Brexit: in or out – it’s up to you!
On June 23, Britons must decide whether to vote to stay in the European Union (EU) or not.
How we vote will have a big impact on both the UK economy and your own personal finances.
Let’s take a look at what we know about and what will change if we leave the EU.
Uncertainty about the future of the UK in Europe has taken its toll on the value of sterling.
Against the euro, for example, the pound has fallen from a high of about €1.42 in November to about €1.27 today.
And while a weaker pound may boost the UK economy by making our exports cheaper, it will also drive up the cost of your next holiday.
Currency experts believe that the pound will quickly rebound if Britons vote to stay in the EU, and fall further should we vote to leave.
Online estate agent eMoov believes the average house price in the UK could fall by £11,000 should a UK exit from the EU become a reality.
Its founder Russell Quirk said: “It won’t necessarily be Britain’s exit from the EU that could cause prices to drop, but the uncertainty among homeowners and buyers as to what will happen next.”
However, with the Bank of England now indicating that interest rates will remain low for some time to come, the ongoing availability of affordable mortgages should support the housing market.
Many people believe that an exit from the EU would harm the UK economy.
In fact, not one of the economists who took part in an annual survey from the Financial Times thought that a vote for Brexit would enhance UK growth in 2016.
And almost three-quarters of those polled thought leaving the EU would damage Britain’s outlook in the medium term.
The heads of a number of big companies, including HBCS and Ryanair, have also warned against a no vote.
If they are right, leaving the EU could put your job at risk.
Employments rights that are governed by EU rules, such as the right to at least 20 days of paid holiday (plus bank holidays) a year, may also change – for better or for worse.
Your savings and investments
We could see considerable stock market volatility in the run up to the referendum in June.
However, star fund manager Neil Woodford recently issued a report saying the long-term impact of a Brexit will be minimal.
Experts are therefore warning investors not to make any snap decisions.
Mark Dampier at the adviser Hargreaves Lansdown said: “We don’t believe that trying to guess the outcome of the referendum and altering your investment portfolio is a worthwhile exercise.”
When it comes to savings, meanwhile, a UK exit could have an impact on the level of protection you receive should a bank or building society go bust.
At the moment, the Financial Services Compensation Scheme protects the first £75,000 of a saver’s cash with each bank.
This is in line with an EU-wide directive that sets the level at €100,000 in the local currency.
If we leave the EU, the level of protection available could therefore change.
It was an EU initiative that forced UK telecoms companies to slash their extortionate data roaming charges.
So mobile phone bills could go up for travellers if we leave the Union.
According to the AA, an exit from the EU could also add nearly £500 a year to the petrol bill of a two-car family.
While UK motorists currently pay on average 102.23p a litre, pre-vote predictions have estimated the price could rocket to in excess of 121p if we exit the EU and the pound plummets as it is expected to do in that situation.
This article was written by Jessica Bown