The British Government recently announced a number of measures aimed at helping millions of families who are struggling to make their incomes stretch to cover the rising cost of living. Chancellor Rishi Sunak pledged £15 billion of support in addition to the £22 billion announced previously, saying it was targeted particularly at those with the greatest need.
It includes £650 for those on seven means-tested benefits and £150 for those on disability benefits. Some people may qualify for both of those. But what about single people and families who aren’t on any form of Government payouts such as benefits, tax credits or State Pension?
Many people on social media have raised the issue of what those relying solely on a working wage will get to help them cope with the current cost of living pressures. We have rounded up all the help on offer from the Government or elsewhere and when it will arrive.
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1. £150 energy bill rebate via council tax system
WHEN: April to September 2022
This will provide a payment of £150 to households living in council tax bands A–D. The cash, which is supposed to help with energy bills, is being paid through the council tax payment system from April 2022, and millions of people with direct debits have had it already.
Local councils are responsible for determining who is eligible and making payments. It must be paid out by September 30, 2022, the Government said.
Although described as a ‘council tax rebate’ it is not a reduction in council tax nor is it intended to be used to pay council tax. It is part of the Energy Rebate Scheme 2022 delivered as a one-off payment into the account you use to pay your council tax. The Government is simply using the existing council tax database to process the rebate and identify those households who qualify.
But note that where a household is eligible for the rebate and the local council does not already hold payment details as a result of a direct debit, it may offer the option to receive the payment as a council tax account credit.
2. £150 via £144m Discretionary Fund
When: Depends on local authority
For those who need help with their energy bills but don’t qualify for the above £150 rebate, there is another way of getting financial assistance.
The Government has provided local authorities with £144 million of discretionary funding. This is available if, for example, you are in higher council tax bands (E to H) or in a property in bands A to D that is exempt from council tax.
It can also help if you are a tenant living in a rented house-share where your landlord is the one paying the council tax and getting the £150 rebate. If you miss out on this sum but are affected by rising energy costs, you can also apply for help with bills via the discretionary fund.
In some cases, councils will provide a similar payment of £150. Others are offering £150 for those who get Council Tax Support and live in bands E to H, and £65 for those who do not get Council Tax Support. And in different areas, councils are paying a slightly lower amount of £120.
Check with your local authority to see what they are doing if you are not eligible for the standard £150 for those in bands AD. Birmingham City Council says it is still developing its discretionary funding policy and will release details of how to apply later.
3. £400 energy bill rebate via supplier
When: From November 2022
Originally, the Government intended to give £200 in October that would have to be repaid in £40 installments over the next five years. The Chancellor changed this in his most recent cost of living announcement, doubling the amount to £400 and making it a non-repayable grant.
The Government says energy suppliers will pay this amount to households with a domestic electricity meter over six months from October. Direct debit and credit customers will have the money credited to their account, while customers with pre-payment meters will have the money applied to their meter or paid via a voucher.
4. £200 from Household Support Fund
When: From now until March 2023
The Household Support Fund has been given an extra £500 million and will now run until March 2023, Rishi Sunak indicated. First introduced in September 2021, it had originally been intended to finish in March 2022. It was then extended to the end of September and will now continue another six months beyond that.
The fund is distributed to local authorities who decide how to distribute the cash. When the first fund was announced, Birmingham City Council was awarded £12.8 million. It handed Birmingham Voluntary Service Council (BVSC) £4 million to provide grants to all age groups and households through existing welfare support channels.
That delivered financial payments in the region of £100 per household with a maximum £200 payment, reaching between 17,500 to 35,000 households across the city. Adult social care received £850,000 which included emergency fuel payments.
DWP guidance says the cash can be used to help with:
- food, either directly provided or via vouchers or cash
- energy and water bills
- household essentials such as fridges, ovens, warm clothes and boiler repairs
- other costs such as travel, broadband and phone bills
- emergency housing support
The five types of support that will be available are detailed here.
The Government says it will issue additional guidance to councils “to ensure support is targeted towards those most in need of support, including those not eligible for the Cost of Living Payments.” This suggests it should be available to help those who will not be getting the £650 targeted at means-tested benefits or the £150 for those on disability benefits. Check with your local council to see if you qualify for help.
5. £330 from rise in National Insurance threshold
When: From June 2022
Starting in July 2022, the National Insurance threshold will rise by almost £3,000 from £9,880 to £12,570, to align it with the threshold for income tax. Employees and self-employed people across the UK will keep more of what they earn before any deductions are made, the Chancellor pledged.
It means people can earn £242 per week (up from £190), £1,048 per month (up from £823) or £12,570 per year before they need to pay any National Insurance or income tax. The Government says a typical employee will gain over £330 in the year from July 2022. The equivalent saving for the average self-employed person would be over £250.
From July, employees who earn £36,600 or under (around 70 per cent of workers) will pay less National Insurance, while 2.2 million people will no longer have to pay National Insurance because their wages are below the new threshold.
The changes come on top of the increase in the National Living Wage (for those aged 23 and above) and National Minimum Wage (for those under the age of 23) that came into effect in April 2022.
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