A complete guide to Cost of Living Payments, eligibility & money saving tips

29 min Read Published: 07 Feb 2024

A complete guide to Cost of Living Payments - are you eligible?

A large majority of households in the UK are affected by the current cost of living crisis as a result of an increase in inflation, soaring energy prices and high petrol costs. Rishi Sunak, who was chancellor of the exchequer at the time, announced a Cost of Living Support package in early 2022 in a bid to tackle the cost of living crisis. One of the schemes announced was the Energy Support scheme which included an energy bill discount and a Cost of Living payment for those on low incomes.

In this guide, we look at what you can do to help lessen the strain on your finances caused by the cost of living crisis. We explain what help is available within the Cost of Living support package including who is eligible and when the support is paid. There are also a number of additional grants and schemes that can help you to save money and we share additional money-saving tips to help your money go further. For more tips on how to save money and cut your household bills, read our article 'How to save money on your household bills'.

We recommend that you read this guide in full, but you can jump to specific sections of the article using the following links:

Some of the support mentioned in this article may also differ slightly if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Additional information on cost of living support can be found on the government websites.

Cost of Living money-saving tips

With household bills continuing to rise and many households throughout the UK feeling the squeeze, we share some of our top money-saving tips to help you make your money go further. Additional tips can be found in our article, 'How to save money on your household bills'.

If you are struggling to make ends meet each month, you should check to see if you are eligible to receive any benefits. You can use online calculators such as entitledto or Turn2us benefits calculator to find out if you are eligible and how much you may receive.

Create a budget

Budgeting can help highlight where your money is going each month and identify any potential areas within your finances where you could save. We have a FREE budgeting spreadsheet that you can download or alternatively, you may wish to use a budgeting app.

Follow the steps below on how to create a budget and read our article, 'How to budget for beginners' for more information.

  1. Work out your income - Write down your total earnings each month
  2. Write down your expenses - Note any regular outgoings from your account each month including bills, regular payments and discretionary spending
  3. Separate your money - Consider having a separate account for your salary and spending
  4. Subtract your expenses from your income - This helps you to work out how much spare money you have left each month
  5. Save or spend your disposable income - The money left once all of your spending is accounted for is your disposable income

How to save money on your mortgage

Your mortgage, if you have one, is likely the most important bill in your budget each month so you need to ensure that you can keep up with the payments. If you are having financial problems and think you will be unable to pay your mortgage there is help and support available. You should contact your mortgage provider as soon as possible to notify them of your financial troubles and see what help and support is available to you.

Below we share some tips to help you save money on your mortgage but read our article, 'How to save money on your mortgage' for additional information and what to do if you're struggling to pay your mortgage.

  • Create a budget - Budgeting can help to identify any spare money that can go towards your mortgage. Use our free budget planner to get started.
  • Remortgage - Remortgaging to another lender can help you to save money if you move to a better deal or lower interest rate. We have more information on remortgaging in our article, 'Remortgaging in 2024 - is now the right time to fix and for how long?'
  • Product transfer - A product transfer is the same as a remortgage but means moving to another product with your existing lender. You'll find information about it in our article, 'What is a product transfer and is it better than a remortgage?'.
  • Extend the mortgage term - You can extend your mortgage term to reduce your monthly mortgage payments although it is worth considering that this does increase how long it will take to pay off the mortgage.
  • Overpay - Overpaying your mortgage won't save you money on your mortgage in the short-term as your payments will increase but over the long-term it can save you thousands of pounds in interest.

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What to do if you're struggling to pay rent

If you pay rent and are struggling to make ends meet each month there are a number of options available that can help. We list some of these below but more information can be found in our article 'What to do if you're struggling to pay rent'.

  • Create a budget - Setting up a budget can help you to get control of your finances and see where your money is going each month. It can also help to identify areas of overspending which when cut back on could be used to help pay your rent. We have a free budget planner that can help you get started.
  • Check what benefits you're entitled to - If you are struggling to afford your rent each month you should check to see if you are entitled to any benefits. There are a number of online calculators, such as entitledto, that can work this out for you based on your financial situation.
  • Speak to your landlord - Before you get into rent arrears it may be a good idea to speak to your landlord to explain your financial situation as you may be able to come to an agreement such as a temporary rent reduction. It is a good idea to always pay any rent that you can as this could help you at a later date to prove that you are paying what you can afford.

