4 New Laws Are Coming Into Force Today That May Affect You
The Debrief: Today marks the start of a new financial year. Here are 4 new laws you didn't know about which have come into force and will probably affect you...
In the last week or so several new laws have come into force in the UK which directly affect you, but they may well have completely passed you by. In good news last week, the National Living Wage came into effect on April 1st. The hourly rate is now £7.20, which means that workers at the lower end of the pay scale, aged 25 and over, have effectively been given a pay rise of 50p an hour. Incidentally, the Living Wage Foundation says this still isn’t enough and recommends that hourly wages should be at least 39.40 in London and £8.25 elsewhere.
In slightly less good news there were also increases in council tax. If you live in a Band D property (which you may well do if you’re a renter who’s not living in a palace because Band Ds are mid-price range properties) then your council tax bill for the next year will increase, on average by £58. These are the biggest council tax increases in this country for 8 years.
Today marks the start of the 2016/17 tax year and a few more laws are coming in to force. Here’s what they are and how they affect you:
1. Non-EU workers who earn less than £35,000 face deportation
UK visa rules are changing, meaning that non-EU workers will no longer be able to stay in the country for longer than five years, unless they can prove that they earn more than £35,000.
This is good news for astro physicists and quantum mechanics majors because the new law won’t apply to nurses, people with PhD-level jobs or those who do jobs for which there is currently a shortage of people. However, these requirements may change in the future. This could affect huge numbers of people from teachers to people in the hospitality industry.
2. Your pension just got a whole lot smaller from today…
I know, I know. Pensions. A survey conducted before the election last year found that young people don’t even register that pensions are important. Thinking about them provokes similar feelings to the thought of checking your bank balance just before pay day…but…they’re going to be very important one day.
Now would be a good time to pay attention though because for anyone who retires after today pensions have changed. From now on there will be one flat-rate payment of £155.65 for state pensions. This is an overall increase on the basic state pension which was £119.30, but you used to be able to claim from three different pots: two state pensions as well as your workplace pension. From today people who retire won’t be able to claim on a second state pension based on National Insurance contributions, but will continue to pay into it.
The lifetime allowance for pensions has also been reduced: it was £1.25 million, it’s now £1 million.
The government themselves admit that men under 25 will be the worst off, getting around £844 less every year than they would have done previously because of the new rules. The Pensions Policy Institute have also told the BBC that ‘three-quarters of people in their 20s would lose on average £19,000 over the course of their retirement, as a result of moving to the new system.’
They have estimated that around two-thirds of workers in their 30s will lose an average of £17,000 over the course of their retirement.
3. On the plus side…your tax free personal savings allowance just got bigger…
From today something called the ‘Personal Savings Allowance’ has been introduced, after being announced in last year’s budget. It will mean that you can earn up to £1,000 in interest, tax free. Up until now savings were taxed at the same rate as income. This is basically good news for anyone with a savings account. If you don't have one, now would be a good time to get yourself to the bank and open an ISA.
4. And, finally, you are now legally required to microchip your dog
Dog owners in England, Scotland and Wales are now legally required to microchip their pets. This has been law in Northern Ireland since 2012. People who haven’t had their dogs microchipped could face a fine of up to £500. The government hopes that this will mean more stray or lost dogs are reunited with their owners.
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