How to Ease the Cost-of-living Crunch (Part One)

Woman trying to apply online
Photo by Elisa Ventur on Unsplash

This is the first of a series of three articles exploring different avenues to face the cost-of-living crunch and save money on your bills, the cost of your shopping basket (in part two), and other expenses (in part three).

You see it everywhere — in the news, on the shelves in the shops, in your day-to-day life. The cost of living is going up at an unbridled pace. Everybody is feeling the impact of higher prices; but for people having to make ends meet on a tight budget, the price hikes are even more distressing.

At all levels, from the government to your neighbourhood, attempts are being made to try and reduce the squeeze.

Help paying your bills

The first thing to do if you are struggling to pay your energy bills is to contact your energy supplier.

Ofgem* rules state that “suppliers must offer payment plans you can afford and you can ask for ‘emergency credit’ if you use a prepay meter and can’t top up”[1].

They might give you more time to pay off your debt or assess if you are eligible to be on the Priority Service Register*. Cutting off your supply is always their last resort.

In addition to your suppliers, your local council and government offer a series of grants to help ease the cost-of-living crunch and reduce what you need to spend on various bills.

Energy suppliers

  • To check if your energy supplier has grant schemes, try typing “grant” in their search tool, or try searching the “Help” or “Support” section on their website.
    Energy supplier search bar
    Where to look on your provider’s website (EDF example)

  • Alternatively, you can consult the Charis* website to check if your provider is listed.
  • Thames Water offers a 50% discount to households earning below £16,480, or below £20,111 in London boroughs through WaterHelp.

Local government

  • To check if your council offers fuel vouchers, try typing “emergency support”, “welfare assistance” or “fuel voucher” in the search bar of your local authority’s website.

    Local authority search bar
    This is an example of what a search bar looks like (Guildford Borough website)

National government

 

Scheme Eligibility Assistance Deadline to apply
Winter Fuel Payment If you were born on or before 26 September 1955 £300

Towards heating bills

1 August 2022

(for winter 2022 to 2023)

Cold Weather Payment If you get

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Universal Credit
£25

For every 7 days of very cold weather between November and March

Starts on 1 November 2022

 

Warm Home Discount

 

  • If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit; or
  • If you are on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme[2]
£140

Off your electricity bill

The number of discounts suppliers can give is limited. Check with your supplier as early as possible to see if you’re eligible and how to apply
Energy Bill Discount All GB households £400 Your supplier will send the money starting from October
Council Tax Rebate Households in England in council Tax Bands A-D £150 30 September 2022
Cost of Living Payment If you’re in receipt of any of the following on 25 May 2022[3]:

  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit
£650

Paid in 2 lump sums (July 2022 and autumn 2022)

 

No need to apply
OR

If you’re in receipt of any of the following:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
£650

Paid in 2 lump sums (autumn 2022 and winter 2022)

No need to apply
AND

If you’re in receipt of any of the following[4] on 25 May 2022:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Scottish Disability Benefits
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement
£150

(By September 2022)

No need to apply

If you don’t know where to start

Roadsign with confusing information
Photo by Mark König on Unsplash

As you can see, there are many options available. Not all will apply to your situation, but some are bound to be. Being faced with so many choices to navigate can feel overwhelming. You might want to talk it through with a friend or your local Citizens Advice Bureau. They can offer you support with submitting applications, or with scheduling and planning conversations with various offices.

The list above is long, but it is far from complete. You might know of plenty more resources that would prove useful to others. Do not hesitate to share them with us at atd@atd-uk.org  or on our Facebook page. You are also invited to share your experience of using one of these services.

We hope this helps. Take care.

[1] From the Ogfem website.

[2] Check your supplier here.

[3,4] NB: If you were not in receipt of any of the low-income benefits or tax credits mentioned in the table above on 25th May 2022, but later you start receiving any of them by the time the second payment is due, check the government website to know if you are eligible to receive the autumn/winter payment.