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Saving money on your bills while on a TPP

During a token payment plan (TPP), you’ll pay £1 a month to each of your unsecured debts until your situation improves. If your income increases or you can save money on your bills, you may be able to consider other options.

Your TPP is there to give you breathing space during a difficult time or until your situation improves. If things don’t work out the way you expect them to, there may be some things you can do to save money on your household bills and living costs.

Apply for help paying your energy bills

Energy bills are treated as priority debts because if you miss payments and fall into arrears you’re at risk of being cut off by your provider. Find out what to do if you can’t pay your bills.

If you’re on a low income and struggling to pay your energy bills while on a token payment plan, you may be able to get some financial assistance.

Depending on your situation, there are schemes available that could make your energy bills more manageable. They include:

  • Cold Weather Payment
  • Winter Fuel Payment
  • Warm Home Discount

Visit the gov.uk website for more information and to find out if you qualify. It’s also worth checking with your supplier to see if they have a trust fund you can apply for.

Compare energy prices and switch to a cheaper energy supplier

Have you checked to see if you’re paying too much for your gas or electric bill? You can switch to a cheaper supplier at any time, as long as you don’t have arrears of more than £500 outstanding on a pre-payment meter.

If you're paying off arrears through a meter, you can only switch suppliers if the arrears have been outstanding for less than 28 days.

(note: there are some exceptions to this, such as when your arrears were the fault of the supplier.)

Energy comparison websites can help you find the best deal for your gas and electricity. We’d recommend using a switching service that has the Ofgem confidence code logo. That way, you can be confident that the website is taking the whole market into consideration when recommending a cheaper supplier.

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Save money on food, clothing and toiletries

You may be able to save money on food while you’re on a token payment plan by:

  • Switching to a cheaper supermarket
  • Planning your meals for the week so you can use up what you have in stock.
  • Using staple foods such rice and pasta to bulk out your meals
  • Cooking soups and stews in large batches and freezing them to use through the week
  • Checking gov.uk to see if your child can get free school meals

If you’re ever struggling to cover food costs, or find yourself in an emergency situation, there are services available to help you through a crisis.

When it comes to toiletries:

  • Soap bars work out cheaper than shower gel as they last longer
  • Don’t fall for fancy-smelling moisturisers, shampoos and conditioners - the cheaper brands often work just as well

You can save money on clothes by buying in charity shops. Some charities allow you to buy online, if you don’t live near a shop.

More tips for saving money on a TPP

There are other living costs you may be able to save some money on:

  • Prescriptions now cost over £8 per item if you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland (they're free in Scotland). If you need regular prescription medication, you can save a lot of money by purchasing an NHS Pre-Payment Prescription Certificate (PPC)
  • Could you reduce your phone bill by switching to a better deal? One that offers free evenings and weekend calls, for example. You could also save a lot of money by combining your phone, internet and satellite package into one bundle. Shop around for a better deal, or see what your current provider can do to help you. Read our mobile phone guide.
  • Are you sure you're in the right council tax band? Your council tax bill is based on the average value of properties in your area. It's worth checking with your local council in case your property has been put in an incorrect band. If you live alone, you may be entitled to a single-person discount. 
  • Installing a water meter may save you money on your water bill, especially if you live alone or have a small family. 

Put your savings towards paying off priority bills and arrears

If you're in arrears on your electric or gas bills, these may have been added to your TPP. This would’ve been done in order to reduce your arrears each month while still paying your unsecured debts.

If you’ve saved money on your living expenses, you could put that money towards paying your arrears off quicker. Once these arrears are repaid, you may have other options to manage your debts available to you.

I’ve reduced my outgoings - what do I do now?

If you’ve been able to reduce the cost of some of your living expenses, please get in touch with your TPP provider. They should review your budget and see what options are available to you.

If you’re unable to make any savings on your living costs at the moment, please don’t feel bad. The most important thing is that your living costs are covered and you’re feeling more peace of mind now that you’re getting help with your debts.