AS FAR as personal finances go, 2017 has not been a great year.

With inflation rising throughout the year to reach a near six-year high of 3.1 per cent in December while wage growth hit just 2.2 per cent, we are all getting that little bit poorer in real terms.

This is only going to get worse, with the Bank of England finally raising its base rate from 0.25 per cent to 0.5 per cent in November and signalling that more is to come.

For anyone with debts that can mean only one thing: higher repayments. Yet the rise has not translated into good news for savers, with this week’s highest-paying cash Isa - Vernon Building Society’s regular saver - offering interest of just 1.7 per cent. Even then, only those living within a 25-mile radius of Stockport are eligible to open an account.

Not that the dearth of interest-bearing accounts is a new phenomenon. Indeed, two of the UK Government’s biggest personal finance moves of 2017 were made to try to address the longstanding issue.

The first, hailed as something that would provide a “welcome break for hard-pressed savers” by Chancellor Philip Hammond, was the National Savings & Investments Bond, which launched in the spring.

However, despite the Chancellor’s claims, the account was not seen as providing a lifeline to those with cash to lock away, not least because its terms mean that investors can deposit just £3,000 a year over the product’s three-year term.

Not only that, but with the interest rate on the bond set at 2.2 per cent anything saved into it is already being eaten away by inflation.

Mr Hammond’s other big launch of the year, which had first been mooted by his predecessor George Osborne, was the Lifetime Isa (Lisa), a bonus-bearing investment scheme designed to encourage those in the under-40 age group to start building up a savings pot.

Launched at the beginning of the tax year, Lisas can be opened by anyone between the ages of 18 and 40, who can then save up to £4,000 tax-free every year until they turn 50, with the Government adding an annual bonus of 25 per cent of the amount saved in each 12-month period.

The problem is that unless the account holder wants to use their cash to buy their first home it must remain invested until they are 60 years old.

Although free money from the Government of up to £1,000 a year was seen as one of the main attractions of the Lisa, some – including industry watchdog the Financial Conduct Authority – were concerned that it could deter younger people from saving into workplace pensions, which benefit from tax advantages as well as employer contributions.

Pensions were rarely out of the news in 2017, with the trend for over-55s transferring out of their final salary schemes continuing apace while a much-anticipated report into how the state pension age should rise recommended against having a lower age in Scotland, where life expectancy is lower than in parts of England.

When he released his report in March, former Confederation of British Industry director general John Cridland said it would be unworkable to set different pension ages in different parts of the UK and the Government subsequently announced that it plans to increase the state pension age to 68 across the whole of the UK between 2037 and 2039 rather than between 2044 and 2046 as had previously been planned.

Disparities between Scotland and England were again highlighted towards the end of the year when the governments in Westminster and Holyrood announced their respective Budgets.

First Mr Hammond raised the threshold for higher rate taxpayers south of the Border, meaning those who fall in to that band in Scotland would be paying £670 more a year than their equivalents in the rest of the UK.

Then in December, Scotland’s finance minister Derek Mackay sought to vary the tax systems north and south of the Border even further by introducing a new starter rate tax band that sits between the personal allowance and the basic rate as well as an intermediate rate that sits between the basic and higher rate bands.

The result? While those earning less than £26,000 will pay up to £20 less a year than those earning the same south of the Border, higher-rate taxpayers will pay significantly more than those based in other parts of the UK.