Important costs like gas, electricity, fuel and food are rising steeply. It's a real worry and is affecting many people across the country. We've pulled together some advice, tips and resources to support you. This page will be updated regularly with the latest advice and help for you.
Sometimes things can get out of control and you may need urgent help. There is help available through each local council if you're in a crisis situation:
Energy regulator Ofgem has announced the new Energy Price Cap, with prices set to rise by 5% on average from January next year. It means energy prices remain shockingly high, and most households will continue to pay more than last winter.
From 1 January 2024, the Cap will be set at an average £1,928 a year for a typical dual-fuel household paying by direct debit, affecting all those on standard variable tariffs (essentially everyone not currently on a fix). If you pay on receipt of a bill, prices are also set to rise by about 5% to £2,058 a year for a typical home. But remember, it's the rates that are capped, so use more and you pay more.
If you prepay for your energy, the Government will continue to add a small subsidy to prepay rates under the Price Cap after committing to end the prepay premium earlier this year. From 1 January 2024, the Cap for a typical prepayment meter household will be £1,917 a year, which includes a discount on standing charges of 4.5p per day for electricity and 6.7p per day for gas.
If you're falling behind with your energy bills, and finding yourself struggling to pay, the best thing to do is contact your supplier as soon as possible. Under rules from regulator Ofgem, your supplier has to help you – usually by negotiating a payment plan that you can afford.
So don't panic – your supply won't be cut off. Due to ongoing additional support measures put in place due to the coronavirus pandemic, disconnections of standard credit meters have been suspended.
Martin Lewis has a detailed advice page to help if you're worried or struggling to pay your energy bills.
National Energy Action (NEA) can also help. They offer a free support to people in England and Wales to help with their energy bills and keeping warm and safe in their home.
If you find it difficult to pay your energy bills, whether you pay monthly or have a pre-payment meter, visit the Fuelbank Foundation, who have lots of information to help you.
You can also check if you're eligible to apply for an energy fund:
We know the energy price rise has become unmanageable for most, and it is the responsibility of our Government to step in and manage the increase. We've pulled together some energy saving tips to try and help with lowering the costs, it may not save much but it's worth doing everything we can to keep bills lower.
If you’re struggling to pay for food, find your local foodbank. The largest foodbank organisation in the UK is the Trussell Trust. It has over 1,200 foodbanks across the country.
There are also local social supermarkets available, offering groceries, toiletries and household items at a very low cost.
Have a look at our map of foodbanks and social supermarkets across Cheshire and Merseyside. We'll update this regularly as we find more.
Check out the Too Good To Go app - it's an app where you can order unsold food from restaurants and supermarkets - get value for money and fight food waste!
If you're looking for budget friendly recipes, have a look at award-winning food writer and anti-poverty campaigner Jack Monroe’s food blog. Jack started her blog after having to feed herself and her young son on £10 a week. She writes recipes for people who are living on extremely tight budgets, including people relying on food banks. Her recipes are designed with the simplest, cheapest ingredients in mind and often cost under 50p.
The Government has announced when further Cost of Living payments will be made between Spring 2023 and Spring 2024. These payments are:
You do not need to apply. If you’re eligible, you’ll be paid automatically in the same way you usually get your benefit or tax credits. The payments will be made separately from your benefit or tax credits. These payments are not taxable and will not affect the benefits or tax credits you get.
Exact payment windows will be announced closer to the time, but are spread across a longer period to ensure a consistent support offering throughout the year. They will be broadly as follows:
Visit Gov.uk's Cost of Living Payment page for more information.
If you’re entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment, you will get an extra £300 for your household paid with your normal payment in November 2023. This is in addition to any Cost of Living payment you get with your benefit or tax credits.
The full amount of Winter Fuel Payment you will get for winter 2023-24 depends on your circumstances.
Visit Gov.uk's Cost of Living Payment page for more information.
We know it can be tempting to avoid talking about money concerns but the sooner people act the better. Our Welfare Team can offer you help and advice on a wide range of money matters - nobody has to struggle alone. Call 0800 169 2988, use our live chat service or contact us via our mobile app.
