MILLIONS of households across the UK are set to see their everyday bills rise from today, with the price of council tax, mobile usage and broadband all rising.
April marks the start of a new tax year, so we’ve rounded up what additional costs you can expect to be paying.
Homes that will be worst hit – so those in expensive council tax areas who are also on pricier broadband and mobile tariffs – will be forking out up to £347 more.
But the good news is, you may be able to claw back some costs if you shop smart and do your research.
Here are the price increases coming into force today and some ways for you to save cash.
Council tax – up to £192 increase
Households across the UK will be paying up to 15 per cent more on their council tax bill from today.
The average Band D council tax in England for 2020-21 will be £1,817, up from last year’s figure of £1,750.
That means homes in England will see an average increase of £67, or 3.9 per cent.
But some homes in Pembrokeshire, Wales, will be paying up to 15.4 per cent more, according to analysis by Which?.
Band D properties in this area will be charged £1,252.41 in 2020-21, up from £1,445.22 in the previous year and an increase of £192.81.
In Scotland, homes will pay and average of 4.1 per cent extra compared to last year.
If you’re struggling financially, it might be worth checking if you can get money off your bill due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Ministers last week revealed that working age people who get Council Tax Support will be able to get up to £150 off their bill.
How to challenge your council tax bill
YOU may be able to challenge your council tax bill if you’re looking to lower costs – but be warned, you may end up pushing prices up for yourself and your neighbours instead.
The first step is to check what council tax band your neighbours are on – this information is available online and is free to access.
If you find your property is in a higher council tax band compared to your neighbours, you might have a successful challenge.
Another important step before you go ahead with a challenge is to work out how much your property was worth in 1991, as this is when council tax was launched by the Government.
MoneySavingExpert has a free calculator tool to help you do this, as well as a table on what band you should have been put in.
You must provide evidence to back up your claim, which can be the addresses of similar properties that are in a lower council tax band to yours.
However, the valuation office might find you should actually be in a higher band, which means it’ll push up prices for yourself and potentially your entire street as well.
Broadband and TV – up to £72 increase
Millions of Sky and BT customers will be paying more for their broadband and TV services from today.
Sky says that on average, customers will pay £3 a month extra or £36 a year – but some will be paying up to £72 more.
Meanwhile, BT prices for its broadband, mobile and home phone services are set to rise by up to £11.40 year for some homes.
TalkTalk and Virgin Media are not putting up prices.
Mobile bills – up to £80 increase
Most major network providers are upping their bills today.
Some O2 customers will be paying up to £11 a year more for their services, or 2.7 per cent – although O2 says the average increase will be £7.44 a year.
O2 applies RPI to airtime, so texts, calls and data and not bundled tariffs, for customers on O2 Refresh.
Three is also increasing bills by 2.7 per cent, but its customers will be paying up to £20 a year more.
For EE customers, bills will go up by 2.2 per cent with some people on pricier contacts paying up to £27.48 more.
Virgin Mobile is moving 140,000 pay-monthly customers, including some SIM-only contracts, onto the closest equivalent tariff that is still available.
The provider said the “vast majority” of customers will see prices rise by less than £7 a month but some customers have reported that it will add up to an extra £80 a year onto their bills.
Vodafone has increased pay-monthly prices by 2.5 per cent, meaning some customers will pay up to £23.40 extra over the year.
Tesco Mobile hasn’t announced any increases.
How to get around broadband and mobile price increases
IF you’ve been hit with price increase, you may be able to wangle the cost down.
While no means a sure-fire way to lower your bill, you can always try and haggle down the price of your contract if you want to stay with your current provider.
Start by using a mobile comparison site to see if you could save by switching elsewhere, then take this evidence to your provider and argue that you can get cheaper deals elsewhere.
If you have no luck arguing for a discount, instead ask for a freebie to be thrown in – perhaps a free broadband speed upgrade or BT TV.
You should note that you can’t leave your contract penalty free as a result of the increase.
If you’re out of contract or on a pricey rolling deal, you can shop around and switch if you find a better deal.
Ofcom reckons broadband users on rolling contracts could save up to £150 by switching.
