Get clued up on what's in store for the year ahead

This year is bringing a whole host of changes to personal finances, from the introduction of a new tax to certain paper notes being phased out. Here’s a run-through of what’s happening in 2022 and the key finance dates for your diary.

Train fares increased by 3.8% at the start of the year, which means commuters will be paying more for their season tickets. The increase is determined by the RPI measure of inflation from July last year, but passengers will be relieved a more current figure isn’t used, as RPI inflation is now above 7%.

The move represents the largest increase in a decade, and will do little to encourage employees back to the office. January also brings a small tweak to inheritance tax rules, which means that people who died and were domiciled in the UK and who aren’t liable to pay inheritance tax will no longer have to submit full accounts and reams of paperwork.

The main event in February is the announcement of what the energy price cap will rise to. The change won’t come in until April, but many households will be keen to hear how much their bills will rise by.

One estimate from analysts at Cornwall Insight has it rising by 50%, meaning the average household usage will rise to more than £1,900 a year.

Also in February is the next decision from the Bank of England on interest rates, with all eyes on whether they increase rates again, after raising them to 0.25% in December.

April brings the tax year end, which usually comes with a host of tax rate changes. This year most allowances have been frozen, so people won’t get the benefit of an increased income tax band, personal allowance, Isa allowance or pensions lifetime allowance, among others.

The biggest change is the introduction of a new health and social care levy, which effectively means a 1.5 percentage point increase in National Insurance.

It means that the National Insurance rate will increase from 12% to 13.25% on earnings between the ‘primary’ income threshold (currently £9,568 per year) and the ‘upper’ income threshold (currently £50,270 per year), and from 2% to 3.25% on earnings above £50,270. The costs will also increase for employers.

This extra tax will also be due on dividends, with the rate increasing by 1.5 percentage points for every income tax level, so it will stand at 8.75% for basic-rate payers, 33.75% for higher-rate payers and 39.35% for additional rate payers.

This tax is only due on income-paying investments that aren’t in an ISA or pension, so it means some may decide to shovel some of their investments into their ISA before the tax year end, to avoid some of the impact.

April will also bring pay rises for many, as the state pension will rise by 3.1%, taking the ‘old’ basic state pension from £137.60 per week to £141.85 per week and the ‘new’ flat-rate state pension from £179.60 per week to £185.15 per week. The National Living Wage will also increase – the rates vary depending on the age of the worker, but for those aged 23 and over it will rise from £8.91 to £9.50.

This will be the last month you can use the old style £20 and £50 notes, as from 30 September they will be withdrawn – so time to raid your piggy banks and look down the back of the sofa.

The final month of the year will bring the end of the mortgage guarantee scheme, which the government introduced for 95% mortgages to help encourage lenders to give money to riskier borrowers. The Government may decide to extend the scheme though.

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