The cost of living crisis has unfortunately led to many households across the region and country feeling significant pressure on their budgets. Everyday costs including food, fuel and energy have seen sharp rises, much quicker than the average person’s income.
We know many of our customers are feeling the effects of this situation, and we want to make sure you are aware of the support available to you if you are struggling, including from us, the government and other charities and organisations.
We are committed to supporting our customers facing financial difficulties, including with a £358,000 Tenancy Support Fund, which is available for those who do not have their housing costs covered in full by either Universal Credit or Housing Benefit and are facing financial difficulties. You can find out more about the Tenancy Support Fund and apply here.
Our Tenancy Sustainment team are able to provide support for you, including with Universal Credit and benefits.
The Be Money Ready area of our website is also available for you to use, with a range of resources and advice on how you can save money. We have also recently launched a new energy advice section of our website dedicated to helping customers with rising energy costs.
Government Household Support Fund
The Household Support Fund was launched by the Government in October 2021 and has been extended to March 2023. The £1.5b of funding will be distributed according to the size, population and needs of each area. Cash through the Household Support Fund will go to local councils who will decide on how it is distributed.
The funding will be split to support different areas, with at least one third being ring fenced for households with children, pensioners and households genuinely in need of support, respectively. Anyone who needs help with bills, food or other household essentials will need to apply directly for the help. The amount you can get will depend on where you are, and your circumstances.
For further information you can find your local council online and search your postcode. If information about the scheme is not yet listed on your local authority's website, you can call or email your local council for more information.
Government Cost of Living Support Package
The Government have introduced a range of payments designed to support people with the cost of living strain. If you are due to get a cost of living payment but it has not been received, you can report it here. Please be aware, there are reports of criminals trying to scam people with offers of rebates, grants and other financial support payments. Find out how you can avoid these here.
Households on certain means-tested benefits £650 payment
As part of the wider package of support announced by the Government to help with the cost-of-living crisis, over eight million households in the UK on means-tested benefits will get a payment of £650. The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will make the payment in two lump sums, with the first from July and the second in the autumn. This will go directly into the account you receive your benefits into.
Pensioners up to £600 winter fuel payment
Every household with someone over state pension age (aged 66 or above) between 19-25 September 2022 is entitled to help towards their energy costs under the Government's winter fuel payment scheme, which is usually between £100 and £300. This year, the Governments cost of living package includes a one-off £300 top-up to the winter fuel payment, so you could get up to £600. It will be paid automatically in November or December.
Disability benefits one-off £150 payment in September
Around six million people across the UK on certain disability benefits will receive a one-off payment of £150 in September. This will be paid straight into the account you currently receive your benefits. The Government says these payments will not count towards the benefit cap and will not have any impact on existing benefits.
Energy Bills Support Scheme
All households with a domestic electricity connection will be automatically eligible for the £400 discount which will be applied to energy bills. This will be paid from October 2022 spread over six months. There is no need to contact your energy supplier. Find out more including if you are eligible here.
Warm Home Discount
You could potentially get £150 towards energy bills each winter with the warm home discount.
The scheme requires suppliers with more than 50,000 customers to help vulnerable people in the UK pay for their energy over the winter. If you have a standard credit meter, you will get a £150 rebate applied to your electricity or gas bill between October and March. If you're on a prepay meter, you will usually be sent a top-up voucher.
Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. Pension Credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges. Find out more.
Other Government support includes:
Local Welfare Assistance Finder, in which your local council could help you get hold of items of furniture.
Breathing Space and Mental Health Crisis Debt Respite Schemes, designed to give you time to receive debt advice.
Money Helper, a free tool from the Money and Pensions Service.
For more advice and guidance, we have included details on other charities and organisations that can offer support:
|Citizens Advice||Offers a range of support, including on energy and dealing with the cost of living.|
|Credit Unions||Credit unions can offer affordable loans, savings accounts and financial wellbeing information. We partner with Westcountry Savings & Loans, however you can also find a local credit union to help you.|
|Turn2Us||You can use Turn2Us to get advice on benefits and grants.|
|Step Change||Step Change offer free debt advice.|
|Scope||The helpline provides free advice and support to people with disabilities and their families.|
|Money Saving Expert||Consumer website offering support and advice around saving money, finding deals and understanding your rights.|
|Family Fund||A charity that provides grants for families raising disabled or seriously ill children and young people.|