Many residents are currently struggling with rising living costs. That’s why it’s important to know what help and support is available now – that could benefit you, a relative, friend or neighbour.

The Government announced  opens in a new windowadditional support (26 May) that will provide further funding for some of these measures. This Government guidance explains how and when people in receipt of certain benefits or tax credits will receive an extra payment to help with living costs.

From 1 October 2022, a new  opens in a new windowEnergy Price Guarantee, introduced by the Government, will mean a typical UK household will pay no more than £2,500 a year on their energy bill for the next six months. This is automatic and applies to all households. On 15th March 2023, the government announced that the energy price guarantee will be extended by three months, meaning the energy price guarantee will end in June.

The £400 energy rebate paid in £66/£67 instalments from October ends in March 2023.

Here are 16 practical actions that could help you or someone you know.

  • An estimated £15bn of benefits are believed to go unclaimed each year
  • Use a free benefits calculator to find out what you could be entitled to
  • The benefits system can be complicated, but  opens in a new windowCitizens Advice have advisers available to help - call 00808 278 7810 between 10.00am and 5.00pm, Monday to Friday
  • If you are turned down for a benefit, seek advice on whether to challenge the decision. Many benefit decisions are overturned, and organisations like Citizens Advice can offer advice about challenges.
  • If your benefit award is partially successful, seek advice before challenging as this can lead to awards being reduced as well as increasing or staying the same

  • Pension Credit tops up weekly income to a guaranteed minimum level of £182.60 a week for single pensioners or £278.70 for couples. It is a tax-free payment for those who have reached State Pension age, and live in Great Britain.
  • The average Pension Credit payment is over £65 per week – equating to more than an extra £3,000 per year.
  • Around a third of eligible pensioners don’t claim Pension Credit – often because they don't know they can or that they need to.
  • Find out if you’re eligible and how much you could get using the Pension Credit calculator and  opens in a new windowapply online or call 0800 99 1234
  • An award of Pension Credit can provide access to a range of other benefits such as help with housing costs, Council Tax, heating bills and, for those aged 75 or over, a free TV licence
  • People who have an income or savings may still qualify for Pension Credit
  • If you are entitled you might also be able to get additional amounts within Pension Credit. For example, if you receive other benefits for a disability or caring responsibilities

The benefits system can be complicated but  opens in a new windowCitizens Advice have advisers available to help - call 0808 278 7810 (10.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday).

  • Whether you have toddlers or teens, check the Government’s  opens in a new windowChildcare 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
  • opens in a new windowTax-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.
  • In March 2023, the government announced an expansion of the 30 hours free childcare from 3 year olds down to 1 and 2 year olds. For more information on whether you can claim the 30 hours free childcare and to begin your application click here.

If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn't cover all your rent, check to see if you can make a claim for a discretionary housing payment.

  • Residents of working age who claim means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), may be eligible to apply for Council Tax Support
  • This could pay up to 80% of your Council Tax bill or 100% if you receive certain disability benefits. If you’re on a low income and over state retirement age, you could also be eligible for 100% support.
  • If you or any member of your household is disabled, you may qualify for a reduction in your Council Tax
  • Certain people living in a property are not included when Council Tax is calculated. That includes carers who  opens in a new windowmeet criteria (and are not caring for a spouse, partner or child under 18). You can ask for these people to be "disregarded", which may result in a discount being applied to your account

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

The benefits system can be complicated but  opens in a new windowCitizens Advice have advisers available to help - call 0808 278 7810 (10.00am to 4.00pm, Monday to Friday)

If you are turned down for a benefit, seek advice on whether to challenge the decision. Many benefit decisions are overturned, and organisations like Citizens Advice can offer advice about challenges. If your benefit award is partially successful, seek advice before challenging as this can lead to awards being reduced as well as increasing or staying the same.

  • If you are a carer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance and/or an extra amount called the ‘carer element’ within Universal Credit
  • This could mean £69.70 a week in Carer's Allowance if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and you, the person you care for and the type of care you provide meets the criteria

Carers who  opens in a new windowmeet criteria (and are not caring for a spouse, partner or child) are not counted as living in a property for the purposes of calculating Council Tax. If you’re eligible, you can ask to be "disregarded" which may result in a discount being applied to your account.

  • If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to apply to them for a  opens in a new windownon-repayable hardship grant to help pay it off.
  • Find out whether you qualify and how to apply in this supplier-by-supplier analysis (provided by  opens in a new windowMoney Saving Expert). 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 a grant from the  opens in a new windowBritish Gas Energy Trust Individuals and Families Fund (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.
  • Contact  opens in a new windowCitizens Advice on 0808 278 7810 for help before applying for a grant. If you get advice, this will help your chances of a successful grant application.

  • Call Citizens Advice on 0808 278 7810 (10.00am to 5.00pm, Monday to Friday), if you’re struggling to afford enough food, to discuss options, based on your circumstances, which could include a referral to a food bank.

  • 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 (0300 330 7010) vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk
  • If you are eligible, you can apply online, call 0300 330 7010 (8.00am to 6.00pm, Monday to Friday) or email healthy.start@nhsbsa.nhs.ukcreate new email

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

  • Households earning below £16,480 can apply for a 50% discount on their water bill through Thames Water’s WaterHelp scheme or call their Extra Care Services Team on 0800 009 3652

If you have a low income, the  opens in a new windowNHS Low Income Scheme could help you pay for:

  • NHS prescription charges
  • NHS dental treatment charges
  • the cost of sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
  • the cost of travelling to receive NHS treatment
  • NHS wigs and fabric supports (check with your hospital for their arrangements for supplying NHS wigs)

How much help you get depends on your weekly income and necessary outgoings, plus any savings or investments you have at the time you apply.

Families can also go to the  opens in a new windowGovernment’s Help for Households website for more cost of living help.

Support is also available through the Stone Parish Council community grant awards scheme. Click here to apply and for further information.