As we move towards autumn, we’re facing rising household bills, rising food prices and more. But what can you do if you’re struggling to make ends meet? Here’s what you need to know…
If you’re already behind on bills, prioritise paying your rent or mortgage, plus energy bills and Council Tax first. Speak to the person or company you owe money to, to see if they can help you repay your bills sustainably.
Grants to help you pay off your energy debts
If you’re in debt with your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay off those debts. If your supplier doesn’t offer grants, you might be able to get one from the British Gas energy trust. You can find out more on our website.
Agreeing a payment plan with your energy supplier
If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills you should tell your supplier that you want to pay through a payment plan which will cover what you owe plus an amount for your current use.
You’ll pay fixed amounts over a set period of time, so you can pay what you can afford. Your supplier has to take into account how much you can afford to pay and how much energy you’ll use in the future.
It’s worth checking that you’re getting all of the benefits that you’re entitled to. Use a benefits calculator to check if there’s anything else that you can get. You should also check if you can get a council tax reduction or discount.
Help from your local council or a local charity
Our local council might be able to give you vouchers or a prepaid card to help pay for essentials like food or fuel. You could also get household appliances like a fridge. Contact our local council to check if they run one of these schemes.
Check you’re being paid the right wage
The minimum wage will increase on 1 April 2022 so you should make sure that you’re being paid the right amount.
- Aged 23 and over — £9.50
- Aged 21 to 22 — £9.18
- Aged 18 to 20 — £6.83
- Under 18 — £4.81
- An apprentice — £4.81
If you’re not being paid minimum wage you should be speak to your employer in the first instance. If that doesn’t work or you don’t feel comfortable doing so, speak to your local Citizens Advice service.
Making a budget
If you want to make a budget, here’s 3 steps.
- Write down all your earnings after tax, any money from benefits or any other income you may have
- Write down all your outgoings. This includes existing debts, regular payments and other expenses
- Use a budgeting tool to work out your budget
Before you start, have your bank statements or banking app to hand. You could also keep a spending diary to keep track of your spending ahead of completing a budget.
Help with school costs
If you’re on a low income or claim Universal Credit, you might be able to get free school meals. You can apply for free school meals on gov.uk.
You might also be able to get help from your local education authority with some costs such as uniforms.
Using a foodbank
You’ll normally need to get referred to a foodbank. We can help with this or another organisation that’s supporting you can also refer. They’ll give you a voucher and tell you where the foodbank is. At the foodbank, you’ll get a food parcel.
Check if you are eligible for pension credit
If you have reached State Pension age, are you eligible to receive your pension? Here is an easy way to check on www.gov.uk/state-pension-age. Pension Credit is a weekly benefit to boost your income. It’s based on how much money you have coming in.
There are two parts to Pension Credit, called Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit. You might get one or both parts.
- Guarantee Credit tops up your weekly income to a minimum amount.
- Savings Credit is a small top-up for people who have a modest amount of income or savings. It’s only available if you reached State Pension age before 6 April 2016.
There is lots more information on www.citizensadvice.org.uk/benefits/help-if-on-a-low-income/pension-credit to help you.
If you need us, we’re here. Check out our website for advice on a whole range of issues. You can also contact us in a number of ways.