Cost of living support

How are you coping with the increased cost of living?

With inflation, energy, food and fuel prices soaring, the MoneyHelper guidance offers free trusted advice. The government's Help for Households is packed with support about, income support, childcare costs, household costs, transport costs, finding work and discounts and offers from businessess.

If you are struggling or worried about your finances, please do not worry, there is help, support and guidance for you. Please don't ignore your worries and consider contacting these local organisations:

Visit Money Saving Expert website including the cost of living crisis help webpage and sign up for their weekly newsletter.

Talking to your creditor

If you’re struggling to pay your bills, please contact your provider to find out what support is available.

Having early conversations with housing companies, mortgage lenders, utilities for example is the best first step to resolve your money and avoid falling into problem debt.

Many of these organisations have payment plans and support packages in place to help. Asking for help may be the last thing you want to do, but there are benefits if you are struggling, such as:

  • It stops things getting worse.
  • Your creditor must help you.
  • Avoid borrowing money to pay them.
  • Get access to charitable grants.
  • Save money with better tariffs.

If you have several firms you owe money to that you’re unable to pay back, focus on priority payments first like your rent or mortgage, council tax, gas and electricity bills.

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

  • The Energy Price Guarantee limits the amount you can be charged per unit of gas or electricity, so your exact bill amount will continue to be influenced by how much energy you use,
  • 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.

Here's some tips to help you save energy at home, save up to:
•    £100 per year by reducing your boiler flow temperature to 60 degrees.
•    £105 per year by turning your thermostat down by one degree. The Energy Saving Trust advises only turning on your heating when you’re home, which is more cost effective than keeping heating on a low heat all day.
•    £70 per year by turning down radiators when rooms aren’t in use.
•    £70 per year by draught proofing your windows, doors. Install window film which stops heat escaping through the glass.
•    £65 by draught proofing your chimney when you are not using it. 
•    £100 a year if you have a water meter by fitting a water efficient shower head (contact your provider as these may be free).
•    £67 a year if you have a water meter, by reducing showers by one minute
•    £28 a year by washing at 30 degrees and do one less wash a week.
•    £60 a year by drying clothes on racks/outside rather than in the tumble dryer.
•    £55 a year by switching off appliances rather than leaving them in standby mode.
•    £55 a year by replacing old bulbs with LEDs and another £20 by turning off lights when not needed.

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.

You can get up to a third off train fares with a railcard in Great Britain, saving up to £142 a year on average. 

You may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card if you're on Universal Credit. 

In England you can apply for a bus pass for free travel when you reach the State Pension age.

If you’re disabled then you may be eligible for a disabled person’s pass.

Apply for a disabled person's bus pass .

If you're in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to apply to them for a non-repayable hardship grant to help pay it off.

Some grants are listed below:

  • Scottish Power Hardship Fund.
  • Ovo Energy Fund. 
  • E.ON Energy Fund. 
  • E.ON Next Energy Fund.  
  • Bulb Energy Fund.  
  • Octopus Energy’s Octo Assist Fund. 
  • You can also sign up to the priority services register to apply for the EDF Energy Customer Support Fund

If you can't get a grant from your supplier, you might be able to get one from the  British Gas Energy Trust Individuals and Families Fund or call 0121 348 7797 which offers grants of up to £1,500. These grants are available to anyone - you don’t have to be a British Gas customer.

The government has introduced 0% VAT on energy saving materials.

It will be cheaper for you to install energy saving materials such as thermal insulation or solar panels with 0% VAT for the next five years, helping to improve energy efficiency in your home and keep heating bills down.

You can also apply for a free grant to keep you warm this winter if you are living in hard to heat homes and on lower incomes. These grants help to make your homes warmer and more energy efficient and help combat rising energy prices.

The grant can be used to install loft insulation, cavity and external wall insulation, underfloor insulation, or installing renewable technology such as solar electricity panels.

For more information and to apply visit Action Surrey’s website or call 0800 783 2503.

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
  4. For help and advice to eat better and waste less visit the Love Food Hate Waste website.

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.

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!
  • If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child aged under four, you may be entitled to help to buy healthy food and milk under the Healthy Start scheme.
  • Whether you have toddlers or teens, check the Government’s Childcare Choices website to find out how you can save money on your childcare.
  • Over one million families are missing out on up to £2,000 a year per child – or £4,000 if their child is disabled – to put towards the cost of childcare.
  • Tax-Free Childcare is available for children aged up to 11, or 17 if the child has a disability. The money can help towards the cost of holiday clubs, before and after-school clubs, childminders and nurseries, and other approved childcare schemes.
  • The government contributes 20% of childcare costs by topping up a Tax-Free Childcare account. For every £8 you pay into an account, the government will add an extra £2, up to £2,000 per child per year.

If you're at least ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, you might be able to get free vitamins and Healthy Start vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk.

If you are eligible, you can apply online, e-mail,  or call 0300 330 7010 weekdays from 8am to 6pm.

If you or your child receive certain benefits, you can apply for free school meals from Year 3 and above.

 

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Check if you or your family may be entitled to benefits for those experiencing illness or disability. For example:

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.

These organisations can help: