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Inflation rises to 9% as energy bills soar

Michael Brown

Content Writer
Published: 18/05/2022

The increase means inflation is now at its highest point in 40 years.

Inflation increased to 9% today following April’s announcement from the Office for National Statistics (ONS). It means inflation is now at its highest level since 1982.  

“Inflation rose steeply in April, driven by the sharp climb in electricity and gas prices as the higher price cap came into effect,” said Grant Fitzner, Chief Economist at ONS.

Ofgem energy price caps come into effect twice a year, in April and October, which will ultimately determine the price of energy for households across the UK.

“The rise [of the energy price cap] resulted in 12-month inflation rates of 53.5% for electricity and 95.5% for gas, compared with rates of 19.2% and 28.3% respectively in the previous month,” the ONS said in its inflation report.

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Lloyds Bank joins current account switching war with £125 switching incentive

The move comes after HSBC launched its £170 switch offer last week.

Lloyds Bank will incentivise any customers switching from another bank to its Club Lloyds or Club Lloyds Platinum Account with a £125 cash bonus. The offer is available with immediate effect and is only available through the Current Account Switch Service (CASS) until 27 June.

“On top of £125 for switching to us from 17 May, new Club Lloyds customers will also be able to pick from a range of lifestyle benefits, earn cashback while they shop and gain access to exclusive offers on savings and mortgages,” said Martin Turner, Head of Personal Current Accounts at Lloyds Bank.

The switching offer comes after HSBC announced a similar £170 cashback offer for those looking to switch to its Advance or Premier current accounts last week.

In addition, Nationwide and first direct also hold current account switching offers for those looking to take advantage of the CASS.

Nationwide will offer £100 for new customers to switch to their Flex Account, while those who have a current account, mortgage, savings account, or business savings with the high-street bank can enjoy a £125 offer for making the switch.

Lloyds Bank do extend this offer to existing customers who meet a certain set of criteria. These customers need to move their current account from another bank using the CASS system and if they haven’t had a switching bonus from Lloyds Bank before.

This means existing members cannot access the offer by upgrading their Lloyds account internally. In addition, customers with other products from the bank, such as a mortgage or savings account, with a current account from a different provider will also be eligible for the switching offer.

Alternatively, first direct will provide those making a switch to their 1st Account with £150 cashback.

“There are now several brands out there offering upfront switching incentives to entice banking customers to move their existing current account,” said Rachel Springall, Finance Expert at Moneyfacts.

“As these offers can come and go throughout the year, consumers should not expect them to be around forever. Just last week, Halifax withdrew its free cash offer of £125,” she said.

However, Springall warned consumers to consider their options and spending habits before committing to a current account of their choice.

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How a comprehensive financial plan can prepare you for the mid-life responsibility peak

Article written by Kellands Hale, our preferred independent advice firm.

This article is not intended to be financial advice to any individual. The views expressed are those of the author and Moneyfacts.co.uk does not endorse the content.

In light of the ongoing cost of living crisis in the UK, it is likely that the word “affordability” is on your mind. Added to this, if you are approaching your 40s and 50s, you could be shouldering many financial responsibilities.

Indeed, research from Legal & General shows that the average person’s financial responsibility peaks between the ages of 45 and 60. This stage of life is often referred to as the “mid-life responsibility peak”.

At this age, you are in a crucial stage of wealth accumulation. You are working hard and supporting your loved ones, while also looking to retire in the next decade or so – meaning your financial actions in the coming years need to be well-informed and exact.

In your “mid-life responsibility peak”, you could be:

  • Working hard at a career you love
  • Living in a beautiful, comfortable family home
  • Providing your children or grandchildren with an education by paying school and university fees
  • Saving as much as you can into your pension
  • Taking the opportunity to travel the world when you can
  • Making long-term investments.

Although this should be an enjoyable stage in your life, becoming overwhelmed by the financial responsibilities of this time could leave you feeling stressed and uneasy.

That is why working with a Kellands financial planner to maintain and review your comprehensive financial plan could be crucial when you reach the “mid-life responsibility peak”.

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UK economy contracts in March as consumers face surging inflation

Consumers cut back on spending as cost of living begins to bite.

Britain’s economy contracted by 0.1% in March, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today.

“The March decline highlights the pressure the economy is now coming under from the cost of living squeeze and the danger of it falling into outright recession later this year,” said Rupert Thompson, Investment Strategist at Kingswood.

The services sector, which includes contributions from education, arts and entertainment, and food service among others, fell 0.2% last month and was the main contributor to this decline.

More particularly, retail and wholesale activity fell 2.3% in March, with new car sales struggling to grow due to global supply issues.

“Household expenditure was still positive in the first quarter, as consumers took advantage of new-found freedoms to go out and spend money in shops, restaurants and hotels. But that was really the calm before the storm, as higher energy prices and taxes kicked in from April,” said Laith Khalaf, head of investment analysis at AJ Bell.

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Klarna to report customer debts and payments to credit agencies

The UK’s biggest Buy Now Pay Later provider will share its customer debt and payments with Experian and TransUnion from 1 June.  

From 1 June, Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) provider Klarna will start sharing its customers payments made on time, late payments, and unpaid purchases with credit reference agencies.

Experian and TransUnion will be the first credit reporting agencies to receive this information.

This means that if a consumer falls behind on any repayments, their credit score will worsen. Equally, if a consumer repays their debts on time their credit rating will improve.

“It is alarming that UK consumers are still being forced to take out high cost credit cards to demonstrate they can use credit responsibly and build their credit profile,” said Alex Marsh, Head of Klarna UK.

