Published On: Mon, Mar 25th, 2019

Martin Lewis money saving expert on how to cut bills before April price rise


While you can’t prevent the rises, there are ways to cut bills. I want to show how you can steal a March (sorry) on April’s hikes.

Stock up on stamps

On Monday 25 March, the price of a 1st class standard letter rises to 70p, 2nd class to 61p. Large letters rise by even more. Stamps don’t have an expiry date, so if you’ll use them in future (eg, if you post lots of Christmas cards), stock up now.

You’re likely due a BIG hidden pay rise, but it’ll cost you

Every UK worker aged 22 or more, earning £10,000+, is automatically enrolled to pay into a pension.From 6 April, the total that must be contributed increases from five percent to eight percent of your salary, and the minimum must contribute rises from two percent to three percent. That means if your employer is only putting in the minimum your contribution will rise from three percent to five percent (so £100 per £5,000 of salary).  

As it’s from pre-tax income each £100 you contribute only reduces your take-home pay by £80 as a basic rate taxpayer £60 at the higher rate.You can opt-out, but doing so means giving up a pay rise – as its giving you money you wouldn’t have otherwise got (even though it’s not immediately usable).

TV licence fee to rise – do you need one? 

The colour licence increases by £4 to £154.50 from 1 April. Renew now if you’ve forgotten at www.tvlicensing.co.uk.

If you ONLY watch catch-up content on for example the ITV Hub or NetFlix, you don’t need one.

If someone aged 75+ lives in your home, licences should be free. If you’ve been paying unnecessarily, reclaim it – a whopping £38m was refunded to over-75s from 2015-2018.

Council taxes up an average £75 a year – are you due £1,000s back? 

The average council tax rise from 1 April in England is to be 4.5 percent, equivalent to £75 on a typical band D property. Rises are expected in Wales and Scotland too.

However, up to 400,000 households in England and Scotland are in the wrong band. In 2007, I created the council tax check and challenge system, which lowers your band and you get a backdated refund. Don’t speculatively challenge, or your band could be increased.

If you have or live with someone with a severe mental impairment (SMI), eg, dementia or severe learning difficulties, you might be able to claim up to a 100 percent bill reduction. Those who live alone may qualify for a 25 percent discount.And if you have moved since 1993, you could be owed £100+ in overpayments. More than £230m of credit should have been refunded.

English prescriptions up to £9

Those who pay for prescriptions in England will see a 20p price rise on 1 April (they’re free in the rest of the UK).Yet you can get an NHS prepayment prescription certificate where for £29.10 for three months or £104 a year it covers all your prescriptions. 

More than 800,000 people missed out on savings averaging £50 a year by not having one. To get it go to www.nhs.uk or ask your pharmacist.

Energy prices rise 10 percent due to price cap increase

The energy price cap on standard tariffs is rising from £1,137 a year for someone with typical usage to £1,254 a year from 1 April. As over half the country are on these default tariffs, that means a chunky 10 percent rise for most. Cut costs by £300+ by switching. 

Visit www.cheapenergyclub.com (which also gives you cashback) or any www.ofgem.gov.uk approved site.

Water bills are UP on average by two percent – a meter can save £500

Rises from 1 April vary by region (a few, such as South Staffordshire, will fall). You can’t switch supplier, yet in England and Wales most can install a water meter for free. If you’ve more or the same number of bedrooms in your home as people, it’s worth checking out.  Use the calculator at www.ccwater.org.uk. 

Dental checks rising – book an appointment now

NHS check-ups are up £1.10 to £22.70 in England and 30p to £14.30 in Wales from 1 April. Some other charges rise too. Try to get an appointment before then. There’s no change in Scotland or NI. 

Martin Lewis is the Founder and Chair of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip.



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