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Budgeting and Council Tax

Budgeting and Council Tax

Make sure you budget enough for food!

Introduction

We estimate the average student expenditure in London for the academic year 2013-14 to be between £11,000 and £16,000 depending on your spending habits and available income. More than a third of this will go on accommodation costs. The majority of UK students will be eligible for statutory student support, which largely comprises of a loan for tuition fees and help with living costs through the maintenance loan and (depending on your circumstances) the maintenance grant. New students in 2013 may also be able to apply for additional support to offset their higher fees.

Student funding rates will differ slightly depending on when you started your studies, but you may see a small increase next year. Never the less the cost of living continues to increase therefore it is more important than ever to plan your finances for the year ahead.

There is some extra funding that can be claimed such as college bursaries and scholarships, hardship funds, and benefits for students with disabilities/dependants, but these are means-tested and fairly meagre. Seek advice if you think you have a right to claim.

Realistically, the majority of students will have to work to fund their education. We estimate that over 50% of students currently work part-time. The good news is that in London there are plenty of opportunities for part time work, even in the current economic climate, but don't forget to leave enough time for your studies!

No matter how much income you have it is still useful to learn the art of budgeting to ensure that you do not spend beyond your means and get into problems with debt. This is simple if you take the time out initially to evaluate your costs. Make sure you budget enough for food!

There are 963,000 part-time jobs in London. Once you are happy with your budget try to stick to it. If you spend more than you originally intended don't give up, go back to it and see where you miscalculated and if there is anywhere you can reign in spending in or raise more money, to cover your costs.

If you spend more that you originally intended don't give up, go back to it and see where you miscalculated and if there is anywhere you can reign spending in or raise more money, to cover your costs.

In order for a budget to be effective it must be accurate and a true reflection of your spending. It can change from month to month, you just need to be aware of these fluctuations and plan for bigger expenditure (such as a deposit for your new home next academic year).

If you are not sure what you are spending and where, keep a record of all your expenditure for a couple of weeks to a month and use this to draw up your budget. You may be surprised by what you see. If you are spending more than you have, then you need to prioritise; rent, food, course costs and travel are your essential items. Once you have paid for them you can allocate what is left over for personal items, leisure and entertainment. If you don't have enough money to cover the essential items seek advice from your college about hardship funds and finding cheaper accommodation.

To give you an idea of the kinds of costs that you should be budgeting for, we have prepared a sample budget sheet (see here). The figures we have used are based on averages reported through student surveys over the past few years. This is not a base for the minimum student expenditure; the Government evaluates student spending to be much lower (£104 per week for living costs after rent, for a single student). But it can give you an idea of the average spend - it is possible to live on a lot less and indeed a lot more, but this will depend on your own means and needs.

If you require advice on budgeting or money management, please contact your College Welfare or Advice Service who can help you draw up a budget, identify additional sources of income and advise you on reducing your expenditure as well as providing you with the tools you need to keep your spending under control.

 

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Council Tax

Make yourself aware of the rules surrounding Council Tax in order to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

What is Council Tax?
It is a charge made by Local Authorities on residential properties to pay for local public services. It is not a tax on an individual

Who has to pay the Council Tax?
Most non-students and part-time students who are over 18. The best way for a full-time student to avoid problems with their local authority on the payment, or as it should probably be, non-payment of Council Tax is:

1. To make sure that you only share with other full-time students.

2. To get from your College Registry or School Office, an exemption certificate stating that you are a full time student and send it your local authority (keep a copy). If you do not know the relevant local authority then ask your Landlord/Agent.

Are all students exempt from Council Tax?
Only properties occupied by all full-time students are exempt. A full time course of education is sometimes defined as one which requires on average at least 21 hours of study a week and 24 weeks of attendance each year but it may be less if your college or university defines your course as being full-time.

What if we have a group of full-time students and non-students?
Where students share with part-time or non-students the full-time students will be disregarded for the purposes of calculating the householdís bill. However, it is for the members of the household to decide how the bill should be apportioned and paid as with any other household bill. From 1st April 2004 local authorities have not been able to bill or enforce payment from any full-time student member of the household.

What about a student with a spouse and/or dependants?
The spouse and dependants of an international student should also be treated as if they are full-time students provided they are not British citizens and are prevented from working or claiming welfare benefits by the terms of their leave to remain in the UK. We are aware that some students in this situation have had difficulties with their local council; seek advice early if your partner receives a bill. A UK student sharing a flat just with their partner will be entitled to a 25% discount on their Council Tax bill (provided that their spouse is not also a full-time student in which case they will be entitled to the full exemption).

The best way for a full-time student to avoid problems with their local authority on the payment, or as it should probably be, non-payment of Council Tax is:

1. To make sure that you only share with other full-time students.

2. To get from your College Registry or School Office, an EXEMPTION CERTIFICATE stating that you are a full time student and send it your local authority (keep a copy). If you do not know the relevant local authority then ask your Landlord/Agent. 

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Approximate Costs Annually  Per Person per week Calculate your
own Budget
Rent  £6,452.00  £124.07 £
Water Rates (between 3) £364.00 £2.33 £
Electricity (between 3)  £594.00  £3.81 £
Gas (between 3)  £794.00 £5.09 £
Mobile Phone £369.00  £7.10 £
Personal Insurance  £123.00 £2.36 £
TV Licence (between 3)  £145.50 £0.93 £
TV & Video Rental (between 3)  £2.69 £
Additional individual expenses
Travelcard - Zone 2 £848.00 £16.31 £
Food £2,929.00 £56.33 £
Books & Stationery £500.00  £9.62 £
Birthdays and Christmas £120 £2.31 £
Newspapers/Magazines £5.00  £
Household goods/costs £416.00 £8.00  £
Personal items (clothing, CDs, DVD, toiletries etc.) £800.00 £15.38  £
Clubbing/Entertainment £1,000.00 £19.23  £
INDIVIDUAL WEEKLY EXPENDITURE TOTAL £280.56  £
Possible Income
UK student - loan 2013/14 £5,998.00 £115.35 £
Part-time and vacation work £4,000  £76.92  £
Maintenance Grant £3,250.00  £62.50  £
College Bursary (check with your institution) £1,000.00  £19.23  £
Other income (e.g. Parents, Access to Learning Fund, Benefits, Charities) £1,200.00  £23.08  £
INDIVIDUAL WEEKLY INCOME TOTAL £298.08 £
BALANCE £

 
Other things to bear in mind: 
Car insurance, road tax & fuel £1,872.00 
Gym/sportís club membership £312.00 
Students studying science, engineering and medics may have extra costs
Holiday costs based on estimates provided by Campus Travel

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Last Updated: 02/08/2013 15:24:25