“That will start to change on 1 June this year as the vast majority of the 16 million UK consumers who make Klarna BNPL payments in full and on time will be able to demonstrate their responsible use of credit to other lenders.” 

The move comes at a time when the BNPL market is facing pressure from lobbyists to be regulated. In February, Klarna, Clearpay, Openpay and Laybuy all changed terms in their contracts after pressure from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

Currently, if a customer falls behind on their Klarna repayments, their credit score will remain unaffected. Instead, they will be referred to a debt collection agency.

This is common with other BNPL providers. Yet around 47% of people surveyed by Creditspring, a loan subscription provider, did not know that a BNPL user could be referred to a debt collector if they missed their payment. 

"Worst-case scenario is that borrowers can end up receiving a knock on the door from a debt collector, but currently the vast majority are completely unaware this is even a possibility," said Neil Kadagathur, Co-Founder and CEO of Creditspring. 

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Could an air source heat pump help combat the rising cost of living?

29th April 2022

In an attempt to combat the rising cost of living, homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to lower their energy costs – and one option that’s growing in popularity is installing an air source heat pump. But could it be worth considering?

Homeowners are increasingly looking for ways to lower their energy costs – one option that’s growing in popularity is installing an air source heat pump.

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first direct to hike regular saver rate to 3.5% - how does it compare?

22nd April 2022

Multiple Moneyfacts award-winning challenger bank, first direct, will increase its regular saver account rate to 3.5%. However, those interested in the offer should consider the competition. “The majority of regular savings accounts on the market are either exclusive to new or existing current account customers or have some kind of eligibility criteria, so savers will need to compare deals carefully before they apply,” said Rachel Springall, Finance Expert at Moneyfacts.

Multiple Moneyfacts award-winning challenger bank, first direct, will increase its regular saver account rate to 3.5%.

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UK restaurants enjoy resurgent Easter weekend spending spree

21st April 2022

Spending at UK restaurants this Easter weekend were up 116.2% compared to last year, according to data from Barclaycard Payments. Much of this can be owed to the ease of lockdown regulations, which only permitted outdoor seating at restaurants last year. “Many experience–led businesses alongside food and drink retailers received a significant boost in trade, which will no doubt be welcome news against the wider backdrop of concerns around the cost of living,” said Harshna Cayley, Head of Online Payments at Barclaycard Payments.

Spending at UK restaurants this Easter weekend were up 116.2% compared to last year, according to data from Barclaycard Payments.

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How the Dividend Tax and National Insurance increases could affect you

18th April 2022

In September 2021, the government announced a change to both Dividend Tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs), which have come into immediate effect on 6 April 2022. These changes see both Dividend Tax and NICs increase by 1.25 percentage points, meaning that as an employee, company director, or business owner, your wealth will be directly affected.

In September 2021, the government announced a change to both Dividend Tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs).

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What you need to know about your tax allowance for 2022/23

6th April 2022

While income tax bands stay the same, National Insurance thresholds have been increased. The new tax year has brought new changes to deal with the rising cost of living. Notably, the National Insurance contribution threshold has been raised. To help consumers and businesses understand the key changes and rules in place, we’ve highlighted the main tax laws you should know.

While income tax bands stay the same, National Insurance thresholds have been increased.

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UK economy contracts in March as consumers face surging inflation

12th May 2022

Britain’s GDP contracted by 0.1% in March, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today. “The March decline highlights the pressure the economy is now coming under from the cost of living squeeze and the danger of it falling into outright recession later this year,” said Rupert Thompson, Investment Strategist at Kingswood. The services sector, which includes contributions from education, arts and entertainment, and food service among others, fell 0.2% last month and was the main contributor to this decline.

Britain’s GDP contracted by 0.1% in March, according to data released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) today.

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first direct to hike regular saver rate to 3.5% - how does it compare?

22nd April 2022

Multiple Moneyfacts award-winning challenger bank, first direct, will increase its regular saver account rate to 3.5%. However, those interested in the offer should consider the competition. “The majority of regular savings accounts on the market are either exclusive to new or existing current account customers or have some kind of eligibility criteria, so savers will need to compare deals carefully before they apply,” said Rachel Springall, Finance Expert at Moneyfacts.

Multiple Moneyfacts award-winning challenger bank, first direct, will increase its regular saver account rate to 3.5%.

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Price of Oil Hits Eight-Year High Amid Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine

24th February 2022

Potential sanctions on Russia could affect Europe’s energy supply. The price of oil rose to $103 a barrel this morning after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a military invasion of Ukraine. This is the highest price since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea. Since the beginning of the year, oil prices have increased by more than $20 a barrel. “As military action escalates, we can now expect a steady trickle of further sanctions throughout the day, which will have ramifications across the markets,” said Giles Coghlan, Chief Analyst at HYCM. However, there is an immediate concern that the current events will impact Europe’s supply of oil and gas. “Just yesterday, the Bank of England’s Governor, Andrew Bailey, stated that there is an upside risk to energy prices from the invasion,” confirmed Coghlan.   According to Reuters, Russia is the world’s second-largest oil producer and makes up 35% of Europe’s energy supply. If tough sanctions were imposed on Russia, there are fears it would cut off Europe’s access to its oil and gas. For the UK, this potential impact is not expected to be as severe on its gas supply when compared to European neighbours. This is because over 80% of Britain’s gas is sourced from the North Sea or imported from Norway, according to the Guardian. Instead, the price of gas will likely become the UK’s biggest problem if markets rise in Europe, the article stated. The conflict has also impacted other commodities, with gold’s value increasing over the past month as tensions deepened.

Potential sanctions on Russia could affect Europe’s energy supply.

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