What you need to know as the bill payer in 2018 

It’s been an interesting political year to say the least and some people may still be feeling uncertain about what the future holds. As a homeowner or tenant, you may be wondering whether all this uncertainty around the economy is going to have an effect on your bills. You may be thinking about the cost of your heating or electricity and wondering whether it’s likely to increase. Or perhaps you’ve noticed a rise in the cost of your water bill but haven’t necessary used any more water than normal. With this in mind, we have taken a look at what you need to be aware of as a bill payer moving into Spring. 

Your council tax

If you don’t rent or own a property, you’ve probably never paid council tax. This is a local tax which councils enforce to help pay for local services. The tax you pay will help to provide support for sport and leisure facilities, street lighting, local centres and supporting the public such as the elderly. Council tax also covers the cost of your bin collection which for most of us, is a vital service that we rely on.

For those who do pay council tax, what are your bills looking like? Have you noticed a recent increase? According to figures from the Taxpayer’s alliance, the average band D household now pays almost £1600 a year and 90% of town halls hiked their rates last year. The government confirmed last year that councils would be able to raise their local rates by three per cent per year without a referendum.

The changes will see an average bill increase of £107, which is the biggest rise for 14 years. In 1998, the Band D household paid an average of £688 in council tax and now bill payers are looking at a bill of around £1,591! It’s reported that only 6 out of 354 councils reduced their council taxes in 17/18 and 17 kept theirs the same. To see if your bills have increased check an old bank statement or use your internet banking to compare what you paid last year compared to this year.

Your green waste

Obviously if you pay council tax you get your household waste and recycling bin collection included however are you now having to pay for your green waste? It’s reported that almost a third of councils across England now charge to collect green waste. Some households are paying up to £70 a year to have their green bin collected. The charge comes from many councils stating that they have had to cut costs to cope with reduced funding from the government.

Did you know: some councils enforce a charge for new build home owners that want a standard suite of bins. The charges vary per council so if you’re planning to move into a new build, you may want to contact your local council to find out if you need to pay.

Although council tax is increasing there may be a solution to save on your payments. If you live in England, Scotland and Wales you may be able apply to your local authority for a discount. Click here and enter your postcode to find out what the criteria is to apply for discount.

Your interest rates

‘Interest rates on the rise’ is something that is thrown about quite a bit and we seem to hear it all the time. But what does it actually mean and how does it affect the average household? Interest rates are part of a loan that is charged as interest to the borrower.

Latest comments from the Bank of England financial analysts say a rise in the bank’s base rate from 0.5% to 0.75% in May is looking more likely with another increase to follow in Autumn. Again, what does this actually mean for you and what will it effect?

How will this affect my mortgage?

Across the UK there are 9.2 million households with a mortgage. Half of these homes are on a standard variable rate or a tracker rate and are likely to be most affected with their monthly payments increasing. An increase of a 0.25% base rate rise on a variable rate mortgage would have the following affects:

Mortgage balance

Current monthly payment

Annual increase

£75,000

£408

£112

£100,000

£545

£150

£125,000

£681

£187

£150,000

£817

£224

£175,000

£953

£262

£200,000

£1,089

£299

£225,000

£1,253

£337

£250,000

£1,393

£374

For people who are on fixed-rate mortgages, rates are likely to increase at the end of their term which may increase monthly payments. If you’re unsure how this might affect you or you’d like to know more about this, speak to your mortgage advisor or bank to check what implications there may be.

Your water bill

From 1st April households in England and Wales will see an increase in water and sewerage bills by 2%, taking the average bill to £405 and £363 for homes in Scotland per year. The exact amount that you pay for your water is determined by the provider that you are with and the area in which you live. Unfortunately, you cannot change your water and sewerage supplier so it’s down to you to cut the cost of your water usage. So here’s some tips to get you started:

Turn the tap off!

When brushing your teeth or washing your hands, try not to let the tap run for too long and waste water. This can save 6 litres of water per minute!

Be efficient with your kettle

If you don’t need four cups of tea, don’t boil as much water. Use a small amount or wait until others want one too.

Reduce your shower length

Did you know every minute that is spent in a power shower can use up to 17 litres of water! That’s a lot, so next time you’re in the shower try and wash as quick as possible to reduce your usage. Or if you’re a big fan of long showers, look to switch to an efficient shower head which will use less water.

Load the dishwasher and washing machine

Don’t turn on your dishwasher or washing machine until its full. Ensure you make the most of your loads and wash as much as possible in one go. A full washing machine will use half the water than what two half loads would so consider that next time you plan your washing.

Your energy bill

Energy bills are set to rise to around £57 for more than four million households in the UK. The rise has come from Ofgem, the regulator for the electrical and downstream natural gas markets saying that it would hike the maximum tariff for vulnerable customers and those on pre-payment meters. The safeguard tariff which enforces a cap on prices for eligible homes will increase on the 1st of April. Although winter is coming to an end (soon we hope) and the use of heating will be reduced, we all still need our electricity! According to figures from Ofgem, a third of UK households have stayed with the same provider for their gas or electric for five years! With this in mind, have you thought about how much you’re paying for your energy bill and considered switching energy provider? For more information on switching your energy supplier, have a read of our blog here.

If you think you’re using too much energy, then follow these energy saving tips below.

Replace your lightbulbs

A clever little way to cut down on your energy bills is to introduce energy-saving light bulbs to your home. According to www.which.co.uk an LED light build costs around £1.171 to run per year! A traditional light bulb lasts around 1,000 hours whereas LEDs last for 25,000, that’s a big difference!

Install an energy monitor

These gadgets can show you how much energy you’re using so you can see where you need to cut down. Energy monitor costs around £25 to buy but you may find that some energy suppliers give them away for free.

Think about your boiler

We can’t stress the importance of looking after your boiler and it may be time for a service or a replacement. We have written a blog on how often should you replace your boiler. The article features information on how your boiler could be affecting your energy bill. To read the blog click here.

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