Help with the rising cost of living
If you’re struggling with your household costs, you are not alone. This is an extra difficult time for many families in Scotland.
What's here for you
- People you can talk to about money difficulties
- Sources of extra money, including energy discounts and vouchers
- How to save money on household bills
- How to lower your energy bills in the future
- Support in your local community
People you can talk to
- Money Talk Team
Call the Money Talk Team freephone number 0800 028 1456 for a chat with an adviser at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
You can also access online advice and more information about the service on their website.
Turn2us helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help - online, by phone and face-to-face.
- National Debtline
National Debtline is a UK-wide a free and confidential debt advice charity with a team of expert debt advisers, dedicated to helping you tackle your debts.
You can speak to an adviser on 0808 808 4000 (freephone), Monday to Friday 9am to 8pm and on Saturday 9:30am to 1pm, or use the webchat on their website.
On their website they have an online tool to help you and a section with the latest information about any help that is available during the cost-of-living crisis:
- Money Advice Scotland
If you’re struggling with debt payments or bills, Money Advice Scotland offers anonymous, confidential, and non-judgemental ways to chat with someone.
You can talk to a friendly adviser using their webchat service, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, or email, Monday to Thursday 8:30am to 8pm and Friday 8:30am to 5pm. You’ll find links and more information here:
Sources of extra money
- Help available from your local council
Your local council may be able to help if you need urgent help. For example: crisis grants, help with council tax, rent costs, school meals and school clothing, food vouchers and fuel vouchers.
- Grants and payments from the Scottish Government
The Scottish Government has funds to help families, including:
- Best Start
- Child Winter Heating Assistance
- Educational Maintenance Allowance
- Scottish Child Payment
- Winter Heating Payment
See below for info and links.
You can also check out the Scottish Government’s cost of living support page to make sure you are getting all the benefits and free services that you are entitled to. Or go to one of the advisers listed above.
Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods are payments that help towards the costs of being pregnant or looking after a child. You can apply whether you're in work or not, as long as you're getting one or more eligible state benefits.
Child Winter Heating Assistance
Child Winter Heating Assistance is a benefit from the Scottish Government. It’s a payment to help disabled children and young people and their families with increased heating costs over winter.
Educational Maintenance Allowance
Education Maintenance Allowances (EMAs) provide financial support to eligible 16-19-year-olds who want to continue learning. To qualify, your household earnings must be below a certain level.
Scottish Child Payment
Scottish Child Payment helps towards the costs of supporting your family. You can apply whether you're in work or not, if you're getting one or more eligible state benefits.
Winter Heating Payment
Winter Heating Payment is to help people on benefits who might have extra heating needs during the winter period. Social Security Scotland pays this to people living in Scotland.
- Energy bill discount schemes
These discounts and payments are funded by the UK Government:
- Energy Bills Support
- Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding
- Alternative Fuel Payment
- Warm Home Discount
See below for info and links.
Energy Bills Support
The Energy Bills Support Scheme provides a monthly non-repayable discount to eligible households to help with their energy bills over this winter from up until March 2023. £66-£67 a month is taken of your energy bill automatically. There is no need to apply for this.
If you have a prepayment meter you will receive vouchers to redeem them at a top-up point. Your supplier will tell you where to redeem them, for example at a Post Office branch or a PayPoint shop.
Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding
If you live in a home without a direct relationship to a domestic energy supplier (e.g. a park home, a care home) you will be able to apply for a £400 payment from the end of February 2023. Find out more here:
Alternative Fuel Payment
Households using alternative fuels like heating oil are eligible to receive a £200 payment. This is on top of the £400 from your electricity supplier. Find out more here:
Warm Home Discount
You could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2022-23 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme if you are on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme.
- Help from your energy supplier
All energy suppliers have to provide help to people who are at risk of losing energy supply.
So the very first thing you should do if you're struggling with your energy bills is contact your energy supplier. Email the Fuel Bank Foundation and ask for their Extra Support leaflet which tells you how to go about this.
