All the cost of living help available before Christmas and how to get payments

Poorer households are expected to be hardest hit, while elderly people have reported having to choose between heating or eating

Zoe Tidman
Friday 11 November 2022 10:53 GMT
When will we start seeing our energy bills capped?

The rising cost of living is stretching budgets across the UK this winter, with warnings of more to come.

Britain is on the cliff edge of a deep and long recession, as energy bills soar, interest rates increase and inflation continues to climb.

All of that means living standards are forecast to tumble at their fastest pace since the 1950s, as wages fail to keep up with changes. Millions face a tough Christmas with families forced to choose between heating and eating.

Households across the country await with bated breath the government’s 17 November fiscal statement as chancellor Jeremy Hunt said there was a “tough road ahead” following the UK economy’s latest performance results.

For now, the package of measures Mr Sunak unveiled earlier this year as chancellor remains in play.

What support is available?

£200 Household Support Fund

Prior to his dramatic recent resignation in June, Mr Sunak twiced extended the lifespan of the Household Support Fund, originally only intended to run from October 2021 to March 2022.

Now help will be available until March 2023, granting local authorities a total of £1.5 billion to hand out over 18 months among residents they deem to be most in need of financial help.

Precisely how much individuals receive could vary between households depending on their circumstances as the calculation is left up to councils’ discretion, although £200 is the headline rate.

The process of applying begins through your local council’s website, which you can find here by entering your postcode.

Search “Household Support Fund” on your local authority’s site for more details about how funds are allocated and distributed in your area to see whether you are eligible for a grant and, if so, how much.

Cost of living: how to get help

The cost of living crisis has touched every corner of the UK, pushing families to the brink with rising food and fuel prices. The Independent has asked experts to explain small ways you can stretch your money, including managing debt and obtaining items for free.

If you need to access a food bank, find your local council’s website using and then use the local authority’s site to locate your nearest centre. The Trussell Trust, which runs many foodbanks, has a similar tool.

Citizens Advice provides free help to people in need. The organisation can help you find grants or benefits, or advise on rent, debt and budgeting.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress and isolation, or are struggling to cope, The Samaritans offers support; you can speak to someone for free over the phone, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch.

£400 energy bill discount

The now ex-chancellor but current Prime Minister said has said that every household will receive a £400 energy bill discount as a cushion for soaring prices.

This will replace a planned £200 universal loan that was announced in February. It is now being doubled and turned into a grant, with customers no longer having to pay the money back.

Households will get the £400 energy discount from October. It will be paid directly to households across the UK.

£650 one-off payment to low-income households

This was another measure announced by Mr Sunak to try and ease the cost of living crisis for the poorest in the UK.

The grant applies to more than eight million households on benefits on Universal Credit, Tax Credits, Pension Credit, and legacy benefits.

There is no need to apply for it. Instead, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) will pay the money straight into the bank accounts of those eligible.

It will be paid in two installments. The first will be in July and the second later in the autumn.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are due to unveil their financial plan later this month (PA Wire)

£300 payment to pensioners

Mr Sunak also announced a new one-off grant for pensioners.

Individuals will be eligible if they are over the state pension age – 66 years old or above – between 19 and 25 September this year.

Again, pensioners do not need to apply to receive the payment. It will be paid directly to them in November or December alongside the Winter Fuel Payment.

They usually receive £200 to £300 to cover energy costs in winter, so this means they will get double the usual support.

£150 to individuals receiving disability benefits

This was another cost of living payment revealed by the former chancellor.

The grant will be paid to eligible individuals receiving disability benefits. These are:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Scottish Disability Benefits
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

As with all the new cost of living grants, there is no need to apply and the grant will be paid directly to those eligible.

This payment will be made in September.

The additional payments to low-income households, pensioners and those in receipt of disability benefits aim to give extra help to those considered the most vulnerable to the rising cost of living.

Food bank use has soared in recent months (Getty Images)

£150 council tax rebate

The council tax rebate scheme was launched in February to help families hit by soaring energy bills.

All households in council tax bands A to D can get the grant, with those who pay by direct debit already receiving the money automatically earlier this year.

However, in April it was announced that the £150 council tax payment had been left unclaimed by many and is now on course to expire with around 300,000 households yet to claim the relief as the 30 November deadline draws near.

Ministers extended the deadline to apply, from 30 September to 30 November, but the government has said there are no plans for further extensions.

The money will be particularly important now as energy bills have risen since the start of October.

Britons can call their local council or check their website to find out how to apply for the rebate.

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