The UK is amid a cost-of-living crisis with prices rising at a staggering rate, many households are struggling to afford basics such as energy, water, food, fuel, and more.
We’ve put together a guide to help support you through this situation.
Bills and Debt
- Understand your Energy Bills: We know that energy bills can be confusing and that this can make it difficult to understand what you are spending on energy. With the current energy crisis, getting a firm grip on your own usage and understanding your bills is an increasing priority for all. We’ve put together a blog on understanding your energy bills to help you gain financial confidence: https://www.warmwales.org.uk/understanding-your-energy-bills/
- Smart Meter: Smart Meters help you to be more in control of the energy you use and the money you spend. Smart gas and electricity meters record half-hourly price and consumption data and provide automatic meter readings to your energy supplier, meaning you only pay for the energy you use. If you’d like a smart meter, you can contact one of our friendly Community Workers who can aid in you applying for one with your energy provider.
- Water Bills: while tariff switching isn’t an option for water bills, there are many ways that you can save on your water bills.
- Switch to a water meter: if you live alone or with one other person a water meter may be able to save you £s on your bill as you’re only paying for the water you use. To find out if it’s worthwhile for you use this water meter calculator: https://www.ccwater.org.uk/watermetercalculator/
- Spread the cost of your water bill with direct debit: customers can pay in weekly, monthly, or 6 monthly installments rather than paying the full amount when you receive the bill.
- Get support for paying your bills: Welsh Water and Hafren Dyfrdwy have a range of schemes to help you pay your water bills. Check out this blog we put together for more information on the support available: https://www.warmwales.org.uk/savings-and-support-available-for-water-bills/
- Pay attention to regular payments: there are three types of regular payments that can all lead to money dripping from your accounts without needing your approval. We’d recommend taking a look at all your current payments leaving your account each month and review? Whether you can cut back on payments and where you can save. Money Saving Expert has a great guide on how best to cut back: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/banking/direct-debit/
- Direct Debits: Where you give a firm permission to take a variable amount of cash from your account
- Standing orders: Where you ask your bank to regularly pay someone a fixed amount
- Recurring payments: This is when you give firms permission to take a ‘payment’ each month from your account, such as subscriptions.
- Fuel Debt Support: With the rising costs of energy prices, many people will face falling into fuel debt. It’s important to note that no debt problems are unsolvable, while it may not be quick or easy to solve, there is always a route. If you’re falling behind with your energy bills and finding yourself struggling to pay, the best thing to do is contact your supplier as soon as possible. Under rules from regulator Ofgem, your supplier has to help you – usually by negotiating a payment plan that you can afford.
- Contact Warm Wales: Our Community workers can help support you in a number of ways, signposting schemes best for your situation, supporting calls to your energy supplier, and help in applying for payments such as hardships funds or additional benefits.
- Small changes in daily habits can go a long way in reducing your bills but keeping your home warm and safe. See a blog we recently put together on tips to help keep you warm while saving you money.
- ‘Heat the Human not the Home’: although Martin Lewis explained how he really wishes he didn’t have to put this guide together, it includes a lot of helpful tips for those who cannot afford their energy bills. Tips include:
- Using hot water bottles, heated blankets and adding extra layers before turning the heating up
- Prioritising having a hot meal, whether it be a bowl of porridge or a bowl of soup.
- See more: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/utilities/heat-the-human-not-the-home-save-energy/
- If your boiler is faulty or broken it may not heat your home sufficiently and may cost more than it should to run. There are schemes available for eligible households to help with getting a new boiler:
- Nest: Nest is a Welsh Government funded scheme that provides energy-efficient improvements to those on means-tested benefits or with chronic illnesses. You could be eligible for a free boiler, central heating system, or insulation to help keep you warm while reducing your energy bills.
