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Help with the cost of living

You've probably noticed many of your bills going up, in particular the cost of energy. This page contains information on various assistance that may be available to help you stay on top of increasing costs.

The various one-off payments and other schemes listed here are in addition to standard welfare benefits and other entitlements, so you may also wish to check whether you can qualify for any of these. A benefit check may be useful in this regard.

Welsh Government assistance with the cost of living

UK Government assistance with the cost of living

Means-tested benefits – could you be missing out?

Food banks and vouchers

Why are energy prices going up and what can I do if my energy supplier goes bust?

Can I get support from my energy supplier?

Welsh Government assistance with the cost of living

The following measures have been put in place by the Welsh Government:

Cost of living payment (delivered via a Council Tax rebate)

This is a one-off £150 payment which will be made to householders where any of the following criteria are met:

  • the household was receiving support through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme on 15 February 2022 (regardless of the valuation band in which their property is placed); or
  • the household is living in a property in Council Tax Band A, B, C or D (provided they were liable for Council Tax on the property and living there as their main or primary residence on 15 February 2022); or
  • also a Band E property if you’ve been given a disability reduction (this is on the basis that the disability reduction will result in a property which has been valued as Band E only having to pay the Council Tax rate of a Band D home).

You'll receive the payment via your local authority as a Council Tax rebate. If you pay your Council Tax by direct debit, you should receive an automatic payment at some point between April and June 2022. If you've still not received the payment, you may wish to contact your local authority to query this.

If you don't pay your Council Tax by direct debit, you'll need to fill in an application form to request the payment. Contact your local authority for details of how to go about doing this.

Each household is restricted to only one payment. The scheme will close on 30 September 2022. Further information can be found on the Welsh Government's website.

Discretionary Cost of Living Support Scheme 

In addition to the main scheme outlined above, each local authority will also have a Discretionary Scheme to provide support to households it considers to be in need of assistance with their living costs. This support may take the form of a payment to a household not already covered in the main scheme, or it may cover the cost of essential services provided to the household. Each local authority will determine how it utilises the available funds and information about this should be published on their website.

Help for people with pre-payment meters and households not connected to mains gas

On 10 June 2022, the Welsh Government announced it was making extra money available to assist people with pre-payment meters and households not connected to mains gas. At the time of writing – June 2022 – there are limited details available, but further information can be found in a Welsh Government press release.

Winter Fuel Support Scheme

The Welsh Government ran this scheme during the winter of 2021-2022 (the closing date for applications being 28 February 2022). It was available for working age people in receipt of certain welfare benefits. The Winter Fuel Support Scheme will run again for winter 2022-2023 with extended eligibility criteria, including older people in receipt of Pension Credit. This was confirmed in a Welsh Government press release on 19 July 2022:

"The extension of the fuel support scheme will mean...more households on child tax credits, pension credits, disability benefits, carers allowance, contributory benefits and those receiving help from the Council Tax Reduction Scheme to pay their council tax bill will now be eligible".

It's expected that the payment will be £200.

This payment can be received in addition to the two existing UK-wide schemes: the Winter Fuel Payment and Warm Home Discount.

Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF)

The Welsh Government's DAF scheme has been in operation for a number of years already and pre-dates the current cost of living pressures; however, the scheme may be able to help in regard to some of these issues. Our 'How to get help with urgent or one-off expenses' page has further information on the DAF.

The Welsh Government is also currently offering extra support, via DAF, to off-grid households experiencing extreme financial hardship. You may be able to get up to £250 for a one-off oil payment, or up to three £70 payments for Liquefied Petroleum Gas. This part of the scheme is set to run until March 2023.

Unpaid carer financial support scheme

This is a one-off support payment of £500 for unpaid carers for providing care during the pandemic, rather than being a 'cost of living' payment (though recipients could use it for this purpose). Unpaid carers in receipt of Carer’s Allowance on 31 March 2022 will be eligible for the payment. However, if you only have the ‘underlying entitlement’ to Carer’s Allowance, you will not be eligible, so unfortunately many older carers are likely to miss out on this payment (having an underlying entitlement to Carer's Allowance means you meet the eligibility criteria, but do not receive a payment because you are in receipt of your state pension – or other 'earnings-replacement' benefit – paid at the same or a higher amount than Carer's Allowance).

The original deadline for submitting a claim was 15 July 2022, but the Welsh Government will be reopening the claim period on 15 August through to 2 September 2022. Further information can be found on the Welsh Government’s website.

UK Government assistance with the cost of living

The UK Government has announced the following measures to help with rising energy costs:

Money off energy bills

All electricity customers will get £400 off their energy bills between October 2022 and April 2023. This is a grant, not a loan – so you don't have to pay this money back through future bills.

On 29 July 2022, the UK Government announced further details of how the scheme will work: 

  • The £400 discount will be administered by suppliers and paid to consumers over 6 months in separate instalments, with payments starting from October 2022.
  • £66 will be applied to each households energy bill in October and November 2022, rising to £67 each month from December through to March 2023.

There is no need to contact your supplier, as all domestic electricity customers will be automatically eligible (though you should enquire with your supplier if you have not received the first instalment by the end of October 2022).

If you're a pre-payment customer, you will receive a redeemable voucher in the first week of each month. This will be issued via SMS text, email or post.

