The government is facing growing pressure to help ease the cost of living crisis with a new support package.
Figures this week showed consumer price index inflation hit 9% in April, but analysts suggested the rate for poorer households, who spend a higher proportion of their food and energy income, was over 10%. Petrol and diesel prices continued to hit new highs, the average cost of a liter of petrol on UK forecourts on Wednesday was 168.2p, down from 167.6p a liter on Tuesday.
Consumer confidence is now weaker than at its lowest point during the global banking crisis or the Covid-19 shutdown as pressures on the cost of living intensify, a long-running survey shows . It comes as Iceland announced that from May 24, customers over the age of 60 will get a 10% discount on their shopping every Tuesday with no minimum spend.
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Millions of people are struggling with the soaring cost of living, and for households on benefits, the situation can be even more dire. Because benefit payments have not increased in line with inflation, those receiving Universal Credit and other financial assistance have experienced a real reduction in conditions this year.
MoneySavingExpert Martin Lewis said the move threw “some of the most vulnerable people under the bus”. According to the Department for Work and Pensions, there are ways to boost your finances if you are struggling.
Below are ten ways to increase your income that you might not have considered or even realized. There’s also a link to some helpful benefit calculators that might show whether or not you’re eligible to apply for the extra help. Live reporting from Nottingham.
Assumption of mortgage interest (SMI)
If you own a home, you may be able to get help paying interest on your mortgage or on loans you have taken out for certain home repairs and improvements. This assistance is called Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI). This is a loan that you will have to repay with interest when you sell or transfer ownership of your home. There is no guarantee that you will get the SMI and the money cannot help you pay mortgage arrears. It’s only for the interest on your mortgage.
Current mortgage interest
Accrued mortgage interest is extra money you can get for your housing costs if certain other benefits stop because you work longer hours, return to full-time work, or earn more money. You can benefit from this aid for 4 weeks.
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Universal Credit is a payment to help cover your living expenses. It is paid monthly and you may be able to get it if you have low income, are unemployed or cannot work. Universal Credit replaces Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) ) income-related and working tax credit
Residence tax reduction
You can apply to your local council for a council tax reduction (or council tax support) if you are on low income or applying for benefits. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%.
You can apply if you are a homeowner, tenant, unemployed or employed. What you get depends on where you live – each council runs its own program and your situation. Your household income, if your children live with you and if other adults live with you, are also taken into account.
You can apply for a housing allowance from your town hall to help you pay your rent. The housing allowance is replaced by universal credit. Most people will need to apply for Universal Credit instead. Check if you are eligible for housing assistance before applying.
Discount for a warm home
The Warm Home Discount is a one-time reduction on your electricity bill between October and March. The money is not paid to you. For winter 2021 to 2022 applicants could get up to £140 off their bill.
You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out. The discount will not affect your cold weather payment or your winter fuel payment.
There are two ways to qualify for the Warm Home rebate program. Either you are on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme – known as the ‘extended group’, or you qualify for the collateral credit element of the pension credit – known as the name of “core group”.
National Concessional Fuel Scheme
You can get free solid fuel or a cash allowance for fuel if you are a former employee of the National Coal Board (NCB) or the British Coal Corporation (BCC). You must be eligible to get the fuel allowance through the National Concessionary Fuel Scheme (NCFS), and you can only get the cash allowance if you already get fuel through the program. You may be eligible for the allowance if you are the widow or widower of a former employee, if the employee is eligible for NCFS.
Disability Facility Grants
You could get a grant from your town hall if you are disabled and need to make modifications to your home, for example widening doors and installing ramps, improving access to rooms and facilities, providing a suitable heating system to your needs or adapt the heating or lighting controls to make it easier to use. A disability facility grant will not affect the benefits you get.
Help with NHS prescription costs
You may be able to get free NHS prescriptions, dental care, eye tests and help with other NHS costs. Your eligibility depends on factors such as your age, income, health status, where you live, whether you are pregnant and whether you receive certain benefits.
If you are not eligible and have an illness that requires regular medication, it may be cheaper to purchase a Prescription Prepayment Certificate (PPC). To help you determine if it would benefit you, a prescription costs £9.35 per item. A three month PPC costs £30.25 and a 12 month PPC costs £108.10.
These free calculators can help you figure out what you might be entitled to.
Turn2us – provides information on income-related benefits such as tax credits, council tax reduction, carer’s allowance, universal credit and how your benefits will be affected if you start working or change your hours of work.
Policy in practice – for information on income-related benefits, tax credits, contribution-based benefits, council tax reduction, care allowance, universal credit, how these are calculated and how your benefits will be affected if you start working or change your working hours.
right to – 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 working.