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Practical advice for the cost of living challenges

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Families across the UK are facing a cost of living crisis as a result of the rising cost of goods and energy and high inflation. People with disabilities often have higher additional costs from using extra heating, water, personal care or needed specialist equipment to manage their condition.

In this blog, Mike Bell, Head of Public Affairs and Campaigns at Thomas Pocklington Trust, sets out some of the key information that may be useful to Childhood Eye Cancer Trust members and supporters. You can find more useful information for people with a visual impairment on the Thomas Pocklington Trust’s cost of living hub.

Getting what you are entitled to

There are already a range of benefits and financial support available if you’re disabled or have a health condition. If you’re not sure what you’re entitled to, or whether you’re claiming the right benefits, you can check here:

If you live in England or Wales:

https://www.gov.uk/browse/benefits/disability

If you live in Scotland:

https://www.mygov.scot/browse/benefits/disability-benefits

If you live in Northern Ireland:

https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/information-and-services/benefits-and-financial-support/disability

Government support for Cost of Living 

There is a series of government interventions available for those who need the most help with rising costs, which includes disabled people. These include:

  1. £150 Cost of Living Payment for disabled people in September

From 20 September, 6 million people who were paid certain disability benefits on 25 May, or are subsequently found to be entitled to payment for that day, will receive an automatic one-off £150 payment. There is no requirement for you to apply for this payment as it will be made automatically. 

This Disability Cost of Living Payment is paid to individuals, so multiple disabled people within the same household will each receive this payment.

This £150 disability payment is on top of the £1,200 most low income benefit claimants will also receive and alongside wider support targeted at disabled people, including help with transport and prescription costs.

Most of these payments have now been made.

  1. £650 Cost of Living Payment for people receiving means-tested benefits in summer and autumn

Disabled people who receive specific means-tested benefits can receive a total of £650 in two automatic Cost of Living payments.

This will be made automatically in two payments, one at £326 in summer and at £324 in the autumn. If you already receive the eligible benefits you do not need to do anything, the payment will be made automatically.

To get the first payment you must have:

  • been getting one of the eligible benefits in the qualifying period 26 April to 25 May 2022; OR
  • applied for one of these benefits by 25 May 2022 – you won’t get the payment until your claim is successful

To get the second payment you must have:

  • Been getting one of the eligible benefits in the qualifying period 26 August to on 25 September 2022; OR
  • applied for one of these benefits by 25 September 2022 – you won’t get the payment until your claim is successful
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The full eligibility criteria can be found here.

The second payment will be paid from 8th November 2022.

Check if you’re eligible for Cost of Living Payments

  1. Support for all:

In September the Government announced the Energy Price Guarantee, meaning a typical household will pay no more than £2500 a year on their energy bill for the next two years. This will save the average household £1000 a year on energy prices, compared to the forecast price rise before the Energy Price Guarantee was introduced.

This comes on top of other universal support including the £400 for all households to help with energy bills, and an extra £150 for properties in Council Tax bands A to D in England. You do not need to do anything, this payment will be made automatically based on your Council Tax band.

The Household Support Fund has also been expanded to help people with food and energy bills. This is planned to run from October 2022 to March 2023. Please visit your local authority to find out more information.

Additional support in the Autumn Statement for Cost of Living 

  1. New direct Cost of Living Payments to households on means tested benefits

More than 8 million UK households on eligible means tested benefits will receive additional Cost of Living Payments totalling up to £900 in the 2023-24 financial year.

This includes eligible households receiving the following benefits:

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit
  • Child Tax Credit

These will be made in more than one payment. DWP and HMRC will provide further detail on timing of these payments and eligibility dates in due course.

These payments will be tax-free, will not count towards the benefit cap, and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards. These payments will be made on a UK-wide basis.

2. New Disability Cost of Living Payments for people on disability benefits

Over 6 million people across the UK on eligible ‘extra costs’ disability benefits will receive a further £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment in 2023-24, to help with the additional costs they face. This is in addition to the Cost of Living Payments for households on means tested benefits and pensioner households, if eligible.

This includes everyone eligible for:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Scottish Disability Benefits
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement
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DWP will provide further detail on timing of the payments and eligibility dates in due course.

This payment will be tax-free and will not have any impact on existing benefit awards. These payments will be made on a UK-wide basis.

3. Benefits uprating

The Government is protecting the most vulnerable in society, many of whom face the biggest challenge making their incomes stretch, by increasing benefits in line with inflation. This means that they will rise by September Consumer Prices Index (CPI) inflation – 10.1%.

Uprating working age and disability benefits will cost £11 billion next year. More than 10 million working age families will see their benefit payments rise from April 2023. The Government is also providing support this winter for people who need help now, including money off energy bills and cost of living payments announced in May 2022.

DWP benefits are fully devolved in Northern Ireland, so it is for the Northern Ireland Executive to decide uprating in Northern Ireland.

Check out help from your energy provider 

Many of the main utility companies and regulators are offering extra support to their customers, particularly those with more complex needs.

Depending on your circumstances you may be eligible for extra help with energy bills or services, such as debt repayment plans, payment breaks, emergency credit for prepayment metered customers, priority support and schemes like the Winter Fuel Payment or Warm Home Discount rebate.

You can also get extra help through the Priority Services Register, which is a free support service offered by energy suppliers and network operators to help people in vulnerable situations. To check eligibility and register contact your energy supplier or network operator.

Energy suppliers are also providing tips on how to save on energy, so have a look at the website of your energy provider to see if anything is helpful to you.

To make sure you are getting all the support on offer and to read more about the government’s cost of living support please go to the Help for Households webpage to find out more.

Other support

Please note that Thomas Pocklington Trust is not an advice provider and whilst every effort has been made to ensure this information is correct and up to date, you should always follow the links provided to check on the latest information. If you require formal advice on your specific situation, please contact Citizens Advice.

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