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Live Better Blog: September Round-Up

We’ve made it to September (where has this year gone? Anyone?) and that means it’s nearly the end of a rather turbulent summer.

If you’re still trying to catch up with all that’s happened over the last four weeks, we’ve got just the thing for you. Take a seat and settle in, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover…

The small stuff.

Here’s the latest bite-sized stories from across the personal finance world…

Creatures of habit.

It appears our pandemic eating habits haven’t wavered, even after restrictions had lifted! Average spending on takeaways has increased to £53 per person each month – up from £38 before the pandemic. Deliveroo has even seen its sales more than double from last year, with 148.8 million meals delivered.

All aboard.

Fancy a trip from London to Edinburgh for £15? Lumo, an new all-electric train service, is looking to rival domestic flights by offering a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way to travel between the hotspot locations (74,500 people fly between the two cities each year). Now you can save money whilst saving the planet, too.

Green machines.

It’s getting a bit green in here… Shell have announced plans to install 50,000 on-street EV charging points in the UK over the next 4 years (1/3 of the UK’s 150,000 target by 2025).

They’re hoping the extra charge points will help to make EVs more encouraging and accessible than a petrol or diesel car…

Temporary inflation.

Prices on, well, pretty much all everyday items have increased by 3.2% since last August, which is the biggest rise since records began in 1997. The Bank of England’s target of 2% inflation, which aims to keep prices steady, is seemingly well in the past – but the ONS says the increases are temporary…

Lockdown 4?

Unlikely. The government has laid out its winter COVID response plan in England, which sees a winter lockdown as a “last resort”, whilst COVID booster jabs and flu shots are considered to be Plan A. Read the full plan here.

Travel turbulence.

Heathrow airport, which was rated Europe’s busiest airport in 2019, has dropped down to 10th place owing to last month’s passenger numbers being down 71% of pre-pandemic levels. It’s calling for a rule change to help revive the UK’s struggling travel industry, which is recovering slower than other European cities.

Commuting pains.

How have you been getting to work? According to the Rail Delivery Group, train commuting is still just 33% of its pre-Covid rate, while car journeys have reached pre-pandemic levels.

The rail industry has warned that unless workers start taking the train again, there could be long-term adverse effects on city centres and High Streets, not to mention more pollution…

Debt spiral.

According to Citizens Advice, one in 10 shoppers who use Buy Now Pay Later credit end up being pursued by debt collectors. Whilst these payment options can help spread the cost of purchases, Citizens Advice say that for many people Buy Now Pay Later can be “a slippery slope into debt”, warning that shoppers were charged an estimated £39m in late fees in the past year…

Have you used Buy Now Pay Later for any purchases, and how has it impacted you? If you’d like to share your story with us, we’re listening.

Social care fund.

MPs have voted (319 to 248) to raise taxes by 1.25% to fund the NHS and social care from April 2022. The tax hike aims to being a £36bn investment to the health care system, whilst ensuring that individual spend on social care will be capped at £86,000, but some say the tax is unfair on working people…

Rising scams.

Have you received a text from a delivery company recently, but can’t remember purchasing anything? It could be a scam – parcel delivery text scams have become the most common trick fraudsters have been turning to, with millions of mobile users receiving texts telling them a small payment is needed to complete a package delivery in an attempt to steal bank details.

It’s part of the reason many of us refuse to respond to contact from an unknown number, with phone call and text message fraud across England, Wales and Northern Ireland up 83% from March 2020 and March 2021.

Contactless limit doubles.

Nearly two-thirds of debit transactions are made via contactless payment, and from October 15th, the spending limit will rise by over double the current amount – from £45 to £100.

But academics have warned that raising the limit could increase crime by tempting criminals to steal cards…

Closing down.

Over the last 5 years, 83% of high street department stores have closed down… only 79 of the UK’s largest chain stores (Debenhams, BHS and House of Fraser) remain, down from 467 in 2016. The pandemic had exacerbated the move to online shopping, and it’s left landlords wondering how to repurpose their empty commercial spaces…

Staycay in the UK.

Self-catered staycations in the UK have risen by 40% on average since last year. Coastal Brighton, Jersey’s St Helier, and Lyme Regis have seen the biggest hikes, with prices rocketing up to 89% more expensive than 2019. Consumer group Which? suggests holidaymakers are paying an average of £300 per week more than before the pandemic.

We’re being #GreatIn8!

What do you do when your beloved local Youth Zone has been facing financial hardship throughout the pandemic and needs as much support as possible?

Unfortunately, this is the question we’ve been faced with for our company charity, the Manchester Youth Zone. So, we’re rising to the challenge with a mammoth fundraising campaign spanning 8 whole months in the hopes to raise £50,000 for our Youth Zone!

Click here to read our first monthly update on our fundraising campaign – one month down, 7 to go!