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Get help with the cost of living

This advice applies to Scotland

If you don’t have enough to live on, you might be able to get help from the government or your local council to afford essentials like bills and food. This includes the Scottish Welfare Fund and Cost of Living Payments.

If you owe money and you're struggling to pay

You should speak to the organisations you owe money to – they might let you pay smaller amounts or take a break from payments.

Don’t ignore bills or letters about money you owe.

You can find out how to start dealing with your debts.

Check what benefits you can get

You might be able to claim benefits or increase your current benefits if you’re:

  • of working age and on a low income

  • sick or disabled

  • of State Pension age and on a low income

  • a carer

  • responsible for children

You can check what benefits you can get.

Get your benefit paid early

Most benefits paid by the DWP can be paid early. This is known as a 'short term benefit advance'.

A small amount will be taken off future payments to pay it back - usually for 12 weeks.

You can also ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you while you’re waiting for your first payment. You can check how to get a Universal Credit advance payment.

You can’t get a benefit paid early for:

  • Housing Benefit

  • Attendance Allowance

  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)

  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)

  • Child Benefit

  • Guardian's Allowance

  • Working or Child Tax credits

To ask for an advance, contact the DWP office that's dealing with your benefit claim. You can find their contact details on any letter or email you’ve had from them.

Check what help you can get from your local council

Your local council might be able to help you pay for:

  • essentials - like food or heating

  • costs in an emergency - like the cost of somewhere to stay or travel costs

  • household goods - like furniture or a cooker

This help is known as the Scottish Welfare Fund.

You must apply to your local council to get a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund. You can read more about getting help from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

You don’t have to be getting benefits to get help from your local council. You do need to be on a low income with no other way to pay for what you need.

Check what help you can get from the government

The government will give every household in Great Britain £400 off their electricity bill. This is called the Energy Bills Support Scheme. You don’t need to do anything to get the money and you won’t have to pay it back.

You’ll get the £400 in 6 instalments starting from October 2022. You’ll get:

  • £66 in October and November

  • £67 in December, January, February and March

If you have an electricity meter and pay your bills every month or quarterly, your supplier will automatically take the amounts off your energy bill each month.

If you have a prepayment meter, your supplier will confirm how you’ll get the £400 closer to October 2022. They’ll either:

  • automatically add the instalments to your energy meter 

  • give you the instalments as vouchers by email, text or post

If you get vouchers, you’ll only be able to use them for your own energy account.

The government will also send you extra one-off payments if you:

  • get certain benefits - for example, Universal Credit, PIP or Attendance Allowance

  • are over State Pension age and get Winter Fuel Payments

You can get as many of these extra payments as you're eligible for. You won't have to pay tax on them and they won't count as income when calculating your benefits.

If you get benefits based on your income

The government will give you a £326 'Cost of Living Payment'.

You'll get the Cost of Living Payment automatically if you get any of the following:

  • Universal Credit

  • Pension Credit

  • Working Tax Credit

  • Child Tax Credit

  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance

  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • Income Support

If you get Working or Child Tax Credit, you'll get your Cost of Living Payment in autumn 2022.

If you get one of the other benefits, you'll get your Cost of Living Payment on or after 14 July 2022. You'll probably get your payment by the end of July.

You’ll only get 1 Cost of Living Payment - even if you’re claiming more than 1 benefit. 

To get this payment you must have either:

  • been getting a benefit payment on or between 26 April 2022 and 25 May 2022 - it doesn't matter if it gets paid to someone else, like your landlord

  • started a successful benefit claim by 25 May 2022 - or by 26 April 2022 if you're applying for Universal Credit

If you’re applying for Universal Credit, you won’t get the Cost of Living Payment until your benefits claim is successful.

The government have said they'll send a second Cost of Living Payment in 2022. If you get Working or Child Tax Credit, you'll get your second payment in winter. If you get one of the other benefits, you'll get your second payment in autumn.