How to save money on council tax

Council tax is deemed an essential bill and has to be paid each month. How much council tax you have to pay varies depending on your circumstances and you may be eligible for a discount or council tax exemption. Below we share some council tax money-saving tips but you can read the following articles for more information, 'Council tax guide' and 'How to save money on council tax'.

  • Spread your council tax over 12 months - The quickest way to save money on your council tax bill is by spreading the payments over 12 months instead of 10 and reducing your monthly direct debit. You can do this by contacting your local council and asking them to make the change.
  • Check if you need to pay council tax - Some households are exempt from paying council tax depending on their situation or the property. You can find out who has to pay council tax in our 'Council tax guide'.
  • Check if you're eligible for benefits - If you're struggling to pay your council tax, check to see if you are eligible for any benefits as if you are, you may be eligible for a council tax discount. You can check your benefits eligibility with a benefits calculator such as entitledto.

How to save money on your food bills

With inflation affecting the cost of your food you may have found your weekly food shopping cost has increased. Below we share some ways that you can try to save money on your food shop but more money-saving tips can be found in our article, '12 ways to save money on your food bill'.

  • Plan your meals - Planning meals helps you to save money and reduce waste as you are only buying ingredients for the meals you are planning to eat for the coming week. You can also plan meals based on items that you have left over from the previous week.
  • Change supermarket - Switch to a cheaper supermarket to instantly save money on your food bill. Consumer group Which? found Aldi to be the cheapest supermarket in September 2023.
  • Use a food app - There are a number of apps that can help you to save money on your food shop such as Too Good to Go and Shopmium. Find out more in our article '5 apps to save money on your food bills'.
  • Take advantage of schemes - You can benefit from discounted items and loyalty points when doing your food shop if you sign up for a supermarket loyalty scheme. Read our article, 'Which is the best supermarket loyalty card?' for more information. You can also take advantage of schemes such as Iceland's Food Club which offers interest-free loans to customers struggling to pay their food bills. More information on Iceland's Food Club and how it works can be found in our article, 'Iceland offering “ethical” loans up to £75 to cover food costs: How does it work?'

How to save money on credit cards and loans

The average unsecured debt for UK households reached £4,163 in November 2023, according to the Money Charity, so if you have a number of credit card and loan payments they may be taking up a considerable portion of your monthly budget. Below we share some money-saving tips but additional tips to help you clear your credit card, loan or overdraft can be found in our article, 'How to save money on credit card and loan payments'.

  • Budget - Creating a budget is an easy way to take back control of your finances as it can highlight any money that you have left over each month and this can then be used towards any credit card or loan payments. You can create a budget using our budget planner or by downloading a budgeting app.
  • Use savings - If you have savings you should consider using this to clear your debt, especially if you are being charged interest on the money you owe. This is because the interest charged on debt is usually higher than the rate of interest you will receive on your savings and you are therefore effectively being charged to save.
  • Prioritise debt - If you are paying interest on some of your debt you should prioritise your debt to clear the highest-paying interest debt first as this is the most expensive. While you focus on this debt you should continue to pay the minimum amount on the other credit cards and loans to avoid harming your credit score. Find out more in our article, 'How to save money on credit cards and loans'.
  • Pay more than the minimum - Paying more than the minimum amount on your debt will help you to clear it more quickly. When you only opt to pay the minimum the amount reduces as the debt owed reduces which means it can take longer to pay off. If you can only afford the minimum amount, set it to be the initial minimum amount every month as this will help to clear the debt more quickly.
  • Make a balance transfer - If you owe interest on your debt consider a 0% balance transfer credit card. This allows you to transfer the money you owe to another card and not pay interest on the amount for a set period of time which then allows you to focus on clearing the debt. Find out more in our article, 'The best 0% balance transfer credit cards'.

How to save money on your energy bills

With the cost of energy bills on the rise, we share some energy-saving tips below that can help reduce the amount of energy you use around the home. Find out more money-saving tips in our article, 'How to save money on your energy bills'.

