Cost of living is the term usually used to describe the way the prices of essentials, such as food and energy, stacks up against the amount we have coming in. Particularly when applied to the current situation, such as by saying a “cost of living crisis”, it can seem completely inadequate. What we are actually facing results from the wilful greed of business and the very rich – calling it a cost of living crisis can make it seem almost accidental and uncontrollable, like a natural disaster.
For want of a better term though, the cost of living has and will continue to affect us all in dozens of different ways. Some of us are more vulnerable than others. The poorest spend a larger proportion on food and fuel, costs of which are the most inflated. In work poverty has risen sharply and in many cases strict budgeting might not be enough. We know that some of our members are very worried about money, we hear cases of people struggling and we want to do everything we can to stop members from falling into debt with their food, rent, credit cards, gas and electric bills.
Our first go to course of action in doing this is of course making sure people are being paid fairly, and that wages are keeping up with inflation. Until we can win on this though we also wanted to pull together some of the other sources of support and advice that are out there.
Don’t stuggle alone – reach out to us if you need help
Terrifying statistics from the TUC show that as much as one in seven are skipping meals to make budgets stretch further, Birmingham Ladywood constituency is reported to have the highest percentage of people going without food – 29%, nearly one in three If you find yourself in that situation, please don’t struggle alone.
It is really important to deal with these difficulties before they become bigger and disrupt your health, your sleep, your mental health and your family life. Please do read through the below sources of help and advice and contact us if you need any support accessing any of it.
Support for fuel costs
- Energy Price Guarantee: All households will be given £400 in 6 instalments from October, with payments of £66 in October and November and £67 December-March. Check how these will be paid.
- Warm Home Discount Scheme: If you get benefits, you might be able to get £150 off your electricity bill or £150 added to your prepayment meter. Check if your supplier is listed. You can also get the discount if you have high energy costs plus any of the following: Universal Credit, Pension Credit Savings Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Related Employment and Support Allowance, Child Tax Credits and Working Tax Credits, Income Support.
- Cold Weather Payments: One off payments to help with extra heating costs when it is very cold. Payments are made each time the temperature drops below a certain temperature over a set time period. You are eligible ig you get: Pension Credit, Income Support, Income Based JSA, Income related ESA, Universal credit, support for mortgage interest.
- Grants for Energy Debts: For the following suppliers- British Gas, Scottish Power, Ovo, E.ON, E.ON Next, EDF, Bulb, Octopus, Shell. If your supplier isn’t listed, contact them for support offers.
- Local Energy Grants: Check if you are eligible for any local grants.
Support for other costs and debt
- Cost of Living Payment: You will be given a cost of living payment if you are over state pension age and get Winter Fuel Payments, receive Universal Credit, PIP or Attendance Allowance. You can get as many as you are eligible for, i.e. if you get pension credit, attendance allowance and winter fuel payments you will get 3 tax free cost of living payments.
- If you don’t already receive any of the above benefits, we’d encourage you to look at Citizen’s advice benefits calculators and to speak to them if you need any help in applying
- Help with Rent or Bills
- Check If you can pay less council tax
- Find out about other payment help including with paying: Mobile phone, internet, water, mortgage, credit cards and loans, repaying benefit overpayments or budgeting loans, hire purchase payments, insurance. Also included is Healthy Start Cards: If you are pregnant or have a child under 4 you may be eligible if you also receive other benefits.
- Food Banks– We offer referrals to local food banks in Birmingham. Please contact us if you feel you need this service.