Coinciding with the start of the new 2018-19 tax year, the beginning of April also marks a number of price hikes. So, which of your bills are going up?
To make sure you’re prepared, we’ve rounded up everything you need to look out for – along with some handy tips on how you can save money.
1. Passport renewal fees
On 27 March, renewing your passport became more expensive. Price rises apply whether the passport is for an adult or child, and for both online or postal applications.
This year also marks the first time that postal applications cost more than submitting an application online. This is meant to reflect the higher costs of processing postal applications.
Adults applying online for a standard 34-page passport will be charged £75.50, whereas a postal application now costs £85.
For a child’s passport (for under 16s), it’s £49 online and £58.50 by post. Note that children’s passports have to be updated every five years, while for adults it’s every 10 years.
If you were born on or before 2 September 1929, passport renewals are free.
It will cost you more if you want a jumbo passport, which has 50 pages instead of the standard 34, and if you’ve left your renewal to the last minute and need it back urgently.
To avoid this, make sure you renew your passport in plenty of time. Some countries will not accept your passport unless you have at least six months remaining on it.
2. First- and second-class stamps
Prices for first- and second-class stamps have increased by 2p, meaning that a single first-class stamp now costs 67p and a single second-class stamp costs 58p.
The cost of posting a large letter by first class has gone up by 3p to £1.01. To send a large letter second class will now cost you 79p, up from 76p.
Royal Mail has said the price rises will help ensure the sustainability of the Universal Postal Service.
3. Council tax
When we analysed every council tax change for 2018-19, we found that just a handful of councils will be keeping council tax bills the same this year. Only one, Kettering, is reducing its bill, with a decrease of 0.76%.
The cap that had previously been placed on council tax increases has been raised, so your bill may go up faster than before.
In previous years, any proposed increases over 1.99% would have to be voted on in a referendum.
As of this month, councils can now increase taxes by 2.99%, plus a further 3% to fund social care services. Thirty-two councils in England and Wales have applied a 5.8-5.99% increase, including Brighton & Hove, Wirral and St Helens.
Councils can raise rates beyond this, but will often need to hold a referendum. Residents in Pembrokeshire have to pay an extra 11.04% on their council tax this year.
- Find out more: Mapped: every single council tax increase in 2018-19
If you’d like to check your council tax, try our council tax calculator. Simply enter your postcode and you can see what your local authority is charging for all council tax bands in your area.
There are things you can do to reduce your council tax, such as getting your council tax band revaluated, or seeing if you can apply for a discount.
- Find out more: Reducing your council tax bill
4. Non-terrestrial TV
Many Sky customers will see price increases from this month, with Sky TV Original, Variety and Box Set packages increasing by £1.50 per month, and Full Sky Sports on a rolling contract up by 50p per month.
The provider’s broadband and some calls costs are also set to rise.
If you’re unhappy with the price rises, and outside your minimum contract term, you can leave penalty-free.
If you’re within your minimum term, however, you can’t exit without paying a fee. Ofcom suggests complaining to Sky, then escalating your case to Ombudsman Services if necessary – otherwise, it’s worth trying to haggle with Sky to see if you can get a better deal.
- Find out more: how to cancel a home entertainment contract
5. Mobile phone bills
EE pay-monthly customers will already be paying the provider’s higher rates, as it put prices up by 4.1% on 30 March.
This figure is in line with the Retail Prices Index (RPI) measure of inflation for December 2017.
Vodafone and O2 have followed suit, with both upping pay-monthly prices by 4% this month. Three is set to do the same from May 2018.
Any TalkTalk pay-monthly customers coming to the end of their contract will be offered a new O2 deal – or will have the option to switch elsewhere.
Plusnet’s FAQ section states its prices will go up in accordance with RPI in March each year, but it has not issued an announcement to confirm this for 2018.
The likes of BT, Giffgaff and Virgin Media have not announced price increases.
When your contract provider has increased its prices, as a general rule, you won’t be able to switch to another deal if you’re still mid-contract. If you’re at the end of your contract, you can go elsewhere for free. You can find out more in our guide to your cancellation rights.
