MORE THAN SEVEN MILLION ADULTS STILL STRUGGLING TO PAY BILLS, FINDS FCA

Around 7.4 million people in the UK struggled to pay a bill or a credit repayment in January, according to the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA).

The figure is lower than last year but is still significantly higher than before the cost-of-living crisis began.

According to the FCA, in January 2023, after the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent start of the cost-of-living crisis, the number of people in financial difficulty almost doubled to 10.9 million.

The FCA survey also suggested 5.5 million people had missed a bill or credit payment in the six months to January 2024.

In addition, one in nine people also had no disposable income, the FCA said.

Sheldon Mills, Executive Director of Consumers and Competition at the FCA, said:

‘Our research shows many people are still struggling with their bills, though it is encouraging to see some benefiting from the help that’s available.

‘If you’re worried about keeping up with payments, reach out to your lender straight away. They have a range of support options and will work with you to agree the best one for you. You can also find free debt advice through MoneyHelper.’

Internet link: FCA website

HMRC LAUNCHES ONLINE VOLUNTARY NICS PAYMENT SERVICE

HMRC has launched a new online voluntary NICs payment service.

The government says the new service will make it easier for customers to check for and fill any gaps in their National Insurance record to help increase their State Pension.

It also said that the new Check your State Pension service has been enhanced to include an end-to-end digital solution.

The service shows customers by how much their State Pension could increase and outlines the voluntary NICs they would need to pay to achieve this.

The service also allows people under the State Pension age to view gaps in their National Insurance record and pay voluntary contributions to fill the gaps.

Minister for Pensions, Paul Maynard, said:

‘The State Pension is the foundation of income in retirement, which is why we have introduced this new online tool to help simplify boosting it for those who are able to.

‘I would encourage everyone to check their State Pension forecast and to take a look at how they could improve their State Pension award with only a few simple clicks.’

Internet link: GOV.UK

HMRC CLARIFIES TAX RULES FOR WFH COMMUTING

HMRC has updated guidance on when tax relief is available on travel expenses for staff who work from home.

The tax authority is responding to the growth of flexible or hybrid basis working contracts, particularly since the Covid-19 pandemic.

HMRC confirmed that ‘under such arrangements, the employee will have a base office and journeys from home to that location will be ordinary commuting‘.

These trips are not eligible for tax relief.

Whether or not an employee’s home is a workplace does not affect the availability of tax relief for travel expenses.

Travelling from home to a permanent workplace is classed as ordinary commuting and not available for tax relief.

HMRC states:

‘Even though it may have been accepted that the employee’s home is a workplace, it does not necessarily follow that they’ll be entitled to tax relief for the cost of travel between their home and a permanent workplace.’

This is because even where working from home is part of the employment contract, this can be due to personal choice and not a requirement of the role. In such cases, travel from home to the office remains private travel.

Travel costs from home to a temporary workplace remain available for tax relief.

Internet link: GOV.UK