Confidence in the future of the economy has dropped to its lowest point since the winter lockdown last January and inflation is driving up prices.
Many of us will be considering our financial futures and putting in plans for the year ahead.
Here Which? has rounded up many of the biggest changes 2022 has in store for your money and what you can do if you’re concerned.
- Train travel
- National living wage
- Council tax
- Water bills
- Broadband, mobile phone and TV bills
- National Insurance
Concern about food prices is very high, with more than two-thirds* of us worried about the creeping cost of our weekly shop.
There are several factors that could cause food prices to rise in 2022.
These include inflation, a shortage of workers which has meant companies have had to increase their wages to attract staff, the rising cost of shipping and increased costs of importing and exporting as a result of Brexit.
From 1 January full UK customs declarations will be required on goods coming from the EU. This means an awful lot more paperwork for hauliers and more checks at ports.
There are fears this could mean more supply chain problems.
Supermarkets will likely try to absorb price rises as much as possible. But this is unsustainable in the long-term and eventually they will pass some of it on to us.
Money-saving tip: Keep an eye out for Which?’s regular reveal of the cheapest supermarket each month.
From 1 January, when you’re sent a renewal quote, your home or motor insurance company will have to offer you the same deal that they would offer new customers.
It’s good news if you tend to stick with the same company, but it’s likely to mean the end of very cheap deals if you’re prepared to keep switching.
The new rules are expected to save UK consumers £4.2bn over the next 10 years.
You’re still going to see your premiums change from year to year, so it will always be worth checking if more competitive deals are available.
- Find out more: how to find cheap car insurance
There will be an announcement on the energy price cap in February and then in all likelihood price rises will be introduced on 1 April.
Because of dramatically more expensive wholesale prices and the cost of energy company failures you can expect your annual bill to increase by hundreds of pounds.
The current cap is £1,277 and Energy UK has warned it could rocket up by £500 or more.
Money-saving tips: use our guides on 10 ways to save on energy bills, how to get the best energy deal, and help if you’re struggling to pay your energy bill.
4. Return of roaming fees
British holidaymakers face the return of mobile data roaming charges when travelling in Europe.
EE and Vodafone will reintroduce roaming charges of £2 per day for customers travelling to Europe. Meanwhile Three is planning to charge its customers to use data in Europe from May.
EE customers who joined or upgraded their contract before July 2021 will be unaffected, as will people with Vodafone contracts started before August 2021.
Three customers from before September 2021 will also be unaffected.
5. Train travel
The government has capped rail fare increases in 2022 at 3.8% and it has delayed the rise in prices until March .
If you’re a regular commuter it’s a good idea to get cheaper flexible or season ticket at the existing rate before the increases come into effect.
- Find out more: how to find cheap train ticket deals
Drivers are already paying £1.42 per litre and the RAC is predicting it could reach £1.50 a litre in 2022 if oil reaches $100 a barrel.
It also expects diesel to rise, but is quick to point out it is still ‘a little way off its all-time high’.
Money-saving tips: prices can vary depending on the petrol station you use and where you live, so try to compare prices before filling up. You may also be able to save by using petrol station loyalty schemes such as BPme and Texaco Star Rewards.
- Find out more: how to save fuel and other money-saving driving tips
7. National living wage
The minimum wages for all ages will rise from April 2022. The ‘National Living Wage’ for workers aged 23 and over will increase from £8.91 to £9.50 per hour.
Minimum wages for other age ranges will increase as follows:
- 21 to 22-year-olds: from £8.36 to £9.18 per hour
- 18 to 20-year-olds: from £6.56 to £6.83 per hour
- 16 to 17-year-olds: from £4.62 to £4.81 per hour
- Apprentices: from £4.30 to £4.81 per hour.
But, even after this change, the National Living Wage will not be in line with the Living Wage Foundation’s current real Living Wage of £9.90. The real Living Wage is calculated based on the cost of living, and employers can choose to pay it if they wish.
It’s also likely with the rising cost of living, the real Living Wage will increase further.
- Find out more: you might be eligible for certain benefits to help boost your finances. You can check what you are eligible for using the benefits calculator on Entitledto.
State pensions are set to increase by 3.1% on 6 April 2022. This will mean an annual boost of up to £289 for pensioners.
However, the rise isn’t as big as it could have been. That’s because the ‘triple lock’ was suspended for a year because the pandemic distorted wage inflation. If it had risen with the triple lock as usual it would have been an inflation-busting 8.3% increase.
- Find out more: state pension to rise by 3.1% under temporary ‘double lock’
9. Council tax
Councils will be able to raise council tax by 2% – plus another 1% for social care – without holding a referendum. This could push the annual tax bill for a Band D property to more than £1,950, up from £1,898 today.
Money-saving tip: you can challenge your tax bills if you think you’re paying too much. Your council tax is based on property valuations dating back to the early 1990s. Many are now out of date or were wrong in the first place.
But beware, a challenge can also result in your bill going up if it turns out you’ve been underpaying. It can also result in other houses on your street being uprated.
- Find out more: reducing your council tax bill
10. Water bills
One small consolation is that water bills are likely to fall slightly, as water companies have been told to drop prices very gradually until 2025.
Money-saving tip: unlike other utilities, you can’t change your water provider. One way to save could be to switch to a water meter so your bill is worked out based on how much water you use. Typically if there are more bedrooms in your home than people, or the same number, you’ll probably save money by getting a meter.
11. Broadband, mobile phone and TV bills
Ofcom rules say customers must be given one month’s notice of any rise in the monthly fee, and allowed to exit the contract without penalty.
But many companies use a loophole in this rule by writing yearly increases into many broadband, mobile phone and TV package contracts, giving your provider the ability to hike prices in March by the January Consumer Price Index inflation measure plus 3.9%.
With inflation recently soaring to 5.1% it could lead to a hefty 9% rise for each contract, potentially adding hundreds to your annual bills.
- Find out more: get the best broadband deals
Currently those aged over 60 do not have to pay for medication, but new proposals to raise the qualifying age could change this.
The government is planning to raise the qualifying age for free medical prescriptions from 60 to 66. If you are aged between 60-65 you could have to start paying for antibiotics, illness treatments and more, if the change goes ahead.
But you might qualify for free prescriptions if you are on a lower income, qualify for other benefits or obtain a medical exemption.
In a double blow, there could be a hike in prescription charges.
Prescriptions for a majority of adults in England currently costs £9.35 per item and the price could rise with inflation in April.
If you have a serious condition you might be able to get a prescription payment certification (PPC). It costs £108.10 for a year of ‘free’ prescriptions – but it could also rise with inflation.
13. National insurance
In September 2021, the government announced plans to introduce a health and social care levy of 1.25 percentage points to be added to UK workers’ National Insurance contributions from April 2022.
This means someone who is employed and earns £30,000 a year would pay £2,452 for Class 1 National Insurance in 2021-22, but in 2022-23, this will rise to £2,665.90.
For a self-employed worker with profits of £20,000, they’d pay £1,097 in 2021-22 through a mix of Class 2 and Class 4 contributions. In 2022-23, they’ll have to pay £1,201.10.
It’s worth finding out if you’re exempt from paying National Insurance. If you don’t have to pay National Insurance you might be eligible for National Insurance credits, or you can choose to make voluntary contributions.
You can use our calculator below to find out how the change will impact your finances or use our guide to understand how much National Insurance you’ll pay, depending on your employment status.
*Consumer confidence and financial wellbeing, October 2021