Fourteen major money changes coming before Christmas including direct payments and benefit bonus | The Sun

CHRISTMAS may feel a long way off in the current weather, but it'll be here before you know it.

Before the year is out there are some key dates you need to be aware of when planning your budget.

There are several money changes on the horizon that could either help or hinder your festive celebrations.

A second cost of living payment worth £300 is set to hit bank accounts this autumn.

While the Bank of England will meet three times before Christmas to determine the UK's interest rate, in a move that could affect thousands of homeowners and savers.

The changes are all important to know so you can plan ahead and avoid being caught off guard.


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Amazon Prime same-day delivery

From September 18, Amazon Prime members will see a new charge of £1.99 introduced on same day deliveries worth less than £20.

Amazon Prime costs £8.99 a month and members currently get free delivery on all items including same day orders.

But after September 18 members will need to make sure orders are above £20 or face the charge.

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Same day delivery is usually available if you place an order by midday.

Inflation update

Official figures on the cost of living will be released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on September 20.

The inflation rate for August will give a key insight into price rises for goods and services across the country.

The Consumer Price Index came in at 6.8% in July and households will be hoping that the measure fell in August giving some respite on squeezed budgets.

Inflation is also a key consideration for the Bank of England – they are tasked with keeping inflation running at 2%.

Policymakers have been hiking interest rates in recent months in an effort to try to get inflation under control.

While inflation figures reflect price changes that have already happened, it could still affect your finances.

Depending on what the rate is, it could prompt the Bank of England could hike interest rates again to keep it under control.

September's inflation rate will also dictate next spring's benefit uprating.

So if it remains at 6.8%, benefit payments could rise by that in April.

Interest rate changes

The Bank of England will announce any changes to interest rates on September 21.

The base rate was hiked to a 15-year high of 5.25% in August.

Higher interest rates are bad news for borrowers as the cost of loans, credit cards and mortgage rise.

But on the flip side, rate hikes help savers earn more interest on their cash.

Inflation is set to be a key factor in whether rates are pushed higher still.

The Bank of England governor Andrew Bailey this week said he believes that interest rats are nearing their peak.

Economists expect the rate to rise to 5.5% in September – the 15th rise in a row – and to peak at 5.75%.

Energy price cap change

The Ofgem price cap will fall from £2,074 to £1,923 on October 1 for an average dual fuel household paying by direct debit.

It means that the cost of gas and electric will fall, and it's less than the £2,500 bills were capped at last winter.

But exact bills can still be higher or lower than the cap depending on usage, as the cap applies to the unit costs.

On September 30 you should try to take a meter reading.

This stops your supplier from estimating your usage which could see you pay more than you need to.


Stamp price rise

The price of a first class stamp will jump by 15p from the start of October 2 to £1.25.

It means that stamp prices have more than doubled since 2012.

But the Royal Mail confirmed that a second class stamp will still cost 75p.

If you know you'll use then, for example at Christmas, then it might be a good idea to snap them up before at the lower price.


The ONS will release the inflation figures for September on October 18.

This figure is usually used when working out how much benefits like Universal Credit and child benefit will rise the following April.

For example in September 2022 inflation was 10.1% and that's what payments went up by earlier this year in April.

But this is usually confirmed by the government shortly afterwards.

£2 cap on bus fares ends

The £2 cap on bus fares will come to an end on October 31.

The promotion was launched at the start of the year and was due to expire before being extended twice.

More than 130 operators outside London have been charging no more than £2 for a single ticket.

Single fares for a three-mile journey outside the capital normally cost an average of about £2.80, but they can cost more than £5 in more rural areas.

Second cost of living payment

The government has already handed out millions of pounds in cost of living payments since summer last year.

In the latest round of support, households will get a total of £900.

The payment has been split into three instalments of £301, £300 and £299, with the first having been paid in April and May.

However, the second instalment worth £300 is set to land in accounts in autumn, although an exact date is yet to be confirmed.

You will qualify for the £300 if you received certain benefits during a qualifying period. They are:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Tax Credits (Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit)
  • Universal Credit

The exact qualifying period for the second payment has not yet been announced by the Government.

It's worth checking what benefits you might be entitled to as it could then mean you qulify for the extra payment on top.

Millions of people are thought to be missing out on benefits they're entitled to – check if you're one of them.

Warm Home Discount

Eligible households will get £150 off their electricity bill between October 2023 and March 2024 through the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The payment isn't made to you, but is a one-off discount.

In some circumstances, you can get a discount on your gas bill instead – if your supplier provides you with gas and electricity and you quality.

You should contact your supplier to find out more.

If you're unsure about who supplies your energy, you can find out through Find My Supplier.

There are two different ways to qualify for the Warm Home Discount Scheme, depending on where you live.

If you're an England or Wales resident you qualify if you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.

Or, if you are on a low income and have high energy costs.

Meanwhile, if you live in Scotland you qualify if you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit.

Or, if you are on a low income and meet the criteria set by your energy supplier.


Disney+ price hike

Streaming giant Disney+ is launching two new subscription tiers on November 1.

Among them is a costlier premium tier, which will up the bills for millions of current subscribers by £3 a month.

The new plan will be called Disney+ premium and will increase from £7.99 to £10.99 a month.

But it will also launch an add-free Disney+ standard tier for £7,99 a month and an ad-based tier priced at £4.99.

All new customers will pay the following rates if they sign up for the streaming service from November 1.

Existing customers will be automatically switched over to the premium tier.

If they want to switch to a cheaper plan, this will need to be done before December 6 to avoid paying the higher price.

Interest rate changes

The Bank of England will announce any further changes to interest rates on November 2.

Autumn Statement

Jeremy Hunt will set out his Autumn Statement on November 22.

In the annual update, the Chancellor Jeremy Hunt will reveal the government's plans for the economy, including how tax will be used and plans for spending.

The Prime Minister and Chancellor have spend recent months promising to halve inflation amid a series of interest rater rises.

Mr Hunt has also faced pressure from some Tory MPs for tax cuts ahead of the next general election, expected before January 2025.


DWP Christmas bonus

Millions on Universal Credit and other benefits will get a £10 Christmas bonus this year.

Although it may seem like a small amount, every little helps over the costly festive season.

As the £10 is a bonus, it won't need to be repaid and it won't affect any other benefit you receive.

The payment is usually paid in the first full week of December, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has confirmed.

Interest rate change

The central bank will meet again on December 14 to decide on any changes to interest rates.

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Meanwhile, we have revealed four ways you can start saving for Christmas now so you're not caught out in December.

Plus, Asda is offering a free cash bonus for shoppers this festive season – we explain how you can get it.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected].

You can also join our new Sun Money Facebook group to share stories and tips and engage with the consumer team and other group members.

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