Get help with the cost of living

Whether it's struggling to pay bills, facing unexpected costs, or just dealing with day-to-day expenses - there is help available. Here are a few ways you can get some extra support

Cost of living

8 November 2023

Financial difficulties can affect everyone for many reasons. Whether it's struggling to pay bills, facing unexpected costs, or just dealing with day-to-day expenses - there is help available. Here are a few ways you can get some extra support.

Talk to your energy bill provider

High energy bills can put a strain on your finances, especially when you need to pop the heating on during the cold winter months. If you're having trouble paying your energy bills, your first step should be to get in touch with your energy bill provider. It’s better to not suffer in silence if you can’t pay your bill, some providers may offer payment plans, budgeting advice, or even grants to help offset your energy costs.

Check if you qualify for government support

There are many government support schemes available to help ease financial strain. Some of the schemes to help with general living costs include:

Winter Fuel Payment

If you were born before 25th September 1957, you may be eligible for a payment to help with your heating bills. This can range from £250 to £600, which also includes a ‘pensioner cost of living payment’. You should receive this payout automatically if you are eligible, but you can make a claim on the website here if you haven’t received a letter yet.

Cold Weather Payment

If you receive certain benefits, you might be entitled to Cold Weather Payments when the temperature in your area drops to or is forecasted to be less than 0 degrees for 7 days in a row. You can get £25 for each 7-day period of freezing weather. If you are eligible, you should automatically get these payments.

Free school meals

Families that have a lower income and who receive other government benefits, such a Job Seekers Allowance or Universal Credit, may be eligible to get free school meals for their children. Your child’s school can provide an application form if you are eligible. Discretionary Housing Payment: If you're struggling to pay rent, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment from your local council. You can apply through your local council on the website.

Check if you can get Universal Credit

Universal Credit is a monthly government payment to help with your living costs. You may be able to get Universal Credit if you’re on a low income and need help paying for your essentials, regardless of your employment status.

In order to claim, you must:

  • Live in the UK
  • Be aged 18 or over – although there are some exceptions for 16-17 years old
  • Be under state pension age
  • Have £16,000 or less in savings, money and investments

If you think you are eligible for Universal Credit, you can apply through the website.

Ask the council for help with essential costs

Local councils in the UK provide assistance for essential costs such as housing, food, and clothing. Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for support through:

Council Tax Reduction

This reduces the amount of council tax you need to pay based on your income and personal circumstances.

Council cost of living payment

Some councils offer emergency support for essential needs, like your bills, food and essential items. Your council may also offer food vouchers during the school holidays for families. You can check with your local council to see what support is available.

Financial struggles and your mental health

Financial difficulties can take a toll on your mental health. If you're struggling with mental health issues due to financial stress, it's essential to seek support:

NHS Services

The NHS provides access to mental health services, including counseling and therapy. Speak to your GP about how you’re feeling, and they can refer you to get support. You can also get support on the NHS website.

Mental Health Charities

Charities like Mind and Samaritans offer support for people dealing with mental health issues and help you cope with the emotional impact of financial difficulties.

Financial Counselling

Financial counsellors or advisors can help you manage your finances, create a budget, and find ways to manage financial stress.

Facing financial struggles is always difficult, but there is support available from energy bill help to government schemes and local council assistance. Don't hesitate to seek help when you need it and remember that support is there to help you with any money worries and maintain your mental well-being.