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council tax price rises header

How to deal with the impending price rises

In February, inflation rose to 2.3% due to rising prices in areas such as food and fuel and the fall in the value of the pound. As prices are set to rise in many other areas soon, it is going to become more expensive for us all soon but there are things you can do to keep costs down. From stamps to water bills, many of our everyday expenses are rising by as little as a few pence up to a few pounds which will make a big difference to our monthly budgets.

So, what is rising in price and when?

  • Stamps, on 27th March 2017
  • Prescriptions, on 1st April 2017
  • Dental costs, on 1st April 2017
  • Water bills, on 1st April 2017
  • Council tax, on 1st April 2017
  • Tax codes, on 6th April 2017

What can you do about this?

Savvy shoppers and money bloggers are always on the lookout for a great deal and are keen to share their findings online to help others bag a bargain on their bills or purchases. Although, prices are always on the rise, there are things you can do to make your money go further.

Stamps

The cost of a stamp is rising again on 27th March, Royal Mail has announced rises of 1p on first and second class stamps for letters up to 100g and up to a certain width and thickness. This means that a first class stamp will rise from 64p to 65p and a second class stamp with rise from 55p to 56p.

Whereas for letters weighing up to 100g but bigger than the size guidelines, the price of a stamp will rise by 2p. First class stamps will now be 98p, up from 96p and second class stamps will be 76p, up from 74p.

Although, there is no way to avoid these price rises once they come into effect, you can stock up on stamps now to use at a later date. So whether you just like writing letters or you are stocking up for the Christmas cards, there are no restrictions to stocking up as long as the stamps say ‘1st’ or ‘2nd’ on them.

Prescriptions

We’ve already written previously about how to save money on your prescription costs but with the cost of a prescription rising by 20p on 1st April to £8.60, it is worth revisiting how you can save money on this important expense.

This only applies to people in England as prescriptions are free elsewhere in the UK. There are two things you can do to potentially cut the price of your prescription. Firstly, check the exemption list. If you are under 16 or over 60, in full time education, pregnant or an NHS inpatient, you can get your prescriptions for free. There are other exemption criteria which you can see on the NHS website.

Secondly, for those who have multiple medications, look into getting pre-paid prescriptions. You can pick up season tickets for 3 months or 12 months. The cost varies based on the amount of medicine you need to pick up each month over your specified time period but this can work out a lot cheaper than paying £8.60 per medication every time you visit the pharmacy. For more information about this, visit the NHS website.

council tax price rises content

Dental charges

Charges at the dentist are based on the date of your appointment and not the date you book or pay, so to avoid price rises, it is worth booking your appointment to take place before April 1st. The changes listed below apply to NHS dental practices in England only as the devolved governments of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland set their own charges.

  • Band one charges are increasing by 90p, from £19.70 to £20.60. Band one covers basic care such as check-ups and X-rays.
  • Band two charges are to rise by £2.40, from £53.90 to £56.30. Band two covers procedures such as fillings and removing teeth.
  • Band three charges will be rising by £10.60, from £233.70 to £244.30. Band three covers treatments such as dentures and crowns.

Water bills

In England and Wales, water bills will be rising by up to 4% on 1st April. You should already have received a letter from the water company that serves your area to inform you of the changes and what that will do to the cost of your monthly payments.

Unlike energy, you can’t really shop around for your water supplier as it is a specific supplier for each area of the country. However, depending on your circumstances, it may be worth looking into a water meter if your standard bills have become too expensive for you. It can help you save money on your monthly bills but before taking the plunge, use this free water meter calculator to see if you would save and how much.

Council tax

Like water bills, you can’t shop around for the cheapest council tax on the market so when bills are rising it is something we all have to prepare for. Some councils are raising their rates by up to 4.99% and by now, you should have been sent a letter informing you of how much your council tax is raising by.

You may be able to cut costs on your council tax by challenging your current council tax band. This is only beneficial for those on a high council tax band as they may find they need to be on a lower band and have been overpaying for years.

You can challenge your tax band by getting in touch with your local council but beware they may also find that you have been underpaying and in that case, they will likely raise your monthly payments further.

Tax codes

On 6th April, tax codes are changing with the start of the new financial year and though not all codes are changing, it is your responsibility to check if yours has changed. Your updated tax code is usually sent out to you in February or March, so you should have received your letter by now, giving you time to prepare and check how much tax you should be paying for the tax year 17/18.

Money Saving Expert’s tax code calculator is a good tool to use to check how your new tax code will affect the amount you pay a month. This will give you a good idea of how your wage slips will look come April, if you are overpaying then you can get this changed and you are likely to be refunded for overpayments.

If you have underpaid however it is advisable to get this sorted as soon as possible to avoid any fines or action being taken by HMRC. They will check what you are paying is correct and the last thing you want come April 2018 is a bill for £1000’s worth of unpaid tax landing on your doormat.

If you are worried about the affordability of these price rises and are struggling to manage your money and any debt you have, get in touch with us on 0800 901 2488.

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