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Households braced for host of essential bill increases from April 1

Households are about to see a host of essential bills rise steeply as firms roll out their annual April 1 price increases.

Council tax, road tax, broadband, mobile, water and even stamps are all about to jump in price on or around the first of the month, with households urged to check for savings by shopping around and investigating if they are entitled to any discounts.

The average annual council tax bill will rise by £106 this year as local authorities seek to maximise revenue to pay for struggling frontline services.

Council tax graphic
(PA Graphics)

The bill for an average Band D property will increase by 5% to £2,171, according to statistics released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

Council taxes are rising by various amounts in Wales, from around 5% in Torfaen to more than 11% in Pembrokeshire, but the SNP has promised to freeze council tax across Scotland until 2025.

The average household water and sewerage bill in England and Wales will rise by 6% or about £27 to £473 a year from April 1.

Wessex Water and Anglian Water are at the top end of the scale, with average bills set to increase to £548 and £529 respectively, while Northumbrian customers will see the lowest average bills of £422.

Water UK said the funds raised by increased water bills were guaranteed only to fund improvements in water and sewerage systems, and bills would automatically be reduced by the regulator if they were not delivered.

Water bill graphic
(PA Graphics)

Water UK chief executive David Henderson said: “Next year will see record levels of investment from water companies to secure the security of our water supply in the future and significantly reduce the amount of sewage in rivers and seas.”

He said anyone with worries should contact their water company and assured customers that firms would never cut anyone off or “make them use a prepayment meter”.

Most broadband deals and mobile phone contracts will rise by a “completely unacceptable” 7.9% on April 1.

Many of the biggest broadband firms – such as BT, EE, Plusnet, Shell Energy, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Vodafone – raise prices every April in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Retail Price Index (RPI) – announced as February as 4% and 4.9% respectively – plus an additional 3%, 3.7% or 3.9%.

Uswitch calculated that the increase would cost the individual consumer around £27.19 more a year for broadband and £24.23 for mobile bills on average.

Richard Neudegg, director of regulation at Uswitch.com, said: “There is hope on the horizon, with Ofcom currently weighing up a new ban on inflation-linked and percentage-based price hikes.

“All mobile and broadband customers should check to see if they are in or out of contract, and consider switching to a cheaper deal as soon as they are able to prevent overpaying.

“This is especially true for anyone who hasn’t moved in the past 18 or 24 months as you’re very likely to be at or nearing the end of your contract and significantly cheaper options will be out there.

Similar to its broadband and mobile contracts, EE is increasing the cost of its subscription television service by 7.9%. EE TV, previously known as BT TV, allows customers to access free-to-air channels as well as premium channels such as TNT Sports, previously BT Sport.

Virgin Media’s 8.8% increase is also extended to its subscription television service and Sky will increase prices by an average of 6.7% for television customers from April 1.

Separately, the annual cost of a TV Licence will rise to £169.50 from April 1, up from £159, which viewers need to pay to watch or record live TV shows on any channel, regardless of the device used. This includes watching anything via BBC iPlayer.

The Government confirmed in the Autumn Statement that vehicle excise duty, or road tax, will rise in line with the RPI from April 1.

For cars registered after April 1 2017, it means the tax is likely to rise from its current level of £180 per year to approximately £190 per year. However, older vehicles or vehicles which emit higher levels of carbon dioxide will pay more.

The price of stamps will increase in April 2, first-class stamps by 10p to £1.35 and second-class stamps by 10p to 85p.

On a more positive note, the average household energy bill is to fall to its lowest point in two years from April 1 after Ofgem lowered its price cap in response to wholesale prices.

The regulator is dropping its price cap by 12.3% from the current £1,928 for a typical dual fuel household in England, Scotland and Wales to £1,690, a decrease of £238 over the course of a year or around £20 a month.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? head of home products and services, said: “From April 1, millions of people will face price hikes, including on broadband, mobile, water and council tax bills – and these come just a few weeks after train ticket prices increased for many.

“However, there are ways to cut costs in the face of these price rises and keep your household bills as low as possible.

“Our research shows that switching providers if you’re out of contract can slash broadband, pay TV and mobile bills by up to £187. It’s also worth checking if you’re eligible for any council tax reductions or exemptions and could save money by installing a water meter.”