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Are you eligible for £350+ in government help in 2022?

author: Helen Fox

By Helen Fox

With living costs increasing, the government have announced a few schemes to help people tackle their rising costs over the last few months.

We’ve pulled together the details of all the help you can access, so you know all the key things about each scheme.

£150 Council Tax rebate

The £150 Council Tax rebate announced by the government is part of a £9.1 billion package of measures designed to help people with rising energy bills. You won’t have to pay it back, and the vast majority of households will receive it.

You’ll receive the Council Tax rebate if:

  • as a household, you’re liable for the Council Tax – this means that you or someone you live with pays the bill, rather than your landlord
  • the property you live in is in Council Tax bands A-D

You may also be eligible to receive this rebate even if you’re normally exempt from paying Council Tax, for example if you’re a student or live in accommodation for those with additional support needs.

The rebate will be paid to you – or the person in your household who pays the bill – automatically by your local council. If you pay by direct debit, the money will go straight into your bank account. If you usually pay another way, the council may contact you to arrange to get the money to you.

Councils started paying the rebate from April 2022, although it will take them a while to work through everyone in their areas. You may have received yours already. If not, if you speak to your local council, they may be able to give you an idea of when you can expect to receive it.

Read more about the Council Tax rebate.

The discretionary fund

This government fund, worth £144 million, has been divided up between local councils to make sure that those who need a bit of extra help  – primarily those who live in properties that mean they’re not eligible for the Council Tax rebate – have a way to get what they need. Local councils are all setting out their own eligibility criteria and claims processes, so make sure you check your council’s website for information on how to access money from this fund if you need it.

National Insurance threshold increase

In the Spring Statement, the government announced that the thresholds at which we all start to pay the main rate of National Insurance (NI) would be increased to £12,570 a year from July 2022. This is an increase of £2,690. Increasing the primary National Insurance threshold to this amount brings it in line with the Income Tax personal allowance, which is also set at £12,570.

Raising the threshold means you can earn more before you start making NI contributions, leaving more money in your pocket. However, the introduction of the Health and Social Care Levy means that the percentage we pay in NI contributions is increasing. This started from April 2022, while the threshold increase doesn't kick in until July. So, you may find that your contributions go up before they come down.

Over the year, though, the majority of people will still be better off. Despite the Health and Social Care Levy, the BBC has worked out that anyone earning less than £34,000 a year will pay less NI in the 2022-23 tax year than they did in 2021-22.

Learn more about changes to National Insurance contributions for 2022-23.

£200 energy bill discount

This help measure is another part of the government’s £9.1 billion package. Every household with a domestic electricity connection – which means your property is a home, rather than a commercial property like an office – will be eligible to receive this.

Payable from October 2022, every household will receive a £200 discount on their energy bill directly from their provider. How you receive this discount may be different depending on whether you pay by direct debit or are on a pre-payment meter. So, keep an eye out for information from your energy provider to find out how it’ll be paid to you.

However, unlike the Council Tax rebate, this help measure will need to be repaid later. But, it is not a loan and won’t affect your credit score. The money will be repaid by increasing your electricity bill in future years, and nobody will repay more than £40 per year.

Fuel duty cuts

In the Spring Statement, the government announced that fuel duty – the tax we pay on petrol and diesel at the point of purchase – would be cut by 5p per litre. The cut came into effect immediately once it was announced. So, we’re already benefitting from this change, although fuel prices can still go up and down. The lower rate of fuel duty is set to last until March 2023.

In real terms, the tax cut means the average tank of petrol is a few pounds cheaper than it was before. This won’t make a life-changing difference to many, but every little helps!

Watch out, there are scams about

In a situation where many people are feeling more financially vulnerable than usual and there are multiple ways for them to get the help they need, it’s no surprise that scammers are trying to take advantage of the circumstances, too. If successful, criminals could steal your personal details and worse, your money.

To protect yourself, it’s important to keep an eye out for the telltale signs of a scam, such as:

  • being contacted by an organisation in a way they wouldn’t usually get in touch by, for example receiving an email from the council, when they usually communicate by post
  • obvious spelling mistakes, or messages that don’t make proper sense when you read them
  • links in messages you receive that don’t belong to an organisation’s official website, or are ever so slightly different to their normal links
  • being asked to do something unusual, like making a payment upfront in order to receive a larger refund

If you think you’ve received a scam message, report it straight away, both to the organisation it claims to be from, and to Action Fraud.

Looking for more help with the rising cost of living? Find out how to access additional assistance with your gas and electricity bills.

Disclaimer: All information and links are correct at the time of publishing.

author: Helen Fox

By Helen Fox

Happy couple in bright room using laptop and doing paperwork together Happy couple in bright room using laptop and doing paperwork together