Martin Lewis of MoneySavingExpert: Saving tips for April
PUBLISHED: 07:00 24 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:21 24 March 2019
Martin Lewis of MoneySaving Expert on how to look after the pennies in April.
1. Stock up on stamps
On March 25 the price of a 1st class standard letter rises to 70p, 2nd class to 61p.
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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.
2. 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 alongside your employer.
From 6 April, the total that must be contributed increases from 5% to 8% of your salary, and the minimum contribution rises from 2% to 3%.
You can opt-out of this, but I strongly suggest you don’t. While it does reduce your pay packet, if you contribute, your employer does too. So not doing so is giving up a pay rise - as its giving you money you wouldn’t have otherwise got (even though it’s not immediately usable).
3. TV licence fee to rise
The colour licence increases by £4 to £154.50 from 1 April. So renew now if you’ve forgotten to.
You need a licence if you watch or record TV as it’s being broadcast, or use specifically the BBC iPlayer. If you only watch catch-up content on for example the ITV Hub or NetFlix, you don’t need one.
Plus if someone aged 75+ lives in your home, licences should be free.
4. Council taxes up an average £75 a year - are you due £1,000s back?
The average council tax rise from April 1 in England is to be 4.5%, equivalent to £75 on a typical band D property.
However up to 400,000 households in England and Scotland are in the wrong band.
To check, visit www.mse.me/counciltax which also includes help on bill reductions for certain households.
For example, if you have or live with someone with a severe mental impairment (SMI), you will qualifying for SMI reductions of 25% or even 100%.
5. English prescriptions up to £9
Those who pay for prescriptions in England will see a 20p price rise on April 1.
Yet you can get a prescription season ticket (officially called an NHS prepayment prescription certificate) where for a one-off £29.10 for 3 months or £104 a year it covers all your prescriptions - so use one a month and it wins.
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.
6. Energy prices rise 10% 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 April 1. As over half the country are on these default tariffs, that means a chunky 10% rise for most.
Cut costs by £300+ by switching to the cheapest supplier.
It only takes five minutes via my www.cheapenergyclub.com (which also gives you cashback) or any www.ofgem.gov.uk approved site.
7. Water bills are up on average by 2%
Rises from April 1 vary by region. You can’t switch supplier, yet in England and Wales most can switch to a water meter for free.
My rule of thumb on this is that 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.
8. Dental checks rising – book an appointment now
Basic NHS check-ups are up £1.10 to £22.70 in England. Some other charges rise too. Try to get an appointment before then.