Millions of people across the UK are struggling to cover their essential household costs nowadays. The ‘cost of living crisis’ means we’re all paying a lot more for energy and food, and things like rent and fuel. Some people are cutting back on how much they spend on food, or eating less, so they can pay for heating. Many people are falling into arrears, or using credit to pay for essentials, making the problem worse. We have compiled this list of websites and resources which could help during these testing times.
Are you struggling to pay your rent?
If your circumstances have changed and your income has fallen as a result, you might be able to claim benefits to help you pay your rent, such as the housing element of Universal Credit. But your Universal Credit payment might not cover all your housing costs. This is more likely if you’re living in private rented housing. If you’re claiming Universal Credit for the first time, Citizens Advice have a dedicated service to help you. Call 0800 024 1220. For more information and to find your local Citizens Advice on their website Citizens Advice
If this happens you might be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) from your local council to cover the shortfall in rent. You can only claim a DHP after you have received your first Universal Credit payment. You can also claim DHP if you’re claiming Housing Benefit. To help you prepare before you get your first payment, a Help to Claim adviser can help you work out whether your Universal Credit payment will cover all your rent. If it doesn’t, you can make a claim for a DHP to your local council if you need one.
To claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment you can find more information here for Cardiff residents Discretionary Housing Payments Cardiff
or here for Vale of Glamorgan residents Discretionary Housing Payment Vale Of Glamorgan
Are you struggling to pay your mortgage?
‘Step 1 – Contact your lender Lenders have to treat you fairly and consider any request you make to change the way you pay your mortgage. Depending on your circumstances your lender might also make suggestions for you, for example extending your mortgage term. Don’t delay – it’s important to get in touch with your lender as soon as possible.
Step 2 – Check if you have insurance cover Mortgage payment protection insurance, also called accident, sickness and unemployment insurance, can help with your mortgage repayments if your income has fallen because of redundancy, accident or sickness. You might have taken it out when you got your mortgage – look through your mortgage paperwork and double check with your lender or the broker you used when you took out the mortgage.
*Advice taken from www.moneyhelper.org.uk
If you’re struggling to meet your mortgage repayments, the government could be able to help. You could be able to sign up for the Mortgage Rescue scheme, Support for Mortgage Interest, or other government benefits that might boost your income. Some local authorities and housing associations in Wales operate mortgage rescue schemes (MRS) to help homeowners avoid mortgage repossession if it is likely that otherwise the homeowner will be homeless.
More information here: Mortgage Help
Reducing Energy Bills
Simple Energy Advice give free independent advice online and by telephone to help you:
- reduce your energy bills
- make your home warmer
- plan home improvements
- make your home greener
National Energy Action (NEA) – the national fuel poverty charity, working to ensure that everyone in England, Wales and Northern Ireland is warm and safe at home have produced a HOME-ENERGY-CHECK-LIST-2022 The information in this leaflet will help guide you through financial help available and practical steps you can take to help keep your home feelingwarmer this winter
Welsh Government Warm Homes
Includes the Nest scheme which provides funding for energy efficiency improvements to low income households and those living in deprived communities across Wales. It supports the Welsh Government’s commitments to reduce climate change, help eradicate fuel poverty, boost economic development and regeneration in Wales. If you’re worried about your energy bills, call us and speak to one of our friendly advisors. They can offer free and impartial advice on saving energy and water, money management, making sure you’re on the best energy and water tariff, whether you are entitled to any benefits to boost your income Call Freephone 0808 808 2244 You could be eligible for home energy efficiency improvements at no cost to you if you own your home or rent from a private landlord (not Council or Housing Association), your home is energy inefficient and expensive to heat, you or someone you live with receives a means tested benefit OR has a chronic respiratory, circulatory or mental health condition and an income below defined thresholds. For full details and to apply visit https://nest.gov.wales/how-can-nest-help/
Finding it hard to stay online?
Access to wifi data-packages (info courtesy Vale Supporting People)
Social tariffs are available to people receiving certain benefits and can offer significant savings
over conventional tariffs. Please see the link below for more information about social tariffs
and how to sign up. Social tariffs: Cheaper broadband and phone packages – Ofcom
Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF)
Emergency Assistance Payment (EAP)
A grant to help pay for essential costs, such as food, gas, electricity, clothing or emergency travel if you:
- are experiencing extreme financial hardship
- have lost your job
- have applied for benefits and are waiting for your first payment
You cannot use it to pay for ongoing bills that you cannot afford to pay.
Individual Assistance Payment (IAP)
A grant to help you or someone you care for live independently in their home or a property that you or they are moving into.
What you can use the grant for
Use the grant to pay for:
- a fridge, cooker or washing machine and other ‘white goods’
- home furniture such as beds, sofas and chairs
To find out more and check if you are eligible click here: https://gov.wales/discretionary-assistance-fund-daf
If so, use this website to save time finding Disability Grants.
Charities and Trusts provide funding towards the high cost of disability equipment, holidays, housing, days out………in fact anything above and beyond the normal costs of everyday living.
Searching for extra funds takes time – in between work, hospital appointments, caring, therapies……..
And the hundred and one other things we all have to juggle every day!
That’s why Disability Grants is here to help YOU, your family or anyone you’re supporting with a disability.
Discover what’s available nationally and in your local area by searching the individual sections.
Are you finding your Council Tax hard to pay?
- Job Seekers Allowance
- Employment Support Allowance
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- you are a low income household
You are not eligible to a reduction if you are:
- aged under 65 and have capital of £16,000 or more
- aged over 65 and have capital of £16,000 or more (unless you or your partner gets the Guarantee Credit part of Pension Credit)
If you receive Universal Credit you will need to apply for Council Tax Reduction if it has not already been applied to your Council Tax Bill. There may be other reasons why you may be eligible for a reduction in council tax, you can find out by using the Welsh Government calculator on the following webpage- http://www.gov.wales/pay-less-council-tax
Are you struggling to pay your water bills?
If you’re in financial hardship and you’re in debt with Welsh Water, Water Direct may help by paying your water charges and debt through your benefits. This means your arrears will slowly reduce, helping you gain control over your finances. www.dwrcymru.com/en/support-with-bills/water-direct-scheme
If you already have a meter, or have requested one, the WaterSure scheme puts a cap on the amount you have to pay for your water. To be eligible, you must be receiving a qualifying benefit or tax credit and either have 3 or more children under the age of 19 living at your home who you can claim Child Benefit for, or have a member of your household with a medical condition that requires significant use of extra water. http://www.dwrcymru.com/en/support-with-bills/watersure-tariff
Speak to an Welsh Water Advisor for Help reducing your Water bill 0800 052 0145 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 9am to 1pm on Saturday http://www.dwrcymru.com/en/support-with-bills/helpu-tariff
Petrol and Diesel costs worrying you?
Tips on being more fuel efficient
- Remove excess weight from your vehicle, things like a roof rack, unneccessary things in the boot, even your child’s pram, when its not needed.
- Keep your car well maintained and serviced regularly, also ensure your tyre pressure is at the correct level.
- Plan your journeys ahead of time, to avoid driving further than neccessary, also consider planning your journey around busy traffic times.
- Dress suitably for the weather, avoid using the air conditioning as this can use more fuel. Similarly consider if you need to use electricals such as heated seating etc.
- Do your research and fill up in the place with the cheapest fuel costs in your area
Universal Credit Advance
You might be able to get a loan as part of your Universal Credit if you need to cover a specific expense – this is called a ‘budgeting advance’.
If you get a budgeting advance, you’ll get reduced Universal Credit payments until you’ve paid off the amount you borrow. This will normally be over 12 months.
You can apply for a budgeting advance to cover things like:
- a one-off item – eg replacing a broken fridge
- work-related expenses – eg buying uniform or tools
- unexpected expenses
- repairs to your home
- travel expenses
- maternity expenses
- funeral expenses
- moving costs or rent deposit
- essential items, like clothes
If you’ve applied for Universal Credit but haven’t had your first payment yet, you need to get an advance payment instead of a budgeting advance.
”You can get a budgeting advance if you need the money to help you get or stay in work – like train tickets for a job interview. If you need the money for any other reason, you’ll need to have claimed one of these benefits for 6 months or more: You’ll also need to have earned less than £2,600 in the 6 months before your application. This figure is £3,600 if you live with a partner. You can’t get a budgeting advance if you or your partner is still paying off a previous budgeting advance.
To check how much you could get visit https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/universal-credit/on-universal-credit/budgeting-advance/
Check if you are entitled to benefits
- You’re out of work
- You’ve got children
- You have a low income
- You’re ill or disabled
Visit the Step change benefit calculator to find out more: www.stepchange.entitledto.co.uk/home/start
Step Change offer free, flexible debt advice that is based on a comprehensive assessment of your situation. They then provide practical help and support for however long it’s needed. Online debt advice service available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year or call 0800 138 1111 Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 4pm or visit their website www.stepchange.org
Money Helper Free guidance on Benefits, Family and care, money troubles, savings, everyday money, homes, pensions, retirement and work. Get in touch with them online via their website http://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/contact-us or via one of their topic helplines.
National Debtline – National Debtline is a charity that give free and independent debt advice Use their online tool to get debt help now www.nationaldebtline.org or Webchat with an adviser, Monday to Friday 9am – 8pm and Saturday 9:30 am – 1pm. or call on 0808 808 4000, Monday to Friday 9am – 8pm and Saturday 9:30 am – 1pm
Shelter Cymru offer information, advice and support on topics such as homelessness, debt, finding a place to live, paying for housing, renting, eviction, mortgages, repossession, money, repairs and bad conditions, and families and relationships. Call Shelter Cymru’s urgent helpline on 08000 495 495 (9.30am – 4.00pm Monday to Friday), use their webchat or visit their website for advice pages and resources. www.sheltercymru.org.uk
Getting help if you can't afford your energy bills
The Government has also announced an Energy Bills Support Scheme and an Energy Price Guarantee to help people deal with rising bills.
Contact your supplier as soon as you can if you are worried about paying your energy bills or are in debt to your supplier.
Suppliers must work with you to agree on a payment plan you can afford under Ofgem rules. This includes reviewing a plan you have agreed before.
You can ask for:
- a review of your payments and debt repayments
- payment breaks or reductions
- more time to pay
- access to hardship funds
- advice on how to use less energy
- Priority Service registration – a free support service if you are in a .
Winter Fuel Support Scheme 2022 to 2023
Eligible households can claim a one-off £200 payment from the council to provide support towards paying their fuel costs. This payment is in addition to the Energy Bill rebate being offered by the UK Government and the Winter Fuel Payment normally paid to pensioners.
The payment will be available to all eligible households (one payment per household) however they pay for their fuel, whether that is, for example, on a pre-payment meter, by direct debit or by paying a bill quarterly and can be claimed regardless of whether they are using on or off-grid fuel.
The Welsh Government Fuel Support Scheme is part of a £90m fuel support package to address immediate pressures on living costs.
Local Authorities will be contacting households they consider eligible for the payment to invite an application to the scheme. Anyone who is not contacted by their Local Authority who believes they are eligible for the payment can submit a claim via their councils website from 26 September 2022.
Vale of Glamorgan Residents – https://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/en/living/Home-Energy/Winter-Fuel-Support-Scheme.aspx
£400 energy discount from the government
The government will give every household £400 off their electricity bill. This is called the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
You don’t need to do anything to get the money and you won’t have to pay it back.
You’ll get the £400 in 6 instalments starting from October 2022. You’ll get:
- £66 in October and November
- £67 in December, January, February and March
You’ll get the discount monthly, even if you pay for your energy quarterly or use a payment card.
How you get the discount will depend on how you pay for energy.
Winter Fuel Payment
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter.
You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 25 September 1956.
You’ll automatically get an extra ‘pensioner cost of living payment’ with your usual Winter Fuel Payment in either November or December. If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’.
Money Saving Expert cost of living survival guide
The UK is amid a cost of living crisis. Prices are rising at rates we haven’t seen since the 1970s – energy, broadband, water, council tax, food, fuel and more. This is a guide to saving cash to get yourself through this situation
Hardship funds and grants
Struggling to put food on the table?
