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Helping you manage the ongoing cost of living crisis

We know that some of our customers are still finding things tough as the cost of living crisis continues. Our Money Advice Team has been busy supporting customers with maximising their incomes, helping with budgeting and offering helpful hints and tips where they can.

The team has now also put together some important advice for all customers to help them try to navigate the difficult times we’re all experiencing.

Cost of living payments

Starting in Spring of this year, millions of the lowest income households will get up to £1,350 from the Government to help with the cost of living.

Money will be paid to eligible households throughout the year to ensure a consistent level of support over several months. Exact dates for payment windows will be announced closer to the time.

Those that are eligible for this support will be paid automatically and there’s no need to apply. For more information, you can visit

Energy bill support for households with no direct relationship with energy supplier

In May 2022, the Government announced a £400 discount to help households with the cost of energy over the winter. This was known as the Energy Bill Support Scheme and involved monthly discounts applied directly to your energy bills.

While this move was a welcome one, it wasn’t clear how – or even whether – this might include customers who don’t have a direct relationship with their electricity supplier, for instance, people on communal or district heating systems.

Now, it’s been confirmed that the £400 energy bills support will be made available to those people who don’t have the direct relationship with their energy supplier and therefore haven’t been eligible for the first phase of the Energy Bill Support Scheme.

This additional phase has been called the Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding.

Find out more, including the eligibility criteria and how to apply. 

Prepayment energy meters

Most prepayment meters include a standing charge. This is a fixed amount that you pay regardless of the amount of gas or electricity you’ve used. If you forget about the standing charge, you may think you have more available credit than you do.

If you’ve not topped up for a while, when you do add credit to the meter, it’ll automatically deduct any unpaid standing charge, swallowing up lots of the credit you’ve just added. This is also the case for any fuel debt repayments being taken.

Even if you’ve decided to let the credit run down and aren’t using gas or electricity, the standing charge will still apply, so be aware of the charges adding up for when you do add credit. You may be getting yourself deeper into debt without realising it.

If you’re going away and won’t be using any additional energy beyond that needed to keep the fridge or freezer on, it’s still important to top up your meter to cover the standing charge and any outstanding debt. To make your credit go further, unplug anything that doesn’t need to be left on, including appliances on standby.

Advising Universal Credit of rent changes

From April, the amount of rent you pay will increase – as you’ve already been informed.

If you’re on Universal Credit, it’s vital that you inform the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) as soon as possible after these changes have taken effect.

You’ll receive a ‘to do’ notice on your Universal Credit homepage and you’ll need to complete this as soon as possible after 3 April. If you made a telephone claim for Universal Credit, you’ll be written to reminding you to call and give your new details.

Help for households

The Government has launched the help for households website, which details what support is available to help with the cost of living and how you can save money with some energy saving tips.

You can view the website by visiting


As one of our customers you can access a wide range of free and confidential independent debt advice with PayPlan.

From budgeting advice to supporting you to become debt free, they can help.

To find out more about the services provided by PayPlan, including how to contact them.

Social tariffs

Providers of some of the key utilities needed for everyday living could be offering cheaper tariffs.

Lots of internet providers are currently offering social tariffs for those on Universal Credit and similar benefits, but regulator Ofcom says more than four million eligible people aren’t taking them up

Not all providers offer social tariffs, so it’s worth contacting yours to find out what’s on offer and whether you qualify. Alternatively, visit and search for ‘broadband social tariffs’.

As well as broadband, many water companies offer cheaper rates for those on certain benefits. Again, it’s worth contacting your water company to see what they can do to help you.

If you’re still struggling to pay your bills and want help with budgeting or maximising your income, get in touch with our Money Advice Team today.

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