Overdraft fees – up to 39.9 per cent
Lenders including Lloyds Bank, Halifax and Santander will start charging as much as 39.9 per cent for customers to use their overdraft from April 6.
This is in addition to increased interest-free overdraft measures being introduced this month for customers who are hit financially by the coronavirus epidemic.
HSBC, Bank of Scotland, Halifax and Lloyds Bank will offer a temporary £300 interest-free overdraft from April 6, while Santander is introducing a £350 interest-free overdraft for three months from April 6
HSBC, First Direct, M&S Bank and Nationwide already charge 39.9 per cent overdraft fees.
NatWest had been due to hike charges for using your overdraft to 39.49 per cent on March 2, but it’s put a pause on this due to coronavirus.
Metro Bank has also scrapped plans to raise overdraft fees to 34 per cent from April 25.
How to cut your overdraft costs
THERE are a few ways to cut overdraft costs, and which suits you will depend on your situation. Here are a few options advised by MoneySavingExpert:
Spend less each month – do a proper budget and have a look at what you’re spending on.
Could you cut your morning coffee, or go down a brand at the supermarket?
Or, are you paying too much on your bills – if you haven’t switched energy, insurance and broadband recently, then it’s likely you could save £100s or even £1,000s over a year.
Move your bills – this can be dangerous if you’re not disciplined, but if you move your bills to just before payday rather than just after, many will be in credit (or less in the red) for less of the month, meaning you’re charged less for the overdraft. But – remember those bills are coming out, so don’t treat it like you’ve extra money to spend.
Shift your overdraft on to a money transfer card – and don’t build it back up again.
Try setting up “pots” – sort your cash at the start of each month, so you have a bills pot, a spending pot etc. Use this technique to make payments to your overdraft, eg £100 a month, treating it like any other bill.
NHS prescriptions – 15p increase
The cost of your NHS prescription has risen by 15p from today to £9.15.
The price hike, which comes around on April 1 every year, is in line with inflation, the Government says.
It’s worth checking if you’re entitled to free prescriptions using the NHS website.
If you can’t claim free prescriptions, you may be able to save money with a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) – also known as a “prescription season ticket”.
A PPC covers all of your NHS prescriptions, including NHS dental prescriptions, no matter how many items you need.
You can buy a three-month PPC for £29.65, which will save you money if you need more than three prescribed items in three months.
There’s also a 12-month PPC which costs £105.90 and will save you money if you need more than 11 prescribed items in a year.
Find out more on the NHS website.
Prescriptions have been free in Northern Ireland since 2010, free in Scotland since 2011, and free in Wales since 2007.
TV licence – £3 increase
TV licence fees have increased from £154.50 to £157.50 for a colour licence.
This marks an increase of £3 for households across the country.
But over-75s will still not have to pay for their licence after the BBC announced it would delay a change in policy due to coronavirus.
How to watch TV legally without paying for a licence
IN the UK, any household watching or recording live television must hold a TV licence.
In recent years, this has been extended to include BBC programmes on iPlayer, whether they are live, catch up or on demand. But does everyone really need a licence? Here’s the lowdown on how to avoid paying – legally.
On demand TV – Like catch-up TV and on demand previews – which are available through services like ITV Player , All4 , My5 , BT Vision/BT TV , Virgin Media , Sky Go , Now TV, Apple TV, Chromecast , Roku and Amazon Fire TV.
On demand movies – From services like Sky, Virgin Media, BT Vision, Netflix, Amazon Video and Disney+.
Recorded films and programmes – Either via DVD or Blu-ray, or downloaded from the internet.
YouTube – On demand video clips through services like YouTube.
Stamps – 6p increase
The price of a first class stamp for a standard size letter up to 100g has risen to 76p, a 6p increase on the previous cost of 70p.
For larger letters, it will cost an extra 9p to £1.15.
Second class stamps for standard size letters will increase to 65p, up 4p on the old price of 61p.
You may be able to save money by buying books of stamps, but this will only be worth it if you send a lot of letters.
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We’ve rounded up how you can get help paying your rent, mortgage and bills if you’ve been financially hit during the coronavirus crisis.
See our rent payments and coronavirus guide for more information.
It comes as millions of families are being given a pause on their energy bills to help people forced to work from home.
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