Don’t go hungry, get in touch with a Foodbank in your local area, they will be able to provide you with a food parcel to help feed yourself and your family.
If you live in Cardiff and are experiencing a financial crisis we may be able to help. Through our Foodbank Centres we could provide you and your family with an emergency food parcel which will last between 3 and 5 days. We work with frontline professionals in agencies who can meet you in person or talk over the phone to discuss your situation. If they feel you could benefit from a food parcel they will issue you with a food voucher. Please note: Foodbank vouchers are only issued by our partner agencies. Cardiff Foodbank is unable to issue vouchers directly to clients or influence the decision of any partner agency. See here for a list of partner agencies that can issue a voucher: https://cardiff.foodbank.org.uk/get-help/foodbank-vouchers/
Vale Of Glamorgan
Temp update: If you are in financial crisis and don’t have a support or advise agency helping you please contact Pobl. They can provide advice and may refer you for a food bank parcel. (Tel 01446 735444)
THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP IS TO GET A FOODBANK VOUCHER.
In order to provide the most appropriate help for the circumstances of your situation we work with local agencies. If they feel you are struggling to put food on the table, they will issue you with a foodbank voucher. The local agency can also provide long term support if needed to help address some of the issues behind the reasons for your crisis. Agencies we work with include: Citizens Advice, housing support officers, children’s centres, health visitors, social services and some local charities.
GET IN TOUCH WITH US. [email protected]
The Healthy Start scheme is a Government initiative that provides eligible families with vouchers worth £4.25 every week to spend on milk, fresh, frozen, and tinned food, and infant formula milk. Visit the Healthy Start website for more information and to check eligibility.
Healthy Eating On A Budget
Look for special offers on long shelf-life products like dried pasta, rice and noodles, dried or tinned beans and pulses, tinned tomatoes, passata, tomato concentrate and cereals. These can be used to bulk up your meals and make them go further.’
Buy cheaper cuts of meat such as chicken thighs or drumsticks instead of chicken breast. A whole chicken can be good value, especially if you use it for more than one meal. Mince is also a popular ingredient, versatile and inexpensive.
Canned oily fish such as sardines and salmon can be cheaper than buying fresh fish. They are high in omega-3 fats which can help to keep the heart healthy, plus they are easy to prepare and have a long shelf-life. Opt for ones in spring water to keep the salt content to a minimum. Frozen fish is often very good value and can be added to a range of dishes.
Check the frozen and canned fruit and vegetable section for cheaper items. Frozen vegetables tend to be cheaper than fresh varieties, they count towards your 5 A DAY and freezing preserves nutrients so that some frozen vegetables provide more of certain nutrients than fresh versions. You can use them when you want without them going off, which cuts down on waste.
Remember to check supermarket own brand and economy ranges – these are often cheaper than branded items. Economy ranges for bread, dried pasta, rice and noodles are usually much cheaper and there may not always be much difference in taste.
Products like milk and cheese can be frozen so you can take advantage of special offers and store any extra you buy in the freezer.
When it comes to eating on a budget, staple foods like bread, potatoes, rice and pasta are generally very good value for money and are a nutritious part of a healthy diet. Baked potatoes are great as a cheap, healthy and filling meal and you can experiment with your favourite toppings – perhaps to use up leftover pasta sauce or stew. If baking potatoes in the oven, then you could make the most of having the oven on and add some extra potatoes. These can then be kept for a couple of days in the fridge (or longer in the freezer) and microwaved for a quick meal another time. Rice and pasta are great, economical store cupboard ingredients and can be served warm with sauces, curries and stews or used cold as the base for a salad, which can be a good way of using up any leftover pasta or rice you have cooked. *Information taken from http://www.nutrition.org.uk/putting-it-into-practice/ make-healthier-choices/healthy-eating-on-a-budget/
NHS Wales Advice for eating on a budget
Many families are currently feeling the impact from the rising cost of living, and continuing to buy healthy foods can become strenuous on a tight budget.
Eating a healthy balanced diet and regular meals is essential for anyone to maintain good health including a healthy body weight and can help you feel your best. Ensuring that you are getting the right nutrients can strengthen your immune system and protect you against serious illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and cancer.
