New financial year hits families hard!

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THE NEW financial year was ushered in yesterday with a series of price hikes that hit working class families hard.

Council Tax went up, water bills went up, some mobile phone bills doubled, the price of stamps rose, NHS prescription charges were up and dental treatment was hiked up by 5%!

‘April Fools Day seems to have become national price hike day,’ said Hannah Maundrell, the editor in chief of Money.co.uk. yesterday. From April 1, Council Tax bills in England have risen by an average of 3.1%, or £46 a year.

Apart from Council Tax, here are some of the other increases:

• Water Bills: Up by £2 a year in England and Wales.

• Air Passenger Duty: Up by almost 3% on long-haul flights.

• Prescription Charges: Up by 20p to £8.40 in England. NHS Prescriptions are free in Scotland and Wales.

• Mobile phone contracts: Three, O2 and EE are all increasing prices for some customers on monthly contracts. ”Three” customers on ‘Legacy Plan’ priced at £15 a month will see their bills double to £30 a month.

• First-class stamps will rise from 63p to 64p and the price of a second-class stamp will go up to 55p. Posting a small parcel will also go up from £3.30 to £3.35.

• NHS dental charges are hiked up substantially.

The cost of a check-up has gone up by 5% to £19.70. The cost of a filling has gone up by 5% to £53.90. Half of adults have not been to the dentist in the past two years. Many patients that need urgent work simply cannot afford to have their dental work done. Others find it very difficult to find NHS dentists, as the waiting lists are getting longer and longer.

Responding to the hike in dental charges, charities yesterday warned about the effect they will have on working class families oral health. The British Dental Health Foundation said: ‘Yes, NHS dentistry is failing the patients who are most in need and we can’t let it continue.’ The British Dental Association (BDA) describe the crisis as a ‘lost decade of chaos’.

Dr Nigel Carter, Chief Executive of the British Dental Health Foundation, said: ‘We cannot afford to keep putting patients at risk due to a system which prioritises output over outcome and major changes have to been made, and they have to happen soon.

‘The current system is seriously limiting a dentist’s ability to give patients the best possible care they can and those who are in most need, often those with complex needs, are the ones who are suffering the most. It has also become almost impossible for dentists to expand existing practices or set up new ones with new commissioning of services being severely limited.

‘With a rising population we are starting again to see evidence in certain areas of people having difficulty in accessing an NHS dentist. What is truly worrying is that more than nine in ten dentists across Britain have recognised the same exact problem and this means that the issues are glaringly obvious and incredibly widespread.’