Prioritising your bills

We want you to be happy and successful in your home and being able to manage your money is a big part of this.

Your priority bills include things like rent, council tax, water, TV license, energy bills, housekeeping, clothing and travel costs.

After this you should think about your other costs like mobile phone bills, internet, TV costs and any debts you owe.

Your priority bills at the top of your essential list are:

 Rent or mortgage    Gas  TV Licence    Travel  
 Council Tax  Electric    Food  Fines

After these essential items you should think about your other spending. This might include:

Satellite TV   Catalogues    Birthdays and Christmas  
Unsecured loans    Clothing  Credit cards

 

Managing council tax

Each local authority is responsible for providing its own council tax reduction scheme, so the scheme could be slightly different depending on where you live.

Some local authorities expect all working age households to contribute something towards their council tax, regardless of income. There are some groups that are protected so you’ll need to check if you fall into one of these groups.

How is it tested?

The reduction scheme is what we call ‘means tested’ which means that the decision is based on your income and personal circumstances, as well as those living in your household.

Who should I get in touch with?

You can either contact your local authority directly to work out whether you’re entitled to support, or you can speak to our Money Advice team. 

Council Tax Support can normally only be backdated by one month so you should claim as soon as you think you’re entitled to support.

Can I get a council tax discount?

You may be able to reduce your council tax bill if you qualify for what’s called a ‘status discount’. These discounts aren’t means tested but are linked to your status e.g. if you’re a single person, student or have certain medical conditions.

Whether you receive an exemption or discount will depend on your individual circumstances and who else lives in the property with you. Below are some of the most common discounts and exemptions.

  • Single person discount – you will qualify for a 25% discount if you are the only qualifying adult living in the household.
  • Students – you must be a full time student.
  • People in detention – if you are in prison or another form of detention. 
  • Severe mental impairments – if you have a severe impairment of intelligence and social functioning that is likely to be permanent. This condition needs to be medically certified and you’ll need to be entitled to a qualifying disability benefit.
  • Hospital patient – if you’re an inpatient for a long period of time and you can no longer be considered as a resident in your usual home. 

If you’d like some more information on council tax discounts you can contact your local council or visit their website for all the details.

Choosing a bank account

Having a bank account should help you take control of your money and will keep it safe and secure at the same time. You can have your wages, benefits and other income paid into your account without worrying about keeping cash in your home. 

Depending on the type of account you have, you may be able to set up bill payments and direct debits to make sure your bills are paid on time, especially essential bills such as rent and council tax.

Finding the right account

There are so many types of accounts out there it’s important that you do some research to find the right one for you. Some accounts have a monthly charge and other are free, some may also offer free travel insurance and other extras which you may not need.  There are also other alternatives such as credit union accounts and post office accounts.   

Types of account

Account type

 Features

 Packaged Account

 Same as current account

  • Monthly fee of £10-£15
  • May include car breakdown cover, mobile phone and travel insurance

 Think about whether you really need these benefits.  

 Current Account

 

 Features:

  •   Direct debits and standing orders
  •   Debit cards
  •   Withdraw money from cash machines
  •   Access to overdraft (subject to approval)
  •   Monthly fee

 Basic Account

 

 Features:

  • Direct debits and standing orders
  • Cash card

 You won’t have an overdraft facility.

 Credit Union Budget  Account (Jam Jar Account)

 Features:

  • Account divided into sub accounts to help with budgeting
  • Direct debits and standing orders
  • Some landlords will pay the monthly fee for this type of account if you agree to   have your rent paid direct from your account – speak to the Money Advice Team  on 0345 60 20 540 to find out more.

Opening your account

Once you have chosen the type of account you want, you will need to complete an application form and will be asked to provide proof of your identity (this could be a passport or driving licence) and proof of address (rent book or council tax bill). If you can’t provide these documents you can see if your account provider will accept another document.

Remember, before you sign up for the account, make sure you understand everything about it such as any fees or charges that you might need to pay. If you have difficulty opening a bank account you may be able to open a credit union account instead.

Planning a journey

Thinking of travelling today? It's important to consider your route and the varied transport options available to you.

Follow the below links to a journey planner in your region and where possible pick the greenest travel option available.

Most of these would be considered green transport and some offer discounts for family trips like family tickets on the bus. 

West Midlands

East Midlands

Staffordshire

Our money advice factsheets are designed to support you through lots of different situations. If you need more tailored support you can refer yourself to the Money Advice Team if you're renting a home with us.

Money advice factsheets

Administration Order Factsheet

pdf - 34Kb

Bankruptcy Factsheet

pdf - 30Kb

Benefits for people who work Factsheet

pdf - 45Kb

Borrowing Factsheet

pdf - 45Kb

Budgeting Factsheet

pdf - 52Kb

Debt Relief Orders Factsheet

pdf - 37Kb

Free and discounted furniture Factsheet

pdf - 33Kb

Gas & Electricity Arrears Factsheet

pdf - 34Kb

Rent Arrears Factsheet

pdf - 38Kb

Understanding Enforcement Action Factsheet

pdf - 47Kb

White Goods and Esssential Furniture Factsheet

pdf - 63Kb

Water Arrears Factsheet

pdf - 36Kb