- ECO4: The Energy Company Obligation is a government energy efficiency scheme to tackle fuel poverty and create comfortable homes, by offering funding for measures such as storage heaters and insulation. Find out more: https://www.warmwales.org.uk/energy-company-obligation/
- Healthy Homes, Healthy People is working across Wales and South-West England to help people have warmer, safer and healthier homes. Our team of Community Workers offers a range of advice, support, and referral options tailored to the needs of the household. Healthy Homes, Healthy People is open to everyone, but some of the services we refer to have their own eligibility criteria. Find out more: https://www.warmwales.org.uk/healthy-homes-healthy-people/
It’s a common misconception that benefits are only available if you’re out of work, up to 7.5 million households are missing out on £15 billion a year in means-tested benefits according to the latest government figures.
Money Saving Expert has a quick 10-minute benefits calculator to help you easily check what you might qualify for and home much you could get: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/benefits-check/
- Attendance Allowance: This is often overlooked but really important, as attendance allowance can pay between £60 – £89.50 a week depending on the severity of your disability and it isn’t means tested. Use the benefit checker above to see if you qualify or contact one of our friendly Community Workers.
- Pension Credit: On top of state pension, pension credit is an extra payment to help top up your income, if you qualify. To qualify you must be of qualified age, 66 for both men and women, and your income is under £177.10 a week or £270 for couples. Pension credit is aimed at people with low incomes, but it’s always worth finding out if you’re eligible by calling.
- Check if your child qualifies for free school meals: If you’re on means-tested benefits and on low income, your child may qualify for free school meals. https://www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals
Cost of Living Payments
Millions of households are finding themselves struggling financially due to the cost of living crisis, for those who don’t have enough to live on the government and your local councils are offering a range of payments to help support you in this time.
- Means-tested benefits support scheme- £650: If you’re receiving means-tested benefits you will automatically be receiving the first half of the support scheme payment by 14th July 2022, if you have not received this payment, get in touch with our Community Workers who can aide you in receiving this payment.
- Disability Cost of Living Payment- £150: This is a one-off payment made in addition to means-tested benefits support payment for claimants receiving disability-related benefits. Payments will be made directly to eligible people and paid from September 2022
- Energy support Scheme -£400: This will be paid to all households through electricity suppliers over 6 months from October 2022. Those who are direct debit & credit customers will have their accounts credited while those with prepayment meters will have the money applied to their meter or be issued vouchers
- Pensioner Cost of Living payments -£300: This is a one-off payment to be made to all individuals over state pension age (aged 66 +) between 19th-25th September 2022. This payment will usually be made by direct debit and will be paid at the same time as the winter fuel [payment in November/ December
- Unpaid Carer’s Support Payments – £500: Those in receipt of Carer’s Allowance on the 31st March 2022, caring more than 35 hours a week and receiving low income can apply for this support payment. Deadline 15th July 2022
- Cost of Living support Scheme – up to £150: Core Scheme- to be paid to all households I council tax bands A-D, households in receipt of council tax reduction, and households in council tax band E where the occupier receives a disability reduction. No action required if paying council tax through direct debit and payments should have already been made- otherwise, an application is required and payments will be made on a rolling basis as and when applications are approved.
Urgent Help and Support
Our Healthy Homes, Healthy People+ scheme is open to all and offers urgent help such as emergency top ups, and access to food packs. We also offer additional mental well-being support and social prescribing as we understand that fuel stress can cause additional well-being issues such as anxiety and depression. https://www.warmwales.org.uk/partnerships/
Ask for help
One of the easiest and most important ways to access support during the cost-of-living crisis is to ask for help. Our team of Community Workers are working across Wales help provide you with the support you need. Get in touch today to see how we can help you.
Our services are completely free and open to everyone.
While our cost-of-living guide is extensive, there’s still additional support and tips that could help you during this time, Money Saving Expert has put together a list of almost 100 ways to save in their ‘Cost of Living Crisis Survival guide’ https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/cost-of-living-survival-kit/