Help with the cost of living
People in communities across the country are facing an unprecedented cost-of-living crisis. Costs are increasing daily, with food, fuel and energy prices all going up. On top of everything else, I know it can often be difficult to know where to start and where to go when it comes to getting support. That’s why I’ve pulled together this information and I hope that it’s a handy starter for ten, setting out some of the support and guidance that’s available and how to access that support.
The Welsh Government has stepped in where it can and with the limited levers available to it and it has also set up a comprehensive page dedicated to the support that’s available for people in Wales with the cost-of-living crisis. Find out more at www.gov.wales/get-help-cost-living
Of course, as always I am here to help as your local Member of the Senedd and you can also contact my office if there’s something you think I can assist you with. My team and I are on hand to offer support either by email at email@example.com or by phone on 01352 753464.
YOUR GUIDE TO GETTING SUPPORT
DISCRETIONARY ASSISTANCE FUND
The Discretionary Assistance Fund provides two types of grant that you do not need to pay back – the Emergency Assistance Payment (EAP) and an Individual Assistance Payment (IAP). The EAP is a grant that helps to pay for essential costs such as food, gas, electricity, clothing or emergency travel if you’re facing extreme hardship and will also provide support for off-grid households that have to pre-pay for their fuel. The IAP is for buying furniture or ‘white goods’ such as a washing machine, cooker or fridge.
WARM HOMES PROGRAMME
If you’re on low income and own your house, you might be eligible for free energy efficiency improvements through the Nest | Nyth scheme.
WARM HOME DISCOUNT SCHEME
You could get £150 off your electricity and gas bills for winter 2023-2024 as part of this scheme, administered by the UK Government. It’s automatic if you’re eligible and paid direct to your supplier, plus it can also be used for pre-payment meters through a voucher. If you think you’re eligible, you can double check at the link below.
FUEL BANK FOUNDATION SCHEME
This scheme runs across Wales and is designed to support people in fuel crisis, with partners in every local authority area. It’s aimed primarily at households which pay for their fuel in advance, either through pre-payment meters or bulk-buying fuel such as for oil tanks. To find out more, it’s best to contact Flintshire Citizen’s Advice on their Adviceline 0808 278 7923.
COLD WEATHER PAYMENTS & WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS
The Cold Weather Payment scheme starts if your area is recorded as having a temperature of zero degrees celsius or below for seven consecutive days and is worth £25 per seven-day period. The scheme starts on November 1.
Winter Fuel Payments are automatically given to people born before September 25, 1957, and residents are informed by letter of how much they can expect. Use the link below if you think you’re eligible and haven’t received a letter.
COST OF LIVING PAYMENTS
You may be entitled to up to three Cost of Living Payments totally £900 from the UK Government if you’re in receipt of certain benefits.
HELP TO STAY WALES SCHEME
The Welsh Government scheme helps people struggling to pay their mortgages by providing repayable equity loans, interest free for five years, for people who are at risk of losing their home.
GAS AND ELECTRICITY
You can get help if you are struggling to pay for your energy bill or topping up your pre-payment meter by speaking to your energy supplier. Further advice is also available from Flintshire Citizen’s Advice on 0808 278 7923.
If you are having difficulty paying your water bill, you should contact your supplier immediately. If you are with Dŵr Cymru / Welsh Water, they have outlined the support they can provide, which includes payment plans and water rate reductions. Hafren Dyfrdwy has similar arrangements.
BROADBAND AND MOBILE PHONE BILLS
If you are concerned about paying your broadband or mobile bill, you
should contact your supplier immediately, as they may be able to put a
payment plan or other support in place to help you stay connected.
BANKS, CREDIT CARDS AND LOANS
If you are unable to keep up with your credit commitments, your creditors
may agree to a short-term payment holiday. You can request this, but
creditors do not have to agree. The missed payments will usually be
treated as arrears and interest may continue to be added. If you are
concerned about paying your bank or credit card payments, you should
contact your financial services provider immediately to see what support
they could offer.
