MILLIONS of households face a huge bill shock next month but there are ways to soften the blow on your finances.
Energy bills will rise by £500 for the average household and mobile, broadband and TV packages will see prices rise from April.
Council tax and water bills will then be hiked for millions later on in the Spring.
Here are all the changes set to impact your finances in one month’s time and a detailed explanation of what you can do to minimise the damage.
Energy bills will rise – April 1
Energy bills for the typical household were initially set to be frozen at £2,500 for the typical household for two years.
But the Chancellor announced in November that it would only be in place for six months.
In the Autumn Statement, Jeremy Hunt said typical bills will rise to £3,000 in April.
This means the average household will see their bills rise by £500 a year.
The exact amount that your energy bills will rise by will depend entirely on your own usage – so if you use more than the average household, expect to pay more.
And while there’s nothing you can do to stop these costs from rising, there is a whole host of government support in the pipeline to help hard-up households.
What can I do about it?
A £900 payment will be going to millions on means-tested benefits and Universal Credit in 2023.
To be eligible for the payment, households will need to be claiming at least one of the following:
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Pension Credit
- Tax Credits (Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit)
- Housing Benefit
- Council Tax Support
- Social Fund (Sure Start Maternity Grant, Funeral Payment, Cold Weather Payment)
- Universal Credit
Elderly Brits will receive another one-off £300 “Pensioner Cost of Living Payment”.
Those with certain disabilities will also qualify for a further £150 cost of living payment.
Energy suppliers also offer plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you’re struggling.
Ask your supplier what’s on offer and how to apply.
Mobile, broadband and TV price hikes -April 1
Millions of TV, broadband and mobile customers will face higher bills in the next couple of months.
Many telecom 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 BT, EE and Plusnet customers will see a rise from March 31.
On average, Virgin Media cable customers will receive a price increase of an average of 13.8% – though this will be higher or lower depending on the package.
Sky mobile customers will see their bills increase by £1 a month, or an average of 9%.
Shell customers will see bills go up by 13.5% from April 1.
Three has also confirmed its 14.4% price rise will impact all new and upgrading customers from March 31.
Similarly, TalkTalk customers will see their bills go up from April 1 too.
But the exact amount that your bills will rise from spring will depend on the type of package you’ve taken out and how much it costs right now.
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.
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.
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.
Council tax rise – April 1
Millions of households will be hit by council tax rises of up to £99 a year from April.
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.
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.
Water bills up – April 1
Households will see the largest hike in their 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 this month 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.
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.
Many water companies offer free water-saving devices that shave pounds off your bills too.
Contact your supplier or check out savewatersavemoney.co.uk.