  1. Use energy-saving light bulbs
  2. Get energy-efficient appliances
  3. Switch off appliances on standby
  4. Wash clothes at 30°C
  5. Use the eco setting on the dishwasher
  6. Only boil the water you need in the kettle
  7. Turn off radiators in rooms that you're not using
  8. Get a smart meter to understand how much energy you are using

How to save money on your water bills

Below are a few tips that can help you save water around your home and help reduce the cost of your water bill. Find out more money-saving tips in our article, 'How to save money on your water bills'.

  1. Identify and repair any leaks around your home
  2. Turn the tap off when brushing your teeth
  3. Try to shower instead of having a bath
  4. Shower with a bucket to collect water which can then be used to water your garden
  5. Ensure the washing machine and dishwasher are full before using (this will also help save energy)
  6. Install a water butt instead of using the hose
  7. Install a water-saving device into the cistern of your toilet
  8. Use a washing-up bowl instead of running water when washing your dishes. You could also use this to collect any water when washing fruit and veg and use the leftover water on your plants

How to save money on your TV and broadband

Broadband can be considered an essential utility with a number of people now working from home it is required to stay connected however, it can be expensive. Below, we look at ways you can save money on your broadband and your TV package but additional money-saving tips can be found in our article, 'How to save money on your TV and broadband'.

  • Shop around - The easiest way to save money on your TV and broadband is by shopping around for the best deal. You can use comparison sites such as Uswitch* to compare prices from multiple providers, as well as contract lengths and broadband speeds.
  • Haggle - If you want to stay with your existing provider and your contract is up for renewal you may be able to haggle a better deal. It may be a good idea to shop around before haggling to see the other deals available and you could use this information when speaking with your provider. Find out more about haggling for a better deal in our article, 'How to haggle to get a better broadband deal'.
  • Check the speed you need - Do you need the highest broadband speed at home? Check which broadband speed you need to see if you can downgrade your package and save money.
  • Are you eligible for a social tariff - If you receive certain benefits you may be eligible for a social tariff and you can find these in our article, 'Which providers offer the best social tariff broadband?'. A social tariff is designed to help low-income households have access to more affordable broadband.
  • Bundle - One way to save money on your TV and broadband is by bundling the services together. Some providers offer both TV packages and broadband and you may be able to benefit from a discounted rate if you bundle your package.

How to save money on your mobile phone bill

Having a mobile phone contract can be expensive, especially if you are paying for a new phone as well as a sim card. Below we share some tips on how to save money on your mobile phone bill but more money-saving tips can be found in our article, 'How to save money on your mobile phone bill'.

  • Shop around - Shop around for the best mobile phone contract using a comparison site such as Uswitch*. Comparison sites allow you to compare multiple networks at once to find the best deal.
  • Switch to SIM only - If you don't need to upgrade to the latest phone you could save money by moving to a sim-only deal. This means that you will only pay for the data, minutes and texts you use and will not have to pay the cost of a new mobile phone. You can also check to see how much data and minutes you use as you may be able to downgrade to a lower package, particularly if you are often connected to WiFi.
  • Cap your spending - You can put a cap on your monthly mobile phone bill which ensures any payment amount over the cap does not go through. This means you can't unknowingly spend over your allowance and prevents any unexpected phone bills.

How to save money on pet care, food and insurance

Having a pet can be expensive, especially in a cost-of-living crisis when the cost of essentials is on the rise. Statista found that the average cost of caring for a dog increased to £1,875 a year at the start of 2022 with pet boarding and pet insurance taking up a large proportion of this cost. If you are finding it difficult to manage the cost of feeding and caring for your pet read our article, 'How to save money on pet care costs and food' for ways to save money.

We share some ways to save money on your pet below.

  • Buy second-hand - If you are looking to buy a new collar, coat or bed for your pet why don't you look to see if you can purchase the item second-hand? Places like Facebook Marketplace and eBay often have pre-loved items at a discounted price.
  • Earn cashback - You can earn money back on your purchases when buying something via a cashback site such as TopCashback* and Quidco. This is especially handy if you were going to purchase the item anyway.
  • Shop around for pet insurance - One of the easiest ways to save money on your pet insurance is by shopping around for a cheaper deal. You can do this using a comparison site such as Quotezone* or MoneySuperMarket*. Remember to compare similar policies and ensure you are getting the right level of cover. Additional pet insurance money-saving tips can be found in our article, 'How to save money on pet insurance'.
  • Bulk buy food - You can save money on your pet's food by bulk buying it when it is on offer. This works particularly well if your pet has tinned or long-life food and you have storage. Look out for cashback and discounts on websites when shopping too.
  • Check if you qualify for discounted vet treatment - If you receive certain benefits you may be eligible for discounted veterinary treatment or routine pet care. Contact local charities such as the PDSA, RSPCA and Cats Protection for more information.

