April price hikes: how much will my council tax, broadband and water bill go up?

Several household bills are set for significant above-inflation increases this spring. We’ve rounded up what they mean for your household bills

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(Image credit: damircudic)

We are now two years into the worst cost of living crisis in a generation.

While inflation has fallen from its record levels, wage growth has only made small inroads into the shortfall. At the same time, interest rates remain at a 16-year high. The resulting pressure on mortgages has brought about a housing market slowdown - although savings accounts have offered the best returns in years.

Despite signs that the pressure on our finances is easing, people are facing fresh financial pain this April. Several household utilities will see significant above-inflation price hikes, including council tax and water bills. MoneyWeek has rounded up all the increases to our bills that have been confirmed.

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Mobile and broadband price hikes

The majority of people who have a contract for their mobile, broadband, landline or TV are in line for an inflation-busting bill hike this spring. This is because providers are allowed to implement mid-contract price increases once a year (although telecoms regulator Ofcom is consulting on a plan to scrap the controversial practice).

Almost all providers set prices using a formula, which they write into your contract. Most use December’s Consumer Prices Index (CPI) and add 3.9 percentage points on top. Others use January’s Retail Prices Index (RPI) before adding 3.9 percentage points. Providers argue these increases allow them to maintain the quality of their service and invest in their infrastructure.

Coming in from the end of March or start of April (the exact date depends on your provider), we currently know about hikes from the following major providers:

Swipe to scroll horizontally
ProviderPrice hike?Date prices go up
BT7.9% (no hike for Home Essentials customers)31 March
EE7.9% (no hike for EE Basics mobile users)31 March
O28.8%1 April
Shell Energy7%1 April
Sky6.7% (figure is an average; no hike for in-contract mobile users)1 April
TalkTalk (broadband only)7.7% (4% for out-of-contract Fixed Price Plus users)1 April
Three7.9%1 April
Virgin Media8.8%1 April
Vodafone7.9%1 April

Most of the providers listed above will have written the price hike into your contract. It means, if you're well within the minimum term of your contract, you'll have to go along with the price hikes or face a hefty exit fee.

However, it's different with Sky Broadband. The provider does not write mid-contract increases in. So, you'll be able to switch to another deal within 30 days of being notified that your prices are rising.

Council tax increases

Council tax is set for an above-inflation hike in many parts of England and Wales. The UK government has allowed the bulk of English local authorities to hike the levy by a maximum of 4.99% (an extra £103 a year for the average Band D property).

Any councils wanting to go above this limit have to put their proposed hikes to a local vote. According to the County Councils Network, which represents 37 unitary and county-wide local authorities, 75% of all English councils are intending to implement the maximum increase.

Several local authorities that are in particularly dire financial straits, namely, Birmingham City Council, Slough Borough Council, Thurrock Council and Woking Borough Council, will be allowed to go above this threshold without having to go to a local vote. The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has allowed them to implement hikes of up to 10%.

Meanwhile, Wales’s devolved administration has not set a maximum for its councils. It means several areas face increases of at least 6%, with Cyngor Sir Ynys Môn (Anglesey County Council) proposing the steepest hike (9.8%) MoneyWeek has seen.

Rates will be frozen in Scotland, although some councils may still vote to implement hikes. So far, only Argyll and Bute Council has confirmed it will not be freezing its rates. It is pushing through a 10% hike.

Owners of furnished second homes are also likely set to see a significant rise in council tax. Local authorities currently tend to apply discounts to holiday homes that remain unoccupied for most of the year. But under new rules designed to increase the amount of housing stock, owners of these properties could have to pay as much as double the full rate of council tax.

Water bills rise above inflation

Despite the recent controversy over the performance of water companies, they are set to increase bills by an average of 6% across England and Wales. This rise means the average bill will rise £24 a year.

Kicking in from April, the trade body for UK water firms, Water UK, says the move will coincide with £14.4 billion of additional infrastructure investment. This spending will “significantly reduce” the number of sewage spills into rivers and coastal areas, it claimed. The organisation also said that water firms will be boosting support for low-income households.

In Scotland, water bills will rise 8.8%. The increase will appear as a council tax rise as it is paid alongside the local levy. This is because Scottish Water is nationalised. The public-owned company says its bills increase means the average council tax bill will rise £35.95 a year (70p a week).

Energy bills to fall?

Gas and electricity costs will fall back significantly from 1 April. The Ofgem energy price cap is set to plummet 12%.

It means the average home would pay the equivalent of £1,690 a year for its energy, more than £238 below the current level of the price cap. What you’ll actually pay depends on the type of home you reside in, how much energy you use and what part of the country you live in.

Why have we included this in an article about bill hikes? Well, energy bills remain well above the level they were at before the energy crisis began in late-2021. The October 2021 price cap sat at £1,277 a year - two-thirds of the cost of the current January to March 2024 rate of £1,928. Prices were actually even lower for many households back in autumn 2021, as most were on a cheap fixed tariff.

Energy consultancy Cornwall Insight, which has accurately predicted the level of the price cap ahead of each announcement, has said it expects energy bills will remain higher than historical averages until at least the end of the decade. So, higher gas and electricity costs could be here to stay for a while yet.

Henry Sandercock

Henry Sandercock has spent more than eight years as a journalist covering a wide variety of beats. Having studied for an MA in journalism at the University of Kent, he started his career in the garden of England as a reporter for local TV channel KMTV. 


Henry then worked at the BBC for three years as a radio producer - mostly on BBC Radio 2 with Jeremy Vine, but also on major BBC Radio 4 programmes like The World at One, PM and Broadcasting House. Switching to print media, he covered fresh foods for respected magazine The Grocer for two years. 


After moving to NationalWorld.com - a national news site run by the publisher of The Scotsman and Yorkshire Post - Henry began reporting on the cost of living crisis, becoming the title’s money editor in early 2023. He covered everything from the energy crisis to scams, and inflation. You will now find him writing for MoneyWeek. Away from work, Henry lives in Edinburgh with his partner and their whippet Whisper.