The government has also confirmed that further funding will be available to provide equivalent support to households who will not be reached through the energy bills discount (for example, people living in a park home, houseboat or an energy consumer living off the grid). “An announcement with details on how and when these households across Great Britain can access this support will be made this Autumn”.

Further information on this scheme can be found on the GOV.UK website.

One-off payments

This year (2022-23), you may also be entitled to one or more lump-sum payments. These are:

  • £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment (PCLP)

This is for households that receive the Winter Fuel Payment. It will be paid as a top-up to your Winter Fuel Payment in November/December, which means you can recieve it in addition to your usual Winter Fuel Payment (and Warm Home Discount, if you also qualify for this). To be eligible for the PCLP, a person will need to be over State Pension (SP) age between 19–25 September 2022. Provided they are over SP age at any point in this period, they will receive the PCLP. For example, if a person was born on 26 September 1956, they will not receive the payment, as they will become SP age outside of the specified eligibility window.

  • £650 Cost of Living Payment (CLP)

This is for households on means-tested benefits, such as Pension Credit and Universal Credit. You'll be paid in two instalments if eligible. Your eligibility for the first instalment will depend on your circumstances on 25 May 2022. The UK Government has announced that the first instalment will be £326 and should begin to be paid into people’s bank accounts from mid-July 2022. You should have received it by the beginning of August. The second instalment of £324 will be sent out in the Autumn.

If a person begins a claim for Pension Credit (PC) after 25 May 2022, and then later receives an award which is backdated to a date on or before 25 May 2022, they would be eligible to receive a CLP. It doesn’t matter which type of Pension Credit a person receives – both Guarantee Credit and Savings Credit will mean you're eligible for the CLP. Because a successful application for Pension Credit can be backdated by three months, those who begin the claiming process before 18th August should meet the eligibility criteria.

  • £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment 

These payments are for those receiving disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance. People will get this payment in September. To qualify, you must have been in receipt of a disability benefit on 25 May 2022 (or have made a claim for a disability benefit by 25 May 2022, which was later successful).

None of these one-off payments are taxable and they won't count towards the benefit cap or affect your benefit entitlement in regard to existing benefits which you qualify for.

Means-tested benefits – could you be missing out?

If you're not currently claiming means-tested benefits, such as Pension Credit, it could be worth putting in a claim as soon as possible. 

You may find you're eligible for the second instalment of the Cost of Living Payment from the UK Government, mentioned above (or, if your Pension Credit is 'backdated' to 25 May 2022 or before, the entire amount). When making a claim, you should request backdating on the claim form as it won't be done automatically. It's important to act quickly as Pension Credit can only be backdated for up to three months.

If you want to know more, see the benefits and entitlements section of our website, or use our online benefits calculator.

You can also contact Age Cymru Advice for further information. Call 0300 303 44 98 (charged at local rate) to talk to someone or email us at advice@agecymru.org.uk

Food banks and vouchers

The Trussell Trust supports a network of food banks and provides emergency food. People need to be referred to a food bank with a voucher, which can be issued by a number of local community organisations.

Why are energy prices going up and what can I do if my energy supplier goes bust?

Increased global demand and wider geopolitical factors have seen the price of gas increase. This has caused some energy suppliers to go bust.

As a result, Ofgem, the energy regulator, has increased the energy price cap from 1 April 2022. Whilst this means energy suppliers will only be able to charge you up to a certain amount for your energy, many people will still end up paying substantially more – if they were already paying the previous cap amount, for example, or have been switched to a different supplier as the previous one went out of business.

Because of the uncertainty in the market, it might not be advisable, or even possible, to switch energy suppliers for a cheaper tariff at the moment. It's important to seek impartial advice before switching, for example from the Citizens Advice Consumer Service.

When an energy supplier goes bust, Ofgem assigns a new supplier to take over your account. You don't need to worry, your gas and electricity supply will continue regardless of what happens to your supplier. Your new supplier should provide you with information about what is happening with your account, though this process can take a few weeks. 

It's worth keeping hold of or downloading copies of your latest energy bills and take photos of your latest meter readings for reference. 

Any customers that were in debt with their previous supplier will still have to repay this and any customers who had been in credit with their supplier should receive a refund. You should seek advice if you're looking to switch because your supplier has gone bust, as there are considerations if your account was in credit, or if you usually receive the Warm Home Discount.

You can find more information about which energy suppliers have been affected and who's taking over those accounts.

Further information

Factsheet 1w: Help with heating costs in Wales

Winter wrapped up information guide

Save energy, pay less information guide

Can I get support from my energy supplier?

If you're finding it difficult to keep up with energy bills or you owe money to your energy supplier, your supplier has a duty to help.

You can ask your energy supplier for:

  • a review of your payments or debt repayments
  • payment breaks or reductions
  • more time to pay your bills
  • access to hardship funds
  • Priority Service registration.

If you're over State Pension age or live with a disability or health condition you can be asked to be placed on the Priority Service Register. This gives you access to a range of support, including priority assistance in an emergency, advance notice of planned power cuts and helps with prepayment meter access. 

Some energy suppliers have their own special funding schemes or provide support through national schemes such as the Energy Company Obligation. These provide a range of financial support, debt relief, energy advice, and the installation of energy efficiency improvements which can help lower your bills. Check with your supplier to see what support you might be entitled to.

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