Outrageously, most people will pay £300 per year just for the facility of having gas and electricity, even if you don't use any. This is due to the high energy standing (daily) charges. These are a moral hazard and should, at the minimum, be substantially reduced – something I am, again, campaigning with the regulator Ofgem to change. So I wanted to bash out this blog to run you through it.
In 2016 I set up the Money & Mental Health Policy Institute charity, and I've chaired it and provided core funding ever since. Last week I was in a trustees' meeting, and got a summary of some of the year's activities from the acting chief exec Conor D'Arcy. It made such good reading, I wanted to share some of it to show exactly how many pies the team there have their fingers in (and how they improve the pies, which is probably where my analogy breaks down).
Is your electricity and gas provider unfairly sitting on £100s of your money? Over 65% of us pay energy bills by direct debit – the cheapest way to pay. However, monthly direct debits give firms the chance to build up a reservoir of customers' cash. Yet interrogating an energy firm's data shows that right NOW, May, is the PERFECT TIME to stop the rip-off and get that money back!
The joy of good salt 'n' vinegar is you bite them, and they bite back – the flavour needs to be strong, sharp, and leave your tongue feeling like sandpaper. So it's time to focus MSE's data-crunching expertise on to the ultimate investigative challenge... finding the UK's best salt 'n' vinegar crisps.
The 2023 academic year is about to start, and it'll see the biggest shake-up to student finance in England for a decade. The changes are both subtle and massive. On the surface they look like a tweak, in practice they will increase the eventual cost of going to university by over 50% for many typical graduates. I recognise that isn't what you want to read, and it's tough for me to write it too…
Between 2002 and 2011, every UK child was given £100s in a tax-free savings Child Trust Fund (CTF) by the state, which parents could then add more on top. The money was set to be accessible when the child turned 18 – giving everyone some cash to start their adult life. Now many with CTFs have hit that age, but for 80,000 children in England and Wales with special educational needs or disabilities, their cash can't be accessed without a nightmare, costly, often unaffordable process for their parents.
On Friday, the Chancellor, regulator the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), and bosses of the UK's major mortgage lenders agreed a new package of forbearance measures to help some with mortgage troubles (this was updated on Tuesday 26 June with the mortgage charter).
A decade ago, in June 2012, MSE joined the Moneysupermarket Group and I pledged £10m to go to charity. As that was a public pledge and I feel I've a duty of transparency, every year or two I bash out a blog report to explain where I'm up to, and who's got what money.
My well-documented fixation with the 'quantified self' has not yet abated, though according to my tracker, I didn't quite hit last year's high. In 2022 I did 8,989,908 steps – a little under 300,000 fewer than 2021. That, put another way, is 8,230km in the year, an average of 22.5km (14 miles) a day.
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3 January 2024It is a national tragedy that getting on for a million pensioners, many of whom have been paying into the system for years, are missing out on a critical boost to their income. It's called pension credit, and this year it also means you get an extra £650 to help with energy bills.