Many households are already struggling to make ends meet as energy and food bills rise, and now face much steeper broadband and mobile bills too.
Several providers have announced almost double digit increases in broadband and mobile costs for most of their customers. The changes will come into effect on March 31, just ahead of hikes in Council Tax bills and the 1.25 percentage point increase in National Insurance Contributions in April.
Ru Bhikha, telecoms expert at Uswitch.com, said: “These inflation figures reveal the full impact of mobile and broadband price rises on consumers, with increases more than double what they were last year. Customers of BT, EE, Vodafone and Plusnet will see their bills increase by a staggering 9.3%, meaning someone on an average £37.50-a-month mobile handset contract will now pay £40.98, an extra £41.85 over the year.
“Most providers increase their customers’ bills by adding a surcharge – usually 3.9% – on top of January’s inflation figures. Providers say this pays for improving network infrastructure, but with inflation already so high, these monthly increases will only add to the pain. Unfortunately, these rises are usually in your contract, and you will not be able to walk away without a penalty fee.”
However, if you’re out of contract, or your contract is about to finish, it’s well worth seeing if you can find a better deal elsewhere and asking what your existing provider will offer you. According to research by consumer organisation Which? nearly half of 5,000 people it surveyed had haggled with their existing provider (46%) when their contract ended. These people reported saving an average £85 on broadband, £128 on broadband and TV and £35 on mobile bills. Those who switched to a different provider reported saving an average £35 on broadband, £65 on broadband and TV and £40 on mobile bills.
Lisa Barber, home products and services editor at Which? said: “Some broadband and mobile phone providers offer price guarantees meaning that their bills won’t go up with inflation.
“Those who are out of contract with their mobile provider should consider low-cost SIM-only providers who offer monthly rolling contracts as this will be the best way to manage costs if they already have a handset.”
If you’re unable to move to a cheaper deal because you are still in contract, but you don’t think you’re going to be able to pay your bills, make sure you get in touch with your supplier as soon as possible.
Ru Bhikha said: “If you find yourself in financial difficulty, don’t suffer in silence. Raise the issue with your provider and you may be able to negotiate a better deal, or switch onto a social tariff if you meet the criteria.”
Social tariffs are usually only available to those claiming certain government benefits. If you are on benefits, and are either in or out of work, contact your supplier and see if you might be eligible.