Expiring Fixed Rate Tariffs

Expiring fixed rate tariffs

Here’s a list of fixed rate energy tariffs that are coming to an end in the next few weeks.

If you’re on a fixed rate tariff, you’ll be automatically switched to your provider’s standard variable rate (SVR) tariff when the fix comes to an end. The SVR will almost certainly be considerably more expensive, so you should shop around for another fix before your current one expires.

If you switch out of your expiring tariff in the six weeks running up to its end date, you won’t have to pay an exit fee, even if one is normally charged on that tariff.

By switching, you can grab yourself another cheap energy deal, and avoid any upcoming price hikes to SVR tariffs.

 Provider  Tariff Fixed Until Average Bill Value Cancellation Fees
 EDF  Blue +Fixed Price February 2017 28/02/2017 £998.51 NA
 EDF Blue +Price Promise 28/02/2017  £840.87 NA
 Extra Energy Bright Fixed Price Feb 2017 v1 28/02/2017 £800.31 £25/Fuel
 Extra Energy Bright Fixed Price Feb 2017 v2 28/02/2017 £804.57 £25/Fuel
 Extra Energy Clear Fixed Price Feb 2017 v1 28/02/2017 £798.55 £25/Fuel
 Extra Energy Clear Fixed Price Feb 2017 v2 28/02/2017 £781.60 £25/Fuel
 Extra Energy Clear Fixed Price Feb 2017 v3 28/02/2017  £772.46 £25/Fuel
Co-operative Energy Co-op Online Fixed February 2017 28/02/2017 £850.18 NA
SSE Brands x 4 Fix & Shop Feb 17 28/02/2017 £1,098.87 £25/Fuel
GnERGY Fixed February 2017 v1 (not S Hydro) 28/02/2017 £802.06 £24.99/Fuel
 Extra Energy Fresh Fixed Price Feb 2017 v1 28/02/2017 £791.03 £25/Fuel
 Extra Energy Fresh Fixed Price Feb 2017 v2 28/02/2017 £781.61 £25/Fuel
 Extra Energy Fresh Fixed Price Feb 2017 v3 28/02/2017 £772.46 £25/Fuel
 Extra Energy Fresh Fixed Price Feb 2017 v4 28/02/2017 £768.31 £25/Fuel
 First-utility iSave Fixed February 2017 28/02/2017 £829.48 £30/Fuel
 First-utility iSave Fixed February 2017 v2 28/02/2017 £824.48 £30/Fuel
 Npower Online Price Fix February 2017 28/02/2017 £805.02 £20/Fuel
 Npower Pre Pay Fix Feb 2017 28/02/2017 £1,210.42 NA
 Npower Price Fix Feb 2017 28/02/2017 £1,084.50 NA
 Places for People Together – February 2017 – fixed 29 Online  28/02/2017  £794.07  £30/Fuel
 Places for People  Together – February 2017 – fixed 30 Online  28/02/2017  £793.74  £30/Fuel
 Places for People  Together – February 2017 – fixed 30 Paper billing  28/02/2017  £833.74  £30/Fuel
 Places for People  Together – February 2017 – fixed 31 Online  28/02/2017  £778.27  £30/Fuel
 Places for People  Together – February 2017 – fixed 31 Paper billing  28/02/2017  £818.27  £30/Fuel
 EDF  Blue +Price Freeeeze March 2017  31/03/2017  £1,201.78 NA
 EDF  Blue+Fixed Prepay March 2017  31/03/2017  £1,169.12  NA
 EDF  Blue+Price Promise March 2017  31/03/2017  £824.50  NA
 Flow Energy Connect v5 31/03/2017 £774.16 NA
 Flow Energy  Connect v5 31/03/2017 £772.75 NA
 Co-operative Energy Co-op Online March 2017 31/03/2017 £775.25 £0/Fuel
Co-operative Energy Co-op Online March 2017 (paper bills) 31/03/2017 £805.25 £30/Fuel
 First-utility First Fixed March 2017+ 31/03/2017 £849.45 £30/Fuel
 Sainsbury’s Fix and Reward March 2017 31/03/2017  £1,075.42 £30/Fuel
 Npower Fixed Energy Online March 2017  31/03/2017 £781.16 £20/Fuel
 GnERGY Fixed March 2017 v1 (not S Hydro) 31/03/2017  31/03/2017  £774.99 £24.99/Fuel
 SEE Brands x 4 Fixed Price Mar 17 31/03/2017 £1,186.27 £25/Fuel
 Co-operative Energy Fixed Price March 2017 31/03/2017 £1,225.60 NA
 Npower Home Safe Fix March 2017 31/03/2017 £1,050.26 NA
 Npower  In Control March 2017 31/03/2017 £1,174.64 £50/Fuel
 First-utility iSave Fixed March 2017 v4  31/03/2017 £805.80 £30/Fuel
 First-utility  iSave Fixed March 2017 v2 31/03/2017 £817.49 £30/Fuel
 First-utility  iSave Fixed March 2017v3  31/03/2017  £816.56  £30/Fuel
 First-utility  iSave Fixed v47 March 2017  31/03/2017  £1,044.97  £30/Fuel
 M&S Energy M&S Energy Fix & More Mar 17 31/03/2017 £1,068.14 NA
 Npower Online Fix March 2017 31/03/2017 £765.13 £20/Fuel
 Better Energy Supply Ltd Online Fixed March 2017 31/03/2017 £363.30 £20.00
 Npower Online Price Fix March 2017 31/03/2017 £807.91 £20/Fuel
 Better Energy Supply Ltd  Postal Fixed March 2017 31/03/2017 £382.46  £20.00
 Npower Price Fix March 2017 31/03/2017 £1,036.18 NA
 Npower Price Protector March 2017 31/03/2017 £1,341.36 NA
 Spark Tenant Saver (fixed) March 2017 31/03/2017 £1,027.27 NA
 Spark Tenant Saver Fixed 31/03/2017 £1,102.34 NA
 Flow Energy Winter Warmer (Fixed April 2017) 31/03/2017 NA £0/Fuel
 EDF Blue+Price Promise April 2017 30/04/2017 £827.00 £0/Fuel
 Flow Energy Connect v6 30/04/2017 £751.97 £30/Fuel
 Npower  Feel Good Fix April 2017  30/04/2017 £1,001.42 NA
 First-utility First Fixed April 2017 v4 30/04/2017 £762.19 £30/Fuel
 First-utility  First Fixed April 2017 v5  30/04/2017  £753.47  £30/Fuel
 First-utility  First Fixed April 2017 v6  30/04/2017  £757.97  £30/Fuel
 First-utility  First Fixed April 2017 v7  30/04/2017  £751.48  £30/Fuel
 Sainsbury’s Fix and Reward April 2017  30/04/2017  £1,050.20 £30/Fuel
 GnERGY Fixed April 2017 v1 (not S Hydro)  30/04/2017 £763.70  £24.99
 Npower Fixed Energy Online April 2017 30/04/2017  £772.33 £20/Fuel
 Co-operative Energy Fixed Price April 2017 30/04/2017 £855.35 £30/Fuel
 Scottish Power  Help Beat Cancer Fixed Price April SC Online 30/04/2017 £1,229.09 £25/Fuel
 Npower Home Safe Fix April 2017 30/04/2017 £1,023.73 NA
 Npower Intelligent Fix April 2017 30/04/2017 £1,216.91 £50/Fuel
 First-utility iSave Fixed April 2017 30/04/2017 £804.32 £30/Fuel
 First-utility iSave Fixed April 2017 v2 30/04/2017 £783.42 £30/Fuel
 First-utility iSave Fixed v17 April 30/04/2017 £1,176.70 £30/Fuel
 Npower Online Fix April 2017  30/04/2017  £795.44 £20/Fuel
 Better Energy Supply Ltd Online Fixed April 2017 30/04/2017 £363.30 £20.00
 Npower Online Fixed Energy April 2017 30/04/2017 £777.40 £20/Fuel
 Scottish Power Online Fixed Price Energy April 2017 30/04/2017 £805.69 £30/Fuel
 Better Energy Supply Ltd Postal Fixed April 2017 30/04/2017 £383.46 £20.00
 Npower Price Fix April 2017 30/04/2017 £1,073.31 NA

Please note: any rates or deals mentioned in this article were available at the time of writing. Click on a highlighted product and apply direct.

Source: Money Supermarket

 

 

Council Tax Problems/Issues

Let’s Talk Money

 

Council tax arrears. What to do if you can’t pay council tax debt.
Your council tax bill is a ‘priority debt’, as there can be serious consequences if you can’t pay your arrears.