To save money, it may be worth looking into whether buying a handset outright and going for a SIM-only pay-as-you-go deal will save you money in the long run.
- Find out more: How to find the best mobile phone deal
6. Energy bills
Those who have capped gas and electricity will see an extra £58 added to their bill over the course of a year, meaning the average dual fuel bill will rise to £1,089 a year from £1,031.
While bills are on the up, having capped dual fuel bills will mean you’re still saving £42 per year compared with the average Big Six standard variable tariff.
What’s more, there are plenty of things you can do to save on your energy bills. Turning down your thermostat by just 1ºC can save you up to £85 a year in heating bills, according to the Energy Saving Trust.
Energy-saving lightbulbs, home insulation and energy monitors can also help you save on your bills. For more information, see our guide on 10 ways to save on energy bills.
- Find out more: My energy supplier has raised its prices, do I have to pay?
7. TV Licence fee
The TV Licence fee has increased for both colour and black-and-white licences. A colour licence has gone up by £3.50, so it’s now £150.50.
Those with black-and-white licences will see their bill increase by £1, up to £50.50.
If you’re on a payment plan before 1 April 2018, you’ll continue to pay the previous price of £147 until your licence is due to be renewed.
If you’re blind or severely sight impaired, you can still apply for a 50% concession of the new prices.
You need to have a TV licence if you watch or record programmes on a TV, computer or other device as they’re being broadcast, and if you download or watch programmes on BBC iPlayer.
If you only watch non-BBC programmes on catch-up, you don’t need a TV licence.
8. Water bills
Water bills are rising by an average of 2% throughout England and Wales. This equates to an extra £9 a year, bringing the average bill to £405.
Scotland will see an average increase of £6 a year.
This will vary depending on what region you live in – and in fact, water bills in some areas are set to drop.
While you can’t switch water suppliers, you may be able to save money by installing a water meter. You can request for this to be installed for free, unless doing so is deemed impractical.
By having a water meter, you’ll only be charged for the water you actually use, as opposed to the rateable value of your property.
The Consumer Council for Water has a water meter calculator that can help you work out whether you might be able to save with a water meter.
9. NHS prescriptions
The cost of prescriptions in England will increase by 20p, from £8.60 to £8.80 for each medicine or appliance dispensed.
The three-month and annual prescription prepayment certificates (PPC) prices will not be changing, with prices remaining at £29.10 and £104, respectively.
If you’re entitled to free prescriptions, this will continue to be the case. You may be eligible if you’re aged 60 or over, you have a maternity exemption certificate, a medical exemption certificate or you’re aged 16-18 and in full-time education, for instance.
If you’re on a low income, you may be able to receive financial help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.
Charges for wigs and fabric supports have also increased in line with inflation, so it will now cost £28.85 for a surgical bra, £43.60 for an abdominal or spinal support, and £188.70 for a partial human hair wig.
10. Dental check-ups
From today, a trip to the dentist could leave a bigger gap in your wallet.
Prices for emergency dental treatment and ‘band 1’ treatments are going up by £1 to £21.60 – covering treatments such as pain relief and temporary fillings, adjusting false teeth, and scale and polish treatments.
‘Band 2’ treatments – covering fillings, root canal work or the removal of teeth – will increase by £2.80, up to £59.20.
If you need more extensive ‘Band 3’ work – such as crowns, dentures and bridges – there’s been a hike of £12.20, with the price now standing at £256.50.
These prices only apply to NHS dentists in England, so prices will remain unchanged in the rest of the UK.
- Find out more: What NHS dental treatment am I entitled to?
11. Road tax
Changes to road tax – also known as Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) – have now come into force, with a new tier of taxation for new diesel cars that don’t meet the latest Euro 6 legislation.
The charge is based on CO2 emissions, and will be charged in accordance with the table below.
The changes are designed to penalise cars that emit more pollution, but note that the extra tax will be included as part of the cost of buying a new car. After the first 12 months, these models will face the same fees as ‘cleaner’ cars.
- Find out more: How to buy the best new car