The government has set up multiple programmes to help support families, especially lower income families, through this difficult time.
The main measures include a new ENERGY PRICE GUARANTEE that will mean a typical UK household will pay no more than £2,500 a year on energy bills for the next two years. This is automatic and applies to all households.
There is also a COST OF LIVING PAYMENT programme, higher NI threshold and lower Universal Credit taper, a 12-month reduction in fuel duty and an increase in the National Living Wage.
East Hampshire District Council has also put together advice on COST OF LIVING SUPPORT
People entitled to certain benefits or tax credits may be eligible for a COST OF LIVING PAYMENT
Extra funding has been made available to local councils through the Household Support Fund to help the most vulnerable to cover their essential daily costs, like energy bills. Locally, this is being provided through Hampshire County Council's CONNECT4COMMUNITES programme, with East Hampshire District Council also operating an EXCEPTIONAL HOUSEHOLD SUPPORT FUND for those in exceptional cases of genuine emergency.
Those on benefits may also be eligible for an interest free BUDGETING LOAN through the DWP to help pay for things such as travel costs or buying furniture and white goods.
For job seekers, there is a special FLEXIBLE SUPPORT FUND that can help with the costs of finding a job, such as travel, childcare or clothing. More information on how to apply is available via Job Centres.
Advice for domestic customers from OFGEM
Broadband and Mobile Costs
Some providers offer SOCIAL TARIFFS to customers who receive certain benefits.
There are many comparison sites to check the best deals for many household costs, including energy suppliers, broadband and mobile providers, and insurance cover:
For further advice and tips go to the Money Saving Expert website, including a weekly email service. More details at https://www.moneysavingexpert.com
To compare food prices across different supermarkets, go to https://supermarketwizard.com
Banking and Loans
As not-for-profit cooperatives, community banks can be an alternative way to save and borrow, including the Hampshire-based WESSEX COMMUNITY BANK
Other not-for-profit lenders include the PARITY TRUST who offer a range of loan and mortgage services
Government advice on paying off debts: https://www.gov.uk/options-for-paying-off-your-debts
MoneyHelper tool to find free debt advice: https://www.moneyhelper.org.uk/en/money-troubles/dealing-with-debt/debt…
Age UK debt service: https://www.ageuk.org.uk/information-advice/money-legal/debt-savings/de…
Citizens Advice: https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/east-hampshire/
CAP UK: https://capuk.org/get-help/cap-debt-help (general advice, with a dedicated Debt Coach for the Alton area)
Community pantries provide groceries at a lower rate than shops and supermarkets. More information on the sites across Hampshire is available at COMMUNITY PANTRIES and includes a service here in EAST HAMPSHIRE.
The Department for Education (DfE) is providing funding to local authorities to coordinate a programme that provides healthy food and activities to disadvantaged children during the holidays, and locally this is being delivered through Hampshire County Council's connect4communities programme. More information is available at HOLIDAY ACTIVITIES
HAMPSHIRE LIBRARIES also offer a range of free events and programmes.
Other ways to cut costs
Tesco Clubcard points can be used towards a Friends & Family Railcard or Senior Railcard (https://secure.tesco.com/clubcard/browse/travel/4294967286.cat?icid=CCSV_Stamp_Travel)
For tips on how to save money on everyday spending from online shopping, cash back sites to entertainment, go to: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/shopping/chat-tips-gold/