Council tax makes up around a quarter of local authority incomes in England, Wales and Scotland. Most households have to pay council tax, but the amount you’ll pay depends on the value of your house, your age and income, and who else lives with you.

Local authorities have extra legal powers to collect council tax and they often act quickly if payments are missed. This could result in bailiffs (or sheriff officers in Scotland) visiting your property. This means council tax arrears are treated as a priority debt.

If you fall behind with your council tax it’s important to contact the council and try to make arrangements to clear your arrears. Send them a copy of your budget showing your income and outgoings to show them your situation. If you need help with this or you’re struggling to deal with the arrears, we’d recommend getting free, expert debt advice as soon as possible.

 

How is council tax paid?

An annual bill will be sent in March each year showing how much you need to pay.

You can spread the cost over 12 months by paying in weekly or monthly instalments. Council tax bills often show payments over 10 months but your local authority must let you pay over 12 months if you ask.

If your council tax bill was sent out later than April, for example because you’ve moved house, you’ll have a shorter time to pay it. The bill must be paid off in full before the end of the following March.

Am I entitled to council tax reduction and relief?

There are some ways to reduce your council tax bill, you may qualify for council tax relief:

  • You’re entitled to a 25% single person discount if you live on your own. Some people aren’t counted when working out council tax, so if you live with a full-time student, apprentice or someone who is ‘severely mentally impaired’ you may still qualify for a 25% discount.
  • If you’re on a low income, you may qualify for council tax reduction where your bill is reduced based on how much you earn. All local authorities have different rules for who qualifies.
  • If you’re above pension age, you’ll get extra council tax reduction.
  • If someone in your house is disabled and the property has been adapted, you may qualify to have your council tax reduced by one band.

If your circumstances change during the year, make sure you tell your local authority so they can send you an updated bill.

What happens if I am in arrears or miss payments?

If you’re more than 14 days late paying a council tax instalment you’ll be sent a reminder letter.

If you make the payment within seven days of the reminder letter you can continue paying your council tax in instalments.

But if you don’t make the payment within seven days, your local authority can ask you to pay the whole council tax for the rest of the year. You have another seven days to pay the whole amount, then the local authority can take you to court. The court process differs depending on where you live.

Council tax court action in England & Wales

If your local authority starts court action, you’ll get a summons in the post which will give you a date and time for a court hearing. An extra charge will be added at this point.

If you get a letter about council tax court action, call us for advice.

At the hearing, a magistrate will issue a liability order. This order gives the local authority permission to take further action to collect the unpaid council tax.

You can attend the hearing and tell the magistrate if a mistake has been made, or if your council tax has been paid in full before the hearing date. You should keep in touch with the local authority before the hearing and ask them to agree to you paying the arrears in instalments.

Once a liability order has been issued, your local authority has several options to collect the unpaid council tax. The most common ways are:

  • Using bailiffs or ‘enforcement agents’
  • Taking payments straight from your wages using an attachment of earnings. This will be a fixed percentage of your take-home pay.
  • Taking payments from your benefits. £3.70 a week can be taken from income support, income based jobseekers allowance, income related employment and support allowance or pension credit.

They also have the following options, but these are rare and are only used as a last resort if there are no other ways to collect the debt:

  • Securing the debt to your home using a charging order if you owe more than £1,000
  • Make you bankrupt if you owe more than £5,000 in England or if you owe them more than £750 in Northern Ireland.
  • Send you to prison for up to three months. This is extremely rare, and only used where someone is deliberately refusing to pay their council tax. The local authority can’t send you to prison if any of the other methods above could be used instead.

 

Useful Money Saving Links

Useful Links for Money Saving

Here are a few of my favourite sites, that I use when shopping around for various goods and services :
Switching Gas & Electricity suppliers
(You will need a recent energy bill and bank details if you decide to switch, ideally your annual usage statement would be the best)

http://www.goenergyshopping.co.uk/en-gb
http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/cheapenergyclub
https://www.uswitch.com/gas-electricity/
https://www.theenergyshop.com
http://www.simplyswitch.com
http://www.moneysupermarket.com/gas-and-electricity/

Buying/Switching Mobile Phone and/or Tariffs
https://www.mobilephonechecker.co.uk/
http://www.uswitch.com/mobiles/
http://www.moneysupermarket.com/mobile-phones/

Phone or Broadband Deals
https://www.cable.co.uk/
http://www.simplifydigital.co.uk/
http://www.broadband.co.uk/
https://www.uswitch.com/broadband/compare/broadband_and_home_phone/

