Renew your tax credits now

Do you receive tax credits? The deadline to renew tax credits of July 31st 2008 is fast approaching. It is important to renew or else you will stop receiving tax credits. HMRC needs you to do this to check whether you received all the money you were entitled to over the course of the last year and allows them to work out your payments for the current fiscal year.

You can either fill in the forms in the renewal pack that you have been sent or you can call the Tax Credit Helpline on 0845 300 3900.

Are you one of the many missing out on tax credits? In the UK £8bn worth of tax credits and benefits goes unclaimed every year. Visit to find out what you are entitled to claim.

Please read on for a summary of the personal finance news stories for the week beginning 14th July 2008.

Tuesday 15th July

Retail sales fall - Compared to June 2007, retail sales for June fell 0.4%. The retail market often serves as a good indicator of consumer confidence. Many choose to cut out unnecessary spending when budgets are tight, as they currently are, and in many regards this is the type of behaviour that is really important. Taking this into account, a fall of only 0.4% is small when you consider that this time last year the economy was thriving.

However, each of us still needs to learn to live within our means. A gap often exist between our knowledge and our actions. We have the knowledge to know that we shouldn’t spend beyond our means but actually living within our means seems an altogether different matter. Sadly, it ultimately comes down to discipline and self-control – two things many of us often don’t like to focus on. It undeniably is a pain to budget and be disciplined in our spending but it will help to avoid potentially cataclysmic problems further down the line.

Thursday 17th July

Rent now, buy later –A new Government scheme was launched on Thursday to help first-time buyers to get a foot on the property ladder. It has been labelled the “Rent now, Buy later” scheme. It allows households earning less than £60,000 to rent a property at a discounted rate (at 80% or less of the value of the property) for a couple of years, giving them an opportunity to build up enough money for the deposit needed to purchase the property.

Find out more about Mortgages with Moneybasics. Learn about Incomer Multipliers and discover what an Endowment Mortgage is.

Friday 18th July

Mortgage lending drops by 3% – - The amount of money lent out as mortgages has fallen to an estimated £23.8bn in June when compared to May according to the Council of Mortgage Lenders.

As the economic climate remains uncertain, now is the perfect time to start Saving. If you can put away a few pounds each week it will make a big, big difference if you are the victim of an unfortunate change in circumstances.

Prepared for Moneybasics by Jason Taylor, Advocacy Officer (Credit Action).