We are all experiencing increased costs of the essentials; gas and electricity prices are increasing, food is more expensive, rents and mortgages are becoming more expensive too. This is affecting everyone, but we do know that for some of our Members this is becoming a very difficult and stressful time. There is help available, we’ve put together a list of funds and resources to help increase your income and help you stay in control of your money. Not all of these will be relevant for everyone, but start at the top and work your way down the list. Even if you don’t feel you’re struggling right now, do take the time to check out if you can increase your household income. We know things will get tougher over the next few months as prices are likely to rise further and incomes aren’t likely to keep up.
Have you claimed your £150 council tax rebate yet?
If you live in a council tax band A to D then you may qualify for the rebate. If you pay your council tax by direct debit then you should have received the payment in your bank account already. If you don’t pay by direct debit, you must claim to ensure you receive your £150. Be quick, the deadline is 31st July!
If you need support to make your claim call 0121 303 1113 to arrange an appointment. https://www.birmingham.gov.uk/info/20005/council_tax/2520/council_tax_rebate_to_help_with_increased_home_energy_costs
These are the payments due to be made over the next few months:
|Payment||Date paid||Eligibility||More information|
|£326 cost of living payment||from 14th July 2022||People on an eligible means-tested benefit in payment on each qualifying date. These benefits are:
|Discretionary Fund||applications can be made now||If you didn’t qualify for the £150 council tax rebate then you can apply to your council’s discretionary fund.||See Birmingham council website for details.|
|National Insurance Threshold Raised||July payslips||From July, the threshold for paying NI has increased from £9880 to £12,570, so you should see lower NI deductions on your payslip.||https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-58436009|
|Household Support Fund up to £200||applications can be made now||Households with children under 18, households of working age adults and households of pensionable age adults who are experiencing financial hardship. The fund is intended to support households to cover essentials such as food and energy (gas, electricity, and water) costs.||https://www.bvsc.org/hsf|
|One-off disability payment of £150
|September 2022||People on an eligible disability benefit in payment on any day between April 26 and May 25 2022 will receive a one-off payment of £150 in September. Click the link to see who is eligible.||https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cost-of-living-payment#disability-benefits|
|£324 second cost of living payment||Autumn 2022||People on an eligible means-tested benefit in payment on each qualifying date. These benefits are:
|£400 energy bills support grant||from October 2022||Nearly everyone is eligible to receive the energy bill rebate. £400 will be knocked off your energy bill. You do not have to apply for it, the rebate will be paid automatically.||https://www.goodto.com/money/400-energy-rebate-668994|
|£300 increased Winter fuel payment||Mid-November||This one-off increase go to more than 8 million pensioner households across the UK who receive the Winter Fuel Payment and will be paid on top of any other one-off support an eligible pensioner household is entitled to.||https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cost-of-living-payment#pensioner-cost-of-living-payment|
Solihull Borough council residents may qualify for additional support, see the Directory of Financial Help and Community Support.
The financial support listed above are all one-off payments and may not be repeated. There are ways to increase your income on a regular basis:
This isn’t always easy or possible, but there are plenty of jobs available at the moment including working from home and flexible hours. If you’re employed, can you increase your hours? Overtime? Ask your employer for a pay rise or cost of living one-off payment? Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your employer if you are experiencing financial hardship; it is in their best interests that employees aren’t struggling. https://www.gov.uk/find-a-job
Second income/side hustle
Can you increase your income with a second job, or an income from a hobby? Do be wary of the scams and get-rich-quick schemes – if it sounds too good to be true then it is probably a scam.
Here are some ideas from fool.co.uk. External links are not monitored and are not recommendations.
The benefits system is there to help when you need it, if you aren’t sure, check to see what you could be entitled to. https://www.entitledto.co.uk/
Energy Bill Grants
Your energy supplier will have a fund to support customers who are struggling. Contact your supplier to see if they can help. MoneySavingExpert website has more details of these schemes. Here are the main supplier grant websites:
- British Gas Energy Support Fund – apply for a grant on the British Gas Energy Trust website
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund – apply for a grant on the Scottish Power Hardship Fund website
- Ovo Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the Ovo Energy Fund website
- E.ON Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the E.ON Energy Fund website
- E.ON Next Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the E.ON Next Energy Fund website
- EDF Energy Customer Support Fund – sign up to the priority services register to apply for a grant on the EDF Energy website
- Bulb Energy Fund – apply for a grant on the Bulb Energy Fund website
- Octopus ‘Octo Assist Fund’ – apply for a grant on the Octopus website
Do you have things you don’t need anymore? Try using sites such as Facebook marketplace, Ebay to bring in some extra money.
All our Members save regularly, if you need to use some of your available savings then just ask for a withdrawal. Be wary though if using savings is your only way to make ends meet. You may need to look at other ways to increase your income or reduce your outgoings. Have another look at your budget.
A loan may not be the answer; you can’t borrow yourself out of a problem. We are seeing some Members applying for a loan to cover the increased cost of living. We will do what we can, but as an ethical lender, we will consider affordability and we won’t lend if we can see that a loan is not affordable.
Once you’ve worked on increasing your income, now look at how you could reduce your outgoings.
Gas and Electric. Here’s our page about reducing your utility bills. There are simple things to do that can help reduce your gas, electric and water bills. If you have any of your top tips to cut costs, please let us know email@example.com
Food. Our page on how to spend less and enjoy food more.
Here are a few really useful websites:
https://helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk/ – Government website of support for household bills including utilities help, discounts, supermarket offers
https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en# – free money guidance
https://cookingonabootstrap.com/ – Jack Monroe’s guide to cooking on a budget