Cost Of Living Crisis UK Special Part 1
The so-called Cost Of Living Crisis is one factor that units many of us in these challenging and precarious times. Rising prices for food, petrol, energy and services, plus inadequate income, equals a pretty dire situation. I thought I’d put together a Frugal Finds Cost Of Living Crisis UK Special to look at what support the government is providing and other avenues you may wish to consider for saving money.
In this first part, we’ll look at current government schemes and explain the “energy price cap” that’s not really a cap, along with ways to save money on your energy and utilities.
Three Part Series Special :
- Part 1 – Government Help, Energy Price Cap Explained & Save Money On Your Energy
- Part 2 – Save Money On Your Healthcare & Prescription Costs
- Part 3 – Save On Groceries & Shopping
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Energy Bills Support Scheme – £400 Towards Energy
The Energy Bills Support scheme is the autumn 2022 discount of £400 for all households in Great Britain with a domestic electricity connection. However, as I’ve recently found out from our bill, this is NOT a lump sum payment. It is an automatic discount that is applied piecemeal across several months. It’ll be a £66 discount applied to your bill in October and November, then £67 applied to your bills each month from December 2022 to March 2023.
Everyone will get this monthly-basis discount, regardless of whether you pay monthly, use a payment card, have direct debit quarterly payments, etc. The one difference will be for traditional prepayment meter customers, who will receive vouchers from the first week of each month. These will be sent via post, text message or email.
All those with domestic electricity connections are eligible and don’t need to do anything as this should be automatically applied to your bills. Check your first discounted bill for October and speak with your supplier if you have any questions.
More information on the Energy Bills Support Scheme can be found here.
Cost Of Living Payments
The government under Boris Johnson set up a Cost Of Living Payment scheme to give payments to those deemed most in need. This includes :
- £650 in total for individuals on income-related benefits and/or tax credits.
- £150 disability payment for individuals in receipt of disability benefits (ie. PIP) that aren’t means tested.
- £300 for pensioners who receive winter fuel payments.
These payments are paid at different times. The £650 starts to be paid from July, the disability payment starts from September, and the pensioner payment starts in November 2022.
These payments will of course leave out many people. Even those that are eligible will likely find them to be a pittance that don’t touch the sides given the eye-watering price hikes. Pensioners have been left out and let down repeatedly, especially in terms of the conservatives axing the pension Triple Lock Promise that has stopped pensions increasing at the rate they they should this year.
Truss & Kwarteng Budget Changes
I imagine most people in the UK will be well aware of the furore surrounding the recent budget announcements from the new Prime Minister and chancellor. Liz Truss and Kwasi Kwarteng have reversed the National Insurance (NI) increase, but this is for all people and thus means those on much higher incomes will save far more money. They also removed the top 45p tax rate in the name of “growing the economy” while simultaneously making the rich that bit richer. On 3rd October 2022, this top-tier tax cut was U-turned due to uproar, though it appears it is only postponed for the time being.
There’s very little in the budget that is likely to help many working class or those unable to work, but the situation is continually evolving.
Benefits & Pensions Update
Unfortunately, the new Prime Minister and chancellor are yet to decide how to move forward with benefits and pensions. One proposal is to increase benefits in line with wages rather than inflation, which will be a much lower % increase. The concern is that the worst off and most vulnerable in society are facing a real time cut to their budget if income doesn’t rise in line with prices in the midst of this cost of living crisis. Confirmation of increases to benefits and pensions is still pending at the time of writing.
Be Mindful Of Scams
It sounds a little patronising to remind everyone to be mindful of scams, but as scammers get more sophisticated, more people are sadly falling into the well-placed traps. The government schemes will NOT involve anyone calling, emailing or texting you asking you to click on a link or to provide your personal details, and they will certainly not ask for your payment card.
If you receive communications, always check who it’s from (with caution, as spammers can appear to be from a genuine company when they’re not), whether it looks legit and what they’re wanting you to do. Err on the side of caution if you’re unsure. You should be able to find the company name or appropriate government contact information via a Google search, so get in touch with them directly to confirm the communication is genuine.
The Energy Price Cap (That’s NOT A Cap)
Upon becoming the new Prime Minister, Liz Truss set about capping the spiralling energy costs. The end result appears to be that typical households should now have to pay no more than £2,500 per year for their energy, which will be in place for two years, starting 1st October 2022. Prices are still going to be double or more than what many households were paying before and during the pandemic, but at least the cap may save typical households around £1,000 a year compared to the price they would have jumped to otherwise.
BUT this is NOT a ‘price cap’ per se. It is not Ofgem’s price cap, but it has been agreed with the energy suppliers. And here is the caveat – some homes will still end up paying far more than the “price guarantee” of £2,500 per year!
Why? Because this “guarantee” is only limiting the amount you can be charged by your supplier PER UNIT of gas or electric. Thus, the more you use the more you’ll pay. The £2,500 figure is just an estimate based on a 3 person household. And we’ve no idea if it’s really a typical home or a low-energy household operating in summer without using the heating. The real cost of energy will become known to bill payers over the coming months and because this “cap” has not been well explained, many people will be in for a nasty surprise.
The government notes that “Households who are unable to benefit from the full extent of the Energy Bills Support Scheme and/or Energy Price Guarantee scheme (for example, households not on standard gas / electricity contracts) will receive equivalent support.
More information on the energy bills support for households as well as for businesses can be found here.
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Save Money On Your Gas, Electric & Water
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Ways To Save Energy At Home
Most of the tips for saving energy are pretty common sense and have been trotted out a number of times on different platforms. They seem pretty insulting when you’re looking at price rises of more than 100% and people are having to choose between heating or eating. However, small changes can add up and there may be some things you could tweak to cut costs here and there. For instance :
- If you’re in need of new appliances, go for one with higher energy ratings (for instance, look for A or A+++ for the most energy-efficient).
- A full freezer will actually use less energy than a half empty one.
- Consider home insulation if you haven’t already, such as cavity wall insulation or loft insulation. There may be help available for this from your energy supplier.
- Wash clothes at a lower temperature and do more full laundry loads in your washing machine. Washing at 30 can save pennies and should be suitable for most, though not all, loads.
- Turn lamps, TVs, printers etc off at the wall where possible if they’re not in use. Leaving them on standby still uses electricity so if the product can safely be switched off at the wall, get into the habit of doing so when you’ve finished using it or before going bed each night. You could save around £65 a year by doing this.
- Your hot drink needs are becoming more costly, so only boil what you need in the kettle and don’t overfill it. Avoid pre-boiling if you can and only boil what you need when you need it.
- Use LED bulbs and avoid super cheap ones that get bad reviews as these won’t be cost effective if they only last a few months. LED bulbs should typically last for years and they use less energy than traditional bulbs. According to the Energy Saving Trust, using an LED bulb instead of a 100-watt incandescent one could save £15 per year on the one bulb alone, and you could save £6 a year on a 50-watt bulb swap. Add up all the bulbs in your home and that’s a decent saving.
- Reduce heat lost at home by draft-proofing windows and doors.
- When using the heating, turning down the thermostat by just one degree will save money. You could also consider turning down the flow temperature of your boiler.
- Review your utility bills to see if you could save by making small changes, including by paying direct debit or sending regular meter readings for accurate bills.
- Consider an air-fryer or worktop muti-function oven for regular use. Both options can be used for cooking various products and making meals in an eye-fryer typically takes less time than the oven. With these often using less energy overall than the oven and hob, you could save yourself time, energy and money.
- Contact your supplier(s) to let them know you’re struggling financially and ask if you’re on the cheapest tariff for your needs. You can also enquire about other support available.
- You could use a price comparison site to check costs with alternative suppliers but given the precarious situation with steep prices from all providers, you might not find the type of savings you need to make it worthwhile.
- Reduce use of your dishwasher by running a large full load instead of two or three partial loads. The same can be done with the washing or tumble drying.
- If your boiler is particularly old, it might be worth considering investing in a replacement boiler as newer versions are typically more energy efficient. It’s recommended you only do this if you boiler is very old or broken as the cost of a new one can run into the thousands. You could also check if you’re eligible for a Help To Heat grant. One element of this is a fund to help with the cost of boiler upgrades to encourage the installation of low carbon heating technologies.
- Bleed the radiators and turn off radiators in empty rooms. You don’t want to waste heat where it’s not required.
- Order a free water saving device for your shower, toilet, etc.
The government website also has a quiz with suggestions based on your home and usages for ways you could save.
Get Further Support From Your Energy Supplier
As noted above, you can contact your energy supplier to let them know things are tough financially and ask if you’re on the cheapest tariff and way of paying.
You can also ask what further help may be available. Many energy companies are now making additional support available, including grants, for their vulnerable customers and those struggling financially. I don’t think they’re necessarily contacting all customers to let them know such support is available which is really disappointing, so please do check online for further information and ask your supplier directly.
Also, as part of the Energy Company Obligation, companies should help those who need it the most by installing energy saving measures in their homes. There are certain requirements that need to be met and you can see if you’re eligible here.
Through this scheme, you may be eligible for help with the likes of cavity wall insulation or the replacement of an inefficient boiler. Some improvements may be offered for free, or you may be asked to pay towards them. You won’t pay for an assessment of your home and your needs, and you can always decline any improvements if there’s a cost involved that you’re not happy with. This scheme is through the energy companies themselves, it’s not a government scheme. If you’re not eligible or your supplier doesn’t offer the help you need, you could contact your local council authority to see if there are other avenues of support available.
Energy costs are going to be a big hurdle for many and there’s only so much you can do to manage your finances when your bill is sky-high. Please don’t struggle alone and do consider asking for help to see what may be available.
Do you think the government support is enough? Do you have any other tips for saving money on your utilities and energy bills?
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The ways you list to save on energy costs are excellent, even if one is not on a tight budget. Mohammad once said that is it a sin to waste water even in times of abundant rain. The Bible teaches that God gave us “dominion” over creation, but not to abuse it, but as tenants to use it wisely as we should for the “true Owner.”
❤️& 🙏, c.a.
Thanks, C.A, I’m glad you like the post and tips. I like to think that every little thing can add up, though it’ll look different for everyone – so households will find many ways they can reduce waste and cut costs, but there will also be some people will find they’re doing everything they can already to cut costs and there’s very little wiggle room to save more. Being frugal is a good thing, but it worries me that there will be people will be not using heating when they’re unwell/elderly and freezing, or will skip using the oven for a hot meal because of the cost. I do it too. It people are struggling now, the real winter months will only make the situation worse. Thank you for the comment! x
You have so many great tips here to save on energy. Thank you for always looking out for us, Caz. Looking forward to part 2.
Thanks, Kymber – I’m glad you like the post! I’m sorry this is UK-based, I considered doing UK & US but then I’d feel bad for leaving out other countries. Plus, I’m finding it quite hard to see what schemes are available in the US so I’m hoping the prices are either not rocketing quite so much or that there are schemes to help ease the burden for businesses and households. x
This is such a worrying time for so many people and, despite giving some people help, this government really doesn’t care. I’m glad you said “income-related benefits” are getting the £650 help. So many tv programmes, news and newspapers just say, “people on benefit” and they are so wrong. My benefit is contribution-based so I am not entitled to any of that help. I’m in a fortunate position just now that I can manage, but many other people on the same benefit cannot. Someone said that contribution-based means that they think you are just off sick from work. In that case, I have been off sick for 28 years.
The cap that isn’t a cap is an absolute joke really. You have given some great tips for saving on energy bills – thank you for sharing those. There are only two of us in the house, so I let the laundry basket pile up. I also rinse dishes and then pile them up to wash them properly once a day.
Fantastic, helpful post, Caz. I’m looking forward to parts 2 and 3.
You’re right about how these schemes are often talked about in general terms so it sounds like more people are eligible than is really the case. These schemes may look almost good at first glance, but they barely touch the sides. I’m sorry you’re not eligible for the £650, that’s really, really crap. I’m glad you can manage financially at the moment, but like you say, that’s hardly the point as based on an incorrect assumption. All this stuff, on top of everything regarding the NHS (a rant for another time!) is making me so mad. The “cap” is also absurd and it’s disappointing the media hasn’t done a better job of discussing this to make it clear what it really is.
I’m glad you like the tips, too. It seems almost silly to give any because it’s usually common sense stuff and most folks on a tight budget do whatever of these things they can already. Some people just won’t have the wriggle room to save more money. I’ve admittedly been washing my hands in cold water, skipped ever using the oven or hob for warm meals, and I’ve tried not to use my head pad so much for the past year. I’m not sure it has really done any good. Apparently, a whole heated blanket only costs 3p per hour to run – wish I’d known that before! Time to start using the little heat pads regularly again, and eating hot food! It just doesn’t feel like the situation is going to turn the corner anytime soon. I wondered this – do you think prices will ever go back down, or are we on a path where the current prices are now the norm and they’ll never return to what they were just months ago? No idea.
I hope you & Ian are keeping as well as possible my friend. Give the furball a cuddle from me! xx
I can’t see prices coming back down. Even if/when a different government takes charge, I don’t know how they’ll solve this problem. It’s such a mess.
Great Post as ever Caz. So thoughtful of you to put it together. We have a plug in oil filled rad in our bedroom atm, as I’m in here 24/7 currently. So we can take the chill off the room in a short space of time, rather than heating the whole house. Thermostat now down to 16°. Not sure we can do much else, as do majority of your list, apart from an air fryer. Might look into that, but another gadget to store. We just had our oven cleaned, so it should be more efficient now. Xx
I’m glad you have a individual radiator that can warm the area you’re in. It’s miserable when you’re not well and struggle with the cold but can’t bear the thought of central heating and the inevitable cost. I’m finding it getting increasingly difficult as my bedroom is an ice-box. I would have thought a plug-in heater would be quite costly but maybe not. I thought the same about heated blankets but apparently they’re really cheap to run!
I thought it would be insulting to list tips for saving on energy as it’s mostly stuff we all know, but I did find a few odd things and related schemes that might help some. The problem is there will be people like who you already do most of what they can so there’s not really the wiggle room to save any more. That’s concerning, especially as it’s not even really winter yet. I agree on the air-fryer being another gadget to store. If you don’t think you could get lots of use from it, and to be fair we don’t get loads of use from the one I bought my folks for Christmas but it’s very good when it is used, then it’s one you could skip over pretty easily.
Enjoy your sparkly clean oven and stay warm, Penny. Sending gentle hugs xxxx
Thanks Caz. I think if a plug in rad was on all the time, it would be costly. But I have it on for about 20 minutes, every now & then.
Its an oil filled radiator, so heats quickly & stays warm for a little while when switched off. Thankfully the house is well insulated, & being upstairs the room warms quickly.
We relied on it when we were minus central heating for a year about a decade ago. That was pretty abysmal. Horrible for our children. And a dodgy immersion heater, but we got through. Condensation pouring down the windows every morning which had to be dried off.
Since that year, I no longer leave the shower running when using it. It’s on/off/on/off, as at that time we were desperate to conserve scant hot water. We’ve always been careful with energy use, so hopefully our habits will help.
