Households across the country have been counting their pennies carefully this year, as the cost of living crisis dominated 2023.

Luckily, as we enter 2024, inflation rates are set to fall and interest rates will remain stable. The news will be a relief to many households, who are already hoping for a better year financially in 2024. We’ve rounded up all the significant money changes, as reported by the Mirror, that are scheduled to happen in the next 12 months, as well as the latest economic predictions, so you know exactly when they’re happening and how you’ll be affected.

There are key dates to put in your diary that affect all your bills, including energy, council tax and TV licence, as well as more cost of living payments on the way. We’ve also got new rules for free childcare and important deadlines that could see you claim back tens of thousands of pounds.

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1. Ofgem price cap rises – January 1

The Ofgem price cap will rise from £1,834 a year to £1,928 on January 1, for a typical dual fuel household paying by direct debit. This new higher rate will be in place until March 31.

The price cap is updated every three months, meaning it will change again on April 1, July 1 and October 1. The price cap is not a total limit on how much you can pay for energy – instead, it sets the unit rates for gas and electricity, as well as the standing charges.

2. New tax rules for side hustles – January 1

Online platforms will be instructed to record how much money people are making and report it to HMRC. This includes popular sites such as eBay, Vinted, Etsy, Uber, Deliveroo, Fiverr, AirBnb and TaskRabbit.

You can earn £1,000 in additional income each tax year alongside your regular job – this is known as your Trading Allowance. If you make more than this, then you need to report it to HMRC through self-assessment and you’ll need to pay tax.

3. Applications open for free childcare – January 2

Working parents of two-year-olds in England will be able to get 15 hours a week free childcare from April 2024 – but applications open on January 2. At the moment, only parents of three and four-year-olds can claim 15 hours a week of free childcare, while some can get 30 hours a week.

Free childcare rules will be expanded again in September 2024 to include the parents of children aged nine months to 23 months, who will also be able to apply for 15 hours a week. This will be increased to 30 hours of funded childcare from September 2025 for working parents of nine months to the start of school.

4. National Insurance cut – January 6

The main rate of National Insurance will fall from 12% to 10% from January 6. However, the threshold for when you start paying National Insurance remains frozen until April 2028.

If you’re an employee, you currently pay 12% of your income in Class 1 National Insurance contributions on earnings above £12,570 – but this will reduce to 10% from next year. You pay 2% on earnings over £50,270.

5. Inflation – January 17

The latest inflation data from the Office for National Statistics will be released on January 17. Inflation is a measure of how prices have changed over time.

The Consumer Prices Index (CPI) measure of inflation is currently at 3.9%. At its highest point, inflation reached 11.1% in the 12 months to October 2022, and the Bank of England has a target of 2% inflation.

Inflation figures get released every month, with further announcements expected on:

  • February 14

  • March 20

  • April 17

  • May 22

  • June 19

  • July 17

  • August 14

  • September 18

  • October 16

  • November 20

  • December 18

The Bank of England says it expects inflation “to continue to slow” and “be back to normal levels” by the end of 2025. On its website, the Bank of England explains: “By normal, we mean that on average, prices are rising by around 2% a year. That’s the target the Government has set us.”

6. Online self-assessment deadline – January 31

The deadline for filing an online self-assessment tax return is January 31. If you miss this deadline, you face a fine of at least £100 – even if you have no tax to pay.

Further penalties of £10 a day are then applied after three months, up to a maximum of £900. After six months, you’ll get a further penalty of 5% of the tax owed or £300 – whichever is greater – which is repeated at 12 months.

You also need to pay the tax you owe by January 31. There is a penalty of 5% of tax unpaid after 30 days, another 5% of tax unpaid after six months, then another 5% of tax unpaid after 12 months.

7. Interest rates – February 1

The Bank of England base rate – which influences the interest rates banks and lenders charge you to borrow money – is currently at 5.25%. It has been held at this level at the last three Bank of England Monetary Policy Committee meetings.

The next meeting will be held on February 1. The Monetary Policy Committee meets every six weeks with its meetings for 2024 scheduled to happen on the following dates:

  • March 21

  • May 9

  • June 20

  • August 1

  • September 19

  • November 7

  • December 19

  • The Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey has maintained a stance that it is “far too early” to discuss cutting interest rates. The latest Monetary Policy report says rates are expected to remain around 5.25% until the last three months of 2024.

8. £299 cost of living payment – February 6

The third and final cost of living payment worth £299 and will be sent to most eligible people between February 6 and February 22. You need to have been entitled to a payment for a qualifying benefit between November 13 and December 12 to get the cost of living cash.

The full list of benefits that qualify for the third cost of living payment are:

  • Universal Credit

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Income Support

  • Working Tax Credit

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Pension Credit

9. Bereavement support deadline – February 8

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has changed the rules surrounding bereavement benefits. Previously, two benefits known as Bereavement Support Payments and Widowed Parent’s Allowance were only available to married couples and those in civil partnerships.

But now, couples who were cohabiting and have dependent children are also eligible. It is possible to backdate claims, but you only have until February 8, 2024 to apply – after this date, you may not get the full amount of payments owed.

10. Rail fares rise – March 3

Regulated rail fares in England will increase by up to 4.9% from March 3. This includes season tickets on most commuter journeys, some off-peak return tickets on long distance routes and flexible tickets for travel around major cities.

Train travellers already faced a 5.9% rise in rail fares this March.

11. Deadline to claim Pension Credit – March 5

Thousands of households should check their eligibility for Pension Credit by March 5 so they can then get the £299 cost of living payment. You can backdate Pension Credit by three months.

