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We understand that the rising cost of living can be especially worrying if you have difficulty paying your bills and/or your rent, but there is help and advice available to assist you.
Support from the UK Government’s Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs which is paid monthly. You may be eligible to apply if you are working but on a low income, out of work or you cannot work.
For those who cannot use digital services, applications can be made over the phone:
Universal Credit Helpline: 0800 328 5644
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744.
If you need help to make a claim for Universal Credit Citizen’s Advice can help you. Call free on 08000 241 220 (Croesawir galwadau yn Gymraeg / Calls are welcomed in Welsh) or contact them online.
New Style Employment and Support Allowance
If you are ill you may be able to get New Style Employment and Support Allowance, either on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit.
New Style Job Seeker’s Allowance
You might be eligible for New Style Job Seeker’s Allowance to help you when you look for work, either on its own or at the same time as Universal Credit. If you’re unemployed or work less than 16 hours a week you may be able to get New Style Job Seeker’s Allowance.
Personal Independence Payment
Personal Independence Payment can help you with some of the extra costs if you are disabled or have a long term health condition.
Statutory Sick Pay
If you are employed and are ill you may be eligible to claim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP), which will help you towards your living costs, or to pay your rent and bills. If you’re employed but your earnings are too low to claim SSP, you may be able to claim Universal Credit to help you towards your living costs and afford your rent and bills.
Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. Pension Credit can also help with housing costs such as ground rent or service charges.
You might get extra help if you’re a carer, severely disabled, or responsible for a child or young person.
Pension Credit is separate from your State Pension. You can get Pension Credit even if you have other income, savings or own your own home.
Or you can apply by phone if you prefer. A friend or family member can call for you if you cannot use the phone.
Pension Credit claim line
Telephone: 0800 99 1234 (Croesawir galwadau yn Gymraeg / Calls are welcomed in Welsh)
Textphone: 0800 169 0133
If you are unsure on whether you are entitled to any benefits you should speak to an advisor at Citizen’s Advice who can assess your financial situation and provide you with advice on any other types of support you may be eligible for.
You can speak to an advisor either using the Advicelink Cymru phone service by ringing 0800 702 2020 (Croesawir galwadau yn Gymraeg / Calls are welcomed in Welsh) or by talking online using the web chat service.
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 the following to help with your housing costs.
Discretionary Housing Payments
This applies to both social and private sector tenants.
These can provide extra money when your local authority decides that you need extra help to meet your housing costs on top of what benefit support you already receive through the DWP.
To get a Discretionary Housing Payment, you will need to either already be receiving the old scheme Housing Benefit or the housing cost contribution element through Universal Credit.
To access a Discretionary Housing Payment please contact your local authority.
Leasing Scheme Wales (LSW)
Leasing Scheme Wales aims to increase access to, and the affordability of, renting privately in Wales. Delivering security for tenants and confidence for landlords. The Scheme is designed to support the most disadvantaged and potentially vulnerable individuals and households who are experiencing homelessness or at risk of homelessness. Tenants on the Scheme will benefit from longer term security of tenure (between 5-20 years) at rents restricted to Local Housing Allowance rates. There will be additional funding from the Welsh Government to ensure that tenants receive the level of support they would expect in social housing.
Council Tax Reduction Scheme
If your household is on a low income, you could receive support towards some, or all of your Council Tax bill through the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.
The Welsh Government’s Discretionary Assistance Fund
A fund of last resort intended to support people experiencing extreme hardship. The fund is offering greater flexibility for people impacted by the cost of living crisis.
You can apply online to the Discretionary Assistance Fund for an Emergency Assistance Payment (EAP) or by calling free on 0800 859 5924 (Croesawir galwadau yn Gymraeg / Calls are welcomed in Welsh). EAPs are awarded to help with essential costs when in extreme financial hardship.
The payment is intended to help cover the cost of food, gas and electricity, clothing and emergency travel. Support is also provided for individuals who need support with costs for off-grid fuel.
Cost of Living Support Scheme
The £150 cost of living support payment is being provided to all households in properties in council tax bands A to D, and all households which receive support from the Council Tax Reduction Scheme regardless of their council tax band.
Payments will be made as a single payment directly into people’s bank accounts if the local authority holds that information. Where this information is not held, eligible households will need to complete a simple registration form. Local authorities will contact all eligible households to ask for the necessary details.
Separately, the Welsh Government is also providing a £25m discretionary fund to local authorities. This will allow councils to help people they consider to be in need of assistance, providing discretionary support as deemed appropriate to address local needs.
