Cost of living - latest: Britons warned they won't save money this winter; people in credit advised to call energy provider (2023)

Key points
  • New energy price cap set at £2,074 from July
  • What should you do now?
  • Jeremy Hunt doesn't rule out further energy support
  • Bill payers warned they won't save money this winter
  • Interest rate forecasts rise significantly in recent days | Ed Conway explains why and what it means
  • Who's making money from rising food prices?
  • Your dilemmas:I am paying my dad's mortgage, how do I get added on formally?
  • Budgeting Mum: Saving for your children | Do food subscriptions save you money?| Holiday spending money| Best broadband deals
  • Live reporting by Jess Sharp


Car production increases for third month in a row

Car production has increased for the third month in a row as shortages of supplies continued to ease, new figures show.

A total of 66,527 cars were made in April, an increase of almost 6,000 on the same month last year, said the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Exports drove production, rising 14.7% to 54,820 vehicles, with more than four out of five cars built in this country heading overseas.

The European Union remained the most important global market, taking 58% of all exports, followed by the US, China and Australia.

Hybrid electric (HEV), plug-in hybrid (PHEV) and battery electric vehicles (BEVs) represented more than a third of all production.


Savings deals of the week expert Rachel Springall has published her savings deals of the week.

Chip – Instant Access powered by ClearBank

"Chip has increased the rate on its Instant Access powered by ClearBank product to 3.75% this week, improving its position in the market. Savers searching for a competitive rate on a flexible savings account may find this deal attractive as it allows unlimited withdrawals. Savers should be aware that they need to hold a Chip subscription (for which both free and paid options are available)."

Minimum opening amount: £1

Investec Bank plc – 1-Year Fixed Rate Saver

"Now paying 5.00%, the deal has improved its position within its sector against its peers and may be an attractive choice for savers looking to lock their money away for a year for a guaranteed return."

Minimum opening amount: £5,000

UBL UK – 1 Year Fixed Rate Cash ISA

"Now paying 4.35% on maturity, savers may find this an attractive choice if they have yet to use their ISA allowance, but they must be comfortable with their initial investment as further additions are not permitted."

Minimum opening amount: £2,000

Gatehouse Bank – Easy Access Cash ISA

"Savers who want flexibility with their ISA cash may find the latest rate rise by Gatehouse Bank appealing. The deal now pays an expected profit rate of 3.55% and improves its position within the top rate tables in its sector. The account offers a monthly expected profit option, which may appeal to savers looking to supplement their income."

Minimum opening amount: £1

NatWest – 2 Year Fixed Rate ISA Issue 323

"This week, NatWest has increased the rate on its 2-Year Fixed Rate ISA, which now pays 4.50%. The deal takes a more prominent position within its sector against its peers and may well attract savers who plan to use their tax-free ISA allowance. Savers who are happy to lock their cash away until 2025 can make further additions until a certain date, which may appeal to those who may have extra cash to invest or transfers in."

Minimum opening amount: £1,000


Jeremy Hunt doesn't rule out further energy support

Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has not ruled out further support for bill payers if the energy price cap rises again this autumn.

Speaking exclusively to Sky News' Ed Conway, Mr Hunt said today's reduction in the price cap was "positive news" for families - but acknowledged it was still a "period of distress" for many.

Asked if he would step in to help should the price cap be increased again later in the year, Mr Hunt said "we want to do everything we can to help families".

The chancellor added that while he couldn't predict what might happen in the autumn, the government was "willing to do what it takes" to support households.

Conway suggested this meant Mr Hunt was going as far as he could in saying he wouldn't stand at the sidelines if prices were to rise unexpectedly.

"I don't have a crystal ball," the chancellor said.

"That's why I don't want to say more. Nor do I know what the state of public finances will be."

The Treasury is "very aware" of the pressures faced by families, Mr Hunt added.

"Which is why we are putting in really about £100bn of support to help families over this year and last year - a huge sum of money - to help people get through this very difficult period."


Read this before heading out to buy a meal deal this lunchtime

Meal deals are a British lunchtime staple - beloved by everyone from trade workers to office staff looking for a quick and convenient bite to eat.

But amid the cost-of-living crisis, which shop offers the best value for money meal deal?

Consumer group Which? has crunched the numbers and found that the cheapest is at Asda for £3 - depending on what you buy.

Unlike many shops, Asda runs a 3-for-2 system on a main, drink and snack.

Some sandwiches can cost £2 and drinks £1, with the snack usually the cheapest and therefore free. However, the price of the deal can be as high as £5.

For consistent prices, Tesco wins, at £3.40 with a Clubcard.

Those without a Clubcard have to pay £3.90 - though Tesco says 70% of meal deals are purchased at the discounted price.

Tesco raised the price of its meal deal in February - meaning they are up from last year's price of £3 and £3.50 respectively.

Tesco also introduced in a Premium meal deal this year - priced at £5 with a Clubcard and £5.50 without. This includes more expensive mains such those from the Tesco Finest range and a YO! Rainbow Salmon Poke.

Next up is Sainsbury's, priced at £3.50. Though there are no Nectar card discounts, shoppers can earn points which can be used to pay for or towards shopping at a later date.

Morrisons also offers a £3.50 meal deal when bought with a Morrisons More card and £4 without - while Co-Op does the same with a Co-op membership card.

A meal deal at Boots is priced at £3.60 with a Boots Advantage Card or £3.99 without.Amazon Fresh - which has 18 stores in London and one in Kent - has a meal deal ranging from £3.50 to £5 depending on the main.


People have started spending money on themselves again

People have increased the amount they spend on themselves, despite concerns over covering essential costs reaching the highest level this year, according to Nationwide.

In its latest spending report, the building society found overall non-essential spending was up 8% year-on-year in April with £3.15bn spent.

Here's what else we learnt from the report:

  • There was a 34% annual growth in spending on airline travel;
  • Sales of digital goods rose by 33%;
  • Spending on utilities, such as electricity, gas and water, was nearly a quarter (+23%) higher than it was in April last year, with the average transaction value rising 26% to £91;
  • There was an 18% annual growth in spending in supermarkets;
  • Three quarters (74%) of people are worried about their personal finances and ability to cover essential costs – the highest level this year;
  • Parents expect to spend an average of £545.99 per week to cover the cost of feeding and entertaining children.


Most common scam of the year revealed - and how to avoid it

Parcel delivery fraud is "by far" the most common scam faced by the public so far this year, according to Citizens Advice figures.

Almost half of 40 million people targeted by scammers (49%) found themselves involved in a malicious parcel delivery scam, with fraudsters attempting to get hold of personal information or bank details.

People received texts or emails claiming to be from a delivery company to reschedule or pay additional delivery fees in an attempt to get people's personal information or bank details.

Others were given false tracking information for items bought online.

The charity's data revealed over-75s were the most commonly targeted, with 87% facing a scam and most often via telephone.

The next most at-risk age group was 18 to 24 years, with 84% targeted - usually via text or mobile messaging.

Here are some tips to avoid falling victim to the scam:

  • Report any missed parcel message that looks suspicious - look out for generic wording such as Dear Sir/Madam, spelling mistakes or claims there was an attempt to deliver goods when you haven't ordered anything;

  • Never click any links that appear in the text message, nor install apps if prompted;

  • If there is a phone number provided in the text message, do not call the number;

  • You can report parcel delivery scamming for free by forwarding the text to 7726;

  • Delete the message off your device.


Banks could be made to help customers struggling to repay their mortgage

Banks and building societies could be required to help customers struggling to repay their mortgages and loans, the financial watchdog has said in proposals to make COVID-era rules permanent.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) introduced temporary guidance to mortgage, consumer credit and overdraft providers as thepandemic unfolded, including directing people to free debt advice.

"Many firms have been following our temporary guidance, developed during the pandemic, to support borrowers in tough
times," said Sheldon Mills, FCA executive director for consumers and competition.

"Our proposals today will help ensure this continues. Where we see firms not providing the right support, we will act quickly to put this right."

It comes after the FCA said millions of British borrowers repeatedly missed payments on bills in the six months to January amid the steep surge in inflation and interest rates.


Is the government doing enough to ensure high energy bills aren't a long-term problem?

The answer, according to Energy Saving Trust chief executive Mike Thornton, seems to be no.

The country needs to use less energy and do more to secure its supply, he says - while also cutting carbon.

These are his thoughts...

"The UK government must not lose the acute sense of urgency needed to address the root causes of the energy and climate crises for the long-term while ensuring that proper support remains in place for those that need it now.

"Energy prices are still around twice as high as they were just over two years ago.

"Despite setting a target of 15% reduction in energy demand by 2030, the UK government has not set out a plan about how it will be delivered.

"They need to drive forward the systemic changes required to minimise bills, cut carbon and increase energy security for the long term. We cannot afford to wait any longer for the urgent action required."


Europe's biggest economy enters recession

Germany has formally entered a recession after its economy suffered an unexpected dip in the first quarter of the year.

The country's gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 0.3% in the period from January to March, data released by the Federal Statistical Office shows.

The figures will be a blow to the government, which last month boldly doubled its growth forecast for this year, saying GDP will rise by 0.4% - up from a 0.2% expansion predicted in late January.

Economists said high inflation hit consumer spending, with prices in April 7.2% higher than a year ago.

GDP reflects the total value of goods and services produced in a country.


What should people do now?

If you've been following along you'll see this is our second such post - we're doing a fresh one as we have a few new expert contributions, including from Uswitch.

Call your provider

Uswitch says that anyone in a fair amount of credit come July should contact their energy provider to discuss lowering their direct debit.

Natalie Mathie, energy expert at the comparison site, says: "The average household can expect monthly direct debits to be set at £173, although typical seasonal usage may only see you spend £110 a month over the summer."

A note of caution

It is also worth noting that there will be no government help this winter - such as the £66 monthly payments most people received late last year and into this one.

Still, Ms Mathie says the price cap reduction is "good news" but people should be aware that now the government's Energy Price Guarantee is going (from the end of June), "volatility" reigns as the price cap is updated every three months.

Switching deals?

There is now a feeling among analysts that fixed-rate deals could start returning to the market - so you might be able to get a deal cheaper than the price cap.

"This is a watershed moment for energy suppliers who can now look to start offering fixed deals again, given the market conditions - and would help to encourage genuine competition in the retail energy market," says Ms Mathie.

"After a long spell of having no option but to try to reduce their usage at home, now is the time for energy customers to start paying attention to the market again."

Alice Haine, personal finance analyst atBestinvest, agrees: "While there are no fixed deals available right now, that may change in the days and weeks ahead if suppliers start offering deals though any decision to fix needs careful consideration."

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