Why are energy bills and council tax rising this week?

Senior woman with a notebook and calculator
Bills are rising across the board in April. (Getty Images)

What's happening? The cost of living is set to spike again as households face a hike in several of their bills all at once from Saturday (1 April).

Council tax, energy bills and broadband bills are among those set for a hike from 1 April, while supermarket inflation hit a record high of 17.5% in March, adding a potential £837 to annual household expenses.

The National Living Wage is set to rise from Saturday, helping some of the country's lowest paid workers, though unions argue any rise is still not enough to outweigh the soaring cost of living.

The Office for Budget Responsibility expects disposable income to fall 6% over the next two years - signalling the largest drop in living standards since the 1950s.

Here, Yahoo News takes a look at which bills are set to increase and why.

Council tax

Millions face a 5% hike in council tax from 1 April, after the government raised the amount local authorities can increase the rate by without holding a referendum.

Councils with social care duties can raise council tax by 5%, while others can put it up by 3%, with most authorities expecting to increase their rates by the maximum amount without consultation.

The Treasury expects 95% of councils to go ahead with the 5%, although County Councils Network gives a more conservative estimate of three-quarters.

Energy bills

Elderly person turning down the central heating with a wireless thermostat
The government is withdrawing its support for people to pay their energy bills. (Getty Images)

On top of that, Britons are set to pay more for their gas and electric as the government withdraws its £67-a-month energy support payments.

This means people will still be worse off, despite the government extending the energy price guarantee by three months to £2,500 until June.

Water bills

Water pours more pressure from the mixer in the bathroom
Water firms have been encouraged to be more “creative” in how they charge customers. (Getty Images)

Meanwhile, households in England and Wales are looking at the biggest increase in their water bills in almost 20 years from April when they rise to an average of £448 a year.

The 7.5% increase means that on average, customers will pay £31 more than last year, according to industry body Water UK.

Water firms have been encouraged to be more “creative” in how they charge customers to help them save supplies and cut their bills.

Broadband and mobile bills

A Virgin Media employee delivering a digital tv reciever. (Newscast Limited via AP Images)
Virgin Media are planning a 13.8% hike. (Newscast Limited via AP Images)

Millions of broadband and mobile phone customers face their monthly bills increasing by at least 14% from April.

That figure could rise even higher to 17% for many people, warns financial expert Martin Lewis, with many people out of contract paying more than necessary.

BT has already confirmed an increase this year of 14.4% – consumer price index (CPI) inflation of 10.5% plus an additional 3.9% – while Virgin Media are planning a 13.8% hike.

Mortgage repayments

Two doorways painted pink and red represent next-door-neighbours in period properties in Kelly Street NWI, in the north London borough of Camden, on 6th March 2023, in London, England. (Photo by Richard Baker / In pictures via Getty Images)
Homeowners due to renew their mortgages are in for a shock. (Getty Images)

Though not specific to changes coming in this week, many people whose mortgages are coming up for renewal are facing considerably higher monthly repayments in the coming months – which will make the financial impact of increasing bills and council tax even sharper.

About 1.4 million households are facing higher payments when they renew their fixed-rate mortgages this year. This is partly down to the Bank of England raising the interest rate to control double-digit inflation.

While many were paying rates below 2%, they're now facing an average of 4.96% for a five-year fixed rate, although rates have still fallen compared to the 6.31% recorded just four months ago.

The Resolution Foundation think tank has predicted homeowners with a mortgage will see their income drop by 8% on average over the next two years because of rising interest rates.

What can I do if I can't afford to pay my bills?

A stressed mature man looks through his home finances and bills - Cost of Living crisis
If you're struggling with your bills, you're not alone, and there are steps you can take. (Getty Images)

An estimated 2.5 million households missed or defaulted on a mortgage, utility or credit card payment in March, so you're certainly not alone if you're struggling with your bills.

There are steps you can take to make things easier, such as speaking to Citizens Advice for independent guidance.

You may be able to reschedule, spread out, or even reduce payments by speaking to your energy supplier or council and explaining your situation.

Don't be afraid to ask your mobile or broadband provider for a better deal, as a survey by Which? found customers who took the time to haggle saved an average of £90 a year.