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 can support its customers in a similar way.
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.
The UK Government is changing the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which will give a £150 rebate to households eligible for support under the scheme.
The Winter Fuel Payment is an annual one-off payment to help you pay for heating during the winter. You can usually get a Winter Fuel Payment if you were born on or before 26 September 1955.
Cold Weather Payments are one-off payments to help you pay for extra heating costs when it’s very cold.
You’ll get a payment each time the temperature drops below a specific temperature for a set period of time.
You’ll only be eligible for a Cold Weather Payment if you already get:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
If you're eligible, you'll get paid automatically. Find out more about Cold Weather Payment on GOV.UK.
Broadband and mobile phones
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.
In May 2021, the UK Government introduced a Debt Respite Scheme, usually referred to as Breathing Space, to give people struggling with their debts the time they need to sort out their finances without creditors taking enforcement action or adding charges that increase their debts. To access Breathing Space you will need to talk to a professional debt advisor (see Section 7, contacts).
If you are struggling financially and looking to borrow you should always make sure it is from an 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.
Free School Meals
Free Schools 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 Club
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.
Find out more information about the offer Pupil inclusion, wellbeing, behaviour and attendance. Alternatively, you contact your child’s school or contact your local authority.
Year 7 Breakfast Pilot
If your child is eligible for Free School Meals, they may also be eligible for a free school breakfast, which is currently available to children in Year 7 only.
To find out whether your secondary school is participating in the Year 7 Breakfast pilot, you can contact your you contact your child’s school or contact your local authority.
Pupil Development Grant Access (PDG Access)
PDG Access helps families with the costs of the school day and can be used for items such as school uniform and equipment. Learners currently eligible for free school meals 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.
All school years are now eligible.
Families who are eligible for free school meals can submit a claim if they have a child in:
- primary school from reception to year 6
- secondary school from year 7 to year 11
All looked after children qualify for the grant, whether they receive free school meals or not.
Families are only entitled to claim once per child, per school year.
Funding for the 2021 to 2022 scheme will close on 30 June 2022.
The 2022 to 2023 scheme will open in the Summer of 2022. For 1 year only the grant will be raised by £100 per learner.
To apply for this grant please contact your local authority.
Support with childcare costs
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 year olds for 48 weeks of the year. This builds on the existing universal commitment to early education, which provides all three and four year olds with a minimum of 10 hours per week of early education provision known as Foundation Phase Nursery (FPN).
Read more detailed advice about the Childcare offer for Wales and other help towards paying for childcare that may be available to you, such as Tax Free Childcare.
Your local Family Information Service (FIS) can also provide information about financial support with childcare costs.
Health and wellbeing
Live Fear Free
Live Fear Free provides easy to access, confidential information and advice to all victims and survivors of violence against women, domestic abuse and sexual violence and those close to them, including family, friends and colleagues on a variety of matters which may be relevant to your situation. It is open 24/7, is free and will not show up on phone bills.
There are 4 ways to make contact:
By phone: 0808 80 10 800 (Croesawir galwadau yn Gymraeg / Calls are welcomed in Welsh)
Text service: 07860 077333
Help with NHS healthcare costs
Eligible persons can get free dental treatment, eye tests and help with other NHS costs. Find out more:
Citizen’s Advice Cymru
Citizen’s Advice Cymru offers free, confidential advice on a range of issues including money, debt and benefits. To speak to an adviser, please call 03444 77 20 20 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday) (Croesawir galwadau yn Gymraeg / Calls are welcomed in Welsh) or to access information and/or talk to adviser online.
If you are self-isolating and friends or neighbours are not able to help, please contact your local volunteer centre (County Voluntary Council) for help and advice.
Age Cymru Advice
Age Cymru Advice offers free, confidential, impartial and bilingual expert advice service for over 50s in Wales. They can help older people, their families, friends, carers and professionals with information and advice on matters affecting older people.
To find out more, call 08000 223 444 between 9:30am and 4:30pm, Monday to Friday (Croesawir galwadau yn Gymraeg / Calls are welcomed in Welsh) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Care and Repair
Care and Repair provides information, advice and practical services that help older people in Wales stay safe, warm and well at home. They fit disability aids and adaptations, supply home maintenance services, help maximise income and access grants, and make homes safe to return to from hospital.
To find out more, call 0300 111 3333 (Croesawir galwadau yn Gymraeg / Calls are welcomed in Welsh). Even if you think that you do not ordinarily qualify for financial support you could now be eligible for some help with day to day living costs.