Diesel tax, benefits and five other law changes you need to know about in 2018

Sometimes it feels like the law is constantly changing, threatening to catch out people who haven't realised the regulations have shifted.

Here we run down six laws including motoring, tax workplace and home regulation changes which could affect you in 2018.

* New rules on road tax

Changes to car tax will see charges based on CO2 emissions, meaning that your tax in the first year could be nothing, or as high as £2,000 depending how much of a pollutin’ gas-guzzler or an eco-friendly efficient model you drive.

For the second and following years thereafter, the amount of tax paid is a flat £140, or £130 for hybrids of LPG cars, or zero if your car has no emissions (ie fully electric).

This year many drivers who bought new last year will see the new second-year charges apply to them for the first time. New rules will mostly affect drivers of new diesel cars.

* Diesel changes

Diesel cars will be pushed up a band from April 1, if they fail to meet the latest Euro 6 emissions standards in real-world 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. Cars with emissions of 1-50 g/CO2/km will pay £10, those with emissions of 51-70 will pay £25, and so on up the brackets.

At the top of the scale drivers will pay a whopping £2,000. Then, everyone will revert to the flat rate of £140 in the second year.

All cars that cost more than £40,000 outright will attract an extra premium fee of £310 for years two to six of ownership, regardless of emissions. Simple, right... ?

* 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 three per cent 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 next month, 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 minimum 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 ratings.