Whether you’re a tenant in the social sector or private sector, it’s important that you talk to your landlord at the earliest opportunity if you think you will have difficulty paying your rent and bills, as they may be able to help you. You could also be entitled to help with your housing costs.
Click here for more details
Flintshire Citizen’s Advice has a private rented sector debt helpline – CALL: 0808 278 7920
DISCRETIONARY HOUSING PAYMENTS
If you’re a tenant in either private or social housing, you might be entitled to Discretionary Housing Payments from your local council, in addition to your benefits, to help with your housing costs.
COUNCIL TAX DISCOUNTS AND REDUCTIONS
You may be entitled to a Council Tax discount, exemption or reduction
depending on your circumstances. There are a few different schemes
available. Check your eligibility below.
CLAIM WHAT’S YOURS
Many people are unaware they may be entitled to benefits that could
offer them the support they need. If you are unsure about what benefits
you can claim, Advicelink Cymru can help you check and claim what’s
CALL: 0808 250 5700
FREE SCHOOL MEALS
Free School Meals are available to eligible pupils who attend school full-time in
Wales. To find out if your child or children are entitled to a free school meal, you
can contact your local authority to find out more information and if your child or
children are eligible.
FREE BREAKFAST SCHEME
Children who have the opportunity to eat a healthy and nutritious breakfast prior to the start of the school day are healthier and are more likely to achieve their full educational potential. Your child or children may be entitled to receive free breakfast if the primary school they go to is maintained by the local authority and if it provides free breakfasts. You need to ask the school for free breakfasts for your child to receive them.
SCHOOL ESSENTIALS GRANT
The School Essentials Grant helps families with the costs of the school day and can be used for items such as school uniform and equipment. Learners whose families are on lower incomes and qualify for certain benefits can apply for the grant of £125 per learner and £200 for those learners entering year 7, recognising the increased costs associated with starting secondary school. This scheme closes on May 31, 2024.
The Childcare Offer for Wales provides up to 30 hours of government-funded
early education and childcare to eligible working parents of three and four-yearolds for 48 weeks of the year.
HEALTHY START SCHEME
If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four, you may
be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk. You’ll be sent a Healthy
Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops to buy items
such as milk (fresh, frozen) and tinned fruit and vegetables, instant formula
milk, Healthy Start vitamins.
CITIZENS ADVICE CYMRU
Citizens Advice Cymru has a page dedicated to getting help with the cost of
Click here for more details | CALL: 0808 278 7923
MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT
The C.A.L.L. Helpline is a dedicated mental health helpline. It provides
confidential help to find support available in your local area. This includes
voluntary and charitable organisations.
CALL: 0800 132 737 or TEXT: 81066
The Trussell Trust has a network of 428 foodbanks which work to tackle
food poverty and hunger. They work with referral agencies to issue food
vouchers to those in need of emergency food in times of crisis and can
provide a three-day emergency food parcel.
Click here for more details | CALL: 01352 757235
COMMUNITY FRIDGES AND WARM HUBS
Community fridges are running at Parkfields Community Centre in Mold
and at Refurbs in Flint where, for a small donation, you can top up your
shopping with donated items. Flintshire Council has also set up Warm
Welcome hubs across the county where you can get a hot drink and warm
up – for details, see the online map on this link.
Housing problems often begin because of financial difficulties. If you don’t
have much money it can be difficult to find a decent home and if you can’t
pay the rent or mortgage you could face eviction. Shelter Cymru has a
section on their website dedicated to the help available to pay for housing.
If you are struggling financially and looking to borrow, you should always
make sure it is from an affordable, safe and ethical lender. Credit unions
will only lend what you can afford to repay, helping to avoid further
unmanageable debt. They are particularly good for those who find it difficult
to borrow from banks due to having a poor credit history. Cambrian Credit
Union runs an office at KIM Inspire The Hub in Holywell.