Welcome to our monthly advice column from Citizens Advice Bury and Bolton. Each month, we’ll be tackling an advice query about a specific issue, sharing information and letting you know where to go for support. Remember, if you need any advice you can contact our team: freephone 0808 278 7804 or visit www.cabb.org.uk to find out more about our advice by video service or to self-refer.
The cost of things just keeps going up. The food shop doesn’t stretch as far and my bills just keep getting higher. I’ve made cutbacks and, at the moment, I’m just about managing but I’m really worried about how I’ll cope as it starts getting colder. What should I do?
You’re not alone in struggling with rising costs, but it’s important to know there is support available.
If you’re finding it hard to stay on top of bills, make sure you know what money you’ve got coming in and out each month. Citizens Advice has an online budgeting tool that can help with this.
It’s also worth finding out if you’re eligible for any benefits or support with your energy and living costs. On the Citizens Advice website there’s a benefits calculator, advice on how to reduce living costs and information on other ways to increase your income.
The good news is there is help with rising energy bills. From October 1 2022, there’s a limit on gas and electricity prices for most households – this is called the Energy Price Guarantee and will be in place for six months.
From October you’ll also get £400 off your 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. The money will be paid in six instalments, you’ll get £66 in October and November followed by £67 in December, January, February and March.
You should automatically receive the energy discount if you pay by direct debit, standard credit or payment card.
If you have a prepayment meter that isn’t a smart meter, you’ll get the discount via vouchers or as an automatic credit when you top up at your usual top-up point. Your supplier will let you know how they will issue it.
If you have a smart prepayment meter, the credit should be automatically added to your meter.
If you can’t pay your bills, speak to your energy supplier as they have a responsibility to help you come up with a solution.
We know this is an extremely worrying time and everyone’s situation is different. You don’t have to struggle alone. If you need further support, contact us via Adviceline on 0808 278 7804, or visit cabb.org.uk for more ways to access advice