Martin Lewis has called for a crackdown on energy suppliers ‘doubling’ direct debits, even for those in credit.
The MoneySavingExpert founder revealed that a number of companies are hiking household direct debits disproportionately to the price cap increase, even if their accounts are in credit.
Lewis has now called upon regulator Ofgem to ‘crack down’ on the practice, saying it is ‘not mathematically sound’ and a ‘breach of license conditions’.
He told MPs in a video statement: “There is no reason to double someone’s direct debit when they’re in credit and the price cap is going up 54%.
“That’s not mathematically sound and it’s a breach of licence conditions. I have been very concerned that a number of companies are doing it to improve their cash flow situation at the expense of their customers and I would like to see the regulator crack down on that quite substantially.”
He then pointed out: “It’s important to remember that there is no competition in the market any more. This is not a market… No-one can switch.”
Lewis went on to explain that companies are seeing this price change as an ‘opportunity to crystallise a change in payments’, saying that consumers need to be ‘wary’.
He said: “The amount of playing fast and loose that seems to be going on is huge right now. We need to crack down and we need to be much tougher with firms that do this.”
Lewis has previously offered tips on how to keep energy bills as low as possible amid the cost of living crisis. They are as follows:
- Consider getting a fixed tariff that is no more than 40% above the price cap
- Improve insulation in your home
- Turn the thermostat and radiators down
- Think about budgeting everyday costs
- Use your smart meter and take regular meter readings
- Speak to your energy provider now if you are struggling to pay your bills
Radio station playing Christmas tunes 24-hours a day launches in UK
All I want for Christmas is a 24-hour station playing nothing but Christmas bops!
You can get in the festive spirit and play Christmas bangers 24/7 on a radio station that has just launched.
It’s the ‘ember’ time of year again which means the Christmas countdown is on, and what more to get you in the mood than to play your favourite Chrimbo bangers all day long?
Heart radio brought back their annual festive station Heart Xmas last Friday (September 22nd) packed with all the best festive tunes.
It’s the earliest Heart Xmas, which has been going since 2016, has ever gone live in the run up to December 25th.
With just over 12 weeks to go until the big day, this station is sure to get you in the right frame of mind to start tackling your Christmas shopping list.
You can listen to all the classics including none other than Mariah Carey’s ‘All I Want for Christmas’, Slade’s ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’ as Noddy Holder shouts ‘it’s Chrriissttmmaaasss!’, and ‘Last Christmas’ by Wham!.
But it won’t just be the well-known oldies as it will play ‘more recent and upbeat Christmas songs’ too.
So, if you need some help to get into festive mode this year, download the Global Player app and listen to Heart Xmas live.
It’s also available on digital radio across the UK so you can tune in and sing Fairytale Of New York at the top of your voice as you are ‘Driving Home for Christmas’.
Ten laws you could be breaking at your own home without even realising
Did you know about these?
Here are ten of the most common laws you may be unaware you’re breaking at home, but which could set you back thousands of pounds in fines.
Households are being warned of laws they may be unknowingly breaking all from the comfort of their own home.
A new study by property experts Lajollalife.com reveals a list of the everyday laws people are accidentally breaking within their homes that could set you back an eye watering £44,100.
There’s been a steady increase in the number of fines issued in the UK over the last three years, according to government data.
In 2019, 68 million fines were issued compared to 2022, where 77 million fines were handed out. In 2023, it’s estimated that around 13.4 million people will be fined in the UK this year.
And now, UK homeowners must comply with new energy performance regulations or face penalties, including imprisonment of up to one year or fines amounting to £15,000.
Listed below are 10 of the most common laws you could be unknowingly breaking at home:
Not fixing a leaky tap – £1,000
According to Google search data, there are around 18,000 people typing ‘how to fix a leaky tap’ every month. But, as per The Water Industry Act 1999, you could be fined £1,000 for not repairing it.
The act says homeowners are required to fix any leaky taps within ‘a reasonable amount of time’. The Office of Water Services (Ofwat) states that water undertakers should expect homeowners to fix leaky taps within 24 hours of becoming aware of them.
Chris Guilfoyle, Managing Director of Greywater Drainage Solutions, said: “It’s interesting that the majority of the population do in fact appear to not be aware of such laws and the typical leaks that we fix are not recent occurrences.
“In fact I would estimate that 70% of leaks that we attend and repair have been ongoing for months, perhaps even years, due to the level of scale and corrosion to the surrounding areas; this is a tell-tale sign.
“When considering your leaking taps, don’t forget to check the pipework and valves under your sink as these are guaranteed to damage surrounding areas.”
An untidy garden – £500 fine
Google search data also reveals there’s been a 187% increase in people searching for ‘tidy garden’ online.
Under the Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976, the law requires people to keep their gardens in good condition, or be fined up to £500.
Not displaying your house number clearly – £500
According to Street naming and Numbering (England) Regulations 1999, homeowners must display their house number clearly. House numbers should be placed in a visible position which can be seen from the street.
Displayed numbers should be made of durable material that is at least three inches high, or homeowners could face a hefty fixed penalty notice of £500.
Having an overflowing or broken bin – £500
Overflowing bins are a common occurrence, especially for those with children or larger households.
However, The Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1976 says that homeowners are responsible for ensuring their bins are not overflowing or broken else they could be landed with a £500 fine.
When ordering a new bin from the local council, it can take up to two weeks for it to arrive, so if you notice a small crack, it’s best to act sooner rather than later.
