New benefit rates and cost of living support
04 April 2023
By Dianne Challis, Welfare Advice Team Leader
I manage the Welfare Advice team we speak to residents every day who are worried about paying their rent, bills and the other household expenses they have to juggle. We work tirelessly to ensure residents are claiming and receiving all the benefits they’re entitled to, and last financial year we unlocked £2.4million in benefit support for residents.Dianne Challis, Welfare Advice Team Leader
In the current cost of living situation, we’re battling some very challenging conditions to do the best we can to offer residents the support they need. We hope that over the next few months we will see a reduction in inflation along with a reduction in the cost of living. While there are some financial challenges and pressures being faced at the moment, I’d like to draw attention to a few Government changes and additional support available that may be beneficial.
Firstly, this year most benefit rates will increase by 10.1%. I don’t believe in 30+ years working in the advice sector I have ever seen such a high increase. I know that the impact of increases like this isn’t always clear when percentages are used, so as an example, for people on a State Retirement Pension of around £800 a month, this will now be £880 a month. Another positive is that for the first time since it was introduced in 2013, the Government have agreed to increase the Benefit Cap, a limit on the total amount of benefit you can get, which was reduced in 2015. This will now increase from £23k to £25,323 for families and from £15,410 to £16,967 for single people (these are figures for London).
Support with rising energy bills
If you are struggling with rising energy costs, you should always contact your energy provider first to see if they can provide you with any help. You can also contact your local council as all boroughs have been allocated government funds to assist with the energy crisis. They can help in many ways, from vouchers and grants to white goods. Every council has a different criteria and name for their household support fund, so it’s important to contact your local authority and explain your concerns to find out what specific help is available for you. You can also find out more about support available for energy bills here on our website.
Support with paying rent
We recently wrote to you to explain the increases in your rent and service charge, if applicable. You can find out more about what these changes are and why in our recently published article about this, which you can read here. If you're worried about paying your rent, our Income team are here to help. Please contact us to speak to them if you have any concerns.
Government cost of living support
By now, most residents should have received the following support from the Government if eligible:
- Council tax discount of £150 -Spring 2022
- Cost of living payment of £650 for those receiving means tested benefits—paid in two parts in the Summer and late Autumn 2022
- Disability cost of living payment of £150 for those receiving Disability Benefits £150- paid late Summer/ Autumn 2022
- Pensioner cost of living winter fuel payment of between £100 to £300, dependant on circumstances – paid in November/December 2022
- All households with a domestic electricity connection will have had a £400 discount on their electricity-paid in monthly intervals over six months from October to March 2023. If you have a pre-payment meter, this would be paid by monthly vouchers.
Over the next year, the following support will apply to those eligible:
- Three separate additional cost of living payments of around £300, in spring 2023, autumn 2023 and spring 2024
- An additional £150 disability cost of living payment during summer 2023
- An additional £300 pensioner winter fuel allowance to eligible households in the winter of 2023/24.
Free school meals for London primary school children
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, has provided funding for free school meals for all primary school children in the capital for the 2023/24 academic year. The plan is to ensure that all London primary school children get at least one hot, nutritious meal a day.
We will provide further updates throughout the coming year, but if you are unsure about what support is available, please check the Government's website, the energy price increase section of our website or the national charity Turn2Us who have a wide range of advice and information on their website .