From April 1st just gone, energy price caps increased massively, meaning customers paying by direct debit would see an expected annual increase of £693, from £1,277 to £1,97, with an even larger hike for prepayment customers.
Added to the price increases we expect to see from pulling away from our dependency on Russian gas and inflation failing to keep up with rising living costs, it paints a worrying picture.
While much of the advice we’ve seen given so far is geared towards budgeting and reducing the impact of the rising cost of living, we know for many families, there are not many places left to make cutbacks. So in this article we’re going to focus on financial support specifically around the cost of living increase.
If you feel like you could use some help with budgeting, or are finding debt an issue bigger than just the latest rise in living costs, check out the Step Change debt charity who have some amazing resources to get you back on track. – https://www.stepchange.org/
The Energy Bills Rebate
According to the Government’s website, millions of households will receive up to £350 to help with the cost of living following a rise in the energy price cap, with all domestic electricity customers getting £200 off their energy bills from October 2022. 80% of households will receive a £150 Council Tax rebate from April according to Chancellor Rishi Sunak, who points the finger at wholesale energy prices for the rise in energy bills. You can learn more about this rebate here:
Winter Fuel Payments
Another government backed scheme, if you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills.
You should get your Winter Fuel Payment automatically if you’re eligible, but there are some caveats and criteria to be aware of which you can learn more about here:
And if you do find yourself needing to make a manual claim this year for the Winter Fuel Payment, the holding page is here and will be update after the claim opening date of 1st August 2022:
Cold Weather Payments
If you’re in receipt of certain benefits and live in an area that is expected to be below zero degrees for seven or more days in a row between November and March, make sure you’re aware of cold weather payments, which should take £25 a week off of your energy bill for every week you’re affected.
You can check the temperature in your area using the DWP’s cold weather payment postcode checker. If you think you should have received a cold weather payment and haven’t, then contact your JobCentre Plus office or the Universal Credit helpline.
Absolutely make sure you claim for every reduction you can to fuel costs. You have every right to live in a warm home.
Third Sector Support
We phoned the support lines of some of the top third sector veteran support organisations to see how they were responding to the cost of living crisis and the increased energy price cap and how you can get help.
Royal British Legion
While they don’t look at ‘monthly top-ups’ to cover energy bills, they will support with access to food and other immediate needs if you’ve prioritised your bills and are struggling. Royal British Legion also have a debt team that may be able to help if you have an accrued debt on priority bills such as rent, council tax or energy. You can get in touch through their website by chat, phone or email.
SSAFA – Forces Line team
SSAFA continue to offer financial support through grants and have advised interested parties to contact their local SSAFA unit or case worker. Details on how to do so can be found on their website. They are keen to speak to anyone feeling that the rising cost of living is impacting their wellbeing.
When we first spoke to ABF they offered to get one of their Grants and Welfare Officers to give us a call, and did so within 40 minutes. They explained they did offer means tested support for debt and unexpected costs and they worked with RBL and SSAFA caseworkers to do so. You’re advised to contact them in the first instance for support.
Through RBL or SSAFA
Help for Heroes
The advisor at help for heroes explained they did expect a lot more veterans calling up for help regarding the cost of living and had begun conversations internally on how to support. They suggested making contact via the website, where you’ll find a support form, and stated you should receive a reply in five working days.
Food Support – The Trussell Trust
You may have mixed feelings about using a foodbank. But if you’re going hungry, please consider it an option for you. There is no shame in needing help with food when research suggests the need comes from income failing to keep up living costs and unsuitable benefits systems bridging the gap in earning. The Trussell Trust provides food banks and also campaigns for food security so we may one day not need them. You can learn more here:
If there isn’t a Trussell Trust food bank near you, there will be other providers. Please look online or via your local council.
The Veterans Charity
The Veteran’s Charity is one of the best immediate needs support organisations for veterans and their families. If you’re not sure where to turn for immediate support with food, clothing, utility or household support, please check out their website.
If you try any of the above we’d love to hear about your experience. We also have a support group for Money and Finance if you have any questions we can help with.