Cost of Living support
Ways to maximise your income
Can you increase your income?
The Latest News:
Cost of Living Payments – updated August 2023
- If you claim means-tested benefits and tax credits (Universal Credit, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Support, Working Tax Credits, etc), you’ll get £900 in total. Payments will be spread throughout the year in installments. These are expected in Spring 2023, Autumn 2023 and Spring 2024.
- £301 paid between 25 April 2023 and 17 May 2023 for most people on DWP benefits
- £301 paid between 2 and 9 May 2023 for most people on tax credits and no other low income benefits
- £300 paid between 31 October and 19 November 2023 for most people on Universal Credit, Tax Credits or Legacy Income-based benefits.
- £299 paid during spring 2024 for most people
- Pensioners will receive £300 in the 2023-2024 tax year. If you’re entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023 to 2024, you will get an extra £150 or £300 paid with your normal payment from November 2023.
- If you claim a disability benefit (Personal Independence Payment, Disability Living Allowance, Attendance Allowance, etc), you’ll receive £150 for the 2023-24 tax year. Most people were paid the £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment automatically between 20 June 2023 and 4 July 2023.
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. This includes if you’re found to be eligible at a later date. Full eligibility information can be found here.
The Energy Price Guarantee will be kept at £2,500 for an additional three months from April to June, saving a typical household £160.
Use an online benefits calculator
Have you considered Universal Credit?Universal Credit is a government benefit to help with living costs; among those eligible are people on a low income, out of work, and unable to work. If you want to know if you would be better off on Universal Credit and/or need help making your claim, call Help to Claim - 0800 144 8 444 (Monday - Friday 8am - 6pm)
Can you reduce your outgoings?
Can you cut back on your energy usage?
- Only turn your heating on when you're at home.
- Keep your thermostat set between 19 and 22 celsius. Any higher risks unnecessarily high bills.
- Keep curtains/blinds open on sunny days to let heat in. Close the curtains/blinds when it gets dark or is cold to keep heat in.
- Wash clothes at 30, rather than 40 degrees.
- Short showers use less energy and water than baths.
- Visit Warm Spaces, a community-led initiative where businesses, community, faith or social enterprise organisations provide a welcoming space for residents to stay warm and engage with others in their community.
Do you use a smart meter?Smart meters:
- Help you keep track of your usage
- Provide readings automatically (no need to report each month so no more estimated bills)
- Do not save you money, only provide you with usage information.
Are you getting the best deal?
Are you eligible for the Warm Home discount?
Apply for Debt Relief from Energy billsThe following energy suppliers offer grants to their customers. Click on your provider to apply:
- British Gas Energy Support Fund - Grants from British Gas Energy Trust are available to anyone – you don’t have to be a British Gas customer. Before applying, you’ll need to get debt advice.
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
- Ovo Energy Fund
- E.ON Energy Fund
- E.ON Next Energy Fund
- EDF Energy Customer Support Fund
- Bulb Energy Fund
- Octopus “Octo Assist Fund”
Rent & Council Tax
Top up your rent and/or pay off rent arrearsIf you receive the housing element of Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, you could be eligible for a Discretionary Housing Payment.
Reduction or relief from council tax bills
Phone, TV, & Broadband
For jobseekersTalkTalk offer six months free broadband for Jobseekers. You can apply via the Jobcentre.
Cheaper packages for people on benefitsSocial tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits. Some providers call them ‘essential’ or ‘basic’ broadband. They’re delivered in the same way as normal packages, just at a lower price. Find out more here.
Are you over 75 and claim pension credit?You get a free TV licence. Apply online or call 0300 790 6117.
If you don't use a TVIf you don’t use a TV, you just need to tell the TV licence and you will then not have to pay. Report online or call 0300 790 6096
Health & Childcare
Are you eligible for free prescriptions?Check what help you could get to pay for NHS costs including free prescriptions, NHS dental check-ups and treatment, and sight tests. Use the eligibility checker.
Is it cheaper to pay by pre-payment certificate?You can buy prescription prepayment certificates (PPCs) from the NHS, which may make your prescriptions cheaper. A 3 or 12 month PPC covers all your prescriptions for that period, no matter how many you need. A prescription costs £9.35 per item, but a PPC costs:
- £30.25 for 3 months
- £108.10 for 12 months
Are you using over-the-counter or generic medication?Some over the counter medication is cheaper than the prescriptions. Ask your pharmacist what is available.
Childcare optionsThere is government help for childcare costs. Whether you have toddlers or teens, you could get support. Check here.
Help with school costsIf you're on a low income, you might be able to get help with some of the costs of sending your child to school, including school meals, transport and uniforms. Find out more here.
50% off bus and tram faresIf you are an adult between 18 and 60 and claim certain benefits, you could qualify for 50% off Bus and Tram fares.
Older person freedom passThere are a number of options for those aged 60 or over, including the older person freedom pass.
Disabled freedom passThe Disabled Persons Freedom Pass gives people with disabilities free travel on buses, trains, trams, tubes and Docklands Light Rail services in London. It also allows free travel on local buses elsewhere in England. Find out more
Dial-a-rideBecome a member of Dial-a-ride if you have a permanent or long-term disability that means you are unable to use public transport. Apply here.
Direct support available
From Citizens Advice Barnet
Food Bank VouchersWe can issue up to three food vouchers per person in a six-month period. (Some food banks do not require vouchers, details here.)
Fuel VouchersWe can issue fuel vouchers for those on prepayment metres (three per person in a six-month period, not more than once every 10 days).
Household Support FundWe can issue one-off small grants to people who meet our eligibility criteria (requires review of your bank statements/ associated evidence showing the need for support).
Sim CardsWe have a limited number of sim cards with 20GB data for those in need.
Barnet Resident Support FundFinancial support is available for Barnet residents who are struggling to afford household essentials. To qualify, you:
- Must be aged 16 or over, AND
- Must have been a resident in Barnet for at least six weeks, or if you are moving into Barnet from an institution such as a hospital, care home or prison, or fleeing violence, domestic or international, you must have a local connection, AND
- Must be in receipt of a qualifying benefit – Income Based Job Seekers Allowance, Income Support, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Tax Credits, Guaranteed Pension Credit or Universal Credit (or likely to be in receipt of these benefits on release from an institution), OR Applicant has recently come off a qualifying benefit due to starting work but has yet to be paid
Help with school uniform costsThis grant is a one-off small payment (<£100) given to residents living in the borough who are in financial need. This grant is for children aged 11 or over who are:
- transferring from primary to secondary school
- starting a new secondary school
Check local faith and community groups
- The Romanian and Eastern European Hub
- Barnet Carers
- Barnet Mencap
- Middlesex Association for the Blind
- Healthwatch Barnet
- Age UK Barnet
- Local faith groups often have grants available to their general congregations. Check with your religious organisation to see what they offer.
Budgeting and Debts
Drawing up a budgetDraw up a budget so you know what your finances look like. Guide and online tool here
Do you need debt advice?If you are struggling to manage your debts reach out for free debt advice-:
- Citizens Advice (National) - 0800 240 4420 (Monday - Friday 9am - 5pm) or by webchat
- National Debt Line - 0808 808 4000 (Monday to Friday 9am - 8pm Monday to Friday) or by webchat
- StepChange - 0800 138 1111 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm and Saturday 8am to 4pm) or by webchat
- PayPlan - 0800 280 2816 (Mon to Fri 8am–8pm Sat 9am–3pm) or online
- Debt Free Advice - London based charity able to offer casework for Barnet - 0800 808 5700 (7 days a week, 8am - 8pm). You can Whatsapp the same number. They can also arrange advice via video.