Salford Citizens Advice

The cost-of-Living Crisis:

There has been a good deal of news over the last weeks of a developing rise in the cost of living, a ‘cost of living crisis.’ This week’s advice column looks at the key issues involved and what you might be able to do to reduce the impact of these various cost increases, as least in part. It is an overview, and you should contact us for more specific advice.

The fuel cost crisis, which I wrote at more length on last week, is likely to see home energy bills rise by something like a half to doubling over the next months. The key dates will be the announcement of the increased energy cap figures in February which will be applied to bills in April, and then again in October. Some people will have limited protection against these cost increases until they come to the end of any fix they have agreed with their supplier. Last week we explained where to get useful energy saving advice, and where you might be able to get some limited help with your bills. We are calling on the government to make an emergency intervention.

Increased food costs: These are expected to rise by about 6 to 7% and are likely to have a greater impact on lower income households. Salford has twelve food clubs where members can reduce their weekly food cost by joining. You can purchase something like £10 to £15 worth of food each week for £2.50 or £3. To join you need to be on a low income. You can find out more by calling us. If you have children aged four or under or are more than 10 weeks pregnant and are on a low income might qualify for the healthy start scheme, which is worth £4.25 each week of your pregnancy, £8.50 each week for children from birth to 1 year’s age, £4.25 each week for children between 1 and 4 years of age. For more information check the NHS Healthy Start website, or give us a call.

National Insurance and income tax rises: These are planned for April, when national insurance is being increased, and when tax allowances are being frozen. If you have been asked to work from home you are entitled to a modest tax rebate for the whole of that tax year, this is worth just over £60 for basic taxpayers. Check with your employer to see if this has already been included in your pay and tax calculation, but if not, you can make a claim directly.

Council Tax: The way the government organises council tax means that most councils will be forced to increase council tax rates more than the rate of inflation this year when they set the council tax for next year, over the next few weeks. Most councils will be increasing council tax by about 5%. Check whether you’re in the correct council tax band, or whether anybody in your household can apply for an exemption from council tax (because of they have learning difficulties or suffer from something like dementia which causes them to have reduced mental capacity), or if you qualify for help with your council tax because of being on a low income. 

Rent costs: These are increasing more quickly than wages at the moment, especially for tenants in the private sector. You should check to see if you qualify for any help with your housing costs. If you have special circumstances, you may also qualify for discretionary help from the council for your housing costs.

For more information call us on 0800 27 87 802 and are free to call.

Tom Togher.

January 17, 2022.