April Price Hikes: What You Need to Know

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Have you noticed that most of your everyday essential bills seem to be more expensive this month? That’s because the 1st April was named National Price Hike Day. Various industries such as energy, telecoms and the public sector were hit by inflation price rises totalling £4.5 billion. Sadly, for households, that means you could see £240 a year added to your bills across these sectors.



Why is this happening?

To cover the cost of inflation rates, businesses raise their prices. Ofgem, the energy regulator increased its price cap in response to the rise of wholesale energy costs. Sky, the TV and broadband provider, didn’t reveal why the prices were increasing. Mobile phone companies increase their bills each year in line with inflation. TV licences are set to rise each year until 2022.

Bills

What has increased and by how much?

Council Tax

Local councils around the country are increasing their council tax. The exact amount depends on your band and region but the average band D council tax bill will rise by £78 to £1,750 a year.

Energy Bills

With the cost of energy rising for companies, this has been passed on to customers by an average of £117 a year. The energy price cap is responsible for this – it was increased by Ofgem and will be reviewed again in October. All the big six energy companies (British Gas, E.ON, Scottish Power, EDF Energy, npower and SSE) raised their prices by 10% or more.

For standard tariffs – more than 50% of people are on these  – the price cap rose from £1,137 to £1,254 a year.

For fixed tariffs that are coming to an end, the average increase is £247 or £287 if your tariff is ending in May.

Water Bills

Water bills have been increased in line with the water regulator’s five-year plans. This year, they’re set to increase by as much as £16 a year or £8 for most households.

Mobile Phone Bills

All major networks (O2, Three, EE and Virgin Mobile) have announced price hikes in line with inflation.

For EE customers, there will be a 2.7% increase, so £9.72 a year for someone on a £30 monthly contract.

For O2 and Three customers on a pay monthly contract, this will be £9 a year based on a £30 contract.

Sky TV and Broadband

How much your Sky bill will increase depends on what sort of package you have. Most customers will see an increase of £3.50 a month.

  • Broadband – £1 a month increase
  • Fibre broadband – £2 a month increase
  • Sky Entertainment – £2 a month increase
  • Sky Multiscreen – £1 a month increase
  • Sky Ultimate on Demand – £2 a month increase
  • Sky Cinema – £1 a month increase
  • Sky Phone (Talk Anytime) – £2 a month increase
  • Sky Phone (Talk Evenings & Weekends) – £1 a month increase

Stamps

Stamps will rise by 3p. The price of a first-class stamp for a standard letter will rise to 70p, whilst a second-class stamp for a standard letter will increase to 61p.

NHS prescriptions

NHS prescriptions will increase by 20p from £8.80 to £9.

Car Tax

The amount of extra car tax you’ll pay depends on the amount of emissions that your car produces:

  • 76g/km-150g/km of CO2 – Extra £5
  • 151g/km-170g/km – Extra £15
  • 171g/km-190g/km – Extra £25
  • 191g/km-225g/km – Extra £40
  • 226g/km-255g/km – Extra £55

Diesel cars which don’t meet the standard for nitrogen oxide emissions will have to pay a higher rate of tax, potentially up to an extra £500. Cars that are more than 40 years old, or registered between March 2001-2017 with emissions of less than 100g/km are exempt from Car Tax, as are vehicles with zero emissions.

You can find out your car’s emissions by visiting the Gov.UK website.

State Pension

Those who pay into a state pension will see their contributions increase from 3% to 5%. For instance, someone who earns around £27,000 will see their contributions rise from £500 to £850.

How to manage your household budget

Now is the best time to get your budget together for the year ahead. Here are the Money Advice Service’s top tips:

  • Consider switching energy supplier, especially if you are on a standard tariff which is often much more expensive than other options.
  • Use a budgeting planner tool such as the one from the Money Advice Service to map out your finances. If you’re on Universal Credit, try the Money Manager tool.
  • Cut down any expenses that you don’t need – could your swap your phone contract to a SIM-only tariff? Or downsize your Sky subscription?
  • If your car is due to be changed, swap to one with lower emissions. Better still, if it’s practical, get rid of the car completely!
  • Look at getting a prepaid prescription certificate if you regularly need to collect medicine
  • Use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to see if you’re entitled to any welfare benefits which could help.

