Know your rights: November’s debt news

posted by in Budgeting, Debt news

Justice scales law

Certainly not winter there

Don’t the months fly by? Christmas draws ever closer and it’s time for November’s changes in debt law and financial news that might affect you.

The Autumn Statement (a kind of half-term report on the state of the Budget) was revealed yesterday by the Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne. While many are still working out the implications of what he announced, five of the main points of the Autumn Statement were:

  • There’ll be a 1% cap on public sector pay rises for two years after the current pay freeze ends next year
  • If you’re aged between 44 and 52 you’ll have to work an extra year before you start receiving your state pension (if you’re under 44 you have to work an extra year anyway). The change in retirement age to 67 was due to start in 2034, but it’s been moved forward to 2026
  • If you get the train for work, fares will go up by around 6% in January, rather than the original 8%
  • There was going to be a rise in the duty (tax) payable on fuel of 3p in January but this has been suspended until August
  • There’s going to be a new “right to buy” scheme for social housing; this’ll entitle social tenants in England to a 50% discount if they want to buy their own homes

For more on the Autumn Statement, head to the special BBC News website.

Plan ahead

From autumn statements to winter payments, and as the weather turns colder, some of us need to sort out our winter fuel benefits. As MoneySavingExpert says, “Most people aged over 60 can apply now to get help towards their winter energy costs”. It’s worth reading their handy winter fuel payments guide.

We participated in Financial Planning Week last week, an event to highlight the need to plan for your future. The Institute of Financial Planning, who runs the event, came out with lots of stats on people’s attitude to money, but the most eye-opening (for us at least) was that 25% of us don’t keep any kind of financial budget.

If you don’t keep a budget at the moment, read our two budgeting blogposts and get started: A beginner’s guide to budgeting and Don’t fudge it: How to create and stick to a budget.

Dodgy loans

The Office of Fair Trading has launched new protection against dodgy loan brokers. There were some out there who charged fees for finding hard-up consumers a loan where they pocketed the cash without carrying out the service. Watch out if you’re looking for a loan!

On a similar theme, we’ve warned against a new 0% payday loan, as the repayments could quickly spiral out of control. Una Farrell, our spokesperson, told the Guardian:

“Anyone should approach this with extreme caution. This company’s business model, as with all payday lenders, is built on people rolling over the loan and incurring astronomical charges and interest.”

There are better and more ethical ways of borrowing money – start by chatting with a local credit union.

Utility deals

The Daily Mail warned that “millions are getting a worse deal simply because they don’t have access to the internet”. They argue that pensioners and those without access to a computer can’t get the best deals on utilities.

If you have a family member, friend or neighbour who doesn’t have access to a PC, perhaps invite them round to help them save money by switching utilities?

A bit of industry news that might interest you; we’re partnering with Citizens Advice for the provision of DMPs. They’ll refer debt problems to us, so we can set up and manage any debt management plans. It’s great that we’re endorsed by Citizens Advice; if you’re with us you’re with a charity that’s got your best interests at heart.

And finally, you’ve probably noticed this anyway but the cost of running a car has risen by around £900 over the past year. Hopefully the suspension in fuel duty announced by George Osborne yesterday will at least reduce any further increase in the next year. To save money on your car travel, check out our winter driving tips.

As always, if you come across something you think is important for others to know, get in touch through Facebook, Twitter or post a comment below. Our December ‘Know Your Rights’ article will be up on the last day of the year, but in the meantime we hope you have a very Merry Christmas!

Peer's the digital content manager at StepChange Debt Charity. Apart from contributing to the MoneyAware blog and overseeing the charity's website and social media content, he’s walked to the top of every mountain and hill in the Lake District. Twice.

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