How to save money on fuel

In 2022 petrol prices reached a record high with the average family car costing over £100 to fill up with petrol. We share some ways to save money on fuel below but read our article 'How to save money on fuel' for additional tips.

  • Use PetrolPrices.com - The easiest way to find the cheapest fuel in your local area is via PetrolPrices.com. You can download the app and enter your location and be shown the cheapest rates nearest to your location. When searching for the cheapest fuel station don't drive more than 2 miles per 1p per litre saved as you will not be saving money.
  • Sign up to a loyalty scheme - Signing up to a loyalty scheme, such as Nectar or Clubcard, can help you to earn rewards as you fill up at eligible petrol stations which could be later redeemed towards days out or vouchers off your food shop.
  • Regularly maintain your car - Keeping on top of car maintenance can help to improve your car's fuel efficiency. Ensuring your tyres are pumped up correctly, removing roof racks and driving carefully can all help reduce your vehicle's fuel consumption.

How to save money on personal insurance

Personal insurance, such as life insurancecritical illness insurance and income protection insurance, is an important expense as it can help to lessen the financial burden if you pass away or are unable to work. If you are struggling to manage your monthly bills, however, you may be looking at ways to cut back. Below, we share ways to save on your personal and health insurance policies but additional information can be found in our articles, 'How to save money on personal insurance' and '10 ways to cut the cost of private health insurance'.

  • Review the amount of cover - Take a look at how much you are covered for and see if this can be reduced to save you money. Speak to your insurance provider if you want to keep your cover but you cannot afford the monthly premium as they may be able to change your policy or temporarily reduce your monthly payments. Alternatively, you can speak to a personal insurance expert* who will guide you to finding insurance according to your budget.
  • Check if you're already covered - Double check to see that you are not already covered for personal or health insurance by your employer. If you are already covered you won't need to pay for your own insurance policy however you should consider that if you leave the company and need to take out your own policy in the future this could be more expensive.
  • Pay your health insurance policy annually - Paying your health insurance policy annually could mean you benefit from a discount of around 5% as there is less administration required. Paying annually also means you don't have to worry about another bill coming out each month but you should continue to budget for when the policy is due to renew.
  • Shop around for health insurance - Comparing the cost among health insurance providers can save money. Speaking to a health insurance expert adviser* will help you to compare the cover you have and suggest whether it is worth switching providers.

How to save money on general insurance

General insurance such as car and home insurance are essential parts of your budget and you need to ensure you keep up with the repayments. Car insurance is a legal requirement in the UK and is therefore mandatory if you want to drive on UK roads. Home insurance is not a legal requirement but essential if you want financial protection should something go wrong with your home or belongings. We share some money-saving tips below, but additional information can be found in our articles, 'How to save money on car insurance' and 'How to save money on home insurance'.

  • Shop around - Shopping around for the best deal is the easiest way to save money on your car and home insurance. Use a comparison site such as Quotezone* to compare multiple providers at once and find the best deal for your circumstances.
  • Increase the excess - Increasing the excess on your policy is likely to reduce your insurance premium as you are agreeing to contribute more towards the cost of a claim. The excess is however payable by you in the event of a claim and therefore does need to be affordable.
  • Pay annually - Paying your insurance premium annually is likely to save you money as some insurers add a credit charge if you choose to pay monthly.
  • Don't over-insure - Over-insuring yourself will mean you are paying for more than what you need. This is particularly important for buildings insurance as you need to ensure you are only insuring the rebuild value of your home and not its resale value.

How to save money as a student

Research from the National Union of Students (NUS) found that 96% of students are cutting back on their spending due to the cost of living crisis. If you are a student and are looking for ways to save money, we share some tips below. More money-saving tips can be found in our article, 'How to save money as a student'.

