Help if you're struggling with the cost of living

by Joanna Hammond

Many older and vulnerable residents are currently struggling with rising living costs. That’s why it’s important to know what help and support is available now – that could benefit you, a relative, friend or neighbour.

This page continues to be updated with resources and information, so please keep checking back.

See this flyer regarding Cirencester College’s Cooking on a Budget scheme that is commencing in January. This course is FREE to those who have lived in the UK or EU for at least 3 years; are aged 19 and over; are earning less than £18,525: Cirencester College Cooking on a Budget Scheme

Here’s a link to information about energy bills and community buildings from GRCC (Gloucestershire Rural Community Council): GRCC Gloucestershire Community Buildings’ Network Easy steps for energy and resource efficiency

Cotswold News front cover Here is a link to Cotswold District Council’s webpage that has some sources of support that could help you or someone you know: Help if you’re struggling with the cost of living

Cotswold District Council and partners also have a leaflet you can download which contains useful information if you are worrying about money.

Pension

If you’re over State Pension age, check if you’re eligible for Pension Credit.

Pension Credit provides extra money for living costs and access to other help. Around a third of eligible pensioners don’t claim Pension Credit – often because they don’t know they can or that they need to. Find out if you’re eligible and how much you could get using the Pension Credit calculator. People of State Pension age may be entitled to Pension Credit even though they may have modest savings, or a retirement income or own their own home. An award of Pension Credit can provide access to a range of other benefits such as help with housing costs, Council Tax, heating bills and, for those aged 75 or over, a free TV licence.

The Pensioner Cost of Living Payment is a one-off automatic top-up to the Winter Fuel Payment. See the government’s ‘Cost of living support factsheet’ for all additional support available.

Help if you’re experiencing illness or disability

Check if you or your family may be entitled to benefits for those experiencing illness or disability.

Personal Independence Payment (PIP) (for adults under state retirement age), Attendance Allowance (for those over state retirement age), and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) (for children under 16, for new claims) are not means-tested. The assessment considers the way that your health conditions affect your daily living and mobility needs. Receiving these benefits may increase entitlement to other benefits such as Pension Credit and Council Tax Support. Seek advice if you are already claiming a disability benefit such as DLA for adults, as your award will stop if you claim PIP instead.

If you’re too unwell to work, you may be entitled to New Style Employment and Support Allowance and/or Universal Credit with Limited Capability for Work or Work Related Activity. The Disability Cost of Living Payment is available for individuals on disability benefits. See the government’s ‘Cost of living support factsheet’ for all additional support available.

Check your eligibility for Carer’s Allowance

If you are a carer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance and/or an extra amount called the ‘carer element’ within Universal Credit. This could mean £69.70 a week in Carer’s Allowance if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and you, the person you care for and the type of care you provide meets the criteria.

Gas flame

Get help from your energy supplier - Priority Services Register

The Priority Services Register is a free support service that makes sure extra help is available to people in vulnerable situations.

Gloucestershire County Council Cost-of-living ‘Support Hub’ launches and county warm bank offer

Gloucestershire County Council has brought together a wealth of information from the public and third sector, to help everyone get faster access to the support they need during the cost-of-living challenges. Visit their Support Hub

Support available in your community

On top of the financial and other support available, there are also lots of community groups and local organisations that can help people who are struggling with the cost of living.

Here is a link to Cotswold District Council’s webpage which has a list of support available across the district, which will be updated on a regular basis: Support available in your community

How you can support your local community through the cost of living crisis

Many people will be struggling with the cost of living but also many people may want to support others in their communities. If you want to help, Cotswold District Council have listed a number of ways you could help here: How you can support your local community through the cost of living crisis

For anybody struggling to pay their energy bills or keep their home warm, our advocacy service can offer them friendly, professional advice about their energy bills, help with fuel debt, information about heating and insulation grants, keeping warm on a budget, and support with switching energy supplier if appropriate. We can also provide energy efficiency and money saving advice, all for free!

Signs that someone may be struggling with their home energy can include them feeling unsure about how to use their heating, unsure about billing, meters, tariffs, they may feel hounded by demands for payment from energy companies, or even choosing between heating and eating and regularly complaining about feeling cold at home.

Our Gloucestershire advocacy project can help those in need to be better informed about home energy, save money, and get the help and support they are entitled to. Onward referrals can be made for households with wider needs. Through this work, we hope to reduce fuel poverty and improve energy awareness across Gloucestershire. If you work with anyone who is struggling with their home energy, please get in touch with us at [email protected] or refer your client directly to us using this link: https://warmandwell.co.uk/refer/

We can also offer drop-ins and clinics where we visit your location and offer a session to speak to your service users about their energy usage and any problems they may have, as well as providing leaflets and contact information should anyone wish to access our services. Or, if it would be more suitable, we can offer a virtual session or resource package for you to share with the people you support.

If you feel it would be beneficial for your service users for us to build closer links and provide such opportunities, please do let us know and we can get something arranged.

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