MILLIONS of Brits look set to receive the first chunk of Cost of Living payments in a matter of weeks.
This spring more than eight million Brits will get the first chunk of the £900 cost of living payment paid directly into their accounts.
Unlike last year's help, this cost of living payment will be paid in three, not two, instalments – but the DWP is yet to confirm the exact dates the money will appear in bank accounts.
This is so hard-up households will get a "consistent support offering throughout the year", the DWP said.
To be eligible for the payment, households will need to be claiming either Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance; Income-related Employment and Support Allowance; Income Support; Pension Credit; Tax Credits or Universal Credit.
Read our Cost of Living live blog below for the latest updates…
- Louis Allwood
How much can I borrow for my mortgage?
Most mortgage calculators calculate how much you can expect to borrow from the bank.
However, these are just an estimate, the actual amount will depend on the lender and circumstances.
Bear in mind that while house prices have dropped for several consecutive months, lenders are short and interest rates have increased.
Rising rates and the cost of living crisis have meant fewer people are looking to buy a home or move home – badly impacting the housing market.
- Louis Allwood
Three ways to cook without an oven and slash energy costs
Households looking for ways to cut costs could slash their energy bills by simply changing the way they cook.
By switching out certain vampire appliances like the oven, households could save some much-needed cash – but what are the alternatives?
Here, we look at three cheaper cooking options.
- Slow cooker – 11p an hour
- Air fryer – 34p an hour
- Microwave – 5.7p per ten minutes
Find out more here.
Money saving expert reveals how to get £1,000 back on council tax
Martin Lewis has revealed how households can get back thousands on their council tax bills.
The MoneySavingExpert.com (MSE) founder and his team warned that there are hundreds of thousands of people in the wrong council tax band.
And as bills are set to rise in April, it'll be good to check if you're in the wrong one – as you could save thousands of pounds.
Councils were given the green light in last year's Autumn Statement to raise the levy by as much as 5% from April.
But some authorities have been allowed to hike bills even more than this – in some cases, by as much as 15%.
Find out if you are in the correct band with this council tax checker.
- Louis Allwood
Check what benefits you could be entitled to
Millions are entitled to benefits that they aren’t claiming and which can make them eligible for the £900 cost of living payment.
The quickest way to see what benefits you may be able to claim is to use one of the three benefit calculators recommended by Gov.UK.
Each one is free to use.
- Policy in Practice
Before using the tools, make sure you have key financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.
Of course, the tools only provide an indicator of what benefits you can claim – and usually don’t include means-tested benefits, so you may be entitled to even more.
How to apply for a council tax reduction
To apply for a council tax discount simply access the Government website.
You’ll need some documents for each adult in the household which will include:
- National Insurance number
- Bank statements
- a recent payslip or a letter from the Jobcentre
- a passport or driving licence
How to know if you need Universal Credit?
Universal Credit combines a number of benefits into one monthly payment.
It replaces: Child Tax Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) and Working Tax Credit.
People who are already receiving these benefits will transferred to Universal Credit between now and 2024.
The payment is made up of a standard allowance and any extra amounts that apply to you, for example if you:
- Have children
- Have a disability or health condition which prevents you from working
- Need help paying your rent
You can use a benefits calculator to see how much you could get.
Find out more about what Universal Credit is and whether you might be eligible for a claim.
Urgent warning to 820,000 people on Universal Credit
Thousands on Universal Credit could miss out on a £900 cost of living payment, a think tank has warned.
The free cash is set to be paid out in three instalments to help those on certain benefits with the cost of living.
But experts at the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) are warning that 825,000 hard-up households won't qualify for the cash.
It said this is because eligibility will depend on being on Universal Credit at least one month before each payment is due.
This means people with unpredictable earnings could miss out entirely if they happen to earn a bit more in the qualifying month.
An IFS report said: “We estimate that, as a result, in each of the three relevant months there will be around 825,000 people who earn slightly more than is consistent with Universal Credit eligibility and who, as a result of missing out on the cost-of-living payment, end up with less income than other similar people who earn less."
Save £15 at Iceland when you spend £35 or more
Iceland is offering £15 off for online shoppers through the money-saving offer from Topcashback.
This offer is valid until March 31 to new customers that spend a minimum of £35.