  • Get a 16-25 railcard - If you regularly travel by train you can benefit from up to a third off your travel costs with a 16-25 railcard. It only costs £30 for a year or £70 for three years.
  • Buy study materials second-hand - Study books are expensive to buy brand new so why don't you see if you can purchase the material second-hand from older students or online.
  • Get a reduction on council tax - If you are renting student accommodation with other students you should be exempt from paying council tax. Check that you are not being charged and find out how to get an exemption in our 'Council Tax guide'.

How to save money as you spend

Some of the budgeting apps and app-only banks can also help you to save as you spend with 'round-up spending'. Round-up spending saves the spare change from your transactions and helps you to easily save towards a goal. For example, if you spend £1.30 at a shop, the transaction will be rounded up to the nearest £1 which means that £0.70 will be saved in your selected savings pot. More information on round-up spending can be found in our article, 'The best savings apps in the UK'.

How to save money by finding unwanted subscriptions

Another way to save money is to find any unwanted subscriptions that you may unknowingly be paying for each month. Budgeting apps such as Emma, can help to highlight any wasteful subscriptions and cancelling these can be an easy way to save cash each month. Read our article for more information on how to cancel unwanted subscriptions.

How to earn money by switching current bank accounts

Switching current accounts could see you benefit from a cash lump sum just for making the switch. Switches usually need to be via the Current Account Switching Service (CASS) and will need to be completed within a set timeframe for you to be eligible. We round up some of the best offers in our article, 'Best current account switching offers, cashback and incentives'.

If you are looking for additional ways to earn cash, read our article '50 ways to make extra money'.

Cost of Living Payment support scheme

What is the Cost of Living Payment?

The government announced a Cost of Living Support package in 2022 which was designed to help those eligible with the continued rise in household and living costs. All of the 2022 Cost of Living Payments have been paid but the support has since been extended for 2023/24 and those receiving certain benefits may be eligible. If you think you were eligible for a payment in 2022 or 2023 that you did not receive, you can report a missing payment here.

The Cost of Living payments will usually be paid the same way in which the benefits are received. Any Cost of Living support payments that you receive are not subject to tax and will not affect any benefits you get. If you are unsure if you are entitled to any benefits, you can check your eligibility using the following online tool.

There are three different types of Cost of Living Payments:

  • Cost of Living Payment - for those that receive a low-income benefit or tax credits
  • Pensioner Cost of Living Payment - for those that are eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment in 2023/24
  • Disability Cost of Living Payment - for those that receive a qualifying disability benefit e.g. Disability Living Allowance

A summary of the Cost of Living Payments for 2023/24 can be found in the below graphics but we go into further detail below:

(click to enlarge the images)

Cost of Living Payment 2023/24

The Chancellor of Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, announced another Cost of Living Support package in the Autumn Budget on 17th November 2022. It includes a £900 payment that is paid to those on eligible benefits. Dates for when the Cost of Living Payments can be expected are in the below table but exact dates will be released nearer the time. We will update this article when we know more information.

Who is eligible for the Cost of Living Payment?

Eligible Cost of Living payment benefits are as follows:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-related Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

When will the 2023/24 Cost of Living Payment get paid?

The below table shows when you can expect to receive the Cost of Living Payment in 2023/24. The payments will be paid automatically to those eligible so you do not need to apply. The following dates are when the payments can be expected but exact timeframes of when the payments will be paid will be released nearer the time.

Cost of Living Payment type  Cost of Living Payment amount Expected payment date 
First Cost of Living Payment £301 25th April 2023 - 17th May 2023
Second Cost of Living Payment £300 31st October 2023 - 19th November 2023
Third Cost of Living Payment £299 Spring 2024

(Source: gov.uk) 

Pensioner Cost of Living Payment 2023/24

On 17th November 2022, Chancellor of the Exchequer Jeremy Hunt announced the Autumn Budget which included a £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment in 2023/24. If you are eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment in 2023/24 you will be paid an amount of either £150 or £300 from November 2023.

How much you will receive in 2023/24 depends on numerous factors which we will cover below. If you receive any benefits or tax credits you will also receive a Cost of Living Payment and this will be paid to you automatically. The payment is expected to be made alongside the Winter Fuel Payment. If you're eligible, you will get a letter in October or November 2023 explaining how much you can expect.

Who is eligible for the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment?

You will only receive the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment if you are eligible for the Winter Fuel Payment. Below is the eligibility for the 2023 Winter Fuel Payment.

