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Reducing your regular living costs

This advice applies to England

If you’re struggling with money, there are steps you can take to save on your regular living costs. You might be able to save money by:

  • getting a discount on your council tax
  • switching to a cheaper deal for your gas and electricity
  • getting a water meter fitted
  • switching to a cheaper broadband, TV, or phone deal
  • getting cheaper travel
  • paying for your prescriptions in advance

Check if you can pay less council tax

You might be able to get money off your council tax - either Council Tax Reduction or a discount.

Find out if you can get Council Tax Reduction

If you’re on a low income or claim benefits, you might be able to get Council Tax Reduction.

Each local council runs its own scheme, so what you can get depends on where you live. Check if you can get Council Tax Reduction on GOV.UK.

Find out if you can get a discount

You might be able to get a council tax discount for your property - for example if:

  • no one lives there
  • you live alone
  • you live alone apart from a live-in care worker
  • people you live with are full-time students or apprentices
  • someone you live with has a severe mental disability
  • you need a bigger property because someone has a disability

You can find out about getting a council tax discount on GOV.UK.

Saving money on your gas and electricity

You might be able to save money on your energy bills by switching to a better deal. You could stay with your current supplier or switch to a new one.

Use our price comparison tool to compare deals and prices. If you’re in debt to your energy supplier you’ll need to follow a different process for switching.

Making your home more energy efficient

You might be able to cut your energy bills by installing insulation, glazing or a more efficient heating system in your home.

If you're on a low income you might be able to get help with the cost of making improvements. Check the energy grants calculator on GOV.UK.

Check if you could save money on your water bills

If you have a water meter you’ll only pay for the water you use. Use the Consumer Council for Water calculator to check if having a water meter installed could save you money.

If a water meter doesn’t save you money you can change back within 12 months of installation. After 12 months you can’t go back to unmetered billing.

If you’re on a low income you might be able to get a cheaper rate from your water company. This is called a social tariff. Find out more about social tariffs on the Consumer Council for Water website.

If you already have a water meter or are waiting for one to be installed

You might be able to get help from the Watersure scheme. The scheme caps bills so you’ll never pay more than the average for the area.

You might be able to join the scheme if you’re getting benefits and:

  • you have 3 or more children under 19 living in the home with you
  • you have a medical condition that requires extra water

Check if you can join the Watersure scheme.

Saving money on NHS prescriptions

If you need regular prescriptions you can save money by buying a prepayment certificate. You’ll pay a fixed price for either 3 or 12 months. This will cover the cost of all the prescriptions you need in that time.

You can buy a prepayment certificate for unlimited prescriptions for:

  • £29.10 for 3 months
  • £104 for 12 months - you can pay this in 10 instalments of £10.40

You can buy a prepayment certificate on the NHS Business Services Authority website.

If you’ve got children in school

If you’re on a low income or claim certain benefits, you might be able to get help with the costs of sending your children to school.

You could get:

  • free school meals
  • free transport to school
  • a grant to help to buy school uniforms
Find out more about getting help with school costs.

Switch to a cheaper broadband, phone or TV deal

You might be able to save money by switching to a different broadband, phone or TV provider.

Check your terms and conditions before you switch. If you’re part way through a fixed-term contract you might have to pay to leave early - this is called an ‘exit fee’. Exit fees can be expensive and it might be better to wait until the end of the contract before switching.

Read more about finding a cheaper deal.

If you’re getting benefits

You might be able to get cheap phone calls and broadband through BT Basic if you get any of:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit

Find out more about BT Basic on the BT website.

Check if you can pay less for your TV licence

If you can’t afford to pay for a TV licence up front you can pay weekly, fortnightly, monthly or every 3 months. You won’t save money but spreading the cost will make payments more manageable.

Read more about different ways to pay on the TV Licensing website.

If you don’t watch live TV and don’t use the BBC iPlayer you might not have to pay for a licence. Check if you have to pay on the TV Licensing website.

If you’re 75 or over

You can get a free TV licence - even if you live with people who are younger than you.

Apply for your free licence on the TV Licensing website. You’ll need to give your National Insurance number - they’ll use it to check your age.

If you’re registered blind

You can get a 50% discount on your TV licence if you’re registered blind, or live with someone who is. Check how to apply for the discount on GOV.UK.

If you’re in residential care

You can get a licence for £7.50 if you’re in residential care and either:

  • over 60 and retired
  • disabled

Ask your housing manager to apply for you.

Saving money on travel costs

You might be able to spend less on travel costs by:

  • shopping around for cheaper car insurance
  • buying a season ticket for the train or bus if you travel regularly
  • applying for a railcard

Find out about saving on car and travel costs on the Money Advice Service website.

Applying for an older person’s bus pass

You might be able to get a bus pass for free travel. The age you can get one depends on where you live and when you were born.

Check if you can get an older person’s bus pass on GOV.UK.

Next steps

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