax free childcare to hiking up your council and car taxes – find out what you and your bank balance are in for…

For Richer

From Saturday 1st April 2017:

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1. Minimum wage workers earn more

If you’re over 25 and earning the National Living Wage, you’ll see a 4% rise in your hourly rate, increasing from £7.20 to £7.50 – giving you an extra £48 per month, if you’re working 40 hours a week. And the fun doesn’t stop there, because 18-20 year olds will now pocket a minimum of £5.60 and 21-24 year olds at least £7.05.

2. Parents can apply for tax free childcare

For every 80p you spend on childcare, the Government will contribute 20p – equivalent to the 20% tax you pay on your earnings, which is why this is called ‘tax free’. By applying today through Gov.UK, working families could receive up to £2,000 per year towards the cost of childcare for each child under 12 or up to £4,000 for children up to the age of 17.

3. Prepayment meter cap comes into effect

Using a pay as you go gas meter? Stop paying your old rate and take advantage of the temporary price cap, by topping up your meter. You could save £80 off your energy bills, say the Government’s Office of Gas and Electricity Markets, because the scheme should reduce your gas bill by around 10-15%.

Call your supplier to find out more, be that British Gas, E.On, EDF Energy or another energy company.

From Sunday 2nd April 2017:

4. Receive higher statutory family-related pay

Parents, your weekly rate of statutory maternity or paternity, adoption and shared parental pay will increase to £140.98 per week as of Sunday 2nd April 2017.

From Thursday 6th April 2017:

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5. Earn £500 more before paying basic income tax

You can now earn up to £11,500 before you pay income tax, rather than £11,000 – leaving as many as 20 million basic rate taxpayers with an extra £100 in their pocket. Higher rate tax payers could also save £400 per year, because the 40% income tax rate will now only apply to earnings above £45,000, rather than £43,000.

Want to check you’re paying the correct rate of income tax? Call HMRC today.

6. Claim a higher rate of sick and redundancy pay

Under the weather? You’re entitled to £89.35 per week in sick pay from now on. Plus, if you’re made redundant on or after Thursday 6th April 2017, you’re entitled to £489 per week, up from £479, if you’ve worked for the company for at least two years – the final amount you get depends on your weekly pay, length of service and age.

7. Get more for your State Pension

The newer flat rate pensions are increasing by 2.5%, giving you £155.65 rather than £159.55 per week. Alternatively, you’ll see your pension rise from £119.30 to £122.30 if you’re on the old system.

Check the status of your pension or ask any questions by calling the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) today.

8. Take advantage of a new lifetime Isa

Aged between 18 and 40? Set aside up to £4,000 per year in the new lifetime Isa to save towards your first home or retirement – and the Government will give you up to £1,000 for free, in the form of a 25% bonus. You can make contributions until your 50th birthday and all the money will grow tax free.

9. Alternatively, save more in your current Isa

Did you know that you can now put £20,000 into your Isa during the next tax year, up from £15,240? Now you do.

10. Your family can inherit an extra £100,000 tax free

Those of you who are married or in a civil partnership can leave your family up to £850,000 of tax free inheritance, which is £100,000 more than last year, thanks to the new transferable main residence allowance on property within the estate.

From Monday 10th April 2017:

You’ll get an extra 2p in every pound you earn, when the Universal Credit taper is cut from 65% to 63% – don’t spend it all at once.

For Poorer

E.On customers will be charged an extra 13.8% for electricity and 3.8% for gas from Wednesday 26th April 2017. Plus, BT and BT Broadband, EE and Vodafone also are putting up prices.

But what else can you expect to hit your wallet from April 2017?

From Saturday 1st April 2017:

DVLA road tax

11. Car Tax hike

Buying a new car after Saturday 1st April 2017? You’ll be stung by higher rates of Vehicle Excise Duty (VED), depending on your engine emissions, thanks to the DVLA’s rule changes – which you can get up to speed with here. For the first time ever, even eco-friendly electric cars will have to pay road tax.

12. Pay 20p more for your NHS Prescriptions

NHS prescriptions, medicines and appliances, now cost £8.60. Although, you’re exempt from paying if you’re: suffering long term conditions like cancer, epilepsy or diabetes, pregnant, a new mother, over 60, a child under 16 or on low income.

13. Spend up to 5% more on your council tax

Nine out of 10 local authorities in England are expected to increase your council tax bill by up to 5% in April – so you can expect to pay an extra £61 council tax on your Band D property, for example. Meanwhile, the average Scottish Band D household will fork out for an extra 3% or about £32.

