MILLIONS of households will see their bills go up from tomorrow as many providers – including energy and mobile phone firms – put up their prices.
April 1 marks the start of a new tax year, so we’ve put together a round up of all of the price hikes you can expect and how you can save costs.
1. Energy bill hikes of up to £117
The biggest price hike is on your energy bills as the Big Six providers – British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE – along with 30 smaller providers raise costs in line with energy regulator Ofgem’s price cap.
It means firms can now charge £1,254 a year for their standard variable tariff.
As a result, 11million households are expected to see bills go up by £117 a year – even smaller firms such as Ovo are raising costs.
In general, suppliers blame the increase on rising wholesale costs – the price that energy companies pay for gas and electricity – but energy supplier Bulb actually announced a bill cut due to falling costs.
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In fact, the Big Six energy firms have been accused of running a “cartel” after they ALL hiked prices to the same amount.
But households can dodge the hikes – and save hundreds of pounds – by switching to a fixed-rate deal.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at price comparison website uSwitch.com, said: “Nine in ten energy deals available today are cheaper than the new cap will be.
“Now is the time for energy customers to grab one of those cheap deals and find themselves up to £324 a year better off.”
You can use a comparison website such as uSwitch.com or Energyhelpline.com to compare tariffs and find a cheaper deal.
MoneySavingExpert’s Cheap Energy Club newsletter will send you an email reminder when a cheaper deal becomes available, while cashback sites such as TopCashback or Quidco may pay you to switch through them.
2. Mobile phone bills rise by up to £107 a year
Five of the biggest phone networks will put up their prices from tomorrow.
The worst hit are the 250,000 Virgin Mobile customers who will have to pay another £107 a year – or £8.87 a month – for their network coverage.
This isn’t actually linked to inflation and are actually a shakeup by Virgin Mobile of “old tariffs”.
HOW TO CUT YOUR MOBILE BILL
FIRSTLY, decide if you’re happy with your current deal and whether you want a new deal or handset – or both.
If you’re outside the minimum term of your contract then you can leave penalty free – and you might be able to find a cheaper deal elsewhere.
The network says the increase applies to the airtime element, which is typically £18 on a £35 a month contract.
Pay-as-you-go deals are better for people who don’t regularly use their phone, while monthly contracts usually work out cheaper for those who do.
The best way to find a new deal is by checking comparison websites, such as MoneySupermarket and uSwitch.com, which compare tariffs and handset prices.
It’s also worth trying Billmonitor, it matches buyers to the best pay-monthly deal based on their previous three months of bills.
It only works if you’re a customer of EE, O2, Three, Vodafone or Tesco Mobile and you’ll need to log in with your online account details.
MobilePhoneChecker has a bill monitoring feature that recommends a tariff based on your monthly usage.
If you’re happy with your provider then it might be worth using your research to haggle a better deal.
Sadly, you can’t leave your contract penalty free as a result of the increases unless you’re already out of your contract’s minimum term.
Mobile providers can get away with hikes as long as they notify customers at the time of purchase and in their contracts that bills can rise in line with inflation each year.
3. Water bills up by £16 a year
Water and sewage bills in England and Wales will also rise by up to four per cent from tomorrow which could see another £16 a year added to your bills.
Some bills will rise to £415 a year but it depends on the supplier and your individual circumstances.
A few regions will see bills drop by up to £9 – but the majority will see charges climb.
In Scotland, water bills are set the rise by up to 1.6 per cent.
If you’re struggling to pay your bill, discuss it with your water company as some offer freebies to help you reduce the amount of water you use, such as save-a-flush devices and special shower heads.
You may also be able to claim a rebate for any overpaid bills, or consider installing a meter to reduce your payments.
Also check whether you’re on the right tariff or look for ways to cut back water usage, such as turning off the taps when brushing your teeth.
4. Council tax bills rise by up £78 a year
This year sees the second biggest increase to council tax bills in England seen in the past decade.
The levy on average Band D property – the most common band to be in – will go up by 4.7 per cent, from £1,671 in 2018-19 to £1,750 in 2019-20.
