Today the Chancellor announced the latest Budget, describing it as aiming to “help families to cope with the cost of living”.  The headline item was a reform of stamp duty for first time buyers, immediately removing the duty on properties up to £300,000, although analysts said that this would primarily benefit existing homeowners.  Income tax rates were adjusted, with an increase of £350 for the personal allowance and an increase of £1,350 to the higher tax rate.

 

Budget 2017 : The Key Points

  • Growth forecast for 2017 downgraded from 2% to 1.5%
  • Stamp duty to be abolished immediately for first-time buyers purchasing properties worth up to £300,000
  • Higher-rate tax threshold to increase to £46,350
  • Tax-free personal allowance on income tax to rise to £11,850 in April 2018
  • Fuel duty rise for petrol and diesel cars scheduled for April 2018 scrapped

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It’s an incredible shrinking world!

It was two fingers from Cadburys when they reduced the weight of their Chocolate Fingers packs in 2015 and official figures show a whopping 2,500 products have shrunk in size but not in price since 2012!

Labelled as “shrinkflation” by the Office for National Statistics, their research shows products from chocolate bars to toilet rolls have all got sneakily smaller, giving us less for our money than before.

While smaller Crème Eggs, Toblerones and Dairy Milk bars may be a bitter truth to swallow, what’s really hard to stomach is how much your savings will have shrunk if you’re banking on a bank to look after them.

Just like some of our favourite foods, banks have shrunk what they give us by reducing interest rates in recent years, to the point where what we get falls short of the rate of inflation. This means, in terms of what your money is worth, your savings are actually shrinking!

While it’s a good idea to have cash you can access immediately in an emergency, many people just don’t realise that relying on bank savings accounts and cash ISAs comes at a cost, particularly if you plan to keep your savings there for three years or more.

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The Bank of England raised interest rates at the beginning on this month – how will this affect your finances?

 The Bank of England (BoE) has increased the base rate to 0.5%. This is a 0.25% increase and is the first time the rate has gone up since July 2007.

Banks are not obliged to follow Bank of England interest rate decisions, but they can influence the cost of borrowing, or how much interest you earn on savings so although this recent change is small, it could have an immediate impact on your household finances.

While the decision brings higher costs for those with mortgages and other borrowings, it is positive news for savers, pensioners and some investors. We have looked at the impacts in further detail. Read more

An inquiry into pensions freedoms has been deemed critical with increasing number of scams and potential misspending.

 This inquiry is being led by MPs on the Work & Pensions Committee and it will cover a wide range of issues.

The outcome of the inquiry will deem whether policy changes are required. This work is a follow up to an inquiry undertaken by the Committee shortly after the reforms were introduced by the Chancellor George Osborne in 2015. Read more

Even with the Gender Pay Gap narrowing, there is still a large gender Pension Gap – how can this be addressed?

 Over the past decade or two, there has been a lot of progress in narrowing the gender pay gap. Positive recent reports from the Office of National Statistics (ONS) now say that the within the UK the gender pay gap for full-time employees is at a record low of 9.4 per cent.

To add to this, the government has put it’s support behind redressing this imbalance by introducing new legislation, making it a legal requirement for all businesses with over 250 employees to report data on the differential between what they pay their male and female staff.

However, one worrying statistic from a financial point of view is that there is still a large gender pension gap which is not being addressed at the same speed, or attracting a similar amount of publicity. Read more

Busted – the 7 biggest myths of investing

Think investing is only for the rich? You’re not alone. There are many myths about investing that simply aren’t true. Understanding what these are will help you become a savvy saver and get your money working much harder for you. Read more

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