Eligibility for the Winter Fuel Payment is as follows:

  • You were born before 25th September 1957
  • You live in the UK (although you may be eligible in some instances if you live abroad)

You do not qualify for the Winter Fuel Payment if any of the following applies:

  • You are in hospital for more than a year getting free treatment
  • You are in prison for the week of 18th - 24th September 2023
  • You have lived in a care home from 26th June 2023 until 24th September 2023 and received certain benefits including Pension Credit or Income Support

How much is the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment?

How much you will be paid for the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment will vary depending on your circumstances and you will receive a letter that details how much you will get. In the following table, we highlight how much you can get paid in Winter 2023 and include the total cost of the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment and the Winter Fuel Payment. More information can be found on the government website.

Your circumstances  Born between 25/09/43 - 24/09/57 Born before 25/09/43
You qualify and live alone (or none of the people you live with qualify) £500 £600
You qualify and live with someone who also qualifies (and you were both born between 25/09/43 - 24/09/57) £250 N/A
You qualify and live with someone who also qualifies (but you were born between 25/09/43 - 24/09/57 and the person you live with was born before 25/09/43) £250 N/A
You qualify and live with someone who also qualifies (but you were born before 25/09/43 and the person you live with was born between 25/09/43 - 24/09/57) N/A £350
You qualify and live with someone who also qualifies (and you were both born before 25/09/43) N/A £300
You qualify and live with a partner who qualifies, and either of you gets certain benefits^ £500 (only one person will get the payment) £600 (only one person will get the payment)
You qualify and live with someone (not your partner) who qualifies, and either of you gets certain benefits^ £500 (you both get a payment) £600 (you both get a payment)
You qualify, live in a care home and do not get certain benefits^ £250 £300

(Source gov.uk)

^Pension Credit, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA), income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Income Support

When will the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment get paid?

The Pensioner Cost of Living Payment was paid automatically in November/December 2023 in addition to the Winter Fuel Payment. If you were expecting to receive a payment but did not get a letter or the money was not paid into your account by 26th January 2024 you can contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

Disability Cost of Living Payment 2023/24

The Chancellor of Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, announced another Cost of Living Support package in the Autumn Budget on 17th November 2022. It included a £150 payment that is paid to those with disabilities on eligible benefits. The payment was paid to those eligible between 20th June and 4th July 2023.

Who is eligible for the Disability Cost of Living Payment?

If you received one of the following benefits for 1st April 2023 you may be eligible for the Disability Cost of Living Payment. If you are later found to be eligible for the following benefits for 1st April 2023 you may also be entitled to the Disability Cost of Living Payment.

Disability Cost of Living Payment eligible benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance for adults
  • Disability Living Allowance for children
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Adult Disability Payment (in Scotland)
  • Child Disability Payment (in Scotland)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

When will the Disability Cost of Living Payment get paid?

The £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment was paid automatically to those eligible between 20th June and 4th July 2023. Some payments may have been received later if you were still awaiting the assessment or confirmation of an eligible benefit in April. If after the payment dates, you think you should have been paid a Disability Cost of Living Payment but did not receive it you can report a missing payment. More information can be found in our article, '£150 disability Cost of Living Payment date announced - who is eligible?'.

How to report missing Cost of Living payments

If you believe you are eligible and should have received a disability or low-income Cost of Living payment but have not noticed it in your bank account you can report a missing Cost of Living payment here. If you believe you were entitled to receive the Pensioner Cost of Living payment with your Winter Fuel Payment but did not receive either by 26th January 2023 you can contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre.

Additional help and support for the rising cost of living

If you find you are still struggling with the cost of living there may be additional grants and schemes that you are eligible for. We list some of the additional help that is available below. You may also find our article, 'How to save money on household bills' useful or alternatively you can listen to Episode 354 of the Money to the Masses podcast which is a money-saving special.

Government Energy Price Guarantee

The government introduced an energy price cap freeze which saw the average household's energy bill capped at £2,500 for up to 2 years. The government's intervention was in response to Ofgem's announcement that the energy price cap will increase by 80% to £3,549 from 1st October 2022. Those living off-grid and businesses were also able to receive help towards the rising cost of energy. In the Autumn Statement, the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced plans to extend the Energy Price Guarantee until March 2024 with the cap rising to £3,000. However, in the 2023 Spring Statement, Jeremy Hunt announced that the Energy Price Guarantee would remain at £2,500 until the end of June 2023.

