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Cost of living increase – Managing on a low income

As the cost of energy, fuel and household bills rises, you may find it harder to pay your bills. Here’s more information on support available and ways to save money on your living costs.


What to do if your income doesn’t cover your costs

If you can can’t afford to pay your bills or debts, try not to borrow money as you could end up in a worse situation. Everyone’s circumstances are different. Get advice about your options. There are services in Newcastle that can help you with: debt advice, broadband and energy tariffs, benefits that could make a difference to your quality of life. Keep reading for more details on support available.


Check that you are getting all the benefits you can 

Visit the Council’s check your entitlement benefits online or gov.uk/benefits-calculators to check that you are getting the full amount of support that you are entitled to.

Contact Newcastle Council’s welfare rights team or phone 0191 277 2627 (Monday to Friday from 9.30am to 12 noon) to get free, confidential advice about your benefits


Reduce your living costs and save money on your bills

Housing costs

Rent you should speak to your landlord to let them know you are struggling with your rent and to see what support they can offer. If you receive the housing element of Universal Credit the you could apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) if you are struggling to pay your rent and to make a claim.

Council Tax you may be entitled to a discount or support to pay your council tax. For details visit Council tax discounts

Mortgage payments speak to your mortgage lender to arrange a longer repayment period and a lower monthly debit.  Amend this once you have funds available as interest will accrue.


Food costs

Free school meals for children of school age. There is some support during school holidays too. Read more to find out if you are eligible and how to apply.

Free meals and low cost food some charities provide free or cheap meals to people who need it. They are usually cooked by volunteers. You may be able to sit in to eat a hot meal or take it away. Find out more about what’s available. This includes food pantries and affordable or ‘pay as you feel’ supermarkets.

Food banks and emergency meals Provide free emergency food parcels. Find out which foodbanks are open during the week and how to use them. You may need to be referred by an organisation registered with the foodbank as such as the Council, a support worker, a charity or a GP surgery.


Utility costs

Phone bills: (This includes cable, satellite and internet services) you can use comparison sites such as moneysavingexpert.com and www.uswitch.com to check for best deals. This helps you to shop around.

Water bills:  If you’e struggling to pay your water bills, check if you qualify for any discounts with Northumbrian Water  Extra financial support or by phone 0345 733 5566 or email supportplus@nwl.co.uk

Energy bills: If you’re worried about your electricity and gas bills, or you are having problems heating your home read Save Money on your Energy bills below

If other adults live in your home make sure that they pay their fair share of the household bills, such as board, heating and electricity.


Health

Health costs if you are on a low income or have certain medical conditions you may get help with health costs. Phone the NHS advice line on 0300 330 1343 or visit Help with help costs on InformationNOW

Smoking there is support available to help people to quit smoking. Contact  Newcastle Stop Smoking Plus Service


Travel

Travel costs it is cheaper to buy weekly or monthly tickets if you use public transport often. Also, children who live in Tyne and Wear can get an Under 16 Pop card from Nexus that entitles them to discounted travel.


Financial funds and grants

If you have a support worker ask if they can apply to any charities for household goods for contact the Council’s Supporting Independence Scheme (SIS) which can provide basic household goods to help to prevent people from becoming homeless

Crisis Support Scheme  helps with food, clothing, heating and emergency travel expenses to cover short term periods of crisis or disaster

Household Support Fund  this can provide help with utility payments, food vouchers and hardship fund. Check if you are eligible.

Charitable grants visit Turn2Us and www.charitychoice.co.uk to search for any charitable grants that you may be apply to access

Food bank vouchers most foodbanks require a referral and voucher from an organisation registered with the foodbank as such as the Council, a support worker, a charity or a GP surgery

Read Crisis and Emergency support funds on InformatioNOW


Housing and Universal Credit support and advice services

If you are struggling financially speak to your Universal Credit Work Coach about a referral for specialist Personal Budgeting Support

If you are a tenant  then a number of housing providers offer advice and support. Contact:

Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) tenants can contact YHN money advice or phone 0191 278 8600

Byker Community Trust tenants can access Money Matters advice and support or phone 0800 5335 442

Karbon Homes tenants can contact their Money Matters Team  or call 0808 164 0111

Home Group tenants can access support by calling their Financial Inclusion Team or phone 0345 141 4663

Citizens Advice Newcastle provide free, confidential, independent and impartial advice and can be contacted by email or phone 0808 278 7823


Debt advice and budgeting support

Money Matters Newcastle City Council’s debt and budgeting team provide specialist help and advice. Phone 0800 1707 008 or email moneymatters@newcastle.gov.uk

Citizens Advice Newcastle provide free, confidential, independent and impartial advice and can be contacted by email or phone 0808 278 7823

Read more on Dealing with debt on InformationNOW

Debt help from Newcastle City Council.


