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In the news: this week's top stories

Good news for consumers this week as new rules were launched which give them better protection in case they buy a faulty product. People with serious debt are also being helped with changes to Debt Relief Orders raising levels from £15,000 to £20,000. For this week’s money stories, read on.

1. New Consumer Rights Act comes into force

Consumers will be better protected on the back of the new Consumer Rights Act which came into effect on 1 October.

The new Act brings about simpler, clearer rights for shoppers regarding refunds, repairs or replacement of faulty goods. It includes, for the first time, a specific timeframe of 30 days for consumers to reject a faulty product and get a full refund.

2. Kicking smoking this 'Stoptober' could save £135,000 over a lifetime

Smokers who get involved with 'Stoptober' and kick the habit will benefit from healthier bodies and bank balances.

According to moneysupermarket.com, ditching the cigarettes could radically reduce the cost of combined life and critical illness cover. Non-smokers can also make considerable savings on single life cover.

3. New debt rules introduced to help those struggling

New rules have been introduced to help people struggling with a large amount of debt. They offer a cheaper alternative to people declaring bankruptcy.

Debt Relief Orders have become more accessible meaning someone who has less than £20,000 of debt is now eligible to apply for one, up from £15,000.

4. Almost 400,000 people with cancer struggle to pay bills

Almost 400,000 people living with cancer struggle to keep up with their household bills and credit commitments each year, according to a new survey by Macmillan Cancer Support.

Tens of thousands of people living with cancer say they have missed paying vital bills due to a lack of money, with an estimated 66,000 missing a council tax payment and 51,000 missing a water bill, in the last year.

5. Students who don’t know their rights are often out of pocket

Research shows that students could be missing out on £240 a year by choosing the wrong contract and not knowing their rights, meaning they feel unable to complain.

Almost one in five have been overcharged on energy bills and one in six charged for damage to their property which they didn’t do, according to Ombudsman Services, an impartial consumer dispute group set up by government.

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