Budgeting / Money Advice
https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/tools/budget-planner
https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/living-on-a-low-income-tips
http://www.which.co.uk/money/money-saving-tips/guides/50-ways-to-save-money-/

Moving From Benefits into Work

  1. Firstly it is important to try and do the majority of the legwork before starting your new employment.
  2. Initially I advise all clients to carry out a benefits calculation, ideally they should look to do one called a better off calculation. As this will ask for your current benefits and then ask you to input employment details and wages. It will then recalculate what your entitlements will be based on your expected income. Although not an exact science it is a good approximation.
  3. When you start work you should do several things, first inform the Department for Work and Pensions (Jobcentre) 0345 608 8545 or if claiming Universal Credit 0345 600 0723 you will need to have NI Number, details of hours and wages, start date, type of contract, etc.
  4. If you are in receipt of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction, or both. You should inform your local authority in writing, typically via a change of circumstances form and explain that you are starting work, start date, hours per week, etc.

Extended benefit payments
Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support

If you move from benefits into work, or extend your hours to 16 or more per week, you may be entitled to four weeks run on of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support at its previous level if: – the work is expected to last for at least five weeks; – neither you nor your partner has claimed a Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support extension in the last 26 weeks: – you (or your partner if you have one) were claiming one of the benefits below before work started or hours increased:

Jobseeker’s Allowance

  • Income Support
  • Income-related Employment & Support Allowance
  • Incapacity Benefit
  • Severe Disablement Allowance
  • Contributions-related Employment & Support Allowance.

After the 4 week extension period expires Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support will be based on your new income.

How to claim

  • You (or your partner) must be about to return to work or have just started work of more than 16 hours per week
  • When you close your out of work benefit claim with Jobcentre Plus the extended payment of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support should be arranged automatically
  • You must confirm that you have been claiming benefits for the previous 26 weeks and that the work is expected to last for at least five weeks
  • During this four weeks you can give details of your expected earnings to your local council who can process your Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support claim with your in-work details.

Support for Parents
Childcare Element of Working Tax Credits

An award of Working Tax Credit (not Child Tax Credit) can include an amount towards the cost of childcare with a registered childminder or nursery. This can also include childcare costs such as summer school and after-school clubs.

The amount is 70% of the actual childcare costs up to £175 for one child and up to £300 for two or more children (so an amount up to £122.50 or £210 can be included in the Working Tax Credit award).

An amount towards childcare can be included for

  • A lone parent working 16 hours or more a week
  • A couple if they both work 16 hours or more a week
  • A couple if one partner is working 16 hours or more a week and the other partner is incapacitated, in hospital, entitled to Carer’s Allowance or in prison.

Childcare Vouchers
If a person cannot get an amount towards childcare included in their Working Tax Credit they may should ask their employer if they run a childcare voucher scheme. The employee receives a voucher towards childcare in return for a reduction in their pre tax salary. This allows them to purchase childcare without paying tax and national insurance on that amount and can save up to 30% of childcare costs.

Note that accepting a cut in pay that drops a person’s salary below the national insurance lower earnings limit may affect future entitlement to benefits such as Maternity Allowance and State Retirement Pension.

Not all childcare provision is payable by vouchers so parents will need to ensure that their childcare provider is happy with this arrangement.

Most people would be better off receiving help with the cost of childcare through Working Tax Credit if they qualify, but the calculator can illustrate what the better option might be for someone based on their circumstances.

Early Years Learning
There are free ‘early learning’ classes (for example, a school-attached nursery) available for all 3 or 4 year olds (starting from the term following the child’s third birthday).

This is for at least 38 weeks a year and 15 hours a week (to be spread over at least three days). Families with a low income may also get free classes for 2 year olds.

Help for disabled people
The Disability Employment Adviser (DEA) at Jobcentre Plus provides specialist advice to disabled clients on finding work, job retention and getting practical help through the Access to Work scheme.

Access to Work
If you have a health condition or disability which affects your ability to work you may be entitled to financial support for costs such as travel to work and workplace adjustments through the Access to Work scheme.

There is further information about Access to Work here: https://www.gov.uk/access-to-work.

If you are unemployed and moving into work or a work trial (not voluntary work) or have been working less than six weeks, Access to Work pays 100% of the following costs:

  • Travel costs if public transport can’t be used
    A support worker or reader in the workplace
  • A communicator for support in interviews
  • Workplace adjustments which are not considered ‘standard equipment’. Guidance is available on those items considered ‘standard equipment’ (such as analogue hearing and walking aids) at your local Access to Work Contact Centre.

