So what are the best ways to improve them in extraordinary times and an uncertain future?
Not going to the office saves money, but not all is good news. Working from home could increase energy bills by 16.5% per month based on price comparison and the uSwitch service change.
However, wholesale energy prices are falling, which is passed on to the consumer by some of the smaller suppliers. So it’s worth shopping.
“There is a huge gap of £ 404 between the cheapest offer on the market and the price cap on the standard variable rate,” says uSwitch. “The gap has not been as great since last summer. “
It is always worth it to see if you can reduce your bill. But be sure to look at the unit price to make sure you are comparing similar products.
Companies are allowed to pay staff £ 6 a week tax free if they are forced to work from home, so find out if this is an option.
Work at home
If installing a home office required purchasing new equipment, you can claim tax relief for employment expenses, including broadband and heating. Complete a P87 if the expenses are less than £ 2,500 for the year. For more than that, you will need to complete a self-assessment tax return. Relief is available if the expenses are “entirely, exclusively and necessarily” necessary for the performance of a work, and therefore cannot be purchased for personal use and claimed for later.
The loss of income has led more than 1.6 million households to request the postponement of their mortgage payments and interest for up to three months, but this is not to be taken lightly.
While it has been assured that taking “payment leave” will not affect an individual’s credit rating, certain warnings could prevent some from borrowing in the future, as they do state that they are in financial difficulty.
You must agree to a “mortgage leave” with your lender – otherwise payments that are stopped may be recorded as late.
Talk to your lender about extending the term, which will increase the overall amount paid but make it more manageable each month. And if you’re not on a special offer, you can remortgage.
Since the base rate fell, the number of mortgages has fallen by almost half, according to Which?, But there are still competitive rates to choose from.
If you are on a mortgage tracker or other type of variable rate agreement, you should see costs drop by around £ 40 per month for every £ 100,000 borrowed.
With quieter roads, insurers enjoy the benefits of fewer claims.
Some have passed on some of this: the admiral was the first to offer partial refunds to drivers stranded at home, promising £ 25 for each car and van covered on April 20. LV = also said it would return money, but it will not happen automatically or for everyone. Contact the company if you think you are eligible.
Drivers who travel far fewer miles can get a partial refund by contacting their insurer. It could also be an option if a named driver does not use the car.
There is preliminary evidence that the impact of coronavirus can reduce premiums. “An unintended consequence has been the decrease in the number of cars on the road and the number of accidents. So it’s fair to assume that this could cause prices to drop, ”says Dave Merrick of MoneySuperMarket. Drivers are advised to make sure their policy does not “auto-renew” and that they can enjoy the benefits of shopping.
Savings and interest rates
This year marks the end of a lost decade for savers, and recent events will leave them little confidence that it will improve in the near future. At the height of this emergency, the Bank of England cut interest rates twice in the space of a week, bringing them back to the lowest level in its history.
While it usually takes about three months for changes in the base rate to go through the market, there is already evidence that savings rates are being achieved. The average easy access rate – where you can withdraw your money at will – went from 0.56% to 0.38% during the tumultuous period, according to the financial data site Moneyfacts.
This may not be the end of the cuts, so people would be advised to look at the best rates available now and change. “In the months to come, consumers may well rely on simple savings accounts to store any disposable income from lockouts, cash withdrawn from the stock market or even cash from pension plans,” said Rachel Springall of Moneyfacts. “If that money floods the savings market, providers could cut rates to deter investors – if they’re inundated with money – or even draw accounts entirely to keep up with demand. This means that savers need to be quick to get the best rates possible and keep an eye on market developments. “
Leaving money in the big banks won’t pay off, so it’s worth checking out what the challenger banks can offer – for example, NatWest’s easy access rate is 0.01% versus 1.20% for RCI Bank UK.
Some people may consider a fixed one-year bond to guarantee them a return over the next year, but due to economic uncertainties once the coronavirus problem is resolved, some will be reluctant to lock in their money.
The best rate for a one-year fixed account is 1.65% with Bank of London and The Middle East, which also has the best two-year fixed rate at 1.75%. FCMB Bank gives 1.75% on a three-year fix. All have a minimum investment of £ 1,000.
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