11 new laws and financial changes for 2019 taking effect THIS WEEK

11 new laws and financial changes for 2019 taking effect THIS WEEK

From EU citizens, train toilets and knives to the minimum wage and Universal Credit, here are 11 of the biggest changes hitting you in April 2019

The country is consumed by the Brexit soap opera that affects us all.

But actually, there are many things in life that will hit you harder and more immediately than whether and how we leave the EU.

April is traditionally the time when a raft of new laws come into force changing your rights – and your wallet.

This year is no exception with new rules for EU citizens, train toilets and knives, and the minimum wage and Universal Credit.

We have rounded up 11 of the biggest changes coming into force in and around April 2019 – read on to see how they’ll hit you.

 

1. 3million EU citizens must apply to stay in the UK

EU citizens must apply over the coming months (pictured – a pro Brexit protest) (Image: Dan Kitwood)

 

DATE: Saturday 30 March

UK officials have now officially launched the process EU citizens must go through to remain in Britain after Brexit .

Over the coming period of more than a year, more than 3.5million EU citizens in the UK will have to use the EU Settlement Scheme if they want to stay beyond June 2021.

EU citizens who have been in the UK for five years or more by 31 December 2020 should apply for “settled status” now.

People who have not lived in the UK for five years must apply for “pre-settled status”. This gives them the right to stay until they reach the five year mark. At that point, they must apply again for the right to stay.

Former Home Secretary Amber Rudd infamously claimed it would be “as easy as setting up an online account at LK Bennett” – a posh shoe shop.

But the scheme was hit by technical glitches on the first day it was fully launched. And campaigners claimed vulnerable people in rural areas like Cornwall could have to travel more than 100 miles to have their paperwork scanned. The Home Office has insisted several types of help are in place.

 

2. Thousands more police can stop and search for knives

Police outside Parliament last week (Image: Dan Kitwood)

 

DATE: Sunday 31 March

Thousands more police officers can now authorise enhanced ‘stop and search’ probe.

Forces in badly-affected areas can now to activate the powers, designed to head off the knife crime crisis, at a lower level of seniority.

Home Secretary Sajid Javid lifted two restrictions in stop and search guidance, rolled out in 2014 under Theresa May .

The Best Use of Stop and Search Scheme, which all forces are signed up to, means police must first have an order signed off under Section 60 of the Criminal Justice and Public Order Act.

The signing officer has to be at least of chief superintendent rank, and must reasonably believe serious violence “will” take place.

Under the changes announced this weekend, which initially apply to seven forces, the rank at which a section 60 can be approved has been lowered to inspector.

This will result in at least 3,000 more officers being able to authorise the use of the powers, officials estimate.

The degree of certainty has also been lowered, so that the authorising officer must reasonably believe serious violence “may” occur.

3. ‘Crack cocaine of gambling’ stakes are being cut to £2

Fixed odds betting terminal stakes will be cut to £2 from tomorrow (Image: Alamy)

 

DATE: Monday 1 April

The maximum stake on highly addictive fixed odds betting terminals (FOBTs) will be cut from £100 to just £2 in a victory for campaigners.

The Mirror has campaigned for new regulations to limit stakes on the machines, dubbed the “crack cocaine of gambling”.

Tory MP Tracy Crouch, who resigned to fight for the stake to come in on April 1, tweeted: “I just wanted to say thank you to all those who helped secure change, including the brave addicts who spoke out, campaigners, health professionals, parliamentary colleagues & DCMS officials.

“It was the right & responsible outcome.”

But Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said activists and betting firms must be vigilant to players taking up other forms of gambling instead.

4. You’ll pay an inflation-busting hike in dentist fees

Going for a check-up will cost you more (Image: Getty)

 

DATE: Monday 1 April

Going to the dentist is still fairly cheap – compared to, say, private treatment or getting a train any further than a few miles.

But the government has taken advantage of this to whack on an above-inflation, 5% hike on charges.

A Band 1 treatment, including a standard check-up, will now cost £22.70 (up from £21.60).

A Band 2 treatment, including fillings, root canal work or extractions, now costs £62.10 (up from £59.10).

And a Band 3 treatment, including crowns, dentures, bridges and other laboratory work, now costs £269.30 (up from £256.50).

 

5. Toilets will be free to use at all major train stations

You’ll no longer have to spend 50p to spend a penny (Image: PA)

 

DATE: Monday 1 April

April 1 is the deadline for toilets to go free at all major train stations run by Network Rail.

Previously people had to spend up to 50p to spend a penny while waiting for a train at some city hubs.

But last year it emerged toilet charges would be scrapped. Most have had charges stopped already, with the remaining ones expected to follow on April 1.

At the time, Network Rail’s chief executive Mark Carne said it was “wrong to penalise people when they are in discomfort.”

