Beat the April price rises!
With a typical household’s bills set to rise by nearly £1,300 a year from April, our latest survey has shown 91% of people are worried about covering these increases.
From next month, most people will be looking at paying more for council tax, energy and water, and some will also see the cost of their broadband and mobile phone contracts go up.
Of the people we spoke to, 59% said they had worked out how much more they’d be paying and 60% of those said they were looking at shelling out at least another £100 a month.
Unsurprisingly, a quarter of people said they were feeling stressed about money, with 17% revealing it’s affecting their mental health.
Some 63% of people had already thought about how to cover rising costs, with over half planning to cut back on non-essential spending and 13% intending to work longer hours.
A lot of those we talked to said they had already made changes as a result of soaring inflation, with 15% reducing the amount they spend on their supermarket shop.
What’s going up and what help is there?
So, let’s have a look at how much more you’re going to be paying and what help’s available if you’re struggling to make ends meet.
In April, 115 out of 151 councils are putting up council tax by 4.99% - the maximum allowed. With this level of increase, an average band-D household will end up paying £99 a year more.
What can you do?
Challenge your council tax band
It’s thought that hundreds of thousands of homes in England and Scotland are in the wrong council tax band. If you think your property has been placed in the wrong band, you can challenge it.
If you live in England, you can find more information on making a challenge on the government website.
And if you live in Scotland, you can make a challenge through the Scottish Assessors’ Association.
Make sure you’re getting any discounts you’re entitled to
If you’re the only adult living in your property, you should make sure you’re getting the 25% single person discount. Enter your postcode on the government website to start the application process.
You may also be entitled to a discount on your council tax if you’re on a low income or you get certain benefits. Use this benefits calculator to see if you qualify.
At the moment, the annual energy bill for a typical household is being subsidised by the government to keep it at about £2,500. In addition to this, we’ve all had the £400 energy-bills-support-scheme discount to help us through the winter.
From April, the typical household bill is set to rise to £3,000 a year and the discount will come to an end. This means a typical household will be paying £900 a year more (£75 a month).
Some people expect the government to announce in its spring budget this week that it will keep the typical household energy bill at £2,500 a year. Even if this happens, the average household will still be looking at a monthly increase of £33 as a result of the energy bills support scheme coming to an end.
What can you do?
Contact your supplier
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bill, the first thing you should do is speak to your supplier. You can find more information in our guide on financial help from your energy supplier.
Get a one-off fuel voucher
If you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter, your supplier might be able to give you a one-off fuel voucher. Some food banks and other local organisations also give these out. Find out where you can get one by looking on your local council’s website.
Annual water bills in England and Wales are set to rise by an average of £31 (£19 in Scotland) in April.
What can you do?
Switch to a water meter
If you don’t use much water, switching to a water meter could save you money. The Consumer Council for Water has a free calculator that will give you an idea of whether you'd be better off with a meter. Switching is free so, if you’re interested, speak to your supplier.
Ask your supplier for help
Your supplier can’t turn off your water if you fall behind with your payments but they can take you to court. There is help available through your supplier though, so make sure you contact them as soon as possible if you’re struggling to pay.
Use less water
If you’re on a meter, you can cut costs by reducing the amount of water you use. Try taking shorter showers, always use a washing up bowl when doing the pots and use eco modes on your appliances.
Broadband and mobile
Lots of broadband and mobile phone providers are increasing the amount they charge by 14.4% in April, with O2 and Virgin introducing rises of 17.3%. This will mean an average family with two adults and two children - all with their own mobiles – could end up paying around £210 a year more for their phones and more than £50 a year extra for broadband.
What can you do?
If you’re out of contract for mobile or broadband, your best bet is to search for a cheaper deal.
If you don't know if your mobile is out of contract, you can find out by sending a free text with the word INFO to 85075. Even if you're mid contract, they'll let you know what your early termination charge would be, so you can weigh up if it's worth leaving or not.
If you decide it makes financial sense to leave, you can either use a price comparison site to find a new deal or haggle with your current provider to see what they can offer. Price comparison sites often have cheaper deals than those you get by going directly to the provider, so it's definitely worth taking a look.
And when you're deciding which mobile deal to go for, SIM-only offers from lesser known providers may be a good bet. Smaller providers tend to offer the most competitive deals and they use the same signal as the big names, so your service should be just as reliable.
If you’re getting certain benefits, you may be entitled to discounted broadband. Use this benefits calculator to see if you qualify.
Other cost-of-living support
Household support fund
Local councils are offering low-income families financial support to help with the cost of living. What and how much you can get under the household support fund depends on your circumstances and where you live.
You’ll need to be quick if you want to apply though, as most schemes are due to close at the end of March. Find out more, including how to apply, on the government website.
Remember, we’re always here if you’re struggling to make ends meet – with everything from budgeting help and benefits entitlement checks to advice on debt solutions – and it’s always better to seek help sooner rather than later.
A qualified journalist for over 15 years with a background in financial services. Rebecca is Money Wellness’s consumer champion, helping you improve your financial wellbeing by providing information on everything from income maximisation to budgeting and saving tips.
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