Cost of Living Support Schemes
Posted:15th July 2022
The government have recently announced various support packages to assist with the current cost of living crisis and the packages available to people in varying circumstances can be confusing. Below is a break down of the different support packages, who can receive the payments, and the amounts available, as well as, example scenarios to help highlight how the different packages can be applied and hopefully give some clarity and reassurance to you.
Council Tax Rebate:
Everyone living in Council Tax bands A to D should already have received notification from their Local Authority on when they would automatically receive a £150 rebate from their Council Tax (and a lot of people may have already receive the payment into their bank account or credited to their Council Tax account). For those living in bands E and above, a rebate is not available. If you are exempt from paying Council Tax, for example if you are in receipt of Council Tax Support or have a Severe Mental Impairment exemption, then you will have needed to apply to your Local Authority to receive this rebate. You would either have to supply them with your bank details or they may send you a letter to obtain the funds from a local Post Office instead. Check with your Local Authority if you are unsure or have not yet received this rebate. The rebate only applies to properties that you live in, not empty properties, and you can only receive it once.
Energy Bills Support Scheme:
Every household with a domestic electricity meter will receive a £400 grant from the government. Households will not need to apply for the Scheme, for those who pay by Direct Debit, this should be credited to their account within 6 months from October 2022 and for those who pay via a pre-payment meter, this should be applied to their meter or via a voucher. The government are working on how the payment will be delivered, so how this will be paid maybe subject to change. This £400 is in addition to the above Council Tax rebate.
Cost of Living Payment for those on Means Tested Benefits:
For anyone in receipt of an income-based benefit (so excluding any non-means tested benefits, such as Contribution Based ESA or PIP/DLA), they will receive a payment of £650, made in two instalments. The qualifying benefits are:
- Universal Credit
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment Support Allowance (ESA)
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Pension Credit
The first instalment of £326 will be made from July and you must have been entitled to a payment (or at a later date, have been found to be entitled to a payment) for the following assessment periods:
- Universal Credit – as assessment period that ended in the period of 26th April 2022 to 25th May 2022. Check your online journal under “Payments” to see if you received any Universal Credit payment between these dates.
- Income-based JSA, income-related ESA, Income Support or Pension Credit for any day in the period of 26th April 2022 to 25th May 2022. You should have received a letter from the DWP advising of any such claim (this may be an annual notification sent out between January and April 2022).
The second payment of £324 will be made in the autumn, however the government have not yet advised when this will be or what the qualifying period will be.
Both payments are tax-free, will not count towards your savings for benefit purposes, and will not have any impact on your existing benefit claims. The payments will also automatically be made to the qualifying person directly, however the benefits are usually received.
If you qualify for more than one of the above benefits (such as ESA and Tax Credits) then you will only receive the £650 once. HMRC are delaying their payments to allow other benefits to make the award first. You should only receive the £650 from HMRC if you are only in receipt of Tax Credits and no other qualifying benefits.
Disability Cost of Living Payment:
For those who receive the following disability benefits, there will be an additional one-off payment of £150 from September:
- Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
- Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
- Attendance Allowance (AA)
- Scottish Disability Benefits
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- War Pension Mobility Supplement
To qualify for the £150 payment, one of the above benefits must have received a benefit payment (or later receive a payment) as of the 25th May 2022. Any qualify period that starts after this date will not be eligible for the £150 payment.
Again, this payment will be tax-free, will not count towards your savings for benefit purposes and will not have any impact on your existing benefit claims. The payments will be automatically made to the qualifying person in the same manner as the benefit is usually received
Pensioner Cost of Living Payment:
In addition to the above, pensioner households will also receive a one-off payment of £300. This will be applied to anyone who qualifies for a Winter Fuel Payment and if they are over State Pension age (aged 66 or above) between 19th and 25th September 2022. This £300 is in addition to the person’s usual Winter Fuel Payment, which is currently between £200 and £300 and will be made at the same time as the usual Winter Fuel Payment in November/December. For most pensioner households, this will be via Direct Debit into their bank account.
The payment is tax-free and does not affect the person’s eligibility for other benefits.
Household Support Fund:
This funds is administered by Local Authorities and eligibility is determined by each individual council. An extra £500m is being made available by the government for this fund (taking it to £1.5 billion in total) and it is being extended from October 2022 to March 2023. The Household Support Fund is available for those in most need of support, including those who don’t qualify for any of the payments listed above, to assist with food, energy and water bills.
- A single person who is employed and has no disabilities, will receive the Council Tax rebate of £150 and the Energy Bills Support of £400 = £550 total.
- A couple, both out of work, one of whom has a disability, will receive the Council Tax rebate of £150, the Energy Bills Support of £400, the Means Tested Benefits of £650 and the Disability Payment of £150 = £1,350 total.
- A pensioner couple, one of whom receives DLA, but neither receiving Pension Credit due to private pensions, will receive the Council Tax rebate of £150, the Energy Bills Support of £400, the Disability Payment of £150 and the Pensioner Payment of £300, plus their usual Winter Fuel Payment = £1,000 total (plus £200-£300 Winter Fuel Payment).
All of the above information is available on www.gov.uk.