This time last year, no one could have fully anticipated just how the cost of living crisis was going to affect us or indeed how long it would last for. Both workers and those seeking work are affected. With huge price hikes in food, household bills, fuel costs, rent and mortgages - there has been such an increase in people's outgoings.
Most people are now aware of the government's cost of living payments - many have now been paid - to those on certain benefits or tax credits and the financial assistance that has been made available including the energy bills discount which is applied automatically. More cost of living payments have just been announced for next year.
For further clarification or to check eligibility, you can find the information on the government's own website or you can enquire at your local jobcentre. Your local council offices can also give advice and may be able to make discretionary payments to some households. The Citizens Advice Bureau also has a wealth of information and if you have school aged children, many schools are doing what they can to support both children and parents. Also, check you are receiving the correct benefits as earlier this year it was reported that a staggering £15 billion of benefits are left unclaimed.
However, the financial struggle facing many people is causing not only hardship but extreme worry too which can quickly escalate into deteriorating mental and physical health. Talk to your GP if you feel as if you are not coping well and it is affecting your health as they can offer support and refer you to other organisations which you may not be aware of.
While the cost of living crisis has affected most people, it has taken its toll mostly on those who receive low incomes or those who are disabled or job seekers. This has much to do with the fact that most of a low income will be used on the cost of bills and food. Always contact your energy suppliers if you are worried financially as they may be able to offer advice and assistance.
Food bank usage is on the increase and there is no shame in asking for help when you need it - they are there for you and many others who are in a similar position.
Inflation of this scale is something that the country has not witnessed for decades and of course as salaries are not keeping in line with the rate of inflation, wages have not been increasing. When searching for a new job, many people are now being influenced more by the rate of pay than job satisfaction itself as they are acutely aware of the need to earn in order to pay for essentials which in many cases unfortunately is not covering.
We have all heard the money saving tips such as batch cooking, shopping for cheaper and reduced food, monitoring energy usage and keeping it to a bare minimum and reassessing your direct debits to see if any could be reduced or cancelled, etc. These are very tough times indeed but by maximising any help that you may be entitled to, it may make life just that tiny bit easier.
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