The last few years have been unprecedented – from a global pandemic to Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. I recognise the pressure these events have put on household budgets across Wolverhampton. While these are global challenges, I welcome the Government’s action to help households with a package of support that is worth more than £37 billion. Below, you will find a comprehensive range of the support available. If you do require any specific assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Local Welfare Assistance:
The Government's Household Support Fund, delivered by Local Authorities, provides £1.5 billion to help households with the cost of essentials such as food, clothing, and utilities. Individuals should contact their local authorities. The City of Wolverhampton Council - Welfare Rights Service can provide advice on accessing support available via the social security system. They can be contacted on 07966 292321 (Monday to Friday between 10.00 am and 12.00 noon.) Free school meals are available to pupils in England if parents get certain benefits.
If you're on a low income, out of work, or cannot work, you may be eligible for Universal Credit. Use a benefit calculator to check if you're eligible for Universal Credit or other benefits. In total, the UK government is expected to provide £243 billion of support in 22-23 through the welfare system, including £40 billion through Universal Credit and £111 billion through the State Pension. Within the welfare system, the Local Housing Allowance (LHA) rate for private renters was increased to the 30th percentile of local market rents for Universal Credit and Housing Benefit claimants – providing 1.5 million households with £600 more housing support per year than they would otherwise have received. This increase was maintained in cash terms for 2021/22 and will be again for 2022/23. Discretionary Housing Payments can be paid to those entitled to Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit who face a shortfall in meeting their housing costs.
The State Pension is the foundation of state support for older people. Pensions, relative to earnings, are now the highest in almost three decades. As of April 2022, the full yearly basic State Pension has increased by more than £2,300 in cash terms since 2010. Additional State Pension and Pension Credit has also been increased, resulting in an extra £4 billion being spent. Pension Credit tops up retirement income and acts as a passport to other support with housing costs, council tax, heating bills, and a free TV licence for those over 75. The online Pension Credit toolkit has been updated to better help older people understand how they can get Pension Credit at www.gov.uk/government/publications/pension-credit-toolkit. An online claim service has been launched to supplement existing telephone and postal claim services (www.gov.uk/pension-credit) to allow pensioners to apply at a time that best suits them.
Cost of prescriptions will be frozen for the first time in over a decade to will ease the cost of living pressures on households, saving £17 million overall. the NHS Low Income scheme offers help with prescription payments, with free prescriptions for eligible people within certain groups such as pensioners, students, and those who receive state benefits or live in care homes. You may be able to get free NHS prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and help with other NHS costs.
Help with childcare
You could claim a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. The Government has doubled free childcare for eligible working parents of 3–4-year-olds, from 15 to 30 hours per week, worth around £5,000 per child per year. Working parents could also get up to £2,000 a year to pay for regulated childcare (£4,000 for disabled children), including holiday clubs and out-of-school activities in the Easter holidays as part of the Tax-Free Childcare Offer. For every £8 deposited into an online account, families will receive an extra £2 in government top-up. It is available for children aged up to 11, or 17 if the child has a disability. This benefits around 33,695 people across the West Midlands. Wolverhampton has access to a share of £301 funding to help 75 local authorities to deliver better early help and intervention for families across a range of services, including health visiting, mental health support, parenting courses, and infant feeding advice. Wolverhampton has also been allocated £1.9 million to coordinate and provide free provision including healthy food and enriching activities in the Easter, Summer, and Christmas school holidays in 2022. You may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit, with up to £646 back each month for one child or £1,108 for 2 or more children.
The value of Healthy Start Food Vouchers has been increased to £4.25, helping eligible families buy healthy food such as milk, fruit, and vitamins. The Family Fund provides grants to low-income families caring for disabled children or seriously ill children. The 16 to 19 Bursary Fund can vulnerable children in receipt of benefits help with education-related costs for those aged 16 to 19 and either studying at a publicly funded school or college in England, or are on a training course, including unpaid work experience. It can help with the costs of clothing, books, equipment, transport, and lunch on study days.