Households in Greater London will face the highest percentage increase in their total bills at 5.1 per cent, with the average Band D council tax in the capital set to rise by £72 to £1,477 in 2019-20.
But households in “shire” council areas will continue to have the highest average Band D council tax of £1,826 in 2019-20, up from £1,749 in 2018-19.
In Scotland and Wales, bills are going up by an average of 6.5 per cent and 3.9 per cent respectively this year, while it doesn’t apply for those living in Northern Ireland.
Unfortunately, you can’t avoid these bills unless you’re from a low income family or you claim benefits and are struggling to make the payments.
You may be entitled to a reduction or exemption but by how much depends on where you live and your circumstances.
You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working via the Government website.
5. TV Licence fee up by £4 a year
The cost of an annual black and white TV licence will also go up from £50.50 a year to £52.
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence
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On demand TV – like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV
On demand movies – from services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix and Amazon Instant Video
Recorded films and programmes – either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube
The BBC announced in 2014 that it would push up the cost of the annual fee – which funds BBC programming – for households to rise in line with inflation which was at 2.68 per cent in the 12 months to September 2018.
Since then, it’s increased prices every year, meaning Brits now pay £9.50 more annually than they did three years ago.
6. Sky TV and broadband prices rise by £42 a year
The telecoms giant says users will see an average increase of £3.50 a month (5.1 per cent) – or £42 a year.
It adds that prices will rise by £1 or £2 a month per product. Some of the key increases are as follows:
If you’re not happy with the changes but don’t want to leave Sky then you can try calling them up and haggling a better price.
The best way to do this is by finding a better deal than you’re already on. Then call up Sky and say you’d like to leave.
Ask if there is any way it can cut your bills. If it refuses, ask if there are any free extras that it can throw in.
7. Car tax up by £65 a year
Drivers are set to face another car tax hike this year, with charges due to increase again next month.
Last year’s Autumn Budget revealed VED rates would rise from April 1 to account for inflation.
And while the spike will cost the majority of drivers just £5 per year, some motorists could see as much as £65 added to their annual bill.
Those with cars first registered between 1 March, 2001 and 1 March, 2017 will see a maximum £15 added to their standard annual rate, while new vehicles registered after April 1 this year could see their first year rate up to £65 higher than it would have been in 2018.
Any vehicles first registered before 1 March, 2001 are still taxed under an even earlier system, which applies charges based on engine capacity.
You don’t have to pay vehicle tax if you’re disabled and apply for an exemption or the car is used by organisations providing transport for disabled people.
Electric cars that cost less than £40,000 don’t require you to pay tax either.
Historic cars made before January 1 1978 were made exempt from car tax April last year.
8. NHS prescriptions up by 20p
The price you pay for prescriptions from your GP now costs £9 in England, up from £8.80.
Last year, the Government hiked prescriptions from £8.60 to £8.80, and from tomorrow prices will have increases by a further 20p.
It might not sound like much on it’s own but charities warn it will hit the pockets of people with long term illnesses who regularly have to pay for multiple prescriptions.
Hundreds of thousands of patients may save money if they get a “prescription season ticket”, which covers the cost of all prescriptions for a certain period.
It’ll be frozen at £29.10 for three months of £104 for a year.
Prescriptions have been free in Northern Ireland since 2010, free in Scotland since 2011, and free in Wales since 2007.
9. Dental appointments up by £1.10
The Oral Health Foundation branded the price hike a “disgrace” and an appalling decision that will significantly impact public health.
It says that the increased charges will hit the poorest communities the hardest and lead to more people avoiding trips to the dentist.
Dental services are free in Scotland while people in Wales pay 54 per cent less than patients in England.
Those who are struggling to pay for the dentist may be entitled for treatment through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
You can apply for the scheme as long as your savings and investments (not including the place you live) are less than £23,250 for people who permanently live in a care home or £16,000 for everyone else.
You can apply for the scheme via the NHS website.
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