What cost of living support can you claim?

Authored on
21 Oct 2022



Bills are rising, and many are worrying how they'll make it through the winter. The good news is that some support is available. But what is it, and how do you access it? Let's take a look.

Want help with your energy bills?

The Government has announced two schemes to help with the rising cost of energy this winter.

The first is a £400 handout to everyone, to be taken off your energy bills. For most people, this will come in the form of £66 off your bills in both October and November, and £67 off a month for December to March. It will be applied automatically, so you don’t need to claim it.

If you’re on a pre-payment meter, you can get discount vouchers each month by text, post or email. You’ll need to claim your voucher wherever you usually top-up.

The second part of the support is the Energy Price Guarantee. This caps the unit price you pay for electricity and gas, and means the average household will pay £2,500 a year for their energy bills, up until April next year. Be aware that it isn’t a cap at £2,500 for annual energy costs – that’s a common misconception.

Although the new price cap will make bills cheaper, they’re still much more expensive than last winter. The cap is in place for the next two years, and is also applied automatically.

If you’re still struggling, you could approach someone like the British Gas Energy Trust, who can hand out extra support (and you don’t have to be a British Gas customer to access it). Other suppliers have similar schemes.

Are you on a low income or a pensioner?

The Government has also announced support targeted at particular people who’ll be most affected by the cost of living crisis. Some of these payments have already started to be handed out.

The biggest is the £650 support for those on certain benefits, including Universal Credit and pension credits. The first tranche of this, £326, was paid in July, and the rest of the payment will come in November. An additional £150 will be paid to those on certain disability benefits, which started to be paid out in September.

Pensioners will also get a £300 boost to the Winter Fuel Payment this year, which is given to all pensioners regardless of income. The larger payment this year comes to £600 for those over the age of 80 who live alone, or £500 for a couple under 80.

I’m struggling with my mortgage, what can I do?

For many, their biggest monthly cost is their mortgage – and so will be the first big payment they might struggle to make.

The best advice is to make sure you talk to your provider before you fail to make a payment. It’s easy to bury your head in the sand and hope the situation will resolve itself, but often that’s not the case.

Mortgage companies have been told by the regulator that they have to help customers who are struggling to pay. Your lender could offer you a payment holiday, or change your mortgage type to help reduce monthly costs.

I have debt I can’t afford – what should I do?

The same advice as above: talk to your lender and find out your options. It’s important to see if you can switch your debt to a cheaper deal – even as low as 0%. Doing so will give you some breathing room, and means more of your repayments will go towards actually repaying the debt rather than the interest. It’s worth also speaking to a debt charity to talk about what you could do – even if you just explore the options, rather than committing to a repayment plan.

Local councils are also handing out support to residents. The exact criteria will depend on your local authority, but it’s worth asking them to see what might be available. Priority is given to families with children and to pensioners, but help is also available to others.

I’ve exhausted those options, what else?

An organisation like Citizen’s Advice is another great port of call. They’ll be able to look across all your finances and help work out where you could get extra support – whether that’s additional benefits or tax breaks you could claim, specialist debt support, or just information on budgeting and cost savings.

These articles are for information purposes only and are not a personal recommendation or advice.