Benefits, diesel tax and four other laws being changed from this week

This week is the first week of April, and that means new laws for 2018 are coming into effect - including for motorists.

Sunday, 1st April 2018, 7:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd April 2018, 6:46 pm

Here we run down six laws including motoring, tax workplace and home regulation changes which could affect you from today.

Road tax

New rules on Road Tax were introduced in April 2017 - and this April will mark the first year many motorists will be charged the new flat rates for the second year onwards.

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-> New diesel tax charges and motoring law changes in fullThe second year standard rates are now:

£140 a year for petrol or diesel vehicles

£130 a year for alternative fuel vehicles (hybrids, bioethanol and LPG)

£0 a year for vehicles with zero CO2 emissions

New rules will mostly affect drivers of new diesel cars in a clampdown on emissions.

Diesel cars will be pushed up a band from April 1, if they fail to meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standards in real-word testing. The rise for a Ford Fiesta could be as little as £20-30, but a Porsche Cayenne would be hit with a rise in the hundreds of pounds. The changes don't apply to commercial vans or vehicles, only cars.

The gender pay gap

All employers in Great Britain (so England, Scotland, Wales) with at least 250 employees will be required to publish information about the differences in pay between men and women in their employ, based on a pay bill date of 5 April 2017, under the Equality Act 2010.

The first reports must be published by April 4 .

Passport renewals

The cost of a passport is going up and you'll also have to pay extra to apply by post.

A standard adult passport will go up from £72.50 to £75.50 for online applications and £85 for postal applications. Children's passport charges will rise from £46 to £49 or £58.50 in the post.

Universal Credit changes

Universal Credits are set for sweeping changes. The four key benefit cuts coming in to force on April 9 are: A 3% real terms cut in working age benefits this year, set to be by far the biggest of the four-year benefit freeze.

Year three of the four-year cash freeze in working age benefits, affecting almost 11 million families.

A two child limit for benefit claims, costing up to £2,780 for a family having a third child.

Withdrawal of the family element of support for new tax credit and universal credit claims from families with children, costing up to £545.

The rollout of Universal Credit, saving £200m this year due to lower entitlements than the existing benefit system for long term sick and working families in particular.

Employment Allowance changes

The government plans to introduce a further deterrent to the employment of illegal workers.

From April 1 2018 , employers will not be able to claim the Employment Allowance for one year if they have hired an illegal worker or been penalised by the Home Office (including the exhausting of all permitted appeals).

Minimum energy performance ratings for homes

From April 1 2018, there will be a requirement for any privately rented properties to have a minimum energy performance rating of E.

The government has announced it will be illegal to rent out a property which doesn't meet this minumum rating.

A fine of up to £4,000 will be imposed for landlords who do - meaning properties which fall in the F or G category will no longer be rentable and will need to be fixed up with improved insulation, double glazing, more efficient heating, etc, in order to boost its rating.