MILLIONS of households will be impacted by a wide range of big bill hikes coming in just a few weeks time.
Council tax, water and broadband bills are all set to increase in April, putting further strain on households budgets.
But there are government schemes you can access, or ways of finding out exactly how much your bills are set to rise by.
You can also keep your energy costs down by trying a few simple tricks or testing out some handy gadgets that can help you cut your usage.
We explain everything you need to know about bills that are set to rise this year – and tops to avoid a heavy impact on your finances.
The Bank of England's Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) will meet twice every quarter to decide if interest rates need to rise.
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The MPC will make any announcements on the Bank of England's base rate on:
- Thursday, March 23
- Thursday, May 11
- Thursday, June 22
- Thursday, August 3
- Thursday, September 21
- Thursday, November 2
- Thursday, December 14
If the bank decides to raise interest rates further it will make the cost of borrowing, including loans, credit cards and mortgage repayments more expensive.
And four million mortgage holders are already set to see their monthly payments jump by the end of the 2023 when they move off cheap mortgage deals and are forced to refinance onto a higher rate.
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However, savings rates will get a boost as banks continue to battle it out by offering market-leading interest rates.
Historically banks don't rush to up their savings rates in line with the base rate of interest – however, more and more are battling it out on the high street to offer the best rates.
What can I do about it?
If you are due to come off a cheap fixed mortgage deal in the coming months, it's worth preparing to remortgage early.
Lenders typically move households onto a more pricey SVR once your mortgage deal comes to an end.
That means you could have been on one of the best mortgage deals and suddenly your monthly repayments will increase.
But households can start looking for a new mortgage up to six months before their deal ends.
Lots of lenders now let customers lock in a new rate six months in advance.
Others will let you lock in a new rate at least three months ahead.
We've explained how you can find the best mortgage deals.
Savers wishing to boost their nest egg should search around to see if they can get better returns with another bank or building society.
We've previously explained how to find the best savings rates.
Council Tax – April 1
Many local councils are planning to increase council tax payments this year to balance their budgets.
Three-quarters of councils will hike the tax by 5% from April, according to the County Councils Network (CCN).
A 5% rise to the average Band D council tax bill would leave households £99 a year worse off.
Every year, councils decide how much to increase council tax bills by.
Of course, the amount your bill will rise by depends on where you live.
Confirmation of rises are usually shared at the beginning of the new financial year in April.
More than a dozen councils have already laid out their proposed hikes.
You should check what council tax bracket your home falls under by entering your postcode on the government website.
Then you need to find out how much your local authority area charges, as it differs across the country.
Residents can find out which local council area they live in by searching on the gov.uk website.
What can I do about it?
People on low incomes or benefits such as Universal Credit may be able to get a discount on their council tax.
This can vary between councils, but you could be exempt from paying any council tax at all.
The schemes are means-tested, and will usually depend on your income and any children or adults living with you.
Single adults living in a property can get a 25% discount on their bill.
This is for people of all incomes and applies if they are the only adult living in the property.
The discount also applies if they live with a young person aged under 18, or someone aged 18 or 19 in full-time education.
A reduction could also be applied if there is a disabled person living in the property.
This is known as a disabled person’s reduction and each council has its own criteria.
You may also get 50% off your council tax if you live with someone who is severely mentally impaired.
You might also be able to reduce the amount of council tax you pay by challenging your band.
Properties across the UK are put into a band from A to H, and this informs how much council tax you pay.
It's worth checking yours to see if you could get a discount, but you could find your property is moved up up a band and your bill could increase.
Mobile and broadband hikes – from March 31
Many telecoms providers increase their prices annually based on the rate of inflation plus an extra 3.9%.
The current rate of inflation sits at 10.5%, so most bills will rise by 14.4% – however not all companies follow it exactly, which we've explained below.
Most customers will see their bills increase from April 1, though some customers will see an increase sooner.
The majority of BT, EE and Plusnet customers will see a rise from March 31.
This includes broadband, landline, mobile and TV customers.