Try our Benefits Calculator to help you figure out what you may be entitled to - it's worth checking with the recent changes in Universal Credit.
We also have a Budgeting Tool to help you maximise your income and keep track of your outgoings. This is always the first step in managing your finances and taking control of your money.
We have been saving customers thousands of pounds by joining up with a social enterprise that specialises in finding the best deals on a range of household bills. Pocket Power describes itself as “on a mission to put money back in people’s pockets” by providing a free phone service to help switch to cheaper deals and discounts on household bills.
The service is ideal for those who are not tech savvy, don’t have internet access, or don’t have the time to look around for cheaper deals. You can arrange an appointment with Pocket Power by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org or 0800 169 2988.
You can also try My Money Health Check from Which? – A free tool for anybody looking for ways that may help them save money during the cost of living crisis. Visit: My Money Health Check - free Which? tool
Martin Lewis has a detailed section on his MoneySavingExpert website covering budgeting and debt help, and how to deal with the Cost of Living crisis.
The Government-backed MoneyHelper website offers free, impartial advice on all things money related - from pensions to budgeting and managing debt.
Have a look at Turn 2 Us - a website helping people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.
Make sure your home is insured to cover items such as furniture, clothes, electrical items, jewellery and home decor. Home insurance will cover the cost of these items if anything ever goes wrong in your home - saving a large amount of money! You can find more information about home insurance here.
With energy prices soaring, there are now a large network of Warm Hubs open across Merseyside and Cheshire.
These hubs provide a place to get warm, and many also provide a hot drink, food, activities and a place to have a chat too. We've created an interactive map to help you to find your nearest one.
You can also visit Warm Welcome, where you'll find spaces in all different shapes and sizes, from a homework club in a local church on a Tuesday, to over an over 65s community centre drop-in on a Wednesday and library co-working desk open all weekend. Just enter your postcode and requirements to find the right Space for you!
If you're struggling to cope with the rising cost of living, there is help available - you don't need to struggle and suffer in silence.
If you have money worries, then our Welfare team can support you to access all of the benefits that you are entitled to, help you manage your household budget, and signpost you to any other support you may wish to access. The important thing to do is make sure that you get in touch with us. If you are worried that you might be falling into arrears then give us a call on 0800 169 2988 (during office hours) and discuss your situation with us; if you’re having problems then we can try to help you if you let us know.
We have a range of support services in place to help anyone who might be struggling, including support to access employment and training opportunities, or if you are feeling isolated or lonely. You can find more information about these services on our website here, or by calling the number above.
If you feel like you're struggling with your mental health Mind UK are here to help, with a range of resources available.
Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. It’s paid monthly. You may be able to get it if you’re on a low income, out of work, you cannot work or depending on the make-up of your household.
We are currently in the transition period from benefits to Universal Credit, called Managed Migration. Everyone of working age will have to move over to Universal credit by the end of 2024. However, you can move over sooner if you are better off on UC.
Click here to visit our dedicated Benefits Advice page with the latest information, support and guidance.
Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. Pension Credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges.
With the increasing cost of energy, it’s worth knowing that according to the Energy Saving Trust, on average, 16% of a household’s energy bill is from heating water for activities such as baths, showers, washing up and water-using electrical appliances.
Most people don’t realise that on average, each person uses around 142 litres of water every single day – that’s enough to make over 450 cups of tea! So it really adds up.
So small changes to the way we use water at home can make a big difference to reducing your energy bill. Keep an eye out for leaky loos, turn the tap off when your brushing your teeth and try to spend one minute less in the shower.
United Utilities have some great tips and resources to help you save water and money.
If you're using United Utilities and are struggling with debt, they have help on offer and you can apply for their Trust Fund here.
Criminals are increasingly trying to capitalise on the cost of living crisis by targeting households with fake offers of rebates, grants and support payments. But official Government support payments are usually automatic, so if you get a request for information out of the blue via text, email, or phone call – be wary.
Three of our partner organisations talk to us about the cost of living, support and what they are seeing. Check out our video below: