It’s important to keep up to date with the rules, whether you’re claiming a tax refund or just taking care of your family. Every year there are new laws, tax regulations and other changes to be aware of, and 2021’s no different. Here’s a quick rundown of the latest crop of rules that might affect you.

Road Rules

When you travel for work, you need to track more than just your mileage. This year sees several changes to the laws around vehicles and their use.

  • E10 petrol

E10 is a new petrol blend that’s set to becoming the standard unleaded option at the pumps in England Wales and Scotland this month. It contains twice the amount of bioethanol than the older E5 fuel, but most vehicles on the road will still be able to run on it. However, if your car was manufactured before 2011, you might want to check it’s compatible. It’s estimated that about 5% of road users could struggle with E10 – and could be looking at some nasty internal damage to their vehicles over time if they use it.

  • The licence extension’s ending

The COVID-19 pandemic saw licence renewals put back for 11 months last year. If you need to renew, you should be getting a reminder about it. Don’t ignore that when it comes, or you’ll be hit with a fine. Once you’ve got confirmation that your renewal’s working its way through the system, you should be fine to drive.

  • Licence plate changes

This month, we’ll start seeing the “71” number plates on new vehicles. At the same time, new standards mean older BS AU 145d plates are giving way to the new BS AU 145e version.

Work and money

There are a few key points to note about both the cash in your bank account and the money you’ve got coming in this year.

  • The end of the Universal Credit uplift

People claiming Universal Credit got a much-needed £20-per-week boost during the pandemic. We were always told it would come to an end, though. Now that time has come, with typical payments falling from just over £411 to just under £325.

  • Changes to banking rules and contactless

The limit on contactless payments is being doubled to £100 per transaction, recognising how popular these kinds of payments have become. Meanwhile, the Strong Customer Authentication system is seeing banks impose new safety checks to help keep your cash safe. As the rollout starts, you might find yourself getting contacted more often to check that your online payments are authentic. Now’s a good time to make sure your bank or credit provider has the right contact details for you.

  • The end of the furlough scheme

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme’s been a lifeline to a huge number of UK families since the pandemic started. However, it’s been tailing off recently, and is now set to close altogether at the end of September.

What we’re spending

Some new laws and rules coming in cover the prices we’re being charged on essential costs and purchases. As always, there’s some bad news mixed in with the good. Here are a few of the key changes.

  • School uniform rules

The prices being asked for school uniforms could be set to plummet by hundreds of pounds, thanks to a new law. The rules now say that schools won’t be able to insist on expensive branded uniforms from specific suppliers any more.

  • Utility bills going up and the Warm Home Discount

A whopping 15 million households could start seeing their energy prices skyrocket from October. The cost of producing the energy our homes use has been rising sharply, and several suppliers have already bumped up their tariffs to the maximum allowed. Check those comparison websites and switch if you find a better deal.

Obviously, this isn’t great news given that we’re moving into the colder months now. However, struggling families could get some help in the form of the Warm Home Discount scheme. It’s a single payment of £140 toward your energy bills, going straight to your supplier. You have to contact them to apply for it, and it only counts between October and March. If you qualify, they’ll knock the amount off your bill.

  • The big bulb ban

From this month on, halogen light bulbs will be pulled from the shelves in favour of longer lasting LED types. If you’ve still got halogen bulbs in use, you can keep them until they burn out. After that, though, you’ll have to make the switch.

It’s always critical to know the rights and rules that apply to you. That’s why talking to RIFT is the best way to get back the tax HMRC owes you. With things getting tougher for UK workers and families, it’s more important than ever that you don’t leave your cash in the taxman’s hands. Use our free calculator to check if you're owed a tax refund.

Our expertise makes us the UK’s leading specialists in tax refunds. That’s why you’re always better off with RIFT.