Broadband, council tax and water bills rise £200 tomorrow – how to reverse the hikes | Personal Finance | Finance


These inflation-busting rises could add up to £200 a year and are a stark reminder of the importance of staying on top of your bills to avoid paying over the odds, said Edward Newman, chief executive of comparison site

“Tomorrow’s triple-whammy price hike will come as a nasty surprise but don’t take it lying down. There is plenty you can do to cut the cost.”

Most councils in England and Wales are upping council tax bills by at least five percent, with some rising by 10 percent.

How much more you will pay depends on your local authority but a five percent increase would lift tax for the average Band D property by £103 a year to a hefty £2,168. Those with bigger properties could pay much more.

People on low incomes or claiming benefits should check eligibility for means-tested Council Tax Reduction, which is open to homeowners.

Struggling pensioners should see if they qualify for the Guarantee Credit element of means tested state pension top-up Pension Credit. If so, they might get their council tax paid in full.

Pensioners who are disabled and receive state benefit Attendance Allowance to help with personal care may also be eligible for Council Tax Reduction.

Newman said some might want to go a step further and challenge their council tax band. “Only do this if you are confident it will lower your bills, as your council could reassess your home and may put you in a more expensive band instead.”

A broadband connection is now an essential utility for most of us, so it’s a concern that suppliers are driving through big price hikes.

Virgin Media and O2 are hiking prices by 8.8 percent from tomorrow, while BT and Vodafone will charge 7.9 percent more, and TalkTalk an extra 7.7 percent. Sky and NOW are increasing many of their broadband, phone and TV packages by 6.7 percent on average.

This is the second major annual hike which combined have added £70 a year to the cost of a basic broadband deal charging £25 a month, Broadband Genie figures show.

A high-speed package that originally cost £50 a month now costs an extra £140.

Broadband contracts typically run for 18 months or two years so check how long yours has left. If you are one of the seven million households whose contract has now ended, you can switch to a cheaper deal without penalty.

Users face an early termination penalty if they switch mid contract but Catherine Hiley, broadband spokesperson at Go.Compare, said: “It may still be worthwhile to pay this and switch to a better deal.”

Alternatively consider haggling with your existing provider, she added. “Our research found that broadband and TV packages were the most popular bills to barter, with almost six in 10 keen to strike a deal.”

More than three quarters of pensioners do not realise they could get cheaper broadband through social tariffs, according to research from Broadband Genie.

Those who receive Pension Credit, Attendance Allowance or the Personal Independence Payment (PIP) may be eligible for discounts.

READ MORE: BT, Sky and Virgin beaten in latest broadband test – UK users told to switch

As if that wasn’t enough, water bills are going up by an average of 6.2 percent, costing the typical household around £28 extra a year.

Newman said getting a water meter installed could save money, particularly for lower users, as you only pay for what you use rather than a fixed amount. “If you have more bedrooms than people, a meter could you save you money.”

If already on a meter, using less will shrink bills. Cutting shower time, use a bowl in the kitchen sink, turning off the tap while cleaning teeth and waiting before your washing machine or dishwasher is full before using all help.

Water companies should offer a social tariff for those on low incomes, which could knock up to 90 percent off bills.

If the latest bout of inflation-busting prices hikes leave you feeling like an April fool, there is at least one piece good news on April 1.

Ofgem’s new energy price cap kicks in the same day, saving the average dual-fuel household £238 a year on gas and electricity bills. The annual bill is still a pricey £1,690, though.

Laura Suter, director of personal finance at AJ Bell, said energy bills are still way above where they were three years ago when the price cap stood at £1,138. “While £20 a month isn’t a huge drop it will absorb some of the increases elsewhere.”



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