Dee Kelly discusses benefits amid cost of living crisis
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There are 10 key dates that Britons will need to watch over the next month. Some of the changes which are being implemented this month are to help people with the cost of living crisis and the continuing rise in the price of energy and fuel. Other changes will affect how a person can gain a sick note, the tax they pay, and how they can plan a funeral.
1 July: British Gas Hardship Fund
Yesterday, British Gas reopened its hardship fund which aims to offer grants of up to £1,500 to households struggling with the cost of their energy bills in England, Scotland and Wales.
People do not have to be a customer of British Gas to apply but will need to prove that they are in fuel debt to their energy provider, have sought money advice in the past three months, and have no more than £1,000 in savings.
British Gas has not announced a closure date for the scheme however once all the funding has been used the scheme will be closed to new applications.
British Gas operates its own Energy Support Fund worth £6million for its customers all-year-round, which provides grants worth between £250 and £750.
July 1 – Change to sick notes
From the first of the month, more healthcare professionals such as specialist nurses, occupational therapists, pharmacists and physiotherapists have been given the power to write and hand out sick notes to patients.
Before this, Doctors were the only ones allowed to provide the note to someone who had been absent from work for more than seven days.
July 6 – National Insurance threshold changes
From 6 July, the threshold where you start paying National Insurance increases from £9,880 to £12,570.
According to the Government, this will mean that the average person could see a saving of up to £330 every month with an estimated two million people seeing a reduction in their tax contributions.
The 1.25 percent point increase to National Insurance Contributions (NICs), from 12 percent to 13.25 percent, which was introduced in April this year will however remain.
July 6 – New cars top be fitted with speed limiters
From this date, all newly launched cars in the UK by law have to be fitted with a speed limiter.
The device is designed to alert drivers when they are approaching certain speed limits and if the driver doesn’t slow down, the car will reduce the engine’s power and speed automatically.
The rule changes actually come from the European Union however, the Department for Transport (DfT) said new EU rules would “provisionally apply” to the UK despite Brexit.
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July 12 – Three Mobile customers to face increased prices
Three Mobile announced that it was to increase its pay-as-you-go rates from 12 July.
The mobile network said that the price of its calls will increase from 10p a minute to 35p a minute, texts from 10p to 15p, and its data will double from 5p to 10p per MB.
Those on a bundle package, where you pay in advance for a bundle of minutes, texts and data, are unaffected by the changes
July 14 – The £650 cost of living payments will begin
The first instalment of the £650 Cost of Living support payment will be paid out to those who are able to claim on this date.
Those who claim certain benefits, such as Universal Credit, income-related Employment Support Allowance, income-related Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit will see £326 enter their bank account.
Those who claim tax credits however will receive their first payment slightly later.
The second £324 payment is then expected to be sent to these households in the autumn, although no exact date has been confirmed yet.
July 20 – The latest inflation figures are due
The Office of National Statistics (ONS) is to release its latest inflation figures which will cover the next 12 months to June 2023.
Experts expect inflation to increase even further as the Bank of England (BoE) expects UK inflation to hit 11 percent by the end of this year.
The consumer prices index (CPI) measure of inflation currently stands at 9.1 percent which is the highest level for forty years. As of mid-May 2022, the UK had the highest inflation rate of any G7 country,
July 29 – Funeral plans are to be regulated
From this date, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) will start regulating providers and intermediaries in the pre-paid funeral plans sector.
Any funeral plan provider that isn’t authorised by the FCA from this date will be committing a criminal offence if they try to sell or administer a pre-paid funeral contract from 29 July.
One of the major changes is that customers will be covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) should a company go bust.
Britons will also be able to complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) if they think they have been mistreated by a provider.
The FCA has published a list on its website that details which firms have not yet applied for authorisation, the watchdog advises Britons to not buy plans from firms which have not yet signed up.
July 31 Tax Credits renewal deadline
If a person claims tax credits, they will need to check if they need to renew their benefits and if they do then they have until 31 July to do so.
By now, those who need to should have received a renewal pack from Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC, which will explain if they need to do anything.
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