The new Debt Respite Scheme (Breathing Space) provides debtors with a 60-day period in which interest and charges on their debts are frozen and enforcement action from creditors is paused. During the time, debtors will have to seek professional debt advice to find a sustainable solution, encouraging them to seek advice earlier and give them the headspace to identify the right debt solution for them. The statutory debt repayment plan is a new debt solution that extends the breathing space protections to debtors who commit to fully repaying their debts in a manageable timeline. The Money Advice Service offers free debt advice. The Money Helper service provides free, confidential and impartial help tailored to individual needs. You may be eligible for a Budgeting Loan if you’ve been on certain benefits for 6 months. This can be used for household items, rent in advance and travelling costs. You may be eligible to move onto a social tariff if you're struggling to afford your broadband or phone services.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) has a Debt Centre, in partnership with LifeSpring Church. CAP’s award-winning debt counselling helps thousands of people become debt free every year. They are committed to providing a service that takes into account the client’s wider circumstances and emotional needs as well as their financial situation. The service is completely free and available to everyone on 0800 328 0006 (9:30am and 5pm Monday to Thursday, and 9:30am and 3.30pm on Fridays).
Individuals can call Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline for free and confidential advice, 24 hours a day on 0808 2000 247 or through the contact form or live chat service. If you are a male victim, you can access support through the Men’s Advice Helpline on 0808 8010327. Other specialist support services are available. If you are in immediate danger, call 999 and ask for the police.
Helping people into jobs and investing in skills
The Government is increasing skills funding by £3.8 billion over the Parliament – with better skills to help people improve their earnings prospects and support their success in the labour market. The ‘Way to Work’ campaign, for example, aims to get 500,000 jobseekers into jobs by the end of June 2022. A new ‘In Work’ Progression offer will also mean that more low paid workers on Universal Credit (UC) will be able to access personalised work coach support to help them increase their earnings.
In April 2022, the Government announced the largest ever increase to the National Living Wage, putting £1,000 a year more into full-time workers’ pay packets and helping to ease the cost of living pressures. The National Living Wage was increased by 6.6 per cent to £9.50. Workers in receipt of this have benefitted from £5,000 since it was introduced in 2016. Over 250,000 full-time workers across the West Midlands have received a pay rise, as the National Minimum Wage and National Living Wage increased on the 1st of April. The Government has also moved the age threshold from age 25 to 23, meaning that more young workers are now eligible for a higher wage. Apprentices also got a 11.9% increase to their minimum hourly pay, with 21- to 22-year-olds seeing an immediate 9.8% rise. The Government is committed to the target of the NLW reaching two-thirds of median earnings by 2024.
If you have a dispute with your employer, at risk of redundancy, or want to request additional support in the workplace, contact ACAS, the Advisory, Conciliation, and Arbitration Service. If you think you haven’t been paid correctly, you can report this to HMRC. Reporting is simple, can be made anonymously or even on behalf of someone else: www.gov.uk/minimum-wage-complaint. If you would prefer to talk your situation through with someone on the phone first, you can call the Acas Helpline on 0300 123 1100. You do not have to give your name if you don’t want to.
Support for Carers
You could get £69.70 a week if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and and the person you care for gets certain benefits. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for. The main cash benefits for those caring for disabled people is Carer’s Allowance, and the carer premium payable with means-tested benefits which includes a carer element. Carers are entitled to a statutory assessment of their support needs, undertaken by the local authority. The assessment must consider a range of factors such as what assistance the carer requires to continue providing care, and their own independent needs. The City of Wolverhampton Council can be contacted via telephone on 01902 553409 or email, email@example.com
The Disabled Facilities Grant aims to support disabled and older people in making adaptations to their home so they can live in them safely and independently, enabling carers to continue their role safely. Adaptations can include ramps, stair lifts, and suitable heating systems. The Carers Trust has a network of quality assured partners and provides grants to help carers get the extra help they need.
Help with bills
From October, there will be a £400 grant for all households, which does not have to be paid back. Households will see a discount of £66 applied to their energy bills in October and November, rising to £67 each month from December through to March 2023. The non-repayable discount will be provided on a monthly basis regardless of whether consumers pay monthly, quarterly or have an associated payment card.
Over 100,000 households in Wolverhampton will also receive a £150 non-repayable Council Tax rebate. Local authorities are being equipped with £144 million discretionary funding to help those that may need help with energy bills but are not eligible for the scheme. This builds on other measures such as the £1.5 billion Household Support Fund for vulnerable households, and extension of the Warm Homes Discount, which provides eligible households with a £140 rebate off energy bills, by one-third to 3 million vulnerable households. Many water companies run hardship schemes or fund independent charitable trusts which can help you pay your bills.
