When April rolls around, your household bills are likely to be more expensive, as energy companies, local authorities, the NHS and even the Post Office raise their prices.
The new tax year often brings price increases, as businesses and service providers raise their bills in line with (and sometimes above) the rate of inflation. This year will also see a number of tax changes that could put a strain on your finances.
Here’s a roundup of every bill that’s set to rise this April, and some tips on keeping your costs down.
1. Council tax
A recent survey found that 97% of local authorities plan to increase council tax this year, with three-quarters of them planning rises of more than 2.5%.
The government has confirmed that 4.99% will be the highest council tax increase, but you won’t know exactly how much your bill has grown by until it lands in your letterbox towards the end of March.
Money-saving: There’s no real way to avoid this hike (unless you move into a house with a lower band), but you may be eligible for council tax discounts.
You can get a 25% single-person discount if you live alone or with a full-time student. And if you think your house has been wrongly classified, you can apply to change your council tax band, which again could lower your bill.
- Find out more: reducing your council tax bill
2. TV licences
Starting on 1 April, the TV licence fee will rise to £154.50 – a £4 increase on last year.
Over-75s don’t have to pay licence fees at the moment, but there’s a chance this could change in 2020 when the BBC loses crucial government funding.
Money-saving: Again, you’ll struggle to avoid this increase – unless you stop watching all live TV and BBC iPlayer, in which case you’ll need to fill out a No Licence Needed declaration. You could also downgrade to a black and white TV set (which has a much cheaper £52 licence fee) if Ultra HD isn’t your cup of tea.
- Find out more: TV licence explained
3. Energy bills
Energy regulator Ofgem introduced a price cap this January, which was originally expected to save households on default tariffs £76 a year. A few months later, Ofgem has raised the cap.
A typical household is now expected to pay £117 extra from April, with some potentially paying more than they did before the cap was introduced. All of the big six energy providers (British Gas, EDF, Eon, Npower, Scottish Power and SSE) have said they will increase their prices in line with the cap.
Money-saving: In the face of this price rise, you should consider switching energy suppliers to find a cheaper tariff. Use an independent switching website like Which? Switch to find the best deals in your area.
4. Water bills
Water UK found that water and sewerage bills across England and Wales are set to rise by 2% on average from 1 April. The group says this will leave the average household £8 worse off a year, but the increase will depend heavily on individual circumstances, affecting different customers in different ways.
Money-saving: Your water supplier depends entirely on where you live, so switching to another one isn’t an option. If you’re on a metered bill, the only thing you can do is try to keep your water use as efficient as possible.
The rise in the price of First Class and Second Class stamps will actually come into effect a few days before April, on 25 March.
Standard First Class stamps will now cost 70p each, with Second Class stamps costing 61p – an increase of 3p in both cases.
Money-saving: Your best bet for beating these prices is buying stamps in bulk before the rise comes into effect. The Post Office Shop website has packs of 12 First Class stamps for sale at £8.04, which works out as 67p per stamp.
6. NHS prescriptions
NHS prescriptions, which currently cost £8.80 for those that need to pay for them, will rise to £9 on 1 April. Other NHS items, such as wigs, surgical bras and spinal supports, will also increase in price.
Money-saving: While these charges are rising, prescription payment certificates – which cover the cost of unlimited prescriptions for a set period – will remain at £104 a year or £29.10 for three months. If you know you’ll need more than three prescriptions over three months, or more than 11 in a year, this will work out cheaper.
- Find out more: who qualifies for free NHS prescriptions?
7. Car tax
Changes to the Vehicle Excise Duty (VED) car tax take effect on 6 April, with some drivers expected to pay up to £65 more.
Your VED rate depends on two factors: your car’s CO2 emissions, and when it was registered.
Many motorists will only have to pay £5 more each year, as this is the most common increase to the standard VED rate. But due to increases in first year VED rates, anyone who buys a high-polluting new vehicle in 2019-20 will have to pay £65 more than they would have in the previous tax year.
Money-saving: Buying a car is a serious decision that will depend on more than car tax – but keep in mind that switching to a lower-polluting car will lower your VED, and electric cars (which emit no CO2) are charged no VED at all.
- Find out more: car tax explained
8. Sky TV and broadband
From April, Sky customers will have to pay more for almost all of the brand’s services.
Sky Entertainment, Ultimate On Demand, Fibre Max, and Fibre Unlimited packages will all cost £2 more each month, while Sky Broadband Unlimited bills will increase by £1.
Money-saving: If you’re a longtime customer, it’s worth attempting to haggle with Sky to try to get a better deal. You could cancel your membership, but if you’re within your minimum term, you’ll struggle to leave without paying a fee. If you’re not satisfied with Sky’s service, Ofcom recommends complaining to Sky directly, and then going to the Ombudsman Services if that doesn’t get results.
9. Mobile network bills
Four of the UK’s biggest mobile networks have announced they will be increasing their prices close to retail price index (RPI) inflation. O2 and Three customers will see 2.5% increases, while EE customers will pay 2.7% more than they did last year. Vodafone will also base its price increases on inflation, but they are yet to announce a specific figure.
Money-saving: Again, haggling could be your best bet here. If you’re not locked into your contract, look into switching networks to find a better package. Find out if you can cancel your contract without a penalty in our cancellation rights guide.
10. State pension top-ups
If you didn’t pay into National Insurance for a few years – for example, you were off work or overseas – you can opt to pay class 3 contributions to top up your state pension.
You’ll need 35 years of National Insurance contributions (NICs) to qualify for the full state pension, either from working or receiving credits.
Until 6 April, the amount you’ll pay for class 3 NICs will differ depending on which tax year they apply to. If you want to plug a gap from 2010/2011, for example, it’ll cost £12.05 per week.
When the 2019-20 tax year begins, all voluntary NIC payments will cost £15 a week, no matter which tax year you are paying for. So if you want to pay for the entire 2010/2011 tax year, it’ll cost you £153.40 more from 6 April.
Money-saving: If you do want to pay voluntary NICs, it’s certainly better to do it before this price rise. However, if you’re undecided, it’s worth reading our recent news story on voluntary NICs to see if it’ll be worth it for you.
- Find out more: National Insurance contributions
11. Proposed probate fee hike
The government is currently considering legislation that would change the way probate fees work, making it free for some estates, but hiking prices for others.
When a person dies, you need to apply for authorisation to mange their estate – known as applying for probate. Currently, all estates pay a flat fee of £215 for a probate application.
Under the new model, estates worth less than £50,000 would pay nothing. Fees are then charged on a sliding scale – estates worth less than £300,000 would pay £250, while those worth less than £500,000 would pay £750. The fees then escalate rapidly, so that those worth more than £2m would pay £6,000.
You can see the full set of proposed fees in the table below.
|Value of estate (before inheritance tax)||Proposed fee|
|Up to £50,000||£0|
|£50,000 – £300,000||£250|
|£300,001 – £500,000||£750|
|£500,001 – £1,000,000||£2,500|
|£1,000,001 – £1,600,000||£4,000|
|£1,600,001 – £2,000,000||£5,000|
The changes were supposed to come into effect from 1 April 2019, but have not yet passed into law.
- Sam McFaul contributed additional reporting to this article.