Cast your mind back just five years ago to 2012 when 90% of local authorities froze or cut council tax, only 35 hiked the price up. However, East Hampshire is the only local authority who’ll cut council tax in 2017.

14. Pay 2% more for your average water bill

Call your supplier to see how your water bill has changed, whether that’s Thames Water or someone else.

15. Add £1.50 to the cost of your TV licence

Get your money’s worth from your £147 TV licence by watching great TV – haggle for a better deal with Sky or see what Virgin Media, BT Sport or Amazon can offer.

From Monday 3rd April 2017:

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16. Parents must look for work when youngest child turns three, not five

Changes to Universal Credit mean that parents, you’ll have to look for work when your youngest child turns three, rather than five – affecting those of you with pre-school children for the first time, at an age when childcare is the most expensive.

From Thursday 6th April 2017:

17. Four million new families lose £545 per year tax credit Family Element

Starting a family? You can’t claim the tax credit family element anymore, worth £545 per year. And that’s not all, if you plan to have a third or subsequent child after Thursday 6th April 2017, you’ll no longer receive Child Tax Credits or Universal Credit benefits either – these are now limited to your first two children only.

18. Grieving families will be £12,000 worse off

Until Thursday 6th April 2017, widowed parents could receive financial support for 20 years after a bereavement – now, you’ll get just 18 months of help. It’s a move that could save the Government £100million a year, say the Childhood Bereavement Network, but it will affect as many as 6,000 families expected to claim this year.

BT Will Soon Divert Nuisance Calls For Free

Imagine a world where strangers never ask whether you have PPI, or if you’d like to buy a solar panel. No-one tries to tell you that you had a car accident when you didn’t. For BT’s landline customers, this will be their peaceful new reality later this year. The telecoms giant is launching a free blocking service to fight against unwanted callers!

Unless you’re a TalkTalk customer, or the proud owner of a block-out phone, you’d need to pay your provider to stop the desperately pushy sales people and automated messages from bothering you. But not for much longer. BT plan to stop 25 million unwanted calls every week with their free new service… that’s 5 billion a year!

Their dedicated team will monitor the company’s 10 million domestic customers to root out and automatically divert unwanted calls into a junk voicemail for free. You can even add callers and banish entire categories of numbers to the black list too – every international and withheld number gone in a single swoop. All without spending a penny.

With any luck the rest of the industry will follow suit, brands from Virgin Media to GiffGaff, Vodaphone and O2. Although experts warn that nuisance dialers will change their numbers to get through to us we think that sounds a bigger nuisance for them, than anyone else.

Of course, it’s an incredibly huge problem. Four out of five people told Which? that they’re cold called at home at least once a month. Most feel intimidated in their own homes because of it. Nonetheless, those involved still see this as a legitimate way of generating the leads that they sell on to other firms.

BT Will Soon Divert Nuisance Calls For Free

The worst culprits?

According to the Claims Management Regulator, The National Advice Clinic were perhaps the single worst nuisance callers in Britain last year. The Lancashire based firm tried to tell 6 million numbers about their noise-induced hearing loss claims between October 2014 and April 2015. They even illegally dialled phones registered on the opt-out Telephone Preference Service – which ultimately cost them £850,000 in fines.

Generally speaking, accident claims are far and away the most frequent cold-callers, with 1,200 calls reported to the Information Commissioners Office last December alone.  That’s nearly three times as many as the energy and home improvement businesses, ringing to sell insulation and solar panels.

But there are no prizes for guessing which pre-recorded messages riled us up the most in 2015.  Nearly three times as many complaints were made against automated PPI messages last year than in 2014 – around 24,400 were angry enough to tell them about it.

Hopefully, BT’s free new blocking service will make a dint in these incredible figures. It will launch later this year, but customers can pre-register their interest.

Not with BT? You can try to save your sanity…

If you’re not with BT, you can still block unwanted numbers for free. Have you tried the following…

  • Registering with the Telephone Preference Service? You can opt out of unsolicited sales or marketing calls and make it illegal for peddlers to contact you.
  • Ticking the box to stop third parties from to contacting you after you’ve bought or signed up to something online?
  • Going ex-directory? Some companies still use phone books to find you, so it’s best to get out of there.
  • Reporting a nuisance call or text through Which? Okay, so it won’t stop them ringing you, but nuisance calling companies can be fined up to £500,000…
  • Asking cold-callers to remove your information from their records?