Council tax bills could rise by up to 4.99% next year, and there are a host of other household costs changing in 2019 that could impact your budget.
It’s likely stretched households will have to pay around £83 more a year from April 2019 as funding for local councils continue to fall short, but that’s not the only extra cost to factor in.
Which? explains what’s happening to council tax and the other household bills that could impact your 2019 budget and beyond.
Council tax bill hikes of up to 4.99% from 2019
The government has confirmed households can expect to see council tax rise by as much as 4.99% from April 2019.
This follows the publication of the annual local government funding settlement, which details how much money the UK government will dish out.
This year, local government secretary, James Brokenshire MP confirmed that councils will see a real-term cash increase of 2.8% over the year. As a result, budgets will increase from £45.1bn in 2018-19 to £46.4bn in 2019-2020.
However, the Local Government Association, which represents local councils, has warned that funding is still £3.2bn short of its requirements.
To close the gap, many local councils will likely need to impose the maximum possible increases of 2.99% to council tax, plus the 2% adult social care precept.
For the average household living in a band D property, this will mean a £83 jump in their council tax bill, from £1,671 per year to £1,754.
In addition, the police will be allowed to increase their portion of the council tax bill by up to £24 a year.
It’s up to individual councils and police forces whether to raise taxes by the maximum rates, and we will see what they decide to do from March 2019.
You can find out how much council tax you’re paying now using our council tax calculator.
- Find out more: how to reduce your council tax bill
Cheap energy deals are disappearing
From 1 January, Ofgem will cap the cost of a typical dual fuel bill at £1,137, which it estimates will save 11m households around £75 a year.
But don’t be tempted to settle for this price level – it’s a maximum threshold, and there are still cheaper deals out there, though these could be drying up.
Which? research has found the number of cheap energy deals has plummeted 90% in a year before the introduction of the cap.
The number of tariffs available for £1,000 a year or less for a household with medium energy usage has dropped from 77 to just eight.
- Check if you can save money on your energy bills using Which? Switch.
Rail fares to jump 3.1% in January
Rail fares will rise by 3.1% on 2 January 2019.
The rise affects ‘regulated fares’, including season tickets, off-peak return tickets, and walk-up anytime fares.
You should check if your employer will help with a season ticket loan, but you could also use a 0% purchase credit card to spread the cost.
To avoid the hike, you should aim to renew your season ticket before the rise kicks in. For other tips on how to cut the cost of rail travel, use our 10 tips for finding cheap train tickets guide.
- Demand a better rail service. Join the Which? Train Pain
Future water bill hikes to be decided in 2019
The average water bill for England and Wales has risen 2% or £9 in 2018-19. But a number of suppliers have pledged to actually lower bills over the coming years.
Water firms have to plan what they will charge every five years, and the latest plans for 2020 and 2025 have been submitted to regulator Ofwat.
But there’s good news – if these proposals get the green light, some households could see their bill drop £45 in real terms.
Northumbrian Water wants to reduce water bills by 12%, South West Water is pledging 11%, United Utilities 10.5% and Severn Trent wants to reduce bills by 5%.
However the UK’s largest supplier Thames Water say bills remain flat while others like Yorkshire Water wants hikes of 3.5% over the five-year period.
Ofwat will publish its initial assessment of plans on 31 January 2019, and make the final decision in December 2019.
- Find out more: the household bills you’ll pay as a homeowner