The change only applies to the biggest stations, which are run by Network Rail, and not stations run by individual train firms.

6. The minimum wage for over-25s is rising 38p an hour

Good news for all those on the minimum wage, especially if you’re over 25 (Image: Leon Neal)

 

DATE: Monday 1 April

The ‘National living wage’ – the minimum wage for over-25s by any other name – is going up on April 1. That means more money in the pockets of an estimated 2million workers.

The rate is rising 4.9% from £7.83 to £8.21 an hour for those aged 25 and over – worth £691.60 a year to someone working a 35-hour week.

Rates for younger workers rise too.

They go up from £7.38 to £7.70 for people aged 21-24, from £5.90 to £6.15 for the 18-20 age group, and from £4.20 to £4.35 for those aged 16-17.

You can read our full guide to the April minimum wage rises here .

 

7. You’ll pay less income tax – especially if you’re a top earner

This one was dreamed up by help-the-rich former Chancellor George Osborne (Image: Reuters)

 

DATE: Saturday 6 April

You’ll pay no income tax on the first £12,500 of money you earn in the 2019/20 tax year – up from £11,850 previously.

That’s an extra £650 of tax free income compared with last year, saving people £130 in tax.

But the biggest benefit under the Tories is for Britain’s richest earners.

The threshold at which 40% tax kicks in is going up from £46,350 to £50,000 – saving the richest workers a much, much higher £730 a year.

8. You’ll have to pay more into a pension – but so will your firm

Your pension deductions will increase (Image: iStockphoto)

DATE: Saturday 6 April

The minimum amount you must pay into a workplace pension is being hiked sharply from 3% of your salary to 5%.

But every cloud has a silver lining, as employers will also have to pay more – with their contribution to your pot rising from 2% of your salary to 3%.

It applies to all staff who are in an “automatic enrolment” pension scheme, and is designed to make workers more self-reliant in an increasingly ageing society.

9. More workers will have the legal right to a payslip

New laws will force employers to provide standard details on all payslips (Image: Getty)

DATE: Saturday 6 April

From the 2019/20 tax year, new laws will force employers to provide standard details on all payslips.

These include gross salary, net salary, itemised deductions and variable hours.

Importantly, firms will now not only have to send payslips to employees but also anyone classed as a “worker”, which can include self-employed freelancers or contractors.

10. Universal Credit families get a lifeline worth up to £630 a year

Universal Credit is rising after years of complaints about the new benefit (Image: Alamy Stock Photo)

 

DATE: Monday 8 April

The ‘work allowance’ in Universal Credit – the amount you can earn before benefits are clawed back – is being raised by £1,000 a year.

The threshold will change from £198 a month to £287 for many claimants. Once you earn over that threshold, your UC is cut by 63p for every extra £1 you earn.

The huge U-turn announced at November’s Budget is worth up to £630 a year for families, and is costing the Treasury £1.7billion a year.

But it was also blasted as a “sticking plaster over a gaping wound” – as only families with dependent children and the disabled get work allowances.

Childless couples – or those whose children have flown the nest – won’t benefit from the rise. There were already more than 500,000 of these in December 2017 and will be many hundreds of thousands more when UC is rolled out in full from next summer.

11. But another year of the benefit freeze will kick in

Tory welfare chief Amber Rudd appeared to be powerless to stop the freeze going ahead this year (Image: Leon Neal)

DATE: Monday 8 April

From April 8, millions will enter the fourth year of the cruel benefit freeze – meaning it is now costing some families £1,800 a year.

The brutal real-terms cut was approved just days after MPs were told their salary will rise 2.7% to almost £80,000.

Figures last month showed a series of benefit freezes and caps since the Tories took power in 2010 have cost families £888 to £1,845 per year.

Carers’ and disability benefits like Personal Independence Payment (PIP) are exempt. But if you’re on ESA in the “work-related activity group” you don’t benefit.

For a fuller analysis of financial changes coming in this April click here.

And finally… the porn pass is NOT launching on April 1!

Claims the porn pass would launch on April 1 appear to have been an April Fool (Image: Getty Images/iStockphoto)

As of March 31, the government still hadn’t set a date to launch age verification for porn websites – despite claims online that it would be launching on April 1.

Under the plans, commercial porn sites will be forced to show they are verifying users are over 18 under the AgeID system.

That could force users to submit ID details online, like a driver’s licence or passport, or buy a voucher from a high street shop.

The porn block has been repeatedly delayed while officials iron out the kinks.

Ex-Culture Secretary Matt Hancock originally claimed it would be “fully in place” by “April 2018”. But it’s since emerged it could cost millions in legal battles against the government.

A government source told the Mirror the launch date would be announced soon, and could not rule out it being made public within days.