At present, the energy price cap sits at a lower level than the Energy Price Guarantee and therefore no longer applies to the average direct debit household. However, from 1st October - 31st December 2023, those on a Pre Payment Meter (PPM) could still benefit from a discount on gas and electricity standing charges. More information can be found here.

Further information on the Energy Price Guarantee and how it works can be found in our articles, 'Energy Price Cap predicted to drop by 16% in April' and 'Should I fix my energy prices?'.

Energy bill grants and schemes

There are a number of grants and schemes that may be able to help with your energy bills. We briefly summarise what you could be entitled to below, but for a full breakdown, read our article 'Grants and schemes for help with your energy bills'.

Cold Weather Payment

If you receive one of the following benefits you may be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment; Pension Credit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit and Support for Mortgage Interest. A Cold Weather Payment is a £25 sum for each consecutive 7-day period of very cold weather (0°C or below) between 1st November and 31st March and is paid into the same bank account that you have your benefits paid into. Cold Weather Payments will be paid automatically if you are eligible and the scheme usually starts from 1st November. More information on the Cold Weather Payment can be found in our article, 'What is the Cold Weather Payment and how does it work?'

Warm Home Discount

If you are a low-income household you may be entitled to a £150 discount on your energy bills. This is a one-off payment that is paid to your electricity bill between October and March. The scheme usually re-opens in November. More information can be found in our article, 'Warm Home Discount Scheme - how to get £150 off your energy bill'.

Help to Heat

The government has invested £12 billion into Help to Heat schemes that can help to make homes more energy efficient and therefore warmer and cheaper to heat. The funding is provided by the government but is delivered by local installers or energy companies. Some examples of the schemes include the Boiler Upgrade Scheme, the Home Upgrade Grant and the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund.

ECO+

The government launched the ECO+ scheme to deliver energy efficiency improvements to over 2 million homes in the UK. It is an extension of the existing ECO scheme that was launched in 2013 and is aimed at helping those that live in some of the least energy-efficient homes in the UK to bring down their energy bills with improved insulation such as loft and cavity wall insulation. The ECO+ scheme was due to start in April 2023 and could save households up to £310. More information on the ECO+ scheme and eligibility can be found in our article, 'Government to insulate the UK’s least energy efficient homes – Is your home eligible?'

Household Support Fund

If you are in need of additional help due to rising living costs you may be entitled to additional help from your local council, which is funded by the government. Exactly what you are able to access and are eligible for does vary between councils so you will need to check with your local council to see what help you can get access to. The fund may include help towards food and home essentials, school uniforms and water and housing costs.

Budgeting loans

If you have been on one or more of the following benefits for at least 6 months you may be eligible for an interest-free budgeting loan. An eligible benefit includes Income Support, income-based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance and Pension Credit. A budgeting loan can help you to pay for numerous purchases that are not limited to but include furniture or household items, clothes or footwear, maternity costs, rent in advance and home maintenance. The lowest amount that you can borrow is £100 and the maximum you could borrow is £348 if you are single, £464 if you have a partner and £812 if you or your partner claim Child Benefit. How much you can get also depends on your ability to pay the loan back, how much you have in your savings and if you are paying back an existing Budgeting or Crisis Loan.

The interest-free budgeting loan has to be paid back within 2 years and is usually deducted via your benefits. For more information on budgeting loans and how to apply visit the government's website.

Help for Households

The government has a 'Help for Households' campaign that is designed to help with the rising cost of energy bills and inflation. The campaign has been set up to provide households access to discounted rates and benefits. For more information on the scheme and the help available, click here. The support available may be different if you live in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and more information can be found on the government websites:

Where to get free debt help and advice

If you find that the cost of living is becoming overwhelming and you are struggling to stay on top of your finances you should seek help with your debts. There are a number of companies and charities that offer free debt help and advice. Read our article to find out where you can seek free debt advice. With numerous government schemes available it can also make us more vulnerable to scammers, particularly when finances become tight. Always remain alert for new scams and find out how to avoid falling victim in our guide.

Charities and websites that offer free help and advice include:

Find out more in our article "The impact of debt on your mental health and how to get help".

 

 

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