Cost of Living Help & Support

As the cost-of-living continues to rise, we know that unfortunately, many of our Members will be struggling with energy, food and other living costs.

There is help out there, so we have rounded up some information which may be useful to members below:

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.

Find out if you could be entitled to grants

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

• Scottish Power Hardship Fund – apply for a grant on the Scottish Power Hardship Fund website

• Ovo Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the Ovo Energy Fund website

• E.ON Next Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the E.ON Next Energy Fund website

• EDF Energy Customer Support Fund – sign up to the priority services register to apply for a grant on the EDF Energy website

• Bulb Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the Bulb Energy Fund website

• Octopus ‘Octo Assist Fund’ – apply for a grant on the Octopus 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 uniforms costs?

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.

Check here: Get help with uniform costs Gov.Uk Website

Are you getting all the childcare costs you can?

There are many schemes offering help with childcare costs. Visit Martin Lewis’s MoneySavingExpert Website which has helpful advice on this:

Visit: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/childcare-costs/

Free Mortgage Advice

With interest rates predicted to keep on 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. Visit their website to find out more and book a free appointment: OpenMoney Mortgage Advice

Drive down the cost of Fuel

The price of petrol and diesel are at record highs. Use this cheap fuel finder tool to help find the lowest priced fuel in your area:

Find cheaper fuel near you: Petrol Prices

You can also get some useful tips on how to drive more efficiently and cost effectively on the MoneySavingExpert website to help cut fuel bills by up to 30%.

See the tips at: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/reclaim/cheaper-fuel/

Making food go further

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:

BBC Good Food – £1 Dinners Collection

Taste.com Budget Friendly Dinners

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:

Find a Foodbank near you: The Trussell Trust Foodbank Finder

Help with Budgeting

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.

For further help with debts:

Citizens Advice
www.citizensadvice.org.uk
Adviceline England: 0800 144 8848, Scotland 0800 028 1456, Wales 0800 702 2020 

Stepchange Debt Charity
www.stepchange.org
Adviceline 0800 1381111

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.

Can you help us grow this list?

Know of any further useful tips or support that you think would be useful for us to share with other members as we continue to update this list? Please contact us in any of the usual ways to let us know.