Save on those April price hikes!

Inflation may be down, but that doesn’t mean you should stop saving!

We recently heard the good news that inflation has fallen to 3.2% – the lowest it’s been in almost two and a half years. It’s a welcome relief after months of elevated prices. Now, as we enter the new financial year, new price increases are unfortunately on the horizon.

Let’s look at some of the most impactful price hikes for consumers, and share some handy tips about how you could save.

Council tax increases

If you live in Scotland, council tax has been frozen for 2024-25. But everywhere else, council tax bills are on the rise. In England, the average council tax bill has grown by 5.1% as of April; that equates to £106. Residents in Birmingham and Woking are experiencing the sharpest of hikes, at 10%, after the Local Authorities here sought special permission from the government to raise rates above the 5% cap for England.

In Wales, where there is no cap, the average bill is going up by £145 (7.7%). Pembrokeshire residents are facing an average 12.5% increase on a Band D property. Northern Ireland uses a different system, but rises to rates there are also on the rise. The average household rates there will be £1,180 in the next financial year.

Can you get a discount on council tax?

Council tax is a legal requirement and you can’t exactly haggle on it, like you can with other services. But there are a few things that can help make payments more affordable.

Depending on your circumstances, you could be eligible for a 25% discount. This applies if you live alone or with full-time students. There are also reductions on empty properties such as second homes or holiday homes.

And, you can also ask to pay your council tax over 10 or 12 month instalments. Your council may not even advertise it, but you are perfectly entitled to spread your council tax payments out over 12 months, via standing order or direct debit. Simply give your council a ring to adjust your payment plan.

Broadband and mobile prices

Mobile and broadband users are once again facing price hikes from April 2024, with many providers mid-contract rises of up to 8.8%. EE, Plusnet and BT have all confirmed price rises for 7.9% of customers. This is generally based on the inflation rate from last December, plus additional charges.

While this is permitted under current rules, Ofcom is looking at banning inflation-linked price rises in the middle of a contract. The final decision is expected soon, with new rules coming into effect a few months after.

So, can you save on these broadband and mobile contracts? Quite possibly – try haggling with your current provider, especially if you’ve got a quote for something cheaper elsewhere. And, if they can’t match the price, then switching might be your best course of action. Just watch out for exit fees if you leave mid contract!

Another option is to look at your current mobile package and reduce it – many of us are oversold data on our mobile deals when most use under 1GB! And never buy your mobile device on a contract – it is far cheaper to buy the device outright (check out reconditioned ones online, which come with a warranty) than via your service provider. Then, you can choose the cheapest ‘SIM only’ deal available to save even further.

Do you still need to pay a TV license?

If you watch live or recorded television, then you need to pay for a TV license. And unfortunately, it’s increasing. The annual cost of a TV license has gone from £159 to £169.50 as of 1st April (and no, that’s not an April Fool’s joke…)

Consider if you really need a TV licence, as if you’re only using streaming services like Netflix or Disney Plus, it could be something to opt out of and save. But, if you are watching or recording live TV programmes, then your TV license is something else you can pay for via direct debit. Learn more about direct debits here.

Energy and water bills – what’s the latest?

The latest price cap of £1,690, covering April to June will see energy prices going in the right direction. From 1st April, energy bills will fall by 12.3%, which equates to a £20 monthly saving for a typical amount of household energy.

However, the cost of turning on the tap, is increasing this month as annual water and sewerage bills go up by 6% in England and Wales – that’s a £27 rise. In Scotland, the 8.8% increase equates to £36.

With energy bills going up all-round, switching isn’t necessarily going to save you much at the moment. Your best bet is to look at how you could save energy at home, whether by making improvements such as draught-proofing or switching off lights and appliances more often. We’ve got plenty of money-saving switches here, to help you.

Are passports more expensive?

From the 11th April, British travellers will pay more for a new passport as the fees rise by more than 7%. The cost of online applications made within the UK for people aged 16+ will increase from £82.50 to £88.50.

For children under 16, the cost is going from £53.50 to £57.50. It’s a similar case for postal applications and those made from overseas.

Is car insurance any cheaper?

The rising cost of car insurance premiums has been all over the headlines, and we know first hand how upsetting and frustrating it is. The average quoted price of car insurance jumped by 56.4% in the year to February, with drivers being quoted between £500 and £749, on average, as confirmed by research company Consumer Intelligence.

While the latest figures for the full first quarter of this year are yet to be released, as an insurance broker, we’ve also felt the impacts of these price impacts, and have been monitoring the situation closely for our clients.

There are green shoots of change, and the market is settling, but as a consumer, it’s hard to feel the benefits. If you have any questions about how to save money on your insurance, why not reach out to your local Howden branch, to see if they can help you save?

Find your nearest branch here, and either ring or pop by to speak with one of our team.

Sources: Which?, ABI, BBC News

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