Many of us will be feeling the pinch following the increase in costs and payments, which came into effect last month, especially where our energy bills are concerned. However, there’s support out there to help manage these changes.
Below you’ll find some advice and details on some of the funding and support that’s available if you’re looking for some guidance to help manage your costs.
The Government has extended and increased its offering to provide targeted household support to those who are struggling to pay for food, clothing or other household bills. Funding is available until September 2022 on a discretionary basis, to help low-income households. Each council decides its own eligibility criteria, as well as deciding what the money can be spent on (and some are still deciding). Some families could be given the support in cash, or in the form of vouchers or credit paid directly to your bill or energy supplier. Contact your local council to see what support is available. You can find out who your local council is on the Government website here.
Pension credit is separate from your state pension and gives you extra money to help with your living costs. You could be eligible if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income (total income for single person/couple under £182/£278, and possibly higher if you have a disability). If you’re entitled, you’ll also get housing benefit to help with your rent and other housing costs, such as ground rent or service charges. You can get help with other things such as help with heating costs and council tax benefit too - find out more on Pension Credit by clicking here.
The council tax rebate will provide a payment of £150 to households living in council tax bands A – D. Payments will be made from April 2022 and will not need to be paid back. This includes those who receive Local Council Tax Support, even if their council tax bill for the year is less than £150. Visit this web page on the Government’s website which contains more details and information on how, if you’re eligible, the rebate will be paid to you.
If you’re struggling to pay your bills or you’re in debt with your payments, please speak to your energy supplier as soon as possible. According to rules by Ofgem (the energy regulator for Great Britain) energy suppliers must offer payment plans customers can afford and customers can ask for ‘emergency credit’ if they use a prepay meter and can’t top up. Read more on the Ofgem website on the conversations you can have with your energy supplier and the help that might be on offer.
Some water companies offer their customers a lower bill if the income of the household is lower than HMRCs low-income threshold, excluding specific benefits. Each water company has its own scheme with different qualifying criteria. Visit your water company’s website or contact them directly to see what’s available and how to apply – you may need to fill in an application form.
Check out our benefits calculator where you can see how much benefit you could be entitled to, or how much better off you might be in work. You can also create a budget to help you manage your incomings, outgoings and see how changes in your household budget can affect your income.
For further tips and advice check out the following organisations and websites:
Our Tenancy Support team are here to help if you’re worried about paying your rent or you’re looking for some help or advice. If you’d like to speak to us, please contact us in the usual way. However, please be aware we’re currently dealing with a high volume of enquiries related to money and benefits - rest assured we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.