Where next for your bills?
Bills are tumbling this year: many of the large providers have already announced tariff cuts. These mainly affect gas bills, slicing around £50 off the average annual bill.
Electricity has yet to move but is expected to soon, following npower's announcement of an increase in its discount to direct debit customers.
However, the cuts are still not sufficient to offset the 2008 price hikes: uSwitch.com predicts the average bill will fall to just over £100 a month – still £300 a year more than before 2008.
Fuel duty went up on 1 April, adding another couple of pence to a litre of petrol. The rise (inflation + 1p) is expected to put another 2.5p on the pump price of a litre of petrol or diesel.
Another area that will push up the cost of motoring is car insurance. Ian Crowder, spokesperson for the AA, warns: "Several of the large insurers have already announced increases."
The AA British Insurance Premium Index shows the cost of cover rose by 7.2% in the last quarter of 2009, with the cheapest quotes increasing by 11.3%.
Council tax bills offer a more pleasant surprise, with the lowest rises in England since the tax was introduced in 1993. According to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, the average bill for a band D property will rise by just 1.8% this April to £1,438.72.
The lowest rises will be in London (0.1% on average), while the South West will see the highest at 2.5%. Welsh households, however, will see the average band D bill rise by 3.6%. Most Scottish homes are expected to see a freeze in their council tax.
An increase in the general level of prices that persists over a period of time. The inflation rate is a measure of the average change over a period, usually 12 months. If inflation is up 4%, this means the price of products and services is 4% higher than a year earlier, requiring we spend and extra 4% to buy the same things we bought 12 months ago and that any savings and investments must generate 4% (after any taxes) to keep pace with inflation. Since 2003, the Bank of England has used the consumer prices index (CPI) as its official measure of inflation (see also retail prices index).