As the cost-of-living continues to rise, The Co-op Credit Union is here to support you. We’ve rounded up a host of useful tips, tools and links to free resources that can help you make the most of your money, and discover what further help is available.
Did you know? Co-op Credit Union Membership is free & gives you access to a range of financial support including low-cost loans, savings plans, free budgeting tools and more. Find out more and join us today
Useful resources and free tools to help with the rising cost of living:
Are you getting all the Benefits you are entitled to?
Billions of Pounds of benefits and tax credits remain unclaimed in the UK each year. According to research by our partners at InBest, up to 70% of credit union loan applicants are missing out on an average of £465 per month in unclaimed benefits.
Use our Benefits Calculator to find out what you could claim. By entering a few details about your situation, you’ll get a free and impartial assessment of all the benefits and tax credits you are entitled to and what you have to do to claim them.
Free Mortgage Advice
With interest rates rising, we know that a lot of people are concerned about their monthly mortgage payments rising too. Our partners at OpenMoney have a team of qualified advisers who you can book a free appointment with to talk about remortgaging, what deals are out there and what is the next best step for you.
There are a number of grants that provide financial support to people who need it. Some which may be of particular relevance to our members include:
Grocery Aid: GroceryAid is a charity that can provide financial grants to people who work or have worked in the grocery industry; these grants do not have to be paid back.
Retail Trust: Help is available to those working in the retail industry or supporting services, including: Logistics, Manufacturing , Warehousing, Wholesale , Supply chain and Food distribution.
Turn2Us: has a Grants Search Tool to check what grants and/or other types of help you might be able to apply for.
Local Welfare Assistance Finder: Use this search to to find out if any assistance may be available from your local council through what are known as their local welfare assistance schemes (LWASs), also known as local welfare provision (LWP) or crisis support. Support may include provision of items of furniture, or help with other issues, such as debt advice, food and fuel poverty.
Managing higher electricity and gas bills
October 2022: 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. The £400 will be automatically added to your energy account over 6 months starting from October 2022. If you have a prepayment meter, the £400 will be added to your meter or you’ll be given vouchers.
Struggling with energy debts?
Many energy companies have support funds and hardship grants available for customers who are struggling. If you are in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant from the supplier to help pay it off.
Here’s a list of energy suppliers who offer grants to their customers:
• British Gas Energy Support Fund – apply for a grant on the British Gas Energy Trust website
If you can’t get a grant from your own supplier, you might be able to get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust. The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charitable trust set up to support families and individuals who are struggling to pay their bills across England, Wales and Scotland. These grants are available to anyone who qualifies – you don’t have to be a British Gas customer to be eligible.
You may also be able to access other grants locally, you can see what’s available in your area on the Simple Energy Advice website.
Does your child qualify for free school meals or help with school uniformscosts?
If you’re on means-tested benefits and on a low income, your child may qualify for free school meals. Check the Government’s website at: www.gov.uk/apply-free-school-meals. Free school meals are part of something called ‘pupil premium’. As well as providing free school meals, pupil premium provides extra funding of up to £1,350 to your child’s school. The school can then use this funding to support your child’s education through extra tuition, teaching staff or after-school activities, so speak to your school or council to see if you can get further help. You could get as much as £200 a year towards the cost of your child’s school uniform.
Take a look at the ‘Too Good To Go’ App in the Apple or Android stores. Too Good to Go is a free app used by over 9 million people to find good quality foods from local businesses at low cost. Simply search for ‘Too Good To Go’ in the Apple or Android stores.
The following websites have some good hints and tips on how to make tasty meals on a budget:
However If you’re struggling to afford food, there are places that can help. You can and SHOULD use them – don’t let pride get in the way. Foodbanks give out free parcels that should provide at least three days’ worth of in-date, non-perishable food. Two-and-a-half million were given away last year – and there’s no shame in it:
If you’ve been meaning to review your spending and start budgeting then downloading the Openmoney app is a great place to start.
It’s a completely free money management tool which allows you to easily view all of your accounts in one place – from current accounts to credit cards. You can also manage your money with a budget planner and get practical money tips to reach your financial goals.
Whether you want to monitor and pay off your debt, start saving, or just get a better understanding of how you’re spending your money each month, the OpenMoney app can help.
In debt and need help?
If you are experiencing financial difficulties, try not to worry – you are not alone and there is help out there. Take responsibility for your situation and any debt you may have. Ignoring the problem will only make it worse.
If you are struggling to repay your credit union loan, contact us in any of the usual ways and let us know you are having problems. We may be able to make a suitable plan to help. SimIlarly, if you owe money to other organisations and are having difficulties repaying, contacting them in the first instance is the best policy. They may be able to discuss suitable options for paying back.
Worth knowing: Eight out of ten (79%) people in financial difficulty who used debt advice would recommend it and 70% said it had been more helpful than they had anticipated.
Supporting your mental health
Mental health and money worries are often linked together. Poor mental health can make earning and managing money harder. And worrying about money can make your mental health worse. It can start to feel like a vicious cycle.
If you’re struggling, it’s important to know that you’re not alone. There are many organisations out there who can support you with your money worries.
You can find further information, free downloadable resources and details of organisations who can help, here on our website.