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.
If and when additional help schemes are announced, or if more information becomes available, we’ll update this page. This information is correct at the time of writing, 27th May 2022.
£150 Council Tax rebate
The £150 Council Tax rebate announced by the government is part of a huge 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 in 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.
The Household Support Fund
This government fund, which has recently been allocated another £500 million, has been divided up between local councils to make sure that those who need a bit of extra help can get it. It can help by providing grants for things like food, clothing, and utility bills.
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 this fund if you need it. This scheme is running until 30th September 2022.
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.
£400 energy bill grant
This measure is another part of the government’s package to tackle the rising cost of living. Every residential household will be eligible to receive this.
Originally, this payment was intended to be for £200 and was meant to be repaid later. However, faced with the expectation that the energy price cap will rise again in October 2022, the government changed their plans.
From October 2022, every household will receive a £400 grant on their energy bill directly from their provider – spread over six months. And, this will not need to be repaid.
How will I receive my £400 energy grant?
If you pay by direct debit, the money will be credited to your energy account over six months. If you have a pre-payment meter, the grant will either be applied to your meter, or you will receive a voucher.
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!
One-off payments for the most vulnerable households
The additional package of help measures announced by the government in May 2022 includes lump sum “cost of living” payments targeted at those feeling the effects of rising costs the most. These include:
- £650 each for 8 million households who receive means-tested benefits like Universal Credit, Tax Credits and Pension Credit, payable in two lump sums – the first from July
- £300 each for 8 million pensioner households who receive the Winter Fuel Payment, payable in the autumn
- £150 each for 6 million people who receive disability benefits, payable from September
If you fall into more than one of these categories, you may receive multiple payments as each scheme comes into effect. In most cases, the payments you’re due will be paid directly to you using details the Department of Work and Pensions already hold on file for you.
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 tell-tale 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: We make every effort to ensure that content is correct at the time of publication. Please note that information published on this website does not constitute financial advice, and we aren’t responsible for the content of any external sites.