List all your regular bills and spending, you need to make
your budget plan realistic. Everyone will have a different budget, and you need
to include any extra costs you have because of circumstances, for example a
Below are some ways you might be able to reduce your
Number of instalments
For things like Council Tax, gas, electric, car insurance
and water you can ask to pay over as many instalments as possible within the
financial year. Increasing the number of instalments can reduce the amount you
pay as you are paying over a longer period.
If you are billed annually, quarterly and struggle to make
payment, you can ask your supplier if you can pay in weekly, fortnightly or
monthly to make payments easier.
Council Tax discounts and exemptions
You may be able to get a discount or exemption from Council
- You live alone, or with someone who is not
counted (like a full-time student)
- You are a full-time student
- You/another occupant are disabled and live in a
larger property than you would need otherwise
More information on Council Tax discounts and exemptions.
If you live in property that is larger than you need, you may want to consider moving to a smaller home with lower rent and running costs.
The amount you receive Universal Credit or Housing Benefit towards your rent may be reduced if you have any spare bedrooms, this is known as the bedroom tax or under-occupation reduction.
Council or Housing Association tenants could be given a higher priority for rehousing, call Homechoice on 0118 937 2172 or visit our Homechoice page for more information.
Reading Borough Council tenants may get help with moving
costs, contact our Under Occupation and Transfer Officer on 0118 937 2192 for
more information on the Tenant Incentive Scheme.
TV, phone and internet
You may be
able to reduce your costs by:
- Renegotiating your contract to reduce the charge by cancelling services* you do not need such as voicemail or sport channels.
- Switching suppliers to get a cheaper deal, you can get more information from Ofcom and searching for ‘price comparison’. If you need any help you can contact Ofcom on 0300 123 3333.
- Getting a bundle package for TV, phone and internet to save on separate subscriptions.
- Cancelling* your TV subscription and investing in a Freeview box (one off cost) to watch TV without monthly charges.
- Cancelling* either your mobile or landline contracts if your household can manage without.
*check you won’t have to pay cancellation fees for leaving
your contract early
Energy tariffs normally last 12 months, after this you could
be automatically put on a standard tariff that often costs you more.
You may be
able to reduce your costs by:
- Switching supplier, you can do this with a prepayment meter or debts of under £200. Compare deals online at Citizens Advice and search for ‘compare gas and electricity prices’ or contact Citizens Advice Reading on 0118 952 3022 and ask for energy advice.
- Buy both gas and electricity from the same supplier.
- Pay for your gas and electric by Direct Debit.
- Have a Smart Meter installed
- If you have arrears, or are having difficulty paying your gas or electricity, contact your supplier and ask about their Support Schemes and trust funds
Reading Borough Council has a scheme called ‘Winter Watch’ that runs through the autumn and winter. This is available to Reading residents on low incomes, have young children, are over 60, have a disability/health condition or have not lived independently before. You can contact Winter Watch for advice and support on 0118 937 3747.
Reduce your water bill
Requesting a water meter may help to reduce your bill, Thames Water can advise you if a water meter would reduce your bill or not. For more information or request a meter visit Thames Water’s website or call Thames Water on 0800 980 8800. If a meter cannot be installed, your tariff might be changed to save you money instead.
Thames Water has a number of ways to help some customers on
low incomes with their water bill.
Customer Assistance Fund
You now need to pay toward your debts for support and pay
consistently for two years to qualify for financial assistance to clear any
remaining liability after this time.
To qualify, you’ll need to:
- have at least £120 outstanding debt on previous
bills (dated before 1 April 2020)
- be responsible for your own water bills rather
than them being paid by a landlord, housing association or someone else
- have an active Thames Water account, receiving
bills from them on an ongoing basis
- be able to afford your current and future bills
and pay Thames Water by Direct Debit
- commit to making contributions towards your debt
over the next two years
- be willing to share your income and outgoings so
we can assess your ability to pay
- consent to your data being used for checks or to
place you on other financial schemes that help reduce bills
You won’t qualify if you:
- are a non-household customer, such as a landlord
or housing association
- receive your water bill from a different company
- only have current water debt from bills dated
after 1 April 2020, or debt less than £120
- have received a Customer Assistance Fund lump
sum grant in the year before your application
- have successfully applied to this payment
matching scheme in the past three years
- have already agreed a litigation payment plan
Thames Water also has a scheme called WaterHelp that puts
eligible customers on a reduced tariff that could reduce your bill by 50%. This
was previously known as WaterSure Plus until March 2020. You should qualify if
your gross yearly household income is less than £16,105 before any deductions.
Thames Water information on WaterHelp.
Thames Water also has a scheme called WaterSure that can cap
your bills, if you are on a water meter but find it hard to save water because
you have a large family or water-dependent medical condition. They will use the
average price based on what other customers pay to calculate your bill. For
this year (2020/21), they will cap your bills at £395. If you already use less,
you’ll keep paying less.
for WaterSure someone in your household:
- Must be receiving either Child Tax Credit
(receiving more than the family element), Housing Benefit, Income-based Job
Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit,
Universal Credit, or be responsible for three or more children under 19 (and
receiving Child Benefit for them) and,
- Have a qualifying medical condition that
requires extra water.
You can find out more information about WaterSure and WaterHelp schemes or call Thames Water on 0800 009 3652.
Thames Water’s advice if you’re struggling to pay your bill.
Reducing your food costs
You may be able to reduce your costs by:
- Shopping weekly and making a meal plan using up
ingredients you already have, then making a shopping list of any missing items.
Going shopping daily will make you spend more.
- Do not shop when hungry. This makes you likely
to spend more, especially on less healthy foods, such as high-fat and sugary
- Be strict about buying only what you’ll actually
eat. The average family with children throws away almost £60 of good food every
- Try cheaper brands, you could save money by
buying cheaper brands than you usually do as well as cutting back on luxuries.
- Look up cheap recipes. There are plenty of
websites that give you recipes for cheap tasty meals including using leftover
- You could also reduce the cost of food by making
packed lunches for work/school rather than buying food when you are out.
- If you are receiving an ‘income based’ benefit
(not including Working Tax Credit) you could receive free school meals. Contact
your child’s school for more information and to apply