Stay warm & hope you can find a way of improving your ice box of a bedroom. Hugs from here. Xxxx
Thank you very much for such a comprehensive guide to the cost of living crisis, Caz. You have so many helpful ideas and information here. I’m also in the UK, so I am struggling like many others. I’m on PIP (disability benefit), so I don’t qualify for the £650 as my benefit isn’t means-tested. Although I’m thankful for it, I’ve just received my £150 as a disabled person, which will not go anywhere given the awful price rises. As it is, I can’t afford to have my heating on at all, not even in the winter. It’s miserable being so cold even though I wear lots of layers, two pairs of socks and thick slippers, and I have an electric heat pad my daughter bought me for Christmas last year. That does help a bit. My hands get cold, though, especially as I have problems with my circulation. I wear gloves indoors, but I can’t type with them on – I’ve just bought a pair of arthritis-friendly fingerless gloves, so I can still type at least, and they weren’t grossly expensive either. I can highly recommend an air fryer, too. I was given one of these last year, and it’s been fantastic as I haven’t needed to use the oven since then. It’s only a small one as I’m only cooking for one. I have an electric blanket on my bed, which is a good way to stay warm in bed without having the heating on. As for the £400 everyone gets, I think it’s really unfair that even the wealthy get this – it must be like pocket money to them. I feel it would have been fairer to take that money and give it to people who are really in need. However, As I’m not Liz Truss (thank goodness), that’s not going to happen! I do hope you will manage to stay warm this winter. I’m looking forward to reading parts two and three of this guide. I think there will be a lot of grateful people reading your posts here. Thanks again, Caz. Love Ellie Xxx 🌷💞
I’m sorry you’re struggling financially too, Ellie. I understand the reasoning somewhat with the PIP situation because people can get that regardless of income, so someone could earn 40k and still get PIP, thus being eligible for the £650 isn’t appropriate. BUT they’ve not considered the grey areas at all. And like you say, they’re giving the £400 for energy to everyone, including the millionaires! And don’t get me started on the attempts to make the rich that bit richer by taking off the top tax rate. It makes my blood boil.
I worry that many people are going to be averse to the mere idea of using the oven for a hot meal (something I’ve not done in 2 years) or putting the heating on. I’ve been washing my hands in cold water all this year thinking it’d save us money. Hasn’t really helped the Raynaud’s! But we (me and elderly parents) are fortunate that we can afford things, we just have to be careful. There are many that can’t afford the essentials. It won’t help anyone mentally and it certainly won’t help physically. When unwell, many of us struggle with the cold and heating is vital. I don’t know what to say with regards to your situation, Ellie. This isn’t right. I’m glad you have an electric heat pad – apparently electric blankets cost 3p an hour to run (according to an energy supplier who’ve started giving out some free ones to their customers). It’s much cheaper than I thought. But all the layers of clothes can only do so much. I wish I could do something you help you, I don’t want you struggling and not being able to heat even the room you’re sat in at home. This isn’t bloody fair. 💜💜💜
Yes, my friend. Us, too.
Ah damn, it really is a growing problem in many countries, especially those that took considerable Covid measures and then got hit again by rising gas prices 😢
This is a real public service at a time when help is sorely needed by so many, Caz. Brava to you!
Thank you, Annie 🙏 I really do hope it might help someone, even to clear up any misunderstandings or uncertainties. It’s all getting pretty complicated and miserable where governments and finances are involved! I hope you’re having a lovely week so far 🌻 xx
Charlee: “Ooh, yes, this is a big problem here in California.”
Chaplin: “People are constantly posting on the local groups looking for places to live and their budgets are never enough to afford even a studio rental anymore.”
Java Bean: “Mama and Dada’s friends who were renting a house here actually moved out of state because the rent got to be too high. I never even got to meet them!”
Lulu: “Yeah, if Mama and Dada hadn’t bought a house here 20 years ago they certainly couldn’t afford to live here now.”
I’m sorry your Mama and Dada’s friends had to move out of state, that’s so sad. We couldn’t afford to move back to the town we came from, even though it’s way smaller and crappier than our current town, because the prices are now sky-high! It seems those in their 30s or under now will never afford a property unless they come into money. Or if they make an app that makes billions. Say, I don’t suppose you four have any technical skills you can turn your paws to? 😉 xx
Lots of good advice here no matter where you live! You should see how full I let the dishwasher get before I run it. Well maybe you shouldn’t. Electricity here in California is by far our biggest utility cost and we’re hoping that the new energy bill will maybe help us finally get solar installed. I guess we’ll see …
This is why you always need extra plates and cutlery, so you can afford to fill the dishwasher to bursting point and still have something to eat your dinner on. I’m sorry energy is so expensive there, too. I’m not sure what the situation currently is with solar but I hope you get some financial support for panels and can save some money generating your own energy. I’m thinking Cali is a good place for solar panels!! x
what an incredible comprehensive post with great tips Cass!!! 🙌🏽
Thanks lovely, I’m glad you like it! 💜 xx
This is such a helpful and comprehensive post! Thank you so much Caz for all the time you spent compiling all this information and all these tips and sharing ithem with us. This is such a helpful and comprehensive post! Thank you so much Caz for all the time you spent compiling all this information and all these tips and sharing them with us. I cant wait for your part 2 and 3!
The cost of living is sadly rising not only in the UK but also in many other countries. So many families are affected by this crisis and can’t find the way to make ends meet, the least governments can do is to help the most vulnerable and prevent more people falling into poverty.
I’m really pleased you like the post, Blanca, thank you! I really do hope it might be able to help someone, even if just to clear up something they’re not sure of or give them a little inspiration. It’s awful that this Cost Of Living Crisis is hitting so many countries worldwide, where the public too often suffer for the mistakes and mismanagement of their governments. The least governments can do is offer financial support, but sadly it’s not reaching everyone or stretching far enough. We can look at the ways we can help ourselves, but beyond that, we may just need a miracle. Let’s hope the situation is a brighter one next year and not as bad as we’re led to believe it will be!
Thanks again lovely 💜 I hope you have a great week ahead! xx
I think it is good that there are some support and payment schemes, but it is definitely not enough especially when the energy price cap isn’t actually a price cap and some households will still have to pay more than £2,500.
Your list of ways to save money on energy is so useful. That’s a good idea of unplugging lamps, TVs, and other things when not in use, and I’ve been using my air fryer a lot instead of having to turn on the oven.
I agree with you, Karalee, the support is good (and really, obligatory considering the government has got us into this mess) but it’s not enough, not by a long shot. I’m frustrated they seem to have no common sense. Everything just seems like it’s upside down and I don’t get it! They’re not doing anything to resolve the crux of the issues either and where money is leaking, they’re not doing anything to stop it. Grr. I’m glad you like the energy-saving tips. So much of it is just common sense and oft-trotted out advice, but there are a couple of things to keep in mind or ideas some people might not have necessarily considered before. Turning everything off when not in use is something you can get into a habit with so it’s a good idea. It’s great you’re getting good use of your air-fryer – they’re pretty awesome, aren’t they? 😁 xx
I didn’t know that a full freezer uses less electricity, thank you ! 🙂
Apparently so, yes! I don’t feel so bad stocking up on things when they’re on sale now because a full freezer is apparently more economical! 😉
Oh yes, two birds with one stone … 😅
Caz, you are certainly doing your bit to help mitigate inflation. We are already doing many of the excellent energy-saving practices you recommend, and we certainly want to do more if we can.
Inflation seems to hit the most vulnerable people hardest. In the US, Social Security benefits will have a significant increase in January, but still not as much as the rate of inflation. From reports I hear on the news, this is a global problem and may result in a global recession next year.
Aw Cheryl, what a lovely comment – thank you very much. I really do hope this might help someone, even if it’s just to clarify something they were unsure of or give them something to think about where energy is concerned. I imagine many people already do all the common-sense energy saving, and many will be doing everything they can to cut costs generally anyway so they won’t have much wiggle-room to save more. But it’s always good if you can find a new idea, or be reminded of something, because every little adds up during these financially tough times. You’re right, the most vulnerable will be the hardest hit. I don’t understand why politicians seem so averse to taxing the rich and the energy companies that are raking in billions from our misery. Oh yes, I do – it’s politics! 😂 I’m really glad to hear Social Security is getting a decent boost at the start of next year. It probably should be sooner than that as people will struggle over winter, but it’s something.
I hope the week ahead treats you kindly 🌺 xx
thanks for the great tips for my part of the world too
‘Deck of Cards’ and circus springs to mind at present.
Brilliant post Caz, thank you! x