Many people are worried about the current rising cost of living. Prices are going up and energy bills are climbing fastest of all.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling to pay your bills.

You may be entitled to extra government support or help from local services.

To make sure you are getting the right support, contact your local advice centre.

National government support

The government has introduced a package of support measures so far:

Energy Bills Support Scheme

In addition to the £150 Council Tax Rebate, the government recently announced an expansion of the Energy Bills Support Scheme by offering you £400 off your energy bills this winter. If you have a domestic electricity meter and pay by Direct Debit or credit you will receive a £400 credit to your account this autumn. If you have a pre-payment meter, the money will be applied to your meter or paid via a voucher.

£650 one-off Cost of Living Payment for those on means tested benefits

You may be in line to get a payment of £650 if you receive means-tested benefits. The payment will be made in two lump sums: the first from July, the second in the autumn. This payment will be tax-free, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on your existing benefit awards.

One-off £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment

Those who are over State Pension age and receive the Winter Fuel Payment will receive an extra £300 this year to help cover the rising cost of energy this winter. This payment will be made directly to you in November or December and is on top of any other support you are entitled to such as pension credit or disability benefits.

£150 Disability Cost of Living Payment

If you receive certain disability benefits you may be in line for a one-off payment of £150 in September.

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For more information visit GOV.UK’s Cost of Living Support page.

Local support we provide

School uniform and school holidays

If you have school age children there is help available for the cost of school uniform, such as PE kits, shoes and coats. Find out how you can apply on the school clothing grants page.

If you are struggling with the cost of food and activities during school holidays, we are offering holiday and food clubs for children aged 5 to 16 years, funded by the Department of Education. All activities are listed on our supporting families in school holidays page.

Council tax and household bills

There are ways we can help if you are struggling to pay your council tax. Check our council tax pages for more information on the support available, including how to apply for a council tax reduction.

For help with other household costs there are funds and grants available, including the community resilience fund. Details can be found on our financial support for residents page.

Other local services that can help

Free debt and money advice is available but always check the organisation you are taking advice from is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Some registered providers in South Gloucestershire are:

Citizen’s Advice South Gloucestershire

CHAS community-based housing advice service

South Gloucestershire Advice Services – council funded network of advice agencies

More money saving advice and help

There are ways you can help boost your income and reduce your outgoings to make your money go further. Below are some ideas.

Check you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to

Millions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed every year. Check if you are entitled to receive any extra money using the government online benefit calculators. We also have information about the different benefits there are.

If you are 66 or over, check to see if you can claim Pension Credit which can be worth £1,000s a year, and is a gateway for you to receive council tax discounts, free TV licences for over-75s and more.

Cut your household and utility bills every way you can

If you are out of contract for your phone or broadband using a comparison website to switch could help you save money instantly. Check for social tariffs which offer long term, low cost contracts if you are on benefits.

Switching energy providers is more difficult and less likely to help in the current crisis. With some providers you can sign up for a price alert to tell you when prices come down. If your provider offers this service make sure you sign up.

Check to see if you qualify for a grant that will pay to make your home more energy efficient. This could include things like home insulation, double gazing, solar panels or a new boiler. This will help reduce your energy bills.

The Simple Energy Advice website has lots of information about ways to save on energy costs. You can use their home energy grants page to find out what grants you could get.

Simple ways to change your habits at home that can also help cut your energy usage:

  • unplug electrical appliances such as TVs and phone chargers when you are not using them
  • only boil the water you need when making a hot drink
  • consider alternative ways of cooking – a casserole in a slow cooker will cost 22p compared to 54p in the oven, microwaving a jacket potato costs 3p but baking it in the oven will cost 27p
  • put lids on saucepans when cooking to save time and energy
  • have a shower not a bath to use less water
  • keep your curtains drawn on hot days to help rooms stay cooler, this also helps in the winter to keep the heat in

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For more help and financial support for energy saving at home, visit the Warm and Well website.

Cancel all subscriptions you no longer use

Check you are not wasting money on things you signed up for but no longer use. For example magazine subscriptions, gym memberships or streaming services.

Go through your direct debits and standing orders and decide if you still need the goods or service and then check to see if you can get a better deal. You should cancel if you no longer need it and you are out of contract.

Save on food costs

Your family could save up to £60 a month with our tips on how to spend less on food and make what you buy go further

Easy ways to reduce your food bills:

  • plan meals for your family so you only buy what you need
  • love your leftovers by putting them in the fridge and using them for lunch
  • make them go further by adding leftover vegetables or sauces to pasta or rice
  • you can freeze more than you think – if bread goes off before you can eat it, put half a loaf in the freezer until you need it
  • leave your skins on – you can eat most vegetables with the skin on, just give your carrots, parsnips and potatoes a quick wash before you cook them
  • own brand products are often just as good but cheaper
  • buy frozen not pre-prepared vegetables and fruit, they are cheaper and last longer

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There is more information on our how to reduce and recycle food waste page.

The Cooking on a bootstrap website has budget recipes designed with simple and cheap ingredients.

Want more help?

Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has compiled The Cost of Living Survival Kit bringing together lots more useful ideas on how to make your money work harder in these difficult times.

If you would like to talk to us and check what financial support may be available to you, book an appointment by emailing OSSAppointments@southglos.gov.uk. Our customer care officers will speak to you in confidence.

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