Maximise your income

  • make sure you get all the benefits and tax credits you’re entitled to
  • save money where possible
  • reduce costs elsewhere if possible
  • check if you are eligible for any Welfare benefits

There are a number of services that provide confidential benefits and debt advice for Newcastle residents. They can be found in the document: Where to Get Benefit and Debt Advice in Newcastle


Save money on your energy bills

Advice for those struggling with energy and worried about the current spiralling prices:

With the energy market in crisis, there are currently no new fixed term deals cheaper than the energy price cap. The price cap applies to every supplier’s standard variable tariff and is the same across all suppliers so there are no meaningful savings available by switching supplier.

If you are already signed up to a fixed term tariff it is likely to be cheaper than the price cap. Once the fixed term ends you will automatically be moved onto the standard variable tariff which is limited by the price cap.

The best option for most people right now is to do nothing and not sign up to any new fixed term deals as these are currently worse than the price cap.

Energy prices will increase again in April and again October

Read Energy saving tips on InformationNOW.


Financial hardship help towards energy bills

On May 26th the Government announced a package of benefits for 2021 on top of the Local Authority distributed energy support announced in April:

  • households will get £400 of support with their energy bills through an expansion of the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
  • £650 one-off Cost of Living payment for those on means tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Pension Credit.
  • one-off £300 Pensioner Cost of Living payment
  • £150 Disability Cost of Living payment
  • £500m increase and extension of Household Support Fund

Read the Cost of Living section on the Government website.

Other support

Cold Weather payment £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. You get the payment automatically if you qualify.

Winter Fuel Allowance  if you were born on or before 26 September 1955 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. You should get this payment automatically if you are eligible – although you may need to claim if you do not get State Pension.

Warm Home Discount  you may be eligible for £140 off your winter energy bill.  Applications may have closed with your energy supplier for this year.

Crisis Support Scheme  helps with food, clothing, heating and emergency travel expenses to cover short term periods of crisis or disaster.

Household Support Fund  this can provide help with utility payments, food vouchers and hardship fund. Check if you are eligible.

Priority Services Register contact your energy supplier for extra support.

NEA Action for Warm Homes a free service to help with energy and heating difficulties.

Groundwork Green Doctors help with energy and fuel poverty.

You can also ask for help from the following services:

Citizens Advice Newcastle provide free, confidential, independent and impartial advice and can be contacted by email or phone

Energy Services at Newcastle City Council give fuel debt and energy advice.


What you can do to reduce your energy costs

Check your home’s energy rating if your property has an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), it will recommend the measures you can install to improve the rating. If you rent from a private landlord you must have an EPC and it must be rated E or above unless they have applied for an exemption 

Get help to improve your home’s energy rating check if you are eligible for energy saving improvements such as insulation, solar panels and heating

Apply for the Warm Home Discount  as you may be eligible for £140 off your winter energy bill. Some schemes have already closed for this winter.

Consider installing a smart meter  to help you  monitor your usage and keep your bills accurate. You can ask your supplier about getting a free smart meter installed.

Make sure your bills are accurate  if you have been getting estimated bills you may have been overpaying if you have been using less energy than expected by your supplier. Providing your supplier with regular meter readings helps keep your bills accurate.

If other adults live in your home, make sure that they pay their fair share of the household energy bills

If your current fixed deal is ending,  there are currently no deals cheaper than the energy price cap. The best option for most people right now is to move to the price cap when the current deal ends. This should happen automatically if you don’t sign up for any new fixed term deal with your supplier.

Check with Simple Energy Advice that you are being as energy efficient as possible or the Energy Saving Trust quick tips to save energy

Northern Powergrid and  Energy Saving Trust have launched a new app which is packed with advice, guidance and top tips to help you be energy efficient in every room in your house. The Powergrid – Energy Saving App is free to download and provides independent advice so you can make informed decisions for your household. Download from Apple Store and Google Play.

Help with heating problems and how to pay for them on InformationNOW


Help to pay off your energy debts 

If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off.  The following energy suppliers offer grants to their customers:

If you can’t get a grant from your supplier, check if you can get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust. These grants are available to anyone. You don’t have to be a British Gas customer.

Last updated: June 29, 2022

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