Cost of Living: Resources, Support and Advice
The cost of living crisis has caused significant financial hardship in communities up and down the country and here in Wrexham it is no different. But, the UK Government has been committed to supporting hard-working individuals and families in Wales through a total of £37 billion worth of support across the UK so far this year.
In November, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, set out a generous package of support for energy bill relief, which answered the people of Wales’ calls.
UK Government Cost of Living Support
- £650 Cost of Living payment for those on benefits: More than 8 million households on means tested benefits will receive a payment of £650. This includes all households who receive Universal Credit, Income-based Jobseekers Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support, Working Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, Pension Credit. Department of Work and Pensions will make the payment in two lump sums – the first from July, the second in the autumn. Payments from HMRC for those on Tax Credits only will follow shortly after each to ensure there are no duplicate payments.
- £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment: All pensioner households will receive an extra £300 to help them cover the rising cost of energy this winter. This payment will go to the over 8 million pensioner households who receive the Winter Fuel Payment. The Pensioner Cost of Living Payment will come as a top-up to annual Winter Fuel Payments in November/December. For most pensioner households, this will be paid by direct debit, is not taxable and does not affect eligibility for other benefits.
- £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment: People with disabilities will receive an extra £150 to help with the particular extra costs they face. Six million people who receive Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Attendance Allowance, Scottish Disability Benefits, Armed Forces Independence Payment, Constant Attendance Allowance and War Pension Mobility Supplement will receive the support as a one off payment in September. These payments will be exempt from tax, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards.
- Household Support Fund: The Household Support Fund will provide £1 billion this financial year to help households who are not eligible for other kinds of help or need further support. The Household Support Fund helps those in most need with the cost of essentials such as food, clothing and utilities and, in England, will continue to be distributed to Local Authorities, who are best placed to direct help to those who need it most. In May 2022, the government announced a further £500 million of support via the scheme, which will now run until March 2023. This is on top of £1 billion of support made available since October 2021.
Please follow the link below to see the support made available by the UK Government:
Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF)
Following my extensive lobbying efforts to the UK Government, I am very pleased to inform you that Wrexham Council has been selected as a pilot local authority for the EBSS AF.
- Households in Wrexham who have not yet received their £400 energy bills support may now be eligible to apply via the Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding. This includes certain park home residents and partially or wholly self-funded care home residents.
- Eligible households will need to complete a short online form on the GOV.UK webpage. This can be found by searching 'Apply for energy bill support if you do not get it automatically' into the search bar on GOV.UK or an internet search engine.
- Households without online access or who need support completing their application can contact the government helpline on 08081753287 where a representative will guide them through the application process.
Energy Bills Support Scheme
This is providing millions of households across Great Britain with a non-repayable £400 discount from energy bills, delivered automatically via electricity suppliers from October (2022).
- The discount is being applied in six monthly instalments (2 x £66 and 4 x £67). How consumers receive the discount depends on how they pay their electricity bill.
- Non-smart meter prepayment customers will be provided with discount vouchers from the first week of each month. These customers will need to take action to redeem these at the top up point designated by their supplier. This will be a Post Office or a PayPoint outlet.
- Consumers do not need to apply for the discount. We are aware of a number of scams suggesting the need to apply and provide bank details: we are actively working via government channels and through stakeholders such as Citizens Advice to seek to alert consumers and encourage the use of email@example.com.
Energy Price Guarantee
This applies to Great Britain and Northern Ireland households with a domestic electricity and/or gas contract
- How Energy Price Guarantee works: In Great Britain the Energy Price Guarantee launched on 1 October 2022.
- The scheme reduces the price energy suppliers can charge customers for units of gas and electricity used, providing money off their energy bills. In Great Britain, an energy supplier will reduce the unit costs so that a typical household will face, on average bills equivalent to around £2500 per year(excluding the EBSS payment of £400 which is an additional reduction).
- As an illustration, a typical household in Great Britain will save around £900 this winter based on current prices.
- The Energy Price Guarantee will be applied to bills and pre-payment meters automatically. There is no need to apply. We are reminding customers to be wary of scammers.
- The scheme has been in place since 1 October 2022, and we will continue to provide support targeting typical bills of £2500 until end March 2023. From 1 April 2023 until 2024 the Energy Price Guarantee scheme will continue, but with support to reduce typical household bills to the equivalent of around £3000 per year.
Alternative Fuel Payment
This applies to Great Britain and Northern Ireland domestic customers who heat their homes using alternative fuels (e.g., heating oil).
How Alternative Fuel Payment works:
- The Alternative Fuel Payment scheme will provide a £200 payment to UK (Great Britain and NI) households that use alternative fuels for heating, such as heating oil or LPG, instead of mains gas.
- This will ensure that households who do not benefit through the Energy Price Guarantee to heat their homes, receive support for the cost of the fuel they do use.
- The majority of households eligible for these payments will receive £200 automatically as a credit on their electricity bill this winter. The details of when this payment will be made will be confirmed shortly.
Wales winter fuel support scheme
The UK Government has helped the Welsh Government with the £90m support package to address immediate pressures on living costs. This will be available to apply for at the end of September. The Wales winter fuel support scheme will aim to help struggling individuals and families from the burden of cost of living pressures.
Eligible households can claim a one-off £200 cash payment from their local authority. The money will provide support towards paying winter fuel bills and is in addition to the winter fuel payment offered by the UK Government.
The payment will be available to all eligible energy customers. This includes payments made on a pre-payment meter, by direct debit, paid quarterly or for those who use off-grid fuel.
Who can apply?
The scheme will be open to households where an applicant is in receipt of one of the qualifying benefits:
- Income Support
- Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credits
- Child Tax Credits
- Pension Credit
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Attendance Allowance
- Carers Allowance
- Contributory Benefits
- Council Tax Reduction Scheme (CTRS)
Applicants must also be responsible for paying the energy bills for the property.
Below is a list of websites offering support and advice on various issues that may be of use:
Third sector advice
National Energy Action (NEA)
For steps to help you manage your energy bills and keep your home warm this winter, click here
Smart Energy GB
For tips on how to make small changes to improve the energy efficiency of your home, click here
To find out how to use a smart meter to save money, click here
Simple Energy Advice
For advice on how to reduce your energy bills, make your home warmer, plan home improvements and make your home greener, click here
Step Change Debt Charity
For expert debt advice and money guidance help, click here
The Money Advice Service
Turn 2 Us
British Gas Energy Trust Offering Fuel Poverty Grants
In response to the cost-of-living crisis and energy price cap increase, the independent charitable trust is currently providing two funds:
- Individuals and Families Fund
- British Gas Energy Support Fund
Both are intended to tackle fuel poverty by clearing the energy debts of struggling households in Great Britain.
The funds will cover debt arrears of up to £1,500. The Trust does not award cash payments and will instead credit the householder account.
Applicants to either fund must have received support from a money advice organisation and are required to provide the details of the group in question.
Those applying to the Individuals and Families Fund do not need to be customers of British Gas, though the majority of the funding pot is reserved for customers.
The British Gas Energy Support Fund is only open to customers of British Gas who have not received a grant in the past 12 months.
Proof of income is required to determine whether a household is in or at risk of fuel poverty.
Applications can be submitted at any time until the funding runs out.