Not maintaining your gutters or drains – £5,000 fine
According to The Building act 1984, homeowners should maintain their gutters and drains. This means they should not be overflowing, blocked or broken.
Gutters should be cleaned regularly, especially in Autumn when leaves fall and cover surfaces.
However, the fine for not doing so isn’t explicitly stated in law and is set by your local council which can vary from £50-£5,000 in some areas.
Chris Guilfoyle, whose drainage company regularly undertakes guttering clearance and repairs, stated: “Over the years, we’ve witnessed a growing demand for professional gutter cleaning services as homeowners increasingly prioritise safety and reliability over tackling this task themselves.
“Unfortunately, gutter maintenance often falls by the wayside, and when we finally step in, the gutters often require access through platforms or scaffolding. Regular maintenance can help homeowners avoid more significant expenses, thanks to innovative solutions like gutter vacuums, which are accessible to homeowners.
“However, a common challenge arises when considering where to store these extension poles when they’re not in use. Often, it’s more convenient to enlist the services of a local firm before gutter issues escalate.
“Of course, heightened concern arises in areas near trees and nesting bird populations, as this elevates the risk of leaves accumulating, nests forming, and the growth of moss and other debris on your roof.
“If these issues become visible, it’s highly likely they’ve also made their way into your gutters.”
Parking on front of your neighbour’s driveway – £100 fine
With more and more people owning a car, our streets have gotten busier for parking in recent years resulting in many giving up a perfectly lovely front garden in favour of a driveway.
Parking over a neighbour’s driveway, even if for a short visit, has been the cause of many neighbourly parking wars.
According to the highWay Code, Rule 243 states: “Do not park in front of an entrance to a property.” Those who do so may risk receiving a fine of £100.
Throwing your TV in the bin – £5,000 fine
It is illegal to throw your TV in the bin, under the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Regulations 2013.
If you’re caught binning your old set in the rubbish, you could be fined up to £5,000 and even ordered to pay the costs of recycling it too.
Having a broken fence – £500 fine
According to the Building Act 1984, if your fence is damaged or falling down, you could be fined up to £500.
The specific rule in section 38 of the act states: “Every owner of premises shall, so far as reasonably practicable, keep in repair and in good condition all buildings and fences on the premises.”
However, the fine for not doing so is not explicitly stated in law. The fine is set by the local council and can range from £50 – £500.
Not having your log burner serviced at least once a year – £1,000 fine
There are now new regulations in place for homeowners with log burners in the UK. It is now a requirement that log burners must be inspected and serviced by a qualified engineer every year, as part of the DEFRA Clean Air Strategy.
Regulations also state you can only use a low-smoke wood fuel, and must install a carbon monoxide alarm in your home. Failing to do so could result in a £1,000 fine.
Not repairing a dangerous crack in your property – £30,000 fine
According to Google there’s been a 124% increase in people searching for ‘when to worry about house cracks?’.
The Housing Act 2004 states that homeowners are required to repair any dangerous cracks, or be stung with a whopping £30,000 fine if one isn’t repaired. Although the specific fine isn’t stated in law, it is set by the local council and can vary from £50 – £30,000.
Mr Guilfoyle added: “While many cracks in property can be due to typical and seasonable movement inline with temperature changes, quite often large cracks can be as a result of subsidence.
“The root causes of these is often leaks in the household drainage system or water mains. If you spot any particularly large cracks from 5mm to 35mm then these should be investigated as they could be a symptom of a much larger structural problem.”
M&S is doing a Christmas piña colada cocktail and it’s on shelves now
This sounds pretty delicious!
M&S shoppers are raving over a festive cocktail that is a Christmas twist on a delicious summer classic, and it’s already on shelves.
Shoppers are going mad for the new festive ‘must have’ with one bargain hunter spotting it already stocked in her local Marks’, which she posted to social media.
The savvy shopper shared a snap of the luxurious gold and red bottle with an Art Deco logo, which quickly went viral with the post racking up over 1,000 likes.
The photo also shows the M&S Christmas Colada is on sale for £5.50 a bottle.
A festive twist on the classic piña colada, it’s flavoured with ‘pineapple juice, coconut milk, and warming spices with two measures of white rum’, and is sure to go down a treat this winter season.
The Christmas bargain was shared to the Snack News & Reviews Facebook page where users rushed to social media to share their excitement for the product, calling it a ‘must have’ as they also praised the price.
A great gift to bring along to Christmas dinner parties, shoppers say it is perfect for something to sip on throughout the season’s festivities.
One person wrote: “Defo getting this wee number for Christmas Day!” Another said: “Wow, two measures. I’ll have three bottles. What is everyone else drinking?”
While a third put: “Ooohhh yes. I can feel a few pre-Xmas party drinks at mine coming on.” And a fourth typed: “M&S pulling it out the bag again with their Christmas drinks!!”
Other users wondered whether M&S’ popular drinks ‘Let it Sloe’ and ‘Slow Fizz’ are back in stock again for the upcoming Christmas season.
It comes after one shopper urged people to head to their nearest M&S immediately as she was able to bag around £100 worth of shopping for just £16.
Victoria Evangeline posted a video on her TikTok saying: “M&S prices are a joke. They are ridiculous at the moment, you’ve got to see this.”
She went on to say M&S are getting rid of all their summer stock to make way for its Christmas range and that’s why some of its prices are so low – so best get down there asap!