What does 2014 hold for us? The big predictions for next year
Of course, while some of the financial changes for the coming year have been drawn up already, and are due to come into force in the next 12 months, any number of factors could blow other predictions off course. We round up some of the expectations and forecasts that could have an impact on your finances in 2014.
%VIRTUAL-SkimlinksPromo%1 What will happen to the housing market?
House prices rose by around 6.5% in 2013, according to Nationwide, and many are predicting the upward trend to continue. Some 59% more chartered surveyors in the UK said they were expecting prices to rise rather than fall in the next three months – the largest proportion since 1999. Estate agent Savills is predicting a modest increase of 1% in Scotland, with a 3% increase in the North, Midlands and Wales and Central London, a 4% increase in the south of England and a 6% increase in the prime London suburbs. Property website Rightmove is bolder still, predicting an average 8% rise for UK house prices in 2014.
2 What will happen to interest rates?
The Bank of England base rate remained low at 0.5% for the whole of 2013 – it's been at that level since 2009. So is it set to increase in 2014? Many are predicting that we have another year or more before a rise in interest rates is announced. The British Chambers of Commerce (BCC) said that it expects rates to increase in the last quarter of 2015.
But since unemployment fell to 7.4% in December, some suggest we could be closer to the point tipping point for a change. Bank of England Governor Mark Carney instigated a forward guidance policy, including the guideline that the Bank would not increase interest rates until unemployment fell to 7%.
3 What will happen to mortgages?
Low interest rates have been making mortgage repayments more affordable, and government measures have encouraged lenders to work harder to compete for mortgage borrowers. But lending criteria has remained strict in 2013, and the best deals are still available to those with the biggest deposits. So how will the mortgage market fare? David Hollingworth, of mortgage broker London & Country, says: "The mortgage market should grow again next year although it will still be substantially lower than the peak of 2007. With interest rates bound to rise at some point and it just being a question of when, I would expect that most borrowers will continue to opt for fixed rates."
4 What will happen to energy prices?
According to Ofgem, the average dual fuel household bill in 2013 was £1,315. However, the Chancellor's autumn statement, which included a cut to green levies charged to energy firms, should see a saving of £50 off 2014's average bill. British Gas has said it will pass on a saving of £53 in January, but only two months before it has announced increases of £123 for dual-fuel users.
5 What will happen to the eurozone?
Mario Draghi, president of the European Central Bank, famously said the ECB would do "whatever it takes" to save the euro, and in 2013, the currency remained strong. It was even the second best performing currency after the Danish krone, Bloomberg reported. Some experts have claimed this strength could cause problems in 2014, by hampering growth within the region. While the euro is strong, there are concerns over a fresh eurozone banking crisis threatening to cast a shadow over the transition into 2014.
6 What will happen to inflation?
In December, the Office of National Statistics published its monthly consumer price index, showing that inflation had dropped from growth of 2.2% in October to 2.1% in November, closer to the Bank of England's target of 2%. "The largest contributions to the fall in the rate came from food and the utilities (gas and electricity). These were partially offset by upward contributions from the transport sector and from some aspects of recreation and culture," the report said. The MPC is hoping to meet its 2% target next year.
7 What will happen to train prices?
The price of a regulated train ticket is set to go up in 2014 by an average of 4.1%, calculated by adding one percentage point to July's RPI of 3.1%, following a cap placed on increases by the government. Under the cap, train companies cannot increase regulated fares, including season tickets, by more than 6.1%. Transport for London, however, announced in December it would average fares would increase by 3.1%, in line with July's RPI inflation.
Citizens Advice said that commuters would continue to struggle in spite of a cap. Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: "There is a huge disparity between the rate at which wages and living costs are increasing - with day to day costs spiralling out of control for many."
8 What will happen to petrol prices?
He chancellor George Osborne announced that fuel duty will be frozen in 2014, and into 2015, cancelling a 2p rise, claiming the move would save motorists 20p on each litre.
9 What will happen to childcare costs?
The government announced that it will double the number of two-year-olds eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week in 2014 as the scheme is opened up to households who earn less than £16,910 a year and receive working tax credits. Announcing £755 million in funding to allow for more of Britain's poorest families to be eligible for free nursery places, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "Parents, local authorities, nurseries and childminders should all be taking the opportunity to take up the offer their children are entitled to, make sure places are available and expand local childcare provision. Every child deserves the chance to get ahead and get on in life, regardless of their background, financial situation or family set-up."
10 What will happen to the FTSE 100 in 2014?
British shares have had put on a good show since the financial crisis – the Telegraph says that an investor who put their money in a FTSE 100 tracker, which replicates the market's performance, would have seen returns of an impressive 50% on their investment.
In 2013, UK shares continued to do well. How 2014 will look depends on an enormous number of factors, or course, Guy Foster, head of portfolio strategy at wealth management firm Brewin Dolphin believes that in 2014, the FTSE will hit 7,400, while Citigroup has predicted it may reach the dizzy heights of 8000 in the course of the year.