If you’re not claiming any of these benefits yet, you should check if you can claim benefits. It's worth starting a claim as soon as possible if you're eligible - this means you might be able to get the second Cost of Living Payment.

If you get a disability benefit

The government will automatically give you £150 in September 2022. You'll get this payment if you get any of the following benefits:

  • Disability Living Allowance

  • Personal Independence Payment

  • Attendance Allowance

  • Adult Disability Payment

  • Child Disability Payment

  • Armed Forces Independence Payment

  • Constant Attendance Allowance

  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

You must have started your benefit claim by 25 May 2022 to get the payment.

If you've recently applied for a benefit, you won't get the payment until your benefit claim is accepted.

If you're over State Pension age and get Winter Fuel Payments

You’ll automatically get an extra £300 with your usual Winter Fuel Payment in either November or December.

You're usually entitled to Winter Fuel Payments if you’re of State Pension age in the third week of September. The State Pension age is 66.

You should start getting the Winter Fuel Payment automatically once you reach State Pension age, but sometimes you might need to apply. You can find out how to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment on GOV.UK.

Get help with essential costs

If you’re struggling to afford essentials like bills or food, there are things you can do.

Get help paying for bills and rent

There are things you can do if you’re struggling to pay your rent and bills.

You can check what help and support you can get with your rent and bills.

Get help paying for food

If you’re struggling to pay for food, find out how to get help from a food bank.

If you’re pregnant or have a child under 3, you might be able to get free vitamins and a Best Start Foods prepaid card to spend on:

  • milk

  • vegetables

  • eggs

  • pulses - like beans and lentils 

You can check how to get free vitamins and a Best Start Foods prepaid card.

Get help with health costs

You might be able to get help paying for NHS charges, for example:

  • dental treatment

  • sight tests, glasses and contact lenses

  • travel to NHS treatment

Check what help you can get with health costs.

Get help with your child's school costs

If you’re on a low income or claim certain benefits, you might be able to get help with the costs of sending your children to school.

You could get:

  • free school meals

  • free transport to school

  • a grant to help to buy school clothing

You can find out more about getting help with school costs.

Get help with travel costs

Contact your local council to check if they offer free or discounted travel - for example, if you’re:

  • in education

  • on a work placement

  • unemployed and looking for work

  • a veteran

You can find your local council on GOV.UK.

Find out about help with travel costs if you’re older or disabled.

Find out about help with travel costs for younger people.

Get help with the costs of starting a job

If you're a young person living in Scotland and have been getting certain benefits, you might be able to get a Job Start Payment.

It helps with the costs of starting a job, like help with travel or clothing costs.

You can find out more about Job Start Payment.

Work out your budget

You should use our budgeting tool to help you understand:

  • what money you've got coming in and what you have going out

  • where you might be able to cut costs

You can use our budgeting tool.

Apply for a charitable grant

You might be able to get extra money from a charity. Some of these charitable grants are open to everyone, others might be available to you based on your situation - for example, your health or your previous or current job.

You can check what help you can get from local and national charities on the Turn2us website. You’ll need to know your postcode.

If you’re over 55 and have a personal pension

You might be able to take some money from your pension savings to help pay for essential costs or to pay off your debts.

Taking money from your pension will mean you have less income when you retire. If you’re getting benefits, taking money from your pension could affect your claim.

You can get free guidance on your pension options from Pension Wise. They’ll explain the different options so you can decide which is best for you.

You should also get financial advice before taking any money from your pension savings - you’ll have to pay. 

You can check how to find a financial adviser - they can tell you which option is best for you.

If you’re finding things difficult

Your mental health is as important as your physical health. You should talk to your GP if your money problems are affecting your mental health. 

You can also get help on the Breathing Space website.

If you think it's an emergency

If you need support you can call NHS 24 on 111, the Mental Health Hub is open 24/7.

You can also call the Samaritans at any time. 

Samaritans

Helpline: 116 123 

Welsh Language Line: 0808 164 0123 (Monday to Sunday 7pm to 11pm)

Monday to Sunday at any time.

Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.

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