The Government has a number of schemes available to help boost your income. Learn more about what support is on offer below.
Household Support Fund
The Government have confirmed that they will be allocating an additional £842m for the Household Support Fund, which will run from the 1st April 2023 to the 31st March 2024 enabling Local Authorities to help households with the cost of essentials. This year-long extension allows Local Authorities in England to continue to provide this support. Local Authorities have the flexibility and discretion to design their own local schemes within the parameters of this guidance and grant determination that we have set out for the fund. Local Authorities have the local knowledge and ties to best determine how this support should be provided to those in need in their local communities.
Local Authorities have been asked in the scheme guidance to support households in the most need, and in particular those who may not be eligible for the other support government has recently made available. They are expected to help eligible households with the cost of energy and water bills, food and other related essentials. Authorities can deliver the funding in a number of ways that they deem most suitable, such as by paying into bank accounts, or via the provision of goods.
As a part of this fund Bedford Borough Council have been provided with £2.4 million, while Central Bedfordshire Council have received approximately £3 million, taking the total level of support provided to Bedford Borough residents to £6,007,425 and to Central Bedfordshire residents to £7,415,369. I welcomed this additional funding on my website here: Vulnerable residents in Bedford Borough and Central Bedfordshire will benefit from additional support funding this week | Richard Fuller.
If you live in the Central Bedfordshire Council area you can find out more about CBC’s scheme here: Household Support Fund | Central Bedfordshire Council
If you live in the Bedford Borough Council area you can find out more about BBC’s scheme here: Household Support Fund 2023-2024 | Bedford Borough Council.
Discretionary Housing Payment
You can apply for Discretionary Housing Payments if you receive Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and require help to:
- Meet the shortfall between the Housing Benefit or Universal Credit paid and the eligible rent, even if you’ve been affected by the benefit cap
- Cover the cost of moving to a more affordable property
- Cover rent arrears that are putting your tenancy at risk
This benefit must be claimed through your Local Authority at Bedford Borough Council (Discretionary housing payments | Bedford Borough Council) or Central Bedfordshire Council (Extra help and appeals | Central Bedfordshire Council)
You can find more information here: Applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Cutting National Insurance Contributions
Last year, the Government reversed the 1.25 percentage point increase to National Insurance contributions from 6 November 2022 and cancelled the Health and Social Care Levy coming in from April 2023, meaning almost 27.8 million people will save an average of over £330 in 2023-24 and £135 this year tax year.
In addition to these measures taken in 2022 the Chancellor has, at the Autumn Statement 2023, announced a further 2% cut to National Insurance to take effect from January 6th 2024. This cut means that an employee earning the average wage could see a tax cut worth up to £450/yr. The Chancellor also announced the abolition of Class 2 National Insurance and gave self-employed people a 1% cut to their National Insurance. Taken together these measures will save the average self-employed person £350/yr from April.
Pension Triple Lock
In 2022 the Government confirmed that they would keep the Pensions Triple Lock, ensuring a 10.1% increase in the state pension for everyone who is eligible, this was the single largest state pension increase in modern times. In the 2023 Autumn Statement, the Chancellor again confirmed that he would respect the Pensions Triple Lock increasing the state pension by 8.5%, an increase worth £900/yr to pensioners in the financial years 2024/25. These changes mean that the main rate of the new state pension will increase £17.35 per week.
Cold Weather Payments
You’ll get a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over 7 consecutive days.
You’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March.
To qualify for this payment you need to receive one of these benefits:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Universal Credit
- Support for Mortgage Interest
There is further information available here: Cold Weather Payment: Eligibility - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could be eligible for help to pay your heating bills through the Winter Fuel Payment. This is paid automatically but check your eligibility here: Winter Fuel Payment: Overview - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
You do not usually need to claim the Winter Fuel Payment however in some limited circumstances you may need to, check whether you need to claim WFP here: Winter Fuel Payment: How to claim - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Marriage Allowance allows you to transfer 10% (£1,260) of your personal tax allowance to your husband, wife or civil partner if you earn less than the personal tax allowance, which is usually £12,570.
You can apply for the Marriage Allowance at this link: Apply for Marriage Allowance - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
You could get extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income: even if you have savings or own your own home. You can check your eligibility here: Pension Credit: Eligibility - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
You can apply for Pension Credit at this link: Pension Credit: How to claim - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Universal Credit and Other Benefits
If you’re on low income, out of work or cannot work you may be eligible for Universal Credit. The government has made changes to allow working families to keep more of their money.
The Chancellor also confirmed in his recent Autumn Statement that, in order to protect the most vulnerable, benefits will increase in line with inflation in the financial year 2023-24. More than 10,000,000 households in receipt of working-age and disability benefits will see an increase in their benefits payments with the average uplift for a household on Universal Credit being around £600
You can apply for Universal Credit at this link: Universal Credit: How to claim - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk).
Teaming up with Business
The government has been working with businesses to deliver discounts for families. These include £1 meals for children under 16 in Asda cafes. More details about discounts businesses are offering can be found here: Discounts and offers - Help for Households.