5 things that can help you tackle the rise of living costs

A worry many of us face is how to cope with the rising living costs, particularly the increasing price of energy. We know it easy to feel overwhelmed with the prospect of the rising energy/living costs, therefore Lisa, our friendly Welfare Officer, has compiled a bank full of schemes, grants and one-off payments to help you through these evergrowing times of concern.

Webpage last updated: 9th November 2023

Having a diagnosis of leukaemia, an MPN or MDS can take its toll on your finances, even without a cost of living crisis. Many people are unable to work, have increased expenses for travel to and from hospital for treatment, require a special diet and require additional heating due to an inability to tolerate the cold. People living with cancer need their health to be their priority and the cost of living crisis is having an impact on many people who have to make impossible choices on what to cut back on.

We understand that talking about your money worries can be difficult and can feel uncomfortable. It is essential to remember you are not alone. If you are worried about the cost of living, we are here to support you to get the help you need and deserve, offer guidance and share information and support from other organisations. 

Below are five ways we can assist you if you are concerned about your situation.

Where can I get help if I am struggling to pay energy costs?

It is worth checking you are claiming all the benefits and support you are entitled to. There are several calculators available online which can provide an estimation. These are:

  • Turn2us
  • Policy in Practise 
  • Entitled to 
  • Check your entitlement for Government schemes, such as the Warm Home Discount or Winter Fuel Payment and see if you can save on regular living
  • Check your energy supplier to see if they have any grants available to help you pay debts

What schemes are available to help me through the colder months?

There’s often more help than you think – you should research a range of schemes to see if you are eligible for multiple sources of help. 

Warm Home Discount

A one-off payment to help with the cost of energy over winter. The money will not be directly paid to you – it is a one-off discount applied to your electricity bill between early October 2023 and 31 March 2024.

You’ll usually get the discount automatically if you’re eligible.

To learn more about the eligibility criteria or for more information on the discount in general, head over to the GOV.UK website here: Warm Home Discount Scheme: Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

Cold Weather Payment

A Cold Weather Payment is a one-off payment to help pay for extra costs when the weather gets very cold. Whenever the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time, you will receive a payment if eligible. 

You are eligible if you get the following: Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance and/or Universal Credit. 

You can find more information on the Cold Weather Payment and how to claim it here: https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment

Winter Fuel Payment

Born before the 25th of September 1957? You could be entitled to between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. 

The amount you get includes a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’. This is between £150 and £300. You’ll get this extra amount in winter 2023 to 2024.

Find out more about this payment on the GOV.uk website here: Winter Fuel Payment: Overview – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

How can the Government help me?

As well as regular help that you get for your energy bills, the UK Government has announced measures to address the cost of living crisis, so there will be some additional help available to you. Below are some of the cost of living payments you can receive from the Government:

Cost of living payments

  • From October 2022, every household in Great Britain will receive a one-off payment of £400 to assist with energy costs. The payment will automatically be added to your energy account and will not need to be paid back. 
  • Low-income families in receipt of means-tested income-based benefits such as Universal Credit, Working Tax Credit, and Income Support will receive two payments.  Each cost of living payment will be £326 and the first payment would have been sent on the 14th July 2022. In order to have got this payment, you must have started your benefit claim by 25th May 2022. 
  • A one-off disability cost of living payment of £150 will be paid if you are in receipt of non-means tested benefits, such as Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Attendance Allowance. 
  • From November/December, if you are pension age and get the Winter Fuel Payment, you will automatically receive an additional £300 with your payment. 

Help with Household costs, bills and daily essentials

  • Councils have a Household Support Fund available for those in need or those who are struggling with everyday bills and expenses. The fund will vary from one council to another; you will therefore need to contact your local council to find out more about eligibility criteria. 
  • Some energy providers offer different types of help for those who are struggling to afford their electricity and gas bills or other household items, including white goods. 
  • Some water providers also provide ‘social tariffs’ – their aim is to reduce monthly bills for people on low incomes or those who have health conditions that require them to use more water. 
  • Some water providers have trust funds where they will help you with water arrears that you may have built up. They may either pay the full arrears or make a payment into your account. 
  • If you are struggling to afford your rent due to a shortfall of benefits or you are affected by the bedroom tax or benefit cap, you may be able to apply for the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP). A DHP is a payment from your local council; you must be receiving housing benefit or the housing element in Universal Credit to receive this. 

Can I claim Pension Credit?

If you are State Pension age, aged 66 and over and you are on a low income, you may be eligible to claim pension credit to help with living costs. Pension Credit is a pathway to other benefits too, such as:

  • Free TV license for those age over the age of 75
  • Possible Council Tax reduction
  • Warm Home Discount
  • Free Dental and optical care

You can contact the Pension Credit Helpline on 0800 991 234 or 0808 100 6165 (in Northern Ireland). 

You can also read more information here: www.gov.uk/pensioncredit

How do I access grants and one-off payments from charities?

One-off payments

  • Pensioner Cost of Living Payment – a £300 payment for households that receive the Winter Fuel Payment. This is a top-up to your Winter Fuel Payment.
  • Cost of Living Payment – a £900 payment split into three payments on a qualifying means-tested benefit. The payments broadly follow:
      • First Cost of Living Payment of £301 – during Spring 2023
      • Second Cost of Living Payment of £300 – during Autumn 2023
      • Third Cost of Living Payment of £299 – during Spring 2024
  • Disability Cost of Living Payment – a £150 payment for those receiving disability benefits, such as Attendance Allowance.

Age UK has a range of information about these payments and how to further save on your bills.

For more information on Government help for energy bills, head over to their webpage here: Government help with energy bills – cost of living | Age UK

For more information on how to save on water bills, head over to their webpage here: How to lower your water bill to save money | Age UK

What can I apply for?

  • One benefit we offer to patients is the Cost of Living Fund. This fund has been set up in collaboration with Leukaemia UK, and provides grants of up to £200 for essential living costs to patients and families affected by leukaemia, myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or myeloproliferative neoplasms (MPNs).
  • Macmillan grants provide one-off small discretionary grants to help people with the extra costs that cancer can cause. You may be able to get a Macmillan grant depending on your situation and needs. 

Further information

Money-saving expert Martin Lewis has put together a cost-of-living survival kit, which you can find here.

You can also read more information if you are struggling with living costs on The Citizens Advice Bureau here

If you are worried about paying bills or you are in debt, there are organisations where you can seek advice such as:

  • National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
  • Stepchange – 0800 138 1111
  • Citizens Advice Bureau – 0808 800 9060

If there is anything in this article you don’t quite understand, or would like more information on, our Welfare Officer will be happy to help and give you the right advice. We can help with the right information, applications and other financial support you might be eligible for. Contact our team by emailing support@leukaemiacare.org.uk or by our free helpline on 08088 010 444

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