If you have already been employed for more than six weeks, Access to Work will only pay a proportion of the costs above. The employer will be expected to make a contribution towards the cost based on their number of employees.

How to claim

  • Speak to your local Access to Work Contact Centre:
  • South East England/London/East of England – 020 8426 3110
  • South West England/Wales/West Midlands/East Midlands – 02920 423 291
  • Scotland/North West England/North East England/Yorkshire and Humberside – 0141 950 5327.

Other financial support available
Jobcentre Plus advisers’ discretionary fund

Personal advisers at Jobcentre Plus offices may have access to a discretionary fund to help certain groups of people in exceptional circumstances. Payments can be made, for example, to buy a new suit to attend an interview or to help pay initial childcare and travel costs.

To be eligible a person must be on a New Deal scheme or entitled to certain benefits, such as Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income Support or Carer’s Allowance.

In-Work Emergency Discretion Fund

If a lone parent in work has an unexpected financial problem that could stop them carrying on with their job they can apply to the In-work Emergency Discretion Fund.

A person must be:

  • A lone parent working for at least 16 hours a week
  • Their job must be expected to last for at least 26 weeks and
  • They must have been in the job for less than 26 weeks.

The Jobcentre Plus personal adviser can award up to £300 from the In-work Emergency Discretion Fund. Ask your local Jobcentre Plus office for more details.

Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card
You may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card to help with your fares during the first few months of commuting to a new job if you’re claiming one of the following:

  • Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, if you’re aged between 18-24 and have been unemployed for 3-9 months
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance or Universal Credit, if you’re aged 25 or over and have been unemployed for 3-12 months
  • Incapacity Benefit, Employment and Support Allowance or Income Support, from 3 months into your claim if you are working with an adviser on returning to employment

You won’t be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card if you’re participating in the Work Programme.

Card holders are entitled to a 50% discount on selected rail tickets.

When you have a Jobcentre Plus travel discount added to an Oyster card you can get:

  • Half adult-rate pay as you go fares
  • Child-rate 7 Day, Monthly or longer period (up to three months) Travelcard, or Bus & Tram Passes
  • Jobcentre Plus discounts are not available on transport for london cash fares.

How do I apply?
To apply for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card, you’ll need to go to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

To have the Jobcentre Plus travel discount added to an Oyster card, you’ll need an Oyster card which you’ve registered at a Tube station, Oyster Ticket Stop or Visitor or Travel Information Centre. You can then ask the staff to add your discount entitlement onto your Oyster card.

Being budget conscious and thoughtful on Valentine’s Day

Love is in the air again, with Valentine’s Day looming it’s commercially polished marketing campaign and pressuring us into spending money. Well I think it is a time where we should be more thoughtful, whilst not necessarily wasteful, 100 minutes is worth more to your partner.

Here are some Valentine’s Day ideas to keep more of that hard-earned money in your wallet and less in the shops

Dinner
Most frugal option: Eat at home! You can make a fabulous steak dinner for a fraction of the cost of most restaurant meals on Valentine’s Day. There will be good deals at most grocery stores for steak and shrimp and a bottle of wine at Aldi or Trader Joes is about the cost of one glass of wine at many restaurants. And the big plus is that you won’t be waiting in line to get into a crowded, loud restaurant for your romantic evening. Light some candles, get out the nice dishes, play some sweet music and enjoy the peaceful evening.

If the thought of cooking on Valentine’s ruins the mood completely, then at least get a deal on your meal.

* Go out for lunch instead of dinner – the menu prices are usually less expensive and so are the crowds.

* There is no rule that says you have to go out to dinner exactly on February 14th. Go out on a different night to take advantage of weekly specials that some restaurants offer. Plus, you won’t have to fight the Valentine’s Day masses yearning to eat out.

* You could even get take out for the main entrees from your favourite restaurant and then enjoy a peaceful evening at home. Provide your own dessert and drinks and you have saved a bundle. * Daily deal sites: Groupon and Living Social have all been offering vouchers for restaurants. With these daily deals sites, you’ll find meals that are 50% off the retail price or better.

Fun with the Kids

* Start the day off with some heart shaped pancakes using a cookie cutter. I like to top them with some fresh strawberries or raspberries and powdered sugar.