What will happen to energy bills and mortgages? Upcoming dates to be aware of

1 week ago 10

By Shanaz Musafer
Business reporter, BBC News

Prices are shooting up and millions of people are starting to feel the effects.

The new prime minister has announced some help with energy bills, capping a typical household bill at £2,500, but many will still be watching their wallets as we head into autumn.

Here are some of the key dates and events in the coming weeks that are almost certain to mean more belt-tightening.

Cost-of-living payments

Despite household bills and prices in the shops going up, for some households there is some help on the way.

People on disability benefits will receive a one-off cost-of-living payment of £150 from 20 September.

More than eight million low-income households on means-tested benefits will also receive £324 - the second instalment of a cost-of-living payment - this autumn. The first instalment of £326 was made in July.

Those on tax credits have had to wait longer, as the first payment for most was made between 2 and 7 September, and the second will be made during the winter.

22 Sep - Interest rates decision

The Bank of England raised interest rates for the seventh time in a row, from 1.75% to 2.25%, as it tries to stem soaring inflation.

To give an idea of what that might mean, a quarter-point rise on a £250,000 standard variable rate mortgage, paid back over 25 years, could mean paying an extra £30 a month, explains Andrew Montlake, of Coreco mortgage brokers.

And people on a fixed-rate mortgage also face problems. "We're starting to see 'payment shock'," says Montlake, referring to the nasty surprise people get when their fixed period expires and they're faced with higher rates.

He adds that it may take a while to feel the full impact of these rate rises. "Over the next few months and the beginning of next year, when you're faced with an increase in mortgage payments together with an increase in energy payments, that's when people might start to struggle."

Of course, any increase in interest rates is good news for savers, although banks do not always pass on the full rate rise when it comes to their savings accounts. For instance, after the last increase of half a percentage point in August, Santander only applied that increase to its Help to Buy ISA - the rates on its other saver accounts went up by only a quarter of a percentage point.

23 Sep - Mini-Budget

Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng will deliver a mini-Budget to deliver tax cuts promised by Liz Truss during her Tory leadership campaign.

The new PM has vowed to cut taxes to boost the economy and help people with rising living costs.

1 Oct - Energy Price Guarantee comes in

With electricity and gas prices going up, Ms Truss stepped in to limit the effect on households and businesses.

The government's Energy Price Guarantee replaces the existing energy price cap and will limit the amount that suppliers can charge for each unit of energy.

It means an annual bill for a typical household will not rise above £2,500 from October. Without this intervention, that annual bill would have been £3,549 a year. However, it is still almost twice what people were paying last winter.

The scheme will last two years and applies to all households in England, Scotland and Wales. In Northern Ireland, the "same level of support" will be available.

Businesses will be protected for six months initially, but it is still unclear how much help they will get.

The first instalment of the government's £400 energy rebate will start to arrive about now too. A discount of £66 or £67 will be applied to households' energy bills every month until March 2023. How you get it depends on how you pay your bill - see our chart here for more details.

19 Oct - Inflation figures linked to state pension and other benefits

This is a key date for pensioners. The Office for National Statistics will reveal September's inflation figure and it is this figure that will be used to set the rise in the state pension which will come in in April 2023.

After being suspended for a year due to pressures from the pandemic on public finances, the so-called "triple lock" will be restored. This ensures that the state pension will always increase each year in line with either inflation, the average wage increase or 2.5%, whichever is the highest.

With inflation currently running at around 10% and forecast to go up even further, that would mean pensions will see double-digit rises.

Though this will be welcome news to pensioners, critics have called the move "ludicrous".

Other benefits are also linked to September's inflation rate, including universal credit, disability support and jobseeker's allowance.

Autumn Budget

There would usually be a Budget at the end of October or beginning of November, in which tax rises or cuts, public spending plans and other measures affecting people's finances would be announced.

However, the government has not confirmed this. It has said there will be a Budget "this fiscal year", which means by the end of March 2023.

3 Nov - Next interest rates decision and Monetary Policy Report

Another rise in interest rates could well be on the cards, and so there'll be interest in what the Bank of England has to say about inflation and economic growth. After its last Monetary Policy Report was published in August, the central bank predicted a long recession.

Nov/Dec - £300 pensioner cost-of-living payment

Households that receive the Winter Fuel Payment - which is worth £200-£300 and is paid to nearly all homes with at least one person of pension age - will receive an additional one-off £300 in November or December. That should cover nearly all pensioners across the UK.

December - Christmas spending

Christmas Eve is typically the biggest shopping day of the year, apart from Black Friday - the last Friday in November. However, given the cost pressures, people will start saving up for presents much earlier than usual, Barclaycard predicts.

15 Dec - Next interest rates decision

Yet another rate rise could come at the end of the year. The Bank of England will assess the impact of its previous actions, but most forecasters expect interest rates to rise to 3% next year, with some saying they could go as high as 4%.

Mid-Dec - Rail fare increase announced

The government has said that regulated train fares in England will rise below the rate of inflation next year, though it has not confirmed what the exact figure will be. The rise will come into effect in March 2023.

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