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 money and help with costs
- 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:
Sources of money and help with costs
- Emergency grants
Scottish Welfare Fund
Contact your local council for a crisis grant to help with an unexpected emergency like a fire or flood, losing your money or your job.
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.
Food vouchers for food banks
You might be able to get emergency help with food from a food bank. 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.
You can find out where your nearest food bank is through:
- Your local citizen's advice bureau
- Your local council
- The Trussell Trust
- Independent Food Aid Network
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.
- Family benefits, grants and allowances
Make sure that you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to. It's estimated that households in the UK are missing out on £19 billion of much needed support which goes unclaimed.
Below is a quick summary of some of the financial support available for families with children. However, the system can be complex, so it's worth getting in touch with the Money Talk Team or Turn2us (see ‘People you can talk to' above).
You could get Child Benefit if you're responsible for bringing up a child (one person per family is eligible). If you're bringing up a child whose parents have died you may also be eligible for the Guardian's Allowance.
All new parents in Scotland are entitled to a Baby Box.
All children over 5 in Scotland are entitled to an Under 22s Bus Pass.
If you are on a low income or receive a benefit such as Universal Credit, you may also be eligible for:
- Scottish Child Payment
- Best Start Grant (in pregnancy and your child's early years)
- Cost of Living Payment
If you have a disabled child, Contact has Benefits and Tax Credits information for you. You may also be able to get a grant towards the costs related to your child's disability through the Family Fund.
If you're the parent or primary carer of a young inpatient under the age of 18 receiving hospital care, you can claim for the costs of travel and food through the Young Patients Family Fund.
- Childcare and education support
You should also make sure that you are getting all the support available for your child being in childcare, early learning and school, and further learning for both you and your child.
Childcare and early learning
If your child is three or four years-old, you can get up to 1,140 hours of funded early learning and childcare a year (around 30 hours a week in term time). Some two year-olds are also eligible.
If you are working, you may also be able to get help with childcare costs through:
If you’re a single parent, One Parent Families Scotland has a useful web page: Help to pay for childcare.
School and further education
While your child is at school, they may be eligible for:
If you have a child aged 16 to 19 who wants to continue learning, they may be entitled to Education Maintenance Allowance.
If your child is aged 15 to 25 and has a disability or impairment, they can apply to the ILF Scotland Transition Fund for money to help them take part in a new activity or learn a skill.
If your child goes onto further education, contact the Student Awards Agency Scotland (SAAS) to see what grants are available for them.
Getting back to work or education
You may be able to get support if you are going back into paid employment or education through:
- Help with other living costs
Energy (e.g. gas, electricity)
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 >
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.
You may be able to get help with rent and council tax:
- Discretionary Housing Payments
- Council tax exemptions and reduction
- Council tax disability reduction scheme
Most NHS services are free in Scotland, including prescriptions, and there’s help with other health care costsyou may not know about.
You can get free period products in many public buildings including schools, colleges and local councils.
Regular eye tests are free and, depending on your circumstances, you could get help with the cost of glasses. Find out more on NHS Inform.
You get free dental care up to age 26 and everyone gets a free check-up.
- Affordable loans
If you receive benefits, you can apply for a budgeting loan.
Community lenders, like credit unions, will often lend you money even though you’ve been turned down by a bank. They have lower interest rates and also give you financial support and advice.
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 >
Please note that Warmer Homes Scotland are not accepting new applications until Monday 2 October 2023.
- 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.
Many warm welcome spaces are on pause just now but are likely to return in the autumn. Check out www.warmwelcome.uk then.
- 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 >