Was there a hidden boost in Queen’s Speech for YOU? New legislation that could boost your household
Sunny outlook: The Queen’s Speech was packed with new legislation that could improve your finances
From protection for scam victims to an end to bogus reviews, the Queen’s Speech was packed with new legislation that could improve your finances. Read out by the Prince of Wales in Parliament last week, here’s what the new measures could mean for you.
An end to subscription traps: Most of us have signed up for a ‘free’ trial subscription and then forgotten to cancel before payments are deducted from our bank account or credit card.
New rules will mean companies must remind customers when an introductory special offer ends or when a contract is about to renew automatically. ‘
Subscription traps are a major irritation that apparently cost us £1.8billion,’ says Sarah Coles, senior personal finance analyst at Hargreaves Lansdown. ‘Forcing companies to warn people before the payment goes out could be the nudge we need to cancel in time.’
Fake reviews banned: Millions of us rely on online reviews to make decisions about the products and services we choose. But as The Mail on Sunday reported last year, around half of all online reviews are fake.
New legislation is set to outlaw fake reviews. It will become illegal to commission or offer to provide fake reviews or publish reviews without taking care to ensure they are real.
In time, that should give consumers greater confidence that the reviews they read are genuine and save them from costly mistakes.
Protection for Christmas savings clubs: Money held in savings clubs will be protected from companies going bust. Many households put money into a savings club throughout the year to spend on Christmas or other big events such as weddings.
Tough new laws will require all pre-payment schemes, including Christmas savings clubs, to safeguard customers’ money with insurance or in trust accounts. In theory, it means the funds should still be protected even if the firm goes bust. The Mail on Sunday has long campaigned for better protection for savers who use these services – following the collapse of club Farepak 16 years ago, when 116,000 savers lost £40million.
Free cash machines and shared banking hubs: Hope at last that access to cash will finally be better protected, thanks to a new Financial Services and Markets Bill.
This aims to ensure that everyone is able to withdraw and deposit cash for free. The Mail on Sunday ‘Keep Our Cash Campaign’ has long demanded communities have access to money – through high street banks and free cash machines.
Five million people in the UK rely on cash for budgeting. Elderly and vulnerable people suffer in particular when an ATM or bank branch closes leaving people unable to access cash easily. Measures are likely to include shared bank branches in communities where the last bank branch has closed.
Natalie Ceeney, chair of the Access to Cash Action Group, says: ‘Free access to money is essential for the most vulnerable people in society who use it for day-to-day budgeting.’
Pension annuities could get a boost: Plans to unravel European Union red tape around the financial industry could help boost annuity rates. New rules will mean insurance firms are able to release more money for investments, which should in turn allow them to offer higher annuity rates. Last year, a £100,000 pension pot might have bought you a single life annuity of £4,882. Under the changes actuary experts believe this could rise to around £5,700 a year. The boost would only apply to people taking out new annuity deals.
Vote on your neighbour’s extension: A shake-up to planning permission could mean that residents are able to vote on whether extensions to buildings on their street are allowed to go ahead. It is hoped the changes will give residents more involvement in local development.