Citizens Advice can also help. Their website explains more about what to do and what your rights are here >
- Emergency fuel vouchers
If you’re struggling to top up your pre-payment meter, you may be offered fuel vouchers when you approach an organisation for assistance; for example your local council, a foodbank or your housing association.
- Grants if you are in debt to your energy supplier
If you’re in debt to your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay it off. The following energy suppliers offer grants to their customers:
- British Gas Energy Support Fund
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
- Ovo Customer Support Package
- E.ON Next Energy Fund
- EDF Energy Customer Support Fund
- Octopus Octo Assist Fund
If your supplier isn’t listed above contact them directly to see what extra support they can give you.
If you can’t get a grant from your supplier, you might be able to get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust. These grants are available to anyone - you don’t have to be a British Gas customer. You’ll need to get debt advice (e.g. from one of the advisers listed above) before applying. If you've already spoken to a debt adviser - check if you can get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust.
- Aberlour Urgent Assistance Fund
Aberlour’s Urgent Assistance Fund can provide immediate relief to families with children (aged 21 and under) who are suffering extreme hardship. Families who are struggling to provide food, heating and clothing for their children.
- Family Fund
If you’re raising a disabled or seriously ill child on a low income, the Family Fund might be able to help with a grant.
Saving money on bills
- Cheaper broadband for people on low incomes
Social tariffs are available from your broadband provider if you get certain state benefits such as such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit. They are affordably priced and you don't have to worry about the price going up.
The consumer advice website, Which? explains broadband social tariffs here, so you can decide whether they are a good option for you.
- Tips to reduce your energy bills
Whether you’re a homeowner, a private or social renter, a student, or you live with your parents, there are many things you can do to reduce your energy use and save money. Energy Saving Trust has 10 tips here:
Also, One Parent Families Scotland has some tips on easy ways to save energy and money here >
- Low-cost improvements to your home
South Seeds have a series of factsheets to help people find cheap ways they can make their homes warmer, including:
- Saving energy in a tenement – top tips
- How to draughtproof your door
- Secondary glazing
- Low-cost recipes
There’s a selection of low-cost recipes from campaigner, Jack Munro, on the BBC Good Food website here >
- Shopping around
Which? (consumer rights organisation) has tips for shopping around during the cost-of-living crisis here >
Lower energy bills in the future
- Grants and loans for energy-saving home improvements
Home Energy Scotland is a Scottish Government funded initiative to help you make your home warmer, reduce your energy bills, and lower your carbon footprint. Find out what you’re eligible for here >
- Switching your energy supplier
Now isn’t a great time to change your energy supplier but in the future you may find that it’s worth shopping around. Citizens Advice Scotland explains how to go about switching your supplier here >
Support in your local community
- Warm welcome spaces
There are warm spaces in your local community where people are welcomed to visit and can meet others, take part in activities, get a warm drink or meal, or spend some quiet time away from their home. They are provided by your council (e.g. in libraries and community centres) and local community organisations.
Contact your council to find out where your nearest warm welcome space is.
Or there’s a map of warm welcome spaces across the UK here:
- Food banks
Food banks provide emergency food supplies to people in crisis throughout Scotland. To get help from a food bank you may need to be referred with a voucher that you can exchange for food. The food bank will tell you where you can get a voucher in your area.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau can help you find your nearest food bank, and there are a couple of useful online foodbank finders to help you as well:
- Food pantries
A low-cost way to access a variety of foods, including chilled and fresh produce, and cupboard staples. Community pantries (such as the Cyrenians Community Pantry) are membership-based with a very low joining fee.
The Scottish Food Pantry Network has a map of where you can find food pantries around Scotland here >
As well as places with a warm welcome and free or low-cost food, your local community may well have other support to help you get through this hard time. For example, help to make your home warmer, arts/crafts and cooking groups, and grow your own food projects.
There are many ways to find out what's going on locally: friends and neighbours, your local councillor, your GP, the local community centre.
There are also voluntary action and third sector networks in every council area which you can contact. Find your local one here >