Where can I get support with the cost of living crisis?
04 April 2022 10:19

You’ve probably heard lots on the news about the Cost of Living crisis.  This crisis is affecting everything from energy prices, food costs, filling up vehicles, and other everyday costs.

But what can you do if you’re struggling to make ends meet? Here’s what you need to know…

£150 Council Tax rebate

If you pay council tax and live in council tax bands A to D, you’ll get a £150 rebate to help pay for energy costs. If you pay by direct debit, this will be paid automatically into your bank account. If you don’t pay by direct debit, your council will be in touch with you.

£650 Cost of Living Payments

If you are on means-tested benefits you will receive a payment of £650 this year, made in two instalments. This includes all eligible households receiving at least 1 pence on the qualifying date of the following benefits; Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Pension Credit, Working Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit

  • The first payment of £326 will be made to you in payment of a qualifying benefit between April 26 and May 25 from July 14, with a further £324 to be paid from September – totalling £650. For eligible households on tax credits only, the first payment will be made in the autumn and the second in the winter. Payments will be made automatically via usual payment methods – you do not need to contact HMRC or DWP or apply for the payment
  • There will also be a £150 payment made to those on qualifying disability benefits which can be in addition to the above due to be paid in September
  • An extra £300 for pensioner households paid as an increase to the winter fuel payment to be paid from mid-November
  • In addition to these payments, there is also the Energy Bills Support Scheme which will see all domestic energy customers receive a one-of rebate of £400 paid by your energy provider. This money will not need to be paid back

Grants to help you pay off your energy debts

If you’re in debt with your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay off those debts. If your supplier doesn’t offer grants, you might be able to get one from the British Gas energy trust. You can find out more on our website.

Agreeing a payment plan with your energy supplier

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills you should tell your supplier that you want to pay through a payment plan which will cover what you owe plus an amount for your current use.

You’ll pay fixed amounts over a set period of time, so you can pay what you can afford. Your supplier has to take into account how much you can afford to pay and how much energy you’ll use in the future.

Benefits calculator

It’s worth checking that you’re getting all of the benefits that you’re entitled to. Use a benefits calculator to check if there’s anything else that you can get. You should also check if you can get a council tax reduction or discount.

Help from your local council or a local charity

Your local council might be able to give you vouchers or a prepaid card to help pay for essentials like food or fuel. You could also get household appliances like a fridge.

Each council runs its own scheme so what you can get depends on where you live. Contact your local council to check if they run one of these schemes.

Check you’re being paid the right wage

The minimum wage increased on 1 April 2022 so you should make sure that you’re being paid the right amount.

Aged 23 and over — £9.50

Aged 21 to 22 — £9.18

Aged 18 to 20 — £6.83

Under 18 — £4.81

An apprentice — £4.81

If you’re not being paid minimum wage you should be speak to your employer in the first instance. If that doesn’t work or you don’t feel comfortable doing so, speak to your local Citizens Advice service.

Making a budget

If you want to make a budget, here’s 3 steps.

  1. Write down all your earnings after tax, any money from benefits or any other income you may have
  2. Write down all your outgoings. This includes existing debts, regular payments and other expenses
  3. Use a budgeting tool to work out your budget

Before you start, have your bank statements or banking app to hand. You could also keep a spending diary to keep track of your spending ahead of completing a budget.

Help with school costs

If you’re on a low income or claim Universal Credit, you might be able to get free school meals. You can apply for free school meals on gov.uk.

You might also be able to get help from your local education authority with some costs such as uniforms.

Using a foodbank

You’ll normally need to get referred to a foodbank. Your local Citizens Advice can help with this or another organisation that’s supporting you can also refer. They’ll give you a voucher and tell you where the foodbank is. At the foodbank, you’ll get a food parcel.

Healthy Start Scheme

This is a scheme run by the NHS for people on certain benefits (and all mothers under 18) that gives pregnant people and parents with children access to healthy food and milk.   Find out more and apply online:  

 

If you need us, we’re here. Check out our website for advice on a whole range of issues. You can also contact us in a number of ways.