How to Ease the Cost-of-living Crunch (Part One)
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”.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
|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
For every 7 days of very cold weather between November and March
|Starts on 1 November 2022
|Warm Home Discount
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:
Paid in 2 lump sums (July 2022 and autumn 2022)
|No need to apply|
If you’re in receipt of any of the following:
Paid in 2 lump sums (autumn 2022 and winter 2022)
|No need to apply|
If you’re in receipt of any of the following on 25 May 2022:
(By September 2022)
|No need to apply|
If you don’t know where to start
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 firstname.lastname@example.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.
[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.