Cost of living support

How are you coping with the increased cost of living?

With inflation, energy, food and fuel prices soaring, here is some guidance and support which may help residents struggling financially to make ends meet.

Residents who might be struggling to make ends meet can:

  • See if they can access emergency assistance from the Surrey Crisis Fund.
  • Visit Surrey’s online hub which is available 24/7.
  • Call the community helpline 0300 200 1008 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Use the Money Navigator Tool from Money Helper UK which provides guidance and support in the area.

The government will be providing £15 billion in further financial support for those most in need. Including:

  • Every household is getting £400 with the Energy Bills support Scheme in October this year. Previously, this was announced as a £200 loan. But as this is a grant, you won’t need to pay it back. You don’t have to apply or fill out any complicated forms to get this money - if you pay your bills by Direct Debit or credit, the money will automatically be put in your bank account. If you have a pre-payment meter, the money will be either added to your meter or you’ll get a voucher to use for top-ups.
  • A one-off £650 cost of living payment for households on means tested benefits, such as universal credit. The Department of Work and Pensions will pay it in two lump sums directly into the claimant’s bank accounts in July and in the autumn.
  • An additional £300 pensioner cost of living payment. If you’re at State Pension age or older and receives the winter fuel payment, you’ll get an extra £300 on top of your annual payment this year.  This will be paid to you automatically into your bank account in November or December 2022. You don’t need to do anything to claim it. This payment won’t affect any benefits you’re already getting.
  • An additional £150 disability cost of living payment will be paid directly to eligible people from September. The payment will be tax free, so won’t count towards the benefit cap and won’t affect any other benefits you’re getting now. 
  • £500m increase and extension of Household Support Fund - more details to follow.

More information is on the government's Cost Of Living Support Factsheet.

There’s often a link between struggling with money and mental health problems. Feeling low can make it harder to manage your money and worrying about money problems can affect your mental wellbeing.

If you think money matters are affecting your mental health, this guide is for you. The sooner you can begin to think about and tackle your money problems, the easier it’ll be to take control.

Government figures show up to seven and a half million households are missing out on £15 billion a year of means-tested benefits. Please remember benefits are not just for the unemployed. Please use an independent benefits calculator to find out:

  • What benefits you could get.
  • How to claim.
  • How your benefits will be affected if you start work.

These are free to use and anonymous:

  • Turn2us: For information on income-related benefits, tax credits, council tax reduction, carer’s allowance, universal credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your working hours.
  • Policy in Practice: For information on income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, council tax reduction, carer’s allowance, universal credit, how these are calculated and how your benefits will be affected if you start work or change your working hours.
  • entitledto: For information on income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, council tax reduction, carer’s allowance, universal credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start work.

Before you start you’ll need accurate information about your:

  • Savings.
  • Income, including your partner’s (from payslips, for example).
  • Existing benefits and pensions (including anyone living with you).
  • Outgoings (such as rent, mortgage, childcare payments).
  • Council tax bill.

Tax-free childcare provides thousands of eligible working families with vital financial support towards the cost of their childcare with the government paying £240 million annually in top-up payments to families using the scheme.

Parents and carers should check their eligibility and register for tax-free childcare via GOV.UK website.

Pension credit

If you are you may be eligible to claim Pension Credit, even if you own your home or have savings. The government estimates up to one million pensioner households may be entitled to pension credit, but do not claim it.

People who claim pension credit may also be able to get:

  • Help with heating costs.
  • Help with rent and council tax.
  • A free TV licence for those aged 75 or over.
  • Help with the cost of NHS services, such as NHS dentist treatment, glasses and transport costs for hospital appointments.
  • Check your eligibility online, or call 0800 99 1234.

Claiming pension credit is not complicated, but if you would like help, consider contacting Citizens Advice and Age UK.

Attendance allowance

Attendance allowance is not means-tested and can pay between £61.85 or £92.40 a week, depending on the severity of your disability if you need someone to help look after you. If you are physically or mentally disabled and state pension age or older.

You may be eligible for Carer’s Allowance if you, the person you care for and the type of care you provide meets certain criteria. The person you care for must already get one of these benefits:

  • Personal Independence Payment - daily living component.
  • Disability Living Allowance - the middle or highest care rate.
  • Attendance Allowance.
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at or above the normal maximum rate with an Industrial Injuries Disablement Benefit.
  • Constant Attendance Allowance at the basic (full day) rate with a War Disablement Pension.
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment.
  • Child Disability Payment - the middle or highest care rate.
  • Adult Disability Payment - daily living component.

And you must be spending at least 35 hours a week caring for someone. This can include:

  • Helping with washing and cooking.
  • Taking the person you care for to a doctor’s appointment.
  • Helping with household tasks, like managing bills and shopping.

Find out more about Carer's Allowance, eligibility and how to apply.

Properties in council tax bands A to D may be eligible for a council tax energy rebate

We have now paid around 15,000 households their £150 energy rebate payment.  

We are writing to eligible households which don't pay their council tax by direct debit this week, to invite them to apply for the council tax energy rebate payment online. When you receive your letter, it will have a unique code for you to use.

Another round of payments will be made in the week beginning 1 August. If you are eligible for the payment, please check your bank statements for a credit of £150 from Tandridge DC.

Applications for this rebate will close on Sunday 28 August. All eligible households who haven't applied for their rebate by then will receive a £150 credit on their council tax account by 30 September.

With the average price of filling a tank with petrol hitting £100, it’s more important than ever to save on fuel.

Why not consider slowing accelerating costs by making your journey more efficient, which is better for your wallet and the environment too:

  • Keep your tyres inflated.
  • Declutter your car.
  • Take your roof rack off.
  • Turn off air-conditioning at lower speeds.
  • Only buy the fuel you need as fuel is heavy.
  • Use cruise control on motorways.
  • Accelerate gradually.
  • Slow naturally rather than braking sharply.
  • Find cheap petrol or diesel prices in the district.
  • Use loyalty cards and pay using cashback credit cards if you have them.
  • Share lifts to work with colleagues, or with friends in your free time.
  • Walk or cycle those short distance trips and leave the car at home, where you can.

At home, we use the most water in the bathroom and kitchen. Check out SES Water's top tips to reduce the volume of water you use:

  • Complete the GetWaterFit calculator to get an estimate on your water use, order free water saving devices to make your home more efficient.
  • Fix any dripping taps or leaking toilets promptly. Did you know leaking toilets can waste up to 400 litres a day?
  • 12-20% of you energy bill is for heating water, so if you reduce the amount of water you use you will save on energy bills too.
  • Make sure water using applicances such as dishwashers and washing machines are full before turning them on.
  • Reduce your shower time - this is one of the easiest ways to save water.
  • Avoid using sprinklers and hoses for the garden as they can use up to 1,000 litres an hour. Instead use a watering can, or collect water using a water butt. SES customers can buy discounted water butt.
  • You can use cooking water for your plants, just let it cool first!

It is estimated a staggering one in five bags of food shopping goes to waste each week! This is a substantial amount of food and money being wasted every day.

There are some small, easy changes we can make to our daily habits that could make a big difference to your food bill and the planet too, such as:

  1. Plan shops and meals in advance – try using an app to help make sure you only buy what you need. 
  2. Store your food right – keep your food fresher for longer.
  3. Know your portions – avoid cooking too much by measuring out the correct serving sizes

According to the Surrey Environment Partnership, these simple changes to daily habits can cut a family of four’s food bill by up to £70 a month! They have more hints and tips and great leftover recipes you can try.

The UK's biggest mobile and broadband companies have agreed to help customers struggling to pay bills.

This support includes allowing customers stuggling with bills to:

  • Move to cheaper packages without paying a penalty.
  • Move on to manageable repayment plans.

Please contact your mobile or broadband company for more information.

Save money on NHS prescriptions by prepaying for them.

You can pay a set price for prescriptions for 3 or 12 months, no matter how many you need.

If you are struggling to buy basic sanitary products each month, there are places in the district where you may get free products, such as:

  • At the district’s foodbanks.
  • Morrisons is giving out free pads if you ‘ask for Sandy’.
  • Primary and secondary schools have products for students.
  • At Caterham Hill, Caterham Valley and Oxted libraries.

If you are able to donate sanitary products, please either drop them off at the libraries or find your nearest drop off point.

If you need to reduce how much you spend on sanitary products, consider:

  • Buying menstrual underwear.
  • Using reusable sanitary pads or menstrual cups which can be washed and reused.
  • Using sanitary product comparison sites.
  • Using own brand products.

Here are some tips to cut expenses and save money:

  • Set yourself a monthly budget.
  • Use a budgeting app.
  • Shop around for car and home insurance.
  • Check to see if a water meter will reduce your bills.
  • Consolidate credit card debt.
  • Switch mobile phone and broadband providers.
  • Cancel subscriptions such as Netflix, Sky, Virgin.
  • Use a cash back credit card.

Visit MoneySavingExpert and Citizen Advice Bureau for more advice.