Here are a few things you can do to help your food budget stretch a little further and maintain a healthy diet during these challenging times:
- Cooking at home and from scratch is a good way to save on your shopping bill, and can be healthier than pre-packaged food or ready meals. You can find more information on nutrition and healthy eating choices through Nutrition Skills for Life.
- Plan your meals for the week ahead to help budget your shopping list.
- Buy whole foods in bigger quantities i.e. a large bag of uncooked rice as opposed to packaged microwave rice pouches.
- Double-check sell-by dates in supermarkets to avoid items going off quickly at home. How you store your food can make a difference to how long it lasts. Many foods including bread, milk and cheese can be frozen until you need them.
- Batch cook meals so that they can be reheated later in the week.
- Use your leftovers for lunches to avoid waste. The Love Food Hate Waste portion planner is a great way to find out the correct portion sizes for your meals so you are not throwing food away.
- Cupboard staples such as rice, pasta, lentils, tinned fruit and vegetables can create lots of quick and tasty meals at low cost.
View further tips and recipes for eating healthily on a budget:
Free and Low Cost Meals
Morrisons has a permanent ‘kids eat free’ offer for every adult meal purchased over £4.99.
Morrisons supermarket is offering free Heinz Beanz meals to its customers in its cafes this October, and there is no catch. The supermarket is collaborating with the baked beans giant to offer a hearty jacket potato with baked beans to any customer who “asks for Henry”. The free Heinz Beanz meals will be available at all of Wales’ Morrisons cafes from October 26, while stocks last.
Asda has announced a range of new ‘winter warmer’ initiatives to support customers and community groups struggling with the cost-of-living crisis. The supermarket is offering those aged 60 and over the chance to enjoy soup, a roll and unlimited tea and coffees for just £1 in any of its 205 cafes all day and every day throughout November and December.
The new initiative will run alongside the current ‘Kids eat for £1’ offer that has no requirement to buy an adult meal at the same time.
Grab free burgers, doughnuts and more via apps & clubs
Fast-food chains often offer discounts and freebies to new and existing customers through apps and membership ‘clubs’. It’s worth joining and keeping an eye out for any new offers which pop up.
Cardiff’s Hubs and Libraries network will be providing warm welcome spaces from Monday October 10, residents concerned about rising costs of heating their own homes over the winter months will be able to visit their local hub or library and find a warm welcome in store. The warm welcome spaces are part of the Council’s response to supporting city residents through the cost of living crisis by providing heated spaces in its community buildings where people can pop in for a free hot drink, have a chat with staff and others, and if they wish, find out about any services available in the hub that could support them.
People are welcome to call into any of the city’s hubs or libraries during their usual opening hours. Visit https://cardiffhubs.co.uk/ for details. (Butetown Pavilion’s warm welcome space will be open from 9am to 5pm).
As part of the Vale of Glamorgan Council’s work to support citizens during the cost-of-living crisis, they have developed a Warm Spaces scheme. The aim is to provide residents in the Vale with a network of community spaces that offer a warm and inviting place to come together this winter at no cost, and that offer a ‘Warm Welcome’ to different parts of our communities.
Visit https://www.valeofglamorgan.gov.uk/en/living/Cost-of-Living/Warm-Spaces.aspx for more information and to find your nearest warm space.
Protecting your mental health
Financial worries and health concerns can impact mood, leading to stress and anxiety, as well as a loss of motivation. Sharing your worries or concerns with a trusted friend or family member can help you to decompress, as well as allowing you to feel emotionally connected to those around you, minimising feelings of loneliness. It is also important to check in on others, particularly older or vulnerable people who may be suffering in silence. Connecting with neighbours, family and your community is the best way to protect your own mental health and support others in need.
Exercise can also play a key part in protecting your mental health. Getting outside daily can boost your energy levels, alertness and can contribute towards a positive mood. Regular physical activity can increase your self-esteem and can reduce the risk of stress, anxiety and depression.
If you are struggling it is important to reach out for help, and there are services which can help you. See our wellbeing page for useful tips and information.