To claim the offer:
- Sign up to TopCashback via this link
- Click ‘Get Cashback Now’ button on the offer page
- Shop at Iceland as normal via the TopCashback links and spend £35 or more to qualify
- The cashback will then track and appear in your TopCashback account within 7 working days of your purchase.
- When the payment is made to your TopCashback account, you will then be able to withdraw the funds to your own bank account.
Interior designer offers trick to help keep homes warm
The expert has revealed the ultimate hack to keeping the heat in your home this winter.
Kay Wallett said there are “no fancy tricks necessary” for a toasty living room when temperatures drop, you just need a trusty pair of curtains.
According to the fabric expert, a good pair of curtains will save you a fortune on gas and electricity.
They’ll also keep gusts of draught at bay.
Google reported a record rise in the number of searches related to door curtains in 2022 as the cost of living crisis pinched Britain’s purses.
Wallett said: “This is undoubtedly related to the energy crisis, which has seen Brits exploring a myriad of solutions to keep the heat in and the cold out.”
She advised investing in thermal door curtains to keep your home warm.
- Louis Allwood
Martin Lewis gives major update on chances of energy bills NOT going up
Martin Lewis has issued an update on whether he thinks energy bills will rise in April.
Speaking on BBC Radio Four, he said there's a "better than 50% chance" of bills NOT rising to £3,000 in April.
Mr Lewis said: "I wouldn't say it's a done deal. I was saying in the office I think it's a better than 50% chance."
Other reports have suggested that energy firms are already preparing to amend bills, as they expect the support to continue.
It's understood the support will continue for an extra three months, until wholesale prices have fallen, The Times reports.
- Louis Allwood
Free debt advice
If you’re in debt there are plenty of services you can take advantage of and they offer free advice on how to manage debt.
Most of them can offer you free guidance and help in person, over the telephone or online.
- Money Helper – 0800 138 7777
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
- StepChange – 0800 138 1111
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
How much do air fryers cost to use?
Air fryers are all the rage in kitchens across Britain.
The kitchen gadgets grill and bake in a fraction of the time compared to a conventional oven and cost equally as little.
As with any appliance, a newer model is likely to be more efficient, and be cheaper to run than an older version.
The power of an air fryer is measured in watts, and this determines how much energy it uses – and the cost of using it.
But the more powerful the appliance, the quicker it will cook your food too.
A 1,000W air fryer costs just 17p to run for 30 minutes and 34p to run for an hour – 37p cheaper than an oven.
This could work out an annual saving of around £73.
How to listen to The Martin Lewis Podcast
Those wanting to learn tips and tricks to help manage their finances can tune in to The Martin Lewis Podcast.
Each week, the money saving expert answers your financial questions, as well as offering valuable money-saving advice.
You can listen and subscribe via:
- BBC Sounds
- Apple Podcasts
Six energy-saving tips that cut your bills
With energy bills set to rise by £500 for the average household in April, many are looking for ways to cut back and save some much-needed cash.
We spoke to Dominick Sandford, managing director at ElectricalDirect, who shared six top-tips that can help cut your costs by up to £426 a year.
- Households can save £156 a year by using a timed heating programme instead of manually switching their boiler on and off.
- Keeping your showers under four minutes can help slash your energy bills and bring down your water bills by £95 a year.
- Households that opt to dry their laundry on a line or clothes horse can also slash their energy bills by £70.
- Washing clothes at lower temperatures can help slash your bills.
- Households that stop leaving their devices on standby when not in use can save £65 a year.
- Leaving the tap running while brushing your teeth could set you back £31 a year.
DWP shares tips for finding work this year
The Department of Work and Pensions has shared some essential tips for finding a new job this year.
On its website, the DWP outlined several key steps to take before applying for a new job.
- “Do your research – Make sure you research the company or sector you are interested in. Don’t submit an application without drilling into the finer details of a vacancy. ”
- “Update your CV – Tailor your CV to the role you are applying for. Many of your skills will be transferable, so make sure you are highlighting relevant experience.”
- “Think about what works for you – Whether you are looking for a full-time workplace-based role or part-time role with more flexibility, you can find a job that suits your circumstances.
- “Be flexible – Why not explore opportunities in a new industry? There could be the perfect new role just waiting for you. Don’t worry if you don’t have experience in this sector, the skills you already have could be used in a new role”
Read the rest of the tips here.
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