MILLIONS of Brits are set to pay more for internet and mobile phone bills this year as the cost of living continues to rise.
Many providers base their prices on the UK’s inflation rate, which was 3.5% in December and is expected to reach 6% by spring this year.
The latest rate will be announced tomorrow, and networks will add an extra percentage onto that to decide how much to hike bills by.
Research published by Citizens Advice last year showed that 2.5million people were behind on their broadband payments.
Around 700,000 of those had been pushed into the red during the coronavirus pandemic.
The figure could rise as broadband and phone bills are set to increase at the same time as other essential costs such as heating and taxes.
New research by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation predicted that families may have to spend as much as 54% of their income on energy bills as the cost of living crisis continues.
We explain which companies are planning to raise their broadband and phone bills – and how you can cut costs.
Virgin Media, which doesn’t use Consumer Price Index inflation to set its prices, has already announced a bill hike that will come into affect in March.
Bills for 2022 are set to rise by almost £5 a month from March 1 – or £56.40 for the year.
The hike will affect millions of Virgin Media broadband, TV and fixed-line phone customers.
BT has confirmed that prices will increase in April and customers will be contacted from January 31 with details of the changes.
Bills will jump by the rate of CPI plus a further 3.9%.
But people who are on BT’s Home Essentials, Basic and Phone Saver packages won’t see an increase to prices.
Those tariffs are for customers who claim certain benefits such as Universal Credit.
“From 31st January we’ll remind customers that their annual price changes will start in April explaining what this means for them.
A BT spokesperson said: “We remain committed to supporting customers facing financial hardship and have a number of options to help them.
“Customers on BT Home Essentials, BT Basic and Home Phone Saver will not see an increase to their prices in 2022.
“We continue to invest in the most reliable networks and the latest technology with the best customer service and products to help everyone stay connected.
“This small annual increase reflects the investment needed to support growing demand and rising costs we face as a business.”
Vodafone customers who took out a contract from December 9, 2020 will see their bills rise by the CPI rate plus 3.9%.
If you signed an agreement before that date, the price hike will be announced in March 2022.
Both increases will be implemented in April this year.
Customers on Vodafone EVO plans will only see an increase to their monthly phone bill on their airtime plan not their device plan.
A spokesperson for the company said: “We know no one wants to see prices increase, but these reflect the rising costs that we continue to face in running our network and providing our services.”
They said it is facing rising energy, staffing, logistics and transport costs.
It also blamed the hike on costs from Ofcom, the regulator, and supply chain changes.
“These annual price increases are essential for us to maintain investment in our network and services while the costs that we face continue to rise,” the spokesperson added.
Tesco Mobile said it has a tariff promise, guaranteeing no mid-contract price rises for its customers.
This means its customers will pay the same price for the length of their contract.
However, you could be hit with higher bills when it comes to renewing your contract.
Sky declined to comment on plans to increase bills, but customers will be contacted with any pricing changes.
The Sun has also contacted Talktalk, Plusnet, O2 and EE about planned price increases.
We will update this article when we have more details for those providers.
How can I get help paying for internet and mobile bills?
If you’re struggling with price rises, the first thing you should do is contact your supplier to see if there’s anything they can do to help.
One Virgin Media customer was able to knock £264 a year off their bill just by asking the company.
You could consider switching to a cheaper deal with a different supplier, but double check your contract to check you won’t be hit with a fee for cancelling early.
Families on benefits such as Universal Credit are often able to get cheaper broadband packages.
Several companies provide special discounted rates for customers who are on Universal Credit or other benefits.
BT offers a basic £20 a month phone and broadband package for households that claim certain benefits.
Virgin Media also has a cheaper deal for people on Universal Credit.
The £15 a month Virgin Essentials offer is only available to existing customers – but it could be a good option if you’re already signed up and are looking to reduce your costs.
There’s an O2 Virgin Media scheme to help hard-up Brits get free mobile data.
The National Databank provides community groups across the country with data vouchers or SIM cards to hand out to those in need.