This was the week that energy provider Npower announced it was putting its energy prices up, electricity by 15% and gas by 4.8%, in what has been called the single biggest rise in energy prices in years.
Npower, in its defence, said that the cost of wholesale energy and the introduction of Government initiatives like smart meters had led to the increase. For an average dual fuel Npower customer the price hike will mean their bills go up by 9.8% or £109.
But another increase reported this week is a good one for consumers. Savings of up to £85,000 will be safe if a bank or building society collapses, following a £10,000 rise in the protection level.
The threshold has changed because of the weakening of the pound against the Euro post Brexit.
Across the EU the amount of compensation payable if a bank or building society collapses is €100,000, so any change in value of currency can affect UK savers. It covers savings in current and savings accounts and cash ISAs. Joint accounts have a protection level of £170,000.
There were more prices rises reported in the world of insurance this week, with the Association of British Insurers reporting that car insurance premiums had reached a record high.
The average cost of comprehensive car insurance in the last three months of 2016 was £462. The trade association blamed the increase in Insurance Premium Tax, the cost to repair newer cars and whiplash claims.
Staying with insurance, it was also reported this week that thousands of insurance policy ‘add-ons’ have never received a claim. Add-on insurance is where one product is sold alongside another insurance product.
Figures from the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) showed that personal accident cover sold with home or motor insurance rarely led to payouts, in fact, nobody claimed over the course of a year on one policy.
Following thousands of complaints, the FCA published data showing the frequency of claims and their success rates. It said that there was a risk that many of these polices are poor value for money to the consumer.
An economic think tank reported this week that a ‘mini-boom’ in living standards had ended.
It said living standards improved significantly between 2014 and the beginning of 2016, as the double whammy of low inflation coupled with rising wages and employment meant people had more money.
But with inflation on the up and slower wage growth, that has come to an end.
Debt warnings continue, as the amount of people declared insolvent was 13% higher in 2016 than the previous year, according to new figures from the Insolvency Service.
A total of 90,930 people in England and Wales had to declare themselves insolvent due to unmanageable debts. But these numbers haven’t reached the peak of insolvencies reached in 2010.
These new figures come after Bank of England governor Mark Carney warned of a worrying level of personal unsecured borrowing, which is increasing at its fastest rate for a decade.