However, BT Home Essentials, EE Mobile Basics, Pay-As-You-Go, BT Basic and Home Phone Saver customers will see their prices frozen through 2023.
The rise will affect customers even if they are signed up to a contract with a fixed price.
Impacted customers will see their bills increase from either April 1 or May 1 but Virgin will confirm which date yours will change in an email.
Shell customers will see bills go up by 13.5% from April 1.
For example, if you're paying £20 a month, you'd likely end up paying £21 a month once the change comes in.
Three has also confirmed its 14.4% price rise will impact all new and upgrading customers from March 31.
The increase will affect all Three customers who have taken out a contract since November 1.
Similarly, TalkTalk customers will see their bills go up from April 1 too.
The provider will hike prices by 14.2%.
What can I do about it?
Switching contracts when yours is up is the single best way to save money on your telecom bills.
In the weeks before your contract is up, use comparison sites to familiarise yourself with what deals are available.
But as these are mid-contract rises, you will need to check if there is a penalty for leaving a deal early.
It's a known fact that new customers always get the best deals.
Sites like MoneySuperMarket and Uswitch all help you customise your search based on price, speed and provider.
This should make it easier to decide whether to renew your contract or move to another provider.
However, if you do not want to switch and are happy with the service you're getting under your current provider – haggle for a better deal.
You can still make significant savings by renewing your contract rather than rolling on to the tariff you're given after your deal.
You could save up to £210 a year on your bills by haggling alone.
If you need to speak to a company on the phone, be sure to catch them at the right time.
Make some time to negotiate with your provider in the morning.
This way, you have a better chance of being the first customer through on the phone, and the rep won't have worked tirelessly through previous calls which may have affected their stress levels.
It pays to be polite when getting through to someone on the phone, as representatives are less inclined to help rude or aggressive customers.
Knowing what other offers are on the market can help you to make a case for yourself to your provider.
If your provider won't haggle, you can always threaten to leave.
Companies don't want to lose customers and may come up with a last-minute offer to keep you.
Last but not least, it's worth investigating social tariffs.
These broadband packages and discounts have been created for people who are receiving certain benefits.
They're often available to those on income support, Universal Credit, or disability allowance.
Around 4.2million households are eligible for these cheaper tariffs but only 55,000 are making use of them.
Prices start from £12.50 a month, so ask your provider what's on offer.
Water bills – April 1
Households usually have to fork our for their water supply each April when companies put up bills.
This year will see the largest hike in annual water bills in nearly 20 years when they rise to an average of £448 this spring.
The exact amount your bill will rise from will depend on where you live, how much you're charged and the rate it's increasing by.
Different areas of the country have a water company assigned to them.
And that company is responsible for setting the costs of bills and the rises for residents.
Unfortunately, you can't simply switch to another one when you're unhappy like you can with other utilities.
Any hikes in water bills will be announced in the new year.
What can I do about it?
Moving to a water meter could help some save some extra cash.
One mum more than halved her water bill after getting a meter – saving over £200 a year.
Obviously, if you do use a lot of water then it makes no sense to have a meter as your bills could go UP.
The Consumer Council for Water offers a free water meter calculator that'll tell you if you can save by fitting a water meter.
For example, if you have a big family and more people than bedrooms or simply use lots of water-intensive appliances like washing machines or dishwashers, a fixed fee will be better for you.
Having a water meter doesn't help with the standard charge that's based on where you live either, but it can help you cut down the costs of your personal usage at home.
Part of that is how long you spend in the shower too.
According to Uswitch you could cut £70 from your energy bills and reduce your water bills too by reducing your wash time.
And leaving the water running while you brush your teeth could add £60 a year to your bills says Octopus.
The same goes for washing dishes, be sure you turn the tap off as if you’re doing it in the sink, leaving it running will add £25 to your annual bill.
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Many water companies offer free water-saving devices that shave pounds off your bills too.
Contact your supplier or check out savewatersavemoney.co.uk.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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