FORGET April showers – next month Brits are set to be swamped by rising bills.
Dubbed "Awful April", many household bills are set to shoot up in the next few weeks.
For some families already pushed to the limit, it’s a terrifying time.
Reena Sewraz, Which? money expert, said: "Unfortunately, many of us will be braced for rising bills across energy, broadband and mobile, water and council tax in April.”
At the same time other costs, like food and insurance, are also rising.
Sarah Hall, 47, from Newton Abbott in Devon, is one of millions of Brits bracing for rising bills in April.
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Her council tax is going up from £190 to £240 a month and her water is rising from £35 to £47.
She and husband Jim, 47, who have three children aged 25, 22 and 16, have already faced their energy bill rising by £300 a month.
Their broadband has also gone up £240 a year.
Fortunately, their mortgage is on a fixed rate until next year, so for now they aren’t paying more.
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Sarah, who cares for their youngest son who has autism, has recently had to start working again to cope with the rise in bills.
She enrolled as a direct selling consultant with The Body Shop at Home, a member of the Direct Selling Association, so she can make some extra money to meet the rising bills.
“I earned £270 in my first two weeks, and hope to earn around £500 per month as time goes on.”
Husband Jim recently changed jobs meaning that the family’s income took a hit as well.
She says: “We needed extra money coming in, particularly given the cost-of-living increases.
“Becoming a consultant has been a lifesaver not just financially but also mentally.
“It has helped to relieve some stress regarding the increased cost of living we are all facing and makes me feel empowered to be able to do something about it.”
There is some good news too, with benefits and pension payments rising and fuel costs falling.
These are the bills that are on the up – and what you can do about it.
Telecoms – around £70 a year more
Most telecoms companies have announced that they’re hiking the price on contracts in April, affecting broadband, TV package and mobile bills.
Many customers this year face increases of at least 14%.
For example on a £40 a month contract, that's an extra £5.60, or £69.12 a year.
But the exact amount will depend on the contract you have, current bill and provider.
If you are out of contract, find a better deal.
Shop around, snap up new customer deals or haggle with your existing provider, and you could save up to £90 a year, found Which?.
Reena said: “If you're nervous about haggling, take some time to research and compare rival deals for similar packages.
"When you speak to your provider, let them know you’ve seen some competitive offers for a similar service and ask whether these can be matched or beaten.
“If you have specific reasons for not being able to afford the price, mention that, too. Be polite and pleasant, but persistent."
You may also be able to save more by getting cashback on a new contract.
For instance, Vodafone is currently offering up to £120 back when you sign up as a TopCashback member.
If you’re stuck in a contract but can’t pay the higher price, ask your provider for help.
You may qualify for a social tariff which is a discounted deal for low income customers – see what you could get in our guide.
Make sure you make a note of when your current deal ends and take some time before then to research the best deals.
Water bills – £31 a year more
Water bills are set to rise by around 7.5% from April in England and Wales – or 5%in Scotland.
That's a rise of £31 a year on a typical bill.
Your own bill will vary depending on where you live, how much you use and whether you have a water meter.
With a water meter installed you can cut your bills by using less,
Reduce your shower time to five minutes to save £50 a year and turn off taps when you’re now using them.
Fix water leaks to save even more.
Reuse water to give your garden plants a drink wherever possible.
Energy – £67 a month more
The Chancellor’s decision to postpone increasing the energy price guarantee to £3,000 until July will be a lifeline for squeezed families across the country.
But while households will continue paying £2,500 until then, they will still feel the heat when the energy bill support scheme comes to an end in April, adding £67 to most monthly bills.
If you are struggling, speak to your energy provider and ask about their hardship fund.
Switching to direct debit also works out cheaper than paying once you receive your bill.
Reena said: “Ensure that you question any direct debit increases that seem too high.
“Your energy company should be able to explain the changes and your usage, and payments should balance out over a year.”
Check out all the help you can get if you're struggling with energy bills.
Council tax – going up £75 a year
This year, councils can raise bills by up to 5% and many are doing so, with prices rising on average by £75 a year.
The exact amount more you'll pay will depend on where you live and the council tax band your home is.
Use our checker tool to see how much your bill could rise where you are.
Check whether you qualify for an exemption, which may apply if you live alone, with a student or with someone who is ‘mentally impaired’.
Other discounts and reductions may be available on empty properties.
The discounts available range from a certain percentage to a total exemption which could mean you pay nothing at all.
You must also check you are in the right council tax band – and challenge your council if not.
If you are unable to pay your bill, get on the phone to your council and ask for help.
They have hardship funds or can change the way you pay.
Check out our guide to all the ways you can get your council tax reduced or even free.
Postage – going up by 15p on a first class stamp
Standard stamp prices are to rise by up to 15% from April 3.
The cost of first-class stamps will hit £1.10, up 15p from 95p, while second-class stamps will rise by 7p to 75p.
You can buy stamps at their current price and still use them after the new ones come in.
So, stock up before Sunday April 2.
Just check you get new barcoded stamps. The old ones without a barcode can only be used until the end of July.
If you have a hoard of them without barcodes, change them out through the Royal Mail’s swap out scheme, so you don’t lose out.
Here's more on what to do with your old stamps and how to swap them.
Prescriptions – going up 30p on a single prescription
Prescriptions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are free for all, but in England only certain people don’t have to pay.
For those that do, prescription costs are rising from £9.35 to £9.65 on April 1.
Firstly, use the calculator at services.nhsbsa.nhs.uk to check if you qualify for free prescriptions.
If you don’t, you may be able to save by getting a prescription pre-payment certificate which you can buy from the NHS Business Services Authority.
These cost £108.10 for a year, or £30.25 for three months, but are going up in April to £11.60 and £31.25.
Get one now before the price increases.
You’ll save by having a PPC if you get more than 13 prescriptions a year.
It’s also worth checking if common medication including some painkillers, antihistamines or skin creams are cheaper if you buy them over the counter.
Another hack for those on regular medication is to ask your doctor if you can have a longer prescription, so you pay for fewer each year. That’s up to the doc to decide.
And the good news…
It’s been a long time coming, but finally there is hope that our money will actually start to go further in some way.
As set out in the government’s Autumn Statement last year, benefits are set to increase by 10.1% from April 2023.
These changes will help people to meet the rising living costs and energy bills.
The exact amount more you'll get will depend on the benefit and how much you get now.
For example the standard monthly allowance of Universal Credit for individuals over 25 will rise from £265.31 to £292.11.
You can check out the full list of benefits rising and how much by in our guide.
The new state pension is set to go up by more than 10% too, from £185.15 per week to £203.85, to keep pace with the rising cost of living.
The basic state pension will increase from £141.85 to £156.18.
Those on the lowest incomes will also get a boost as Pension Credit will go up too – check if you're eligible.
Anyone watching the petrol station prices will see those numbers are starting to come down.
The latest average petrol price for unleaded, according to RAC Fuel Watch, is 147.01, down from a high of 191.43 in July 2022
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For diesel, it’s 165.29, down from 199.07.
The prediction is that prices will continue to fall.
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