The TV licence fee will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising in line with inflation for four years. It means households will not see any change to the licence fee until 1 April 2024. If you’re a homeowner on qualifying benefits, you might be able to get help towards interest payments on your mortgage or loans you’ve taken out for certain repairs and improvements to your home. You may be eligible to borrow up to 95% of the cost of a property worth up to £600,000 thanks to the mortgage guarantee scheme.
Contact mortgage providers to see if you're eligible.
The UK’s biggest broadband and mobile operators - including BT Group, Openreach, Virgin Media O2, Vodafone, Three, TalkTalk and Sky - have agreed to measures that will provide help customers struggling with the rising cost of living to stay connected. This includes by allowing customers who are struggling with their to bills move to cheaper packages without penalty or agreeing manageable payment plans, as well as exploring tariffs, options to improve existing low cost offers, and increasing promotion of existing deals.
Help with Cost of Living
The Chancellor has announced a direct one-off cost of living payment of £650 for more than eight million households on means-tested benefits, worth £5.4 billion. There will be two lump sums paid directly into claimants bank accounts – the first from July, the second in the Autumn. Payments from HMRC for those on tax credits only will follow shortly afterwards. Every pensioner in receipt of the Winter Fuel Payment will receive a £300 pensioner cost of living payment, worth £2.5 billion paid alongside the Winter Fuel Payment. A £150 disability cost of living payment for nearly 6 million individuals in receipt of extra cost disability benefits, worth £0.9 billion, paid by September.
The Chancellor has set out plans to deliver the single biggest personal tax cut for a quarter of a century. So that people can keep more of what they earn, the basic rate of income tax will be cut for the first time in sixteen years in 2024 when inflation is expected to be back under control with debt falling sustainably and the economy growing. In the meantime, the Chancellor has announced that National Insurance starting thresholds will rise to £12,570 from July. Worth over £6 billion, this will benefit almost 30 million working people with a typical employee saving over £330 in the year. This means that the UK now has some of the most generous tax thresholds in the world.
In addition, the Government is freezing alcohol duty for 2022-23, for the third year in a row. Duty rates on beer, cider, wine, and spirits will be frozen in 2022-23, saving £3 billion over the next 5 years. Consumers will save 3p off a pint of beer, 2p off a pint of cider, 14p off a 75cl bottle of wine and 52p off a 70cl bottle of Scotch.
Help with Transport Costs
A 12-month cut in the main rates of fuel duty for petrol and diesel of 5 pence per litre has also been announced. This is the largest cash terms cut that has ever been applied to all fuel duty rates at once and represents savings for consumers worth almost £2.4 billion over the next year. This comes on top of freezes to fuel duty for 12 years in a row. You can get up to a third off train fares with a railcard in Great Britain, saving up to £142 a year on average. You may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card if you're on Universal Credit. In England you can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach the State Pension age. If you’re disabled, then you may be eligible for a disabled person’s pass if you live in England.
Universal Credit (UC) taper rate
The Government has reduced the Universal Credit (UC) taper rate from 63% to 55% and increased work allowances by £500 per annum from late 2021. This is effectively a tax cut for the lowest paid in society worth around £1.9 billion in 2022-23. This change also means that 1.7 million households will on average keep around an extra £1,000 on an annual basis.
It also adds to other support for energy bills and to improve energy efficiency including:
2.2 million low-income households receive a £140 rebate on their energy bills. From 2022, proposed changes will see the scheme be worth £475 million a year with nearly 3 million households receiving a £150 rebate.
Providing payments of £200 for households with someone of State Pension Age, or £300 for Households with someone aged 80 or over, a significant £2bn per year contribution to winter fuel bills.
£25 extra a week for poorer households when the temperature is zero or below
Expanding the scope of VAT relief for energy saving materials
Ensuring that households installing energy saving materials such as thermal insulation or solar panels pay 0% VAT for the next five years, helping to improve energy efficiency and keep heating bills down.
Other energy efficiency savings
Investing over £3 billion to improve energy efficiency in almost 500,000 lowincome, fuel poor households, meaning average savings of nearly £300 per year with grants of £25,000. The £471 million spending to date on the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (£121m) and the Sustainable Warmth programme (£350m) is estimated to save households an average of £350-450 per year on their energy bills. For further information on home energy grants, please visit www.gov.uk/improve-energy-efficiency.