Four major bills that will rise this week (and tips to help beat them)
The energy price cap will rise from £1,277 to £1,971 a year from 1 April. This means those on default tariffs paying by direct debit will see bills rise by more than half (54%). Prepayment meter customers will see an increase of £708 from £1,309 to £2,017. For those on a fixed tariff, there’s no change.
The price hike will affect 22 million customers, and comes amid the record rise in global gas prices, with wholesale prices quadrupling in the last year.
It’s important to understand that the energy price cap doesn’t set a limit for your total bill – what is capped is how much you can be charged for a unit of energy. So, the price you pay may be more or less than this depending on your use.
What can you do?
Usually, we would tell billpayers to switch to a cheap fixed rate deal. But rising energy prices mean most energy firms are pricing their fixed tariffs with higher unit charges than the price cap, or they’ve stopped offering fixed deals altogether. This means many people have little choice than to pay higher prices for energy.
Martin Lewis, founder of MoneySavingExpert.com said: “My rule of thumb is; find out what they’re asking you to pay in April and if they’re offering you a fix that’s no more than around 15% to 20% more, if you want price certainty, go for the fix. Otherwise, stick on the price cap – at least we know what that will be for the next six months.”
The government also announced £350 towards the cost of spiralling energy bills, with a £150 council tax rebate being paid to eligible households from April.
The average council tax bill will rise by £66 from April. The council tax bill for an average band D property in England is set to rise by 3.5% from £1,898.43 this tax year to £1,965.17 in April
While it’s set to increase almost everywhere in England and Wales, the level of increase varies between regions.
As an example, Greater London will face the highest rise of 3.7% (£60), although the bill will still be one of the lowest in the country at £1,682.56.
Meanwhile the bill for an average band D property in the Northeast is set to become the highest in the country at £2,105.95 – a rise of 3.5%, adding nearly £72 a year.
What can you do?
Check whether you’re paying the correct amount of council tax and whether any exemptions or discounts may apply to you.
Average water and sewerage bills in England and Wales are forecast to rise 1.7% to £419 in April, adding £7 to annual bills, according to industry body Water UK.
The average figure masks regional variations, so some people will see their bills fall while others will see theirs soar.
As an example, forecasts for South West Water customers reveal annual average water and sewerage bills will fall 6.2%, from £503 to £472, saving them £31.
On the flip side, customers of Northumbrian Water are forecast to see their average combined water bill soar 10.8%, taking payments from £330 to £365 – a £36 increase (figure rounded).
The exact amount you’ll pay will depend on whether you have a smart meter, and how much water you use.
What can you do?
You can’t switch water company but check the Consumer Council for Water’s water meter calculator to see if you can save money by switching from an unmetered bill. Not everyone will save, but most water companies give you a two-year trial so you can switch back if the costs don’t add up.
All water companies offer reduced tariffs to low-income customers. Eligibility and the level of support varies from company to company but, in some cases, bills can be cut by as much as 90%.
Support is also available through the Priority Services Register, which gives help to people with sight, hearing, or mobility difficulties, to parents with babies under 12 months old, and WaterSure scheme, which enables water companies to cap bills for low-income customers who use a lot of water for essential family or health reasons.
Alternatively, see what water-saving devices are offered by your water company, such as shower heads or balloons for the cistern.
Mobile, broadband and TV
A host of broadband, mobile and TV companies have announced price hikes:
BT/EE/Plusnet: From 31 March, broadband customers will see a 5.4% or 9.3% hike, depending on which service they have and when they signed up to it.
O2 Virgin Media: Some customers could see their bills rise by as much as 11.7%. Others, depending on when they joined, will see bills rise by 7.8%.
Sky: TV and broadband customers will see their bills go up by an average £43.20 annually from April.
TalkTalk: Broadband and home phone customers will see bills rise by 9.1% from April, while fixed price plus customers out of contract will be hit with a 5.4% rise.
Three: Depending on when customers joined or upgraded, they will see bills rise by 4.5% or 7.8%.
Vodafone: Mobile, tablet and smartwatch customers who signed up after 8 December 2020 will see a 9.3% increase in April while those who signed up before 9 December will see an 8.2% increase. Broadband customers who signed up after 1 February 2021 will see bills rise by 9.3% while those who signed up before 2 February 2021 will see a rise of 8.2%.
What can you do?
If you’re within your contract term, you won’t be able to leave penalty-free as there would have been price rise information when you signed. For those out of contract, you will be able to leave penalty free so compare prices elsewhere.
You could also haggle with your current supplier. Low-income households and those in receipts of benefits may be eligible for discounted broadband packages, known as social tariffs which cost between £10 and £20 a month for broadband speeds ranging from 10Mbit/s to 67Mbit/s. Just 1.2% of the eligible 4.2 million households have signed up.