Broadband, mobile bills and council tax rises threaten ‘awful April’ for householders already facing cost of living crisis
Households battling the cost of living crisis are facing an onslaught of price hikes that could leave the average family hundreds of pounds a year worse off.
From April 1, millions of people will face increases to their broadband, mobile, water and council tax bills.
Most local authorities are putting up council tax by 5 per cent from April, meaning people living in a band D home can expect to pay about an extra £100 each year.
The average water bill will go up by £31 a year, a rise of 7.5%, while broadband and mobile phone prices are due to rise between 14 per cent and 17 per cent.
Matthew Upton, director of policy at Citizens Advice, said: “Millions of people will now have to stomach inflation-busting price hikes on their mobile and broadband contracts, totalling an average of £90 more a year.
“We called on these firms to support their customers during this uniquely challenging time, but they didn’t listen. Instead, they’re pushing ahead with these mid-contract price rises.
“Ofcom should be holding these companies to account, but it’s kicked the can down the road with a review that won’t land until the end of the year.
“When the regulator does act, it must deal with this once and for all by banning any future mid-contract price hikes.”
Meanwhile, the Government’s Energy Bill Support Scheme comes to an end from April, leaving households having to find an extra £66 a month to cover their gas and electricity.
Even prescription charges in England will rise by 30p from April 1, taking fees to £9.65 per item.
The increase in unavoidable bills comes as consumers are already grappling with the cost of living crisis in the form of soaring inflation and food prices.
About 2.5 million households missed or defaulted on “must pay” domestic outgoings, loans or credit card payments in March, according to consumer group Which?
Household finances app Nous.co has calculated that a typical family will be £682.70 a year worse off as a result of the increases.
Following close behind the increases will be higher mortgage payments for borrowers shopping for a new deal as well as those with variable loans after the Bank of England raised borrowing rates to a 14-year high of 4.25%.
Nous.co founder and chief executive, Greg Marsh, said: “These are worrying times, and this could push millions of families who are just about managing over the edge.
“And we are not just talking about those on lower incomes. Even dual income families with above average earnings will now be drawn into the struggle to afford to live.”
Emily Seymour, from Which?, said: “Which? research shows that as the cost of living crisis continues to bite, millions of households are missing essential payments – such as mortgage, rent and credit card bills – every month.
“As this new wave of price hikes take effect, now more than ever it’s critical that the Government and essential businesses – such as telecoms firms, energy companies and supermarkets – do everything they can to support consumers and provide clear information on what support is available.”
April’s bill hikes coincide with the start of a new tax year, from April 6, which will see several tax and savings thresholds remaining frozen.
Frozen tax thresholds create “fiscal drag”, whereby people end up paying more tax as wage increases push them into higher brackets.
Pensioners may get some relief in April though, with the state pension being hiked by 10.1% under the triple-lock uprating system, in line with rising living costs.
Josie Clarke and Vicky Shaw, Press Association