How to tackle April bill hikes
With multiple utility and tax bills set to rise in April, millions of consumers will be wondering how the increases will affect them, what support is available and looking for ways to save money.
Here we fill you in on the hikes you can expect and top tips from the consumer association which? how to reduce costs
The government’s Energy Price Guarantee (EPG), which currently caps most households’ electricity tariffs, is set to rise by around 20% on April 1 – although it is expected that the government could still prevent this price increase. Irrespective of what happens to the EPG, the energy discount of 400 euros paid in monthly installments for electricity customers since October will definitely end this month, so that all energy customers will be able to get by without an additional 67 euros a month from April onwards.
Continue reading: FCA is asking UK banks to help homeowners struggling to pay mortgages
Everyone will have felt the impact of soaring energy bills over the last year – and the risk of energy prices rising again is a major concern for millions.
If you’re struggling to pay your utility bills — or worried about keeping up with payments — contact your utility to find out what they can do to help. Options could include changing the way you pay, or your provider may be able to give you access to their hardship funds. You may also be able to contact Citizens Advice for direct assistance.
2. Broadband and Cellular
Many telecom companies including BT, EE, Plusnet, Shell Energy Broadband, TalkTalk, Three and Vodafone increase their prices every spring using the Consumer Price Index (CPI) inflation rate as a basis. However, with inflation hitting its highest level in decades, customers can expect increases of at least 14% this year. O2 and Virgin Mobile base their price increases on the higher Retail Price Index (RPI), which means some customers can expect price increases of more than 17% this year.
Customers without a contract do not have to accept a price increase – they are free to shop around to find a better deal. In most cases, shopping around and switching providers will save you money – sometimes hundreds of dollars, and you may get better service. However, carefully review the terms and conditions of each new contract to learn about the new provider’s policies regarding future price increases.
Haggling also remains a great way to save if you’d rather stick with the same provider after your contract ends. Which in January? found that customers who took the time to haggle with their broadband and TV provider saved an average of £90 a year.
Customers within the minimum contract period who are concerned about paying a higher price should contact their provider for assistance.
Social tariffs are discounted special offers for certain low-income customers to which entitled persons can switch, even if this means changing providers. If you’re not eligible for a social tariff, Ofcom has made it clear that broadband providers should do everything in their power to keep people connected.
3. Water bills
Water bills will rise by around 7.5% in England and Wales from April – or 5% in Scotland. Individual bills can go up or down depending on location, usage, and whether you have a water meter.
There are several important ways you can reduce your water bill. First, try reducing your time in the shower to five minutes. This could save around £50 a year.
Fixing water leaks is another way to save. Wasted water can add up, and even a slow-drip showerhead can impact your bills if not sorted.
Keep showerheads clean, as limescale can clog a showerhead, meaning the flow isn’t as strong and you’re far more likely to need more water to shower.
4. Council Tax
This year, councils can increase bills by up to 5% without having to call a local referendum. There is no fixed percentage increase nationwide and each local council can choose how much to increase their rates by, but on average prices could rise by £75.
Continue reading: Baked Beans: The best and cheapest supermarket brands
While there aren’t many ways to reduce your council tax bill, you may be eligible for a reduction depending on your personal circumstances.
Persons living alone or living with other exempt persons can take advantage of a 25% discount. Other discounts and reductions can be granted, for example, on vacant properties as well as on second and holiday homes.
These discounts are not automatically granted and may vary by local authority. So if you think you’re fitting the bill, you need to write to the community and make your case.
If you are unable to pay your bill, it is important that you contact your municipality immediately. There are several ways it can help, including rescheduling payments, cutting payments if you’re on low income or applying for benefits, and offering hardship cases.
Watch: How to save money on a low income
Download the Yahoo Finance app, available for Apple And Android.