Pension Credit is available to people who have reached state pension age and are on a low income. It tops up your income to £201.05 per week for single people and to £306.85 for couples, and also unlocks over benefits such as free TV licences for over-75s and council tax discounts.

12. Spring Budget – March 6

Jeremy Hunt has announced his Spring Budget on March 6. It could be the last chance for the Government to announce any major financial changes before the general election.

Reports suggest there could be further tax cuts as well as new help for first-time buyers to stimulate the property market.

13. Minimum wage rise – April 1

Millions of workers on minimum wage will be given a pay rise from April 1, as new pay rates come into force. The hourly rate you are entitled to depends on your age.

If you are aged 23 and over, the national living wage will increase from £10.42 to £11.44 an hour. Workers age 21 to 22 will see their pay rise from £10.18 to £11.44 an hour. Under-18s will see their pay increase from £5.28 to £6.40 an hour.

14. Council tax rise – April 1

Council tax rates will rise again for millions of households on April 1. Unless they get special permission, most local authorities can normally raise council tax by 3%, plus an additional 2% for social care.

Housing Secretary Michael Gove has already given some councils to increase rates above these thresholds. Slough and Thurrock have been told they can make an 8% increase without holding a referendum, while Woking was given the green light for a 10% rise. Thurrock Council owes £1.5billion of debt, while Woking has debts of about £2billion.

15. TV licence goes up – April 1

It currently costs £159 a year for a TV licence but this will increase to £169.50 next April. The licence fee has been frozen for the last two years, so it last went up in April 2021.

If you watch or record live TV programmes on any channel, then you’ll need to pay for a TV licence. Failure to have one is a criminal offence, risking a possible £1,000 fine.

16. End of the tax year – April 5

The end of the current tax year always falls on April 5. This is the last day before all your tax allowances reset, so make sure you make the most of these before this day before the new tax year starts on April 6.

For example, you have a £20,000 ISA allowance each tax year. There is also a limit on how much money you can contribute to your pension in any one tax year while still benefiting from tax relief.

Your pension allowance – the total amount you or your employer can pay into your pension each tax year – is £60,000. Other tax thresholds, such as those for Inheritance Tax, reset every tax year.

17. Tax cuts for self-employed – April 6

The start of the new tax year will also bring in a huge shake-up of how self-employed people pay tax. If you are self-employed, you normally pay Class 2 or Class 4 contributions – but Class 2 contributions will be abolished from April 2024.

Class 2 contributions are currently set at a fixed weekly rate of £3.45 and are paid if your profits are more than £12,570 a year. Class 4 contributions are currently charged at 9% on profits between £12,570 and £50,270 – but this will be reduced to 8% from April 2024. You pay 2% on profits over £50,270.

18. Benefits and state pension to rise – April 8

Millions of people who claim benefits such as Universal Credit and Personal Independence Payment will see their payments rise by 6.7% from April 8. However, you won’t actually see the increase filter through until your next benefit payment date.

Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support will come into effect slightly earlier, on April 1, while Tax Credit increases will come into force at the start of the new tax year, on April 6.

The state pension will rise by a bigger 8.5% from April 8. This is because the increase is dictated by the triple lock, which sees the state pension rise by whichever is biggest out of inflation, wage growth or 2.5%.

19. Water bills could rise – April

Water bills normally rise each year in April – however, nothing has been confirmed for 2024 just yet. Your water supplier is determined based on where you live, with each provider in charge of setting their own rates.

The average yearly bill in England and Wales rose by £31 – or 7.5% – this year. This was confirmed in February, so we can expect to get an announcement for 2024 rates around that time.

20. Register for self-assessment – October 5

If you need to register for self-assessment tax for the first time, the deadline is always October 5 every year. You may end up being fined by HMRC if registering late means you miss the tax return and tax payment deadlines.

If you do need to register, you can do so online through GOV.UK or by calling the self-assessment helpline on 0300 200 3310.

21. Paper self-assessment tax deadline – October 31

If you plan on filing a paper self-assessment tax return, the deadline is October 31. If you don’t send your paper forms in time, you can instead fill out your tax return online – the deadline for this is January 31 the following year.

Again, you face fines if you miss the deadline. Don’t submit both a paper and online tax return.

22. Warm Home Discount – October

The Warm Home Discount scheme gives eligible households £150 off their energy bill. The scheme reopened in October 2023, so it is likely to become available once again around that time in 2024.

To be eligible for the Warm Home Discount scheme, your energy supplier must first be signed up. You should get the payment automatically if you, or your partner, receive the Guarantee Credit portion of Pension Credit – this is known as “core group one”.

You should also get the discount automatically in England and Wales if you claim certain benefits and have high energy costs. If you live in Scotland and you claim benefits, you’ll need to apply for the Warm Home Discount through your supplier under the “broader group” criteria.

23. Winter Fuel Payment – November

Winter Fuel Payments are worth up to £300, depending on your living arrangements and circumstances. This year, people started receiving the money in November 2023 – so you can expect to be paid around this time again in 2024.

You can get a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023/24 if you were born before September 25, 1957 – but this date changes every winter, so keep an eye out for the qualifying date for 2024/25.

You also need to have lived in the UK – although in some cases you can claim if you’ve moved abroad – for at least one day during the qualifying window. Again, this changes each year.

24. Cold weather payments – November

Cold Weather Payments are worth £25 and are awarded when the average temperature where you live is recorded as, or forecast to be, 0C or below over seven consecutive days. It is possible to get multiple payments, if you go through several spells of freezing weather.

The scheme is currently active and reopened in November 2023. This means it should reopen again in November 2024 as well.

You need to be living in England or Wales and claiming certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest to be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment. If you live in Scotland, you might be entitled to an annual £50 Winter Heating Payment instead.

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