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If you are struggling to make ends meet at the moment, it’s important to know that there is help available.

On this page, you can find lots of suggestions to help you manage your finances and get support during these challenging times of higher living costs.


Get a benefits check

There are different benefits you might qualify for depending on your age and circumstances. Some benefits, like Pension Credit, are even under claimed.

You can request a benefits check with one of our advisers by emailing advice@carersuk.org.

For an initial idea yourself, you might also find using a benefits calculator useful, like this one developed by the benefits charity, Turn2Us.


pair of glasses on a notebook on a desk


Also see 'Payments if you're receiving certain benefits' below for information about government support.

 

Budgeting

The Money Helper website has a free budgeting planner tool which could be helpful to get a picture of your income and outgoings. Using a budget planner can help you make informed decisions about your finances and understand any financial risks or changes future situations might bring.


 

Prioritising essentials

 

Food

Even after budgeting, and cutting back wherever possible, you may feel as though you have to choose between food and heating requirements.

It's important to know that there are sources of support available and that many people are in a similar position. You can purchase good food at discounted rates through the site Approved Food and compare supermarket prices through apps such as Priceable.

It may also help to access OLIO, a really useful scheme that involves the free redistribution of surplus food. Another helpful initiative is Too Good To Go – an app that offers a solution to the fact that a third of food goes to waste. It lets you purchase food at a heavily discounted price when it's approaching the end of its shelf life to save it from going to waste. There are also many food banks operating across the UK to help alleviate the financial pressures. You can find your nearest one here.






Heating and health

There are also customer support schemes available to help with heating costs. For more information on these, see our Help with energy costs page which has lots of tips.

For support at home with substantial regular payments, such as rent and mortgage bills, contact your local council or Health and Social Care Trust (in Northern Ireland) to see if they can suggest any schemes to help. Also see our Help with Council Tax and Rate Relief page for information on discounts and exemptions.

For help with health costs, take a look at our health costs page.

 

Carers UK Helpline adviser Liz Edwards shares information on help with energy costs during the cost of living crisis. Information is provided for general information purposes and guidance only, and is correct at time of recording (October 2022). For more information on your specific caring situation, contact our Helpline at advice@carersuk.org

Managing phone, television and internet bills

Well aware of the cost-of-living challenges, many companies are now offering more affordable tariffs for people on a low income. Contact your provider to see if they are able to offer any discounted or lower rates for customers on lower incomes. You could use a comparison site to compare rates; OfCom also provides a useful list here.  

Beware of any schemes that look too good to be true and be careful never to disclose your bank information or personal details by email or to unexpected callers, even if they claim to be your bank or building society. Financial fraud is sadly on the rise.

 

Government support and grants

Government support

There is a dedicated section on the gov.uk website to offer all households support with living costs. See if you are eligible for any further help from support with childcare costs to transport reductions. Check here.

 

When is the third and final Cost of Living payment?

If you are eligible, you may receive the final Cost of Living payment of £299 between 6 February and 22 February 2024. The payments will be made automatically - you do not have to apply. (If you hear otherwise and receive information that you need to apply, this could be a scam.)

This is the final of three payments over the financial year, totalling up to £900. 

You will be entitled to the upcoming Cost of Living payment if you receive:

  • Universal Credit;
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance;
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance;
  • Income Support;
  • Working Tax Credit;
  • Child Tax Credit;
  • Pension Credit

To be eligible for the payment, you will need to have been entitled to a payment for one of these benefits between 13 November and 12 December 2023, or payment for an assessment period ending between these dates.

You can read more about these cost of living payments on the gov.uk website.

 

Did you reach State Pension age between 13 November and 12 December?

If you reached State Pension age between 13 November and 12 December 2023, you may be eligible for a benefit called Pension Credit. See our Pension Credit page to find out the details. It is worth around £3,900 per year and could enable you to receive other benefits.

If you are eligible for Pension Credit, you may be able to receive the final Cost of Living payment if you make a claim for Pension Credit by 5 March 2024 and ask for it to be backdated.

 

Payments if you're receiving certain benefits

This is a summary of the payments for households on the lowest incomes from 2023-24:

  • £301 – First Cost of Living Payment – during spring 2023
  • £150 – Disability Payment – during summer 2023
  • £300 – Second Cost of Living Payment – during autumn 2023
  • £300 – Pensioner Payment – during winter 2023/4
  • £299 – Third Cost of Living Payment – during spring 2024

You can read more about these cost of living payments on the gov.uk website.


Grants

Many people don’t realise that they may be entitled to a grant to buy certain equipment or to have a break which does not need to be repaid. There is support offered by a wide range of organisations including some charities.

The benefits charity Turn2Us has a useful grants finder tool. For help with applying for one, you could contact your local carers’ organisation and for more information about the sources of support available, see our page on Grants and schemes.

In England, it may be possible to get support from the Household Support Fund through your local council.
In Wales, you could look into applying for the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF).
In Scotland, there are specialist grants you may be able to apply for through the Scottish Welfare Fund.
In Northern Ireland, you can apply for emergency financial assistance through nidirect government services.


Many people don’t realise that they may be entitled to a grant to buy certain equipment or to have a break which does not need to be repaid. There is support offered by a wide range of organisations including some charities.

The benefits charity Turn2Us has a useful grants finder tool. For help with applying for one, you could contact your local carers’ organisation and for more information about the sources of support available, see our page on Grants and schemes.

 

Planning ahead

If you have given up paid employment to care for someone or are considering doing so in the future, our e-learning tool 'Thinking ahead' has ideas for how to manage finances with advice on how to build up a savings buffer to avoid going into debt.

On our website, we also have a contingency planner tool designed specifically for those with caring responsibilities to help you make preparations ahead of time for someone's care should you not be able to look after them for any reason.

For insurance matters, it can also save you money to act early. For example, when your renewal for car insurance comes up, if you renew it at least 20 days before the renewal period is due to end, you could be in line for discounts and a better rate. Alternatively, it may be cheaper to shop around and consider using a comparison site to request several quotes and compare rates.

 

If you are in debt

If you are getting behind on payments, it’s important to act now to get the right advice and support to get back on track. In the first instance, try to get some confidential advice from a reputable debt support charity such as National Debtline or StepChange. It may be possible to contact the companies that you are struggling to pay and see if they can help set up a repayment plan that is manageable for you.

TaxAid and Tax Help for Older People have a support service to help those who are facing tax problems and struggling to claim the support they are entitled to. Their helpline is available Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm: 0345 120 3779.  YouTube tutorials are also available to help.

The Money Saving Expert website has a useful minimum repayment calculator to help you calculate how long it could take to clear credit card debt. It shows why it's a good idea to pay back debt above the minimum rate if at all possible. On the same website, the loan switching calculator can help you work out if you could save significant money by switching loans.

See our Help with debt page for other useful sources of support.

 

Cost of living support guidance in other languages and formats

Smart Energy GB has produced a useful guide with tips on how to save money during these times in the following formats and languages:

Gujarati
Polish
Punjabi
Urdu
Welsh Bengali
English

Easy read
Large Print

You can visit their website here to order or download a free copy. You can also contact your local council or local Health and Social Care Trust (in Northern Ireland) to see if they can provide information and support in a different language or format.

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