New To The UK: What You Need to Know

BradYoung04Starred Page By BradYoung04, 16th May 2014 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Money>Credit Cards

If you’ve just arrived in the UK, congratulations! I lived in the UK for a few years and it would have been nice to get advice from someone who had done it before. So here’s some general information that should make settling there a little easier – from helping you to get a roof over your head to sorting out an account for your money.

Finding Accommodation

Unless you’ve already arranged to stay with friends or family, your main priority will be to find somewhere to live. Whilst you settle in and get to know the UK, it may be best to start with rented accommodation rather than buying a place in an area you’re unfamiliar with.

Once you find an area that you’d like to live in, check out estate agent websites and the local property branch windows for details of places that are available to let. Also, look out for ‘To Let’ boards outside properties that look promising and look at the rental pages of local newspapers. But before you actually start viewing properties, try checking out the going rental prices using specialist property websites.

You’ll find that prices will vary widely from region to region, town to town and in some cities, the prices can rise or fall dramatically in just a few streets. Why not also ask people you know if they can recommend areas that are nice and within your budget.

Renting or buying a property is regarded as expensive across the UK, but you may qualify for financial assistance through housing benefits and actual accommodation from your local Social Services Authorities. The rules can be complicated, so it may be best to get expert help, such as from a Citizens Advice Bureau, (CAB)

Your chances of getting help from Social Services and even some state agents will usually be improved if you have a job. But to be able to be (legally) employed, you’ll need a National Insurance Number.

Applying for a National Insurance Number

To apply for a National Insurance (NI) Number, phone ‘Jobcentre Plus’ on 0845 600 0643. You may be asked to go to an Evidence of Identity Interview. And depending where you’re originally from, you may need a work permit.

When you’re issued with an NI Number, it’ll be unique to you. This helps to make sure that any NI contributions that you make are accredited to you. The NI Number can also be used as a reference in case you have to contact the Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue & Customs.

By paying NI, you may become entitled to receive various state benefits, such as a State Pension and Jobseeker’s Allowance, but this may depend on the contributions that you make. The amount you’ll pay in NI contributions depends on if you’re employed of self-employed, as well as the amount you earn.

Paying Tax in the UK

Once you start working in the UK, you’ll probably need to pay income tax, as well as NI contributions. The amount of income tax you’ll pay will depend on how much you earn, whether you’re an employee (you work for someone) or you’re self-employed (you work for yourself).

You’re able to earn a certain amount without paying any income tax. This tax-free amount is called a ‘Personal Allowance’. However, you’ll pay tax on everything you earn over this amount. And the more you earn, the higher the rate of income tax you’re likely to pay. It’s possible in some cases to reduce the amount of tax you pay with tax-deductible allowances and reliefs. Depending on your circumstances, you may qualify for one or more of the following:

• Tax-free Blind Person’s Allowance
• Married Couple’s Allowance
• Maintenance Payments Relief
• Tax relief for pension contributions
• Tax relief on gifts to charity

To be able to receive your earnings, you’ll need to open an account.

Setting Up a Bank Account

You’ll find an account and card essential for receiving wages and for paying everything from your rent (or mortgage once you buy a place) to a mobile phone. Yet if you’re new to the UK, getting a bank account isn’t always straightforward.

If you’re able to open one, a bank current account will be able to accept your earnings and any benefits you may be eligible to receive. These accounts usually come with a bank card so that you can make cash withdrawals from cash machines, pay for goods in stores and restaurants, as well as over the phone or online.

You could also open a savings account so that you can safely put aside any savings you may already have, or make from your earnings. These days, the interest rate you’ll receive on your savings is likely to be relatively low though.

Building society accounts used to be a place to help you save up specifically for a home, or at least a place to save up for a deposit on a home until you could apply for a mortgage. Nowadays, they generally offer the same features as a bank current account.

Prepaid credit cards can also work very much like a High Street current account, and offer many of the same features. Yet they’re generally far easier to set up, even if you’re new to the UK. In fact, many prepaid credit cards offer instant online approval. So you probably won’t have to go through credit checks to just open an account, earn a minimum income or have to be employed. Usually, you just have to be at least 18 years old and live in the UK.

Thank For Reading

Moving to any new country can take a while, but hopefully, this article will help you to quickly settle down so you can then enjoy all that the UK has to offer. Check out some of my other articles on Wikinut such as Can You Benefit From Medical Apps? and follow me on Twitter.


Immigration To Uk, Personal Finances, Travel Advice

Meet the author

author avatar BradYoung04
I am a MBA grad who can transform your business. Follow me for straight talking insights into running successful businesses in a fast paced world. I am always working or surfing in the Californian sun

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