The 10 important changes Osborne didn’t announce in the Budget
Car tax on the up: From 1 April 2016, Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) rates for cars, vans, motorcycles and motorcycle trade licences will increase by RPI.
Energy bills set to fall: Following the Competition and Market Authority’s (CMA’s) investigation into the energy industry, the government said it “welcomed the publication” and will “act quickly on the CMA’s final recommendations” to ensure bill payers get a fair deal from the energy markets.
Unlocking mobile phones: The government will consult this year to end the practice of handset locking for customers outside any initial contract period so this could mean you won’t need to pay to unlock your mobile.
Failed housing transactions: Consumers spend £270m each year on failed housing transactions so the government is set to publish a “call for evidence” on how to make the process better value for money and more consumer-friendly.
Shared parental leave for grandparents: Following the introduction of Shared Parental Leave (SPL) and Statutory Parental Pay (ShPP) which allows couples to share time off and maternity pay if your baby was due on or after 5 April 2015, the government will launch a consultation in May 2016 on how to extend this to working grandparents. It also plans to cover how to streamline the system, including the eligibility requirements and notification system.
Tax free childcare: We already knew that from early 2017, the Tax-Free Childcare scheme will be introduced to help working parents with the cost of childcare. But further details have been released: “It will be rolled out in such a way that allows the youngest children to enter the scheme first, with all eligible parents brought in by the end of 2017.” The existing Employer-Supported Childcare scheme was due to remain open to new entrants until the Tax-Free Childcare system is launched, but the government confirmed it will remain open to new entrants until April 2018 to “support the transition between the schemes”.
Pay-as-you-go tax payments and a seven day HMRC: From 2018 businesses, self-employed people and landlords who keep their records digitally will be able to make pay-as-you-go tax payments in order to “better manage their cash flow”. The government is also looking to introduce a seven-day HMRC service by 2017, with extended hours and Sunday opening on online services and tax credits phone lines “so that people and businesses have more opportunity to contact HMRC outside of working hours”. The government’s also looking to introduce a dedicated phone line and online forum for new businesses and self-employed people to get help and support when filling in and paying taxes for the first time.
Clamp down on Claims Management Companies: The government’s clamping down on rogue CMCs that bombard customers with nuisance calls. It’s also taking action to cap the amount that CMCs charge and will ensure CMC managers can be held personally accountable for the actions of their businesses. In order to ensure this is implemented effectively, the government intends to transfer responsibility for regulating CMCs to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).
Basic bank accounts: The government will legally require nine banks to offer basic bank accounts to help people access basic banking services. It comes after the Treasury earlier announced that from 1 January 2016, basic bank accounts will need to be truly fee-free as some providers charged up to £35 per failed item which were uncapped, meaning charges can rollover. This was a voluntary agreement set up between the government and the providers but the Treasury confirmed this will now be a legal requirement.
State owned assets – Lloyds, RBS, Northern Rock: The government will look to dispose of assets acquired in 2008/09 to the private sector. This includes a sale of Lloyds Banking Group shares in 2016/17 to “give the public the opportunity to invest in Lloyds”. It will “continue to seek further opportunities to dispose of its holding in RBS” and expects to raise up to £25bn by the end of 2019/20. The government is also “exploring further sales of UKAR mortgages (Northern Rock) but expects the programme of sales to conclude before the end of 2017/18.