Although the price hikes may seem minor on their own, when you put them together they can take a big chunk out of your household finances. However, you don’t have to struggle with them – if things are getting difficult and you need someone to talk to, use the Turn2us Find an Adviser tool to find a local advisor who can help you. If you’re concerned about the effect of the price rises on your mental wellbeing, see free advice from the Money Advice Service website.

Source and thanks to: Liam Evans at Turn2us



Caregiver’s Guide to Understanding Dementia Behaviour

Early detection of the onset of Alzheimer’s disease is a crucial step and plays an important part in a person’s long term prognosis. However, detection of Dementia takes some time to show and may not be very visible through medical examination in the initial stages.

It may take up to 4 years for each stage to develop into the next or as long as 20 years. It varies from person to person. This caregiver’s guide to understanding dementia starts with you understanding the stages that occur during its onset. There are 7 stages in which dementia starts to develop:

Stage 1: No signs of dementia. No memory loss or any behavioral changes.

Stage 2: Mild cognitive decline. Normal forgetfulness is caused by aging.

Stage 3: The caregiver might start to see signs of increased forgetfulness. But, nothing that would interrupt with daily activities or any safety health risk.

Stage 4: Early-stage Dementia, It can be detected through medical examination. Difficulties in socializing and irritation due to forgetfulness. At this stage, a caregiver’s intervention is necessary to maintain daily care for the individual.

Stage 5: Mid –stage dementia. The person at this stage requires assistance for activities of daily life. Short-term memory will be mostly lost and forgetfulness will be more visible.

Stage 6: Also, a part of mid-stage dementia, now the person may behave inappropriately in social settings. It will be a safety risk for the person to go by himself or herself and may get lost.

Stage 7: Late-stage Dementia. The difficulty with eating, Restlessness and a great amount of confusion. The caregiver needs to be patient and may need to get external help for 24-7 care.

Dementia

Dementia can be extremely frustrating for a person and does not only need assistance. It needs patience and the help to live that a caregiver can give through a mixture of activities in daily care.

FirstCare boss Jane Byrne knows a little about dementia. She says that “if you notice someone, particularly if they are over the age of 65, forgetting things, or finding it easier to remember things that have long since passed, then it is perhaps time to go to the doctors. If dementia is caught earlier, then this will give you many more options for treatment.”

  • All you need to know about daily care plans

The daily care plans that you create must include a set of daily activities as well as recreational activities that keep them refreshed and rejuvenated. It should also be noted that you must accommodate time for yourselves in between and should have enough time to accommodate any last minute changes. The key to best health care is to have patience and understand their pain and thus treat them better. Things you can include in a daily care plan are as follows:

  • Grooming
  • Dining
  • Medical appointments
  • Medicine Scheduling
  • Cooking
  • Music
  • Arts and Crafts
  • Reading
  • Meeting up with family and friends
  • Puzzles
  • Exercise, as to whatever the body allows
  • Spiritual independence

Communication

It is important to keep the person suffering from Dementia engaged in useful conversations. They should feel like a part of a family and not only the person who creates dependence. As long as they are able to vocalize their thoughts and concerns, dementia’s hop to another stage slows down.

  1. Ask simple questions, which are easy to get a grasp of. They should be short and directed since the short-term memory weakens, it is essential not to confuse them any further.
  2. While communicating, if your loved one gets agitated, then distract them with something else that makes them happy and then start again.
  3. Use visible cues to help them remember easily.
  4. Help them remember the past. It is always a soothing thought and keeps them reaffirmed in the present.
  5. Respond to them positively without any signs of irritation on your face, as it will elevate their moods.Just put your heart into it, they deserve it.