Cost of Living Support
The GCH Economi–COLS: Supporting you in these difficult times.
Our Tenancy Sustainment Heroes have pulled together a hub of information, advice, guidance and support routes just for you to help you prepare for the current and up and coming pressure on your pockets.
Below we have a section for each of the most important things that are a concern at this time. Click on each one to reveal more help and support.
Top energy saving tips in your home
- Programme your Heating – Turning down your heating by just one degree could cut your heating bill by up to 10%. Find out how to control your central heating by visiting the Centre for Sustainable Energy website
- Avoid using plug in heaters if possible – they are expensive to run.
- Turn things off – Get into the habit of turning off appliances and lighting that you are not using. Turn lights off when you go out of a room or during the day and don’t leave appliances like bathroom extractor fans on for long periods as they use a lot of energy .
- Use low energy lightbulbs – Replacing your light bulbs with low energy equivalents can make a huge difference to your energy bill, LEDs can use 90% less energy than standard lightbulbs.
- Shrink your bills not your clothes – 90% of a washing machines energy is spent heating the water, so wash your clothes at 30-40 degrees Celsius instead. This will help look after your clothes for longer and save you money.
- Save in the kitchen – Boiling only as much water as you need and using a bowl to wash up instead of running dishes under the tap can save both energy and water.
- Keep the heat in and the cold out – Insulation is one of the best ways of saving energy. Draft proof your home wherever you can feel coldspots by thick curtains, covering exposed glass and using a draught excluder.
- Check your tariff – If you have not checked your tariff in a while, then compare gas and electricity prices to make sure you are on the cheapest tariff for you.
- Gas/Electricity safety checks – Boilers operate more efficiently and safely when serviced regularly.
- Move furniture and Curtains away from heaters – Furniture and curtains can reduce the amount of heat entering a room – allow the heat to come from the heater into the room with no obstacles.
- Phones – Switch off mobile phone chargers when not in use – these can often use a lot of energy and can also pose a fire risk.
The utility cap rise is affecting everyone. We work with our partner Energy Angels to provide you with the latest advice on managing your energy bills and have the latest government schemes explained here:
There is also an Energy Rebate Scheme which initially was designed to be a £200 reduction paid back in instalments over five years. Now, the discount has been doubled and there is no requirement to repay.
In other words, from October, everyone’s energy bill will be reduced by £400. This will be applied in monthly instalments over six months, with a reduction of £66 in October and November, and of £67 a month from December to March 2023.
The discount will be made automatically by your energy supplier to your pre-payment meter or utility account and there is no need to apply.
Cost of Living Payments You may get a payment of £650 paid in 2 lump sums of £326 and £324 if you get payments of certain qualifying benefits. The GOV.uk website is kept up to date with the latest schemes and what you need to do to claim. www.Gov.uk/costoflivingpayments
Household Support Fund Gloucestershire County Council are offering support to households in the most need with food, energy and water bills and other essential items with their Household Support Fund. Details of who is eligible can be found here: Household Support Fund, Gloucestershire County Council
Most supermarkets have a points scheme to collect when you are spending and cost nothing to join, they even have apps now to keep your purse or wallet from bulging with unnecessary plastic too!
Sainsbury’s www.nectar.com Nectar points can be collected from various different retailers and can be spent directly from your food shopping as money off.
Lidl Lidl Plus coupons Lidl Plus is a new app to collect points and earn money off vouchers for the next time you spend. Their rewards app makes those big savings even bigger with new coupons every Thursday, plus exclusive discounts, prizes and more.
Tesco Clubcard Clubcard Vouchers, Offers and App Tesco Clubcard points can be collected and transferred to money off coupons for shopping or you can exchange for up to 3x the value of your points towards days out, meals, subscriptions and more!
ASDA Rewards Pounds, not Points. Asda Rewards Pounds, not points can be found at ASDA and you can earn rewards on the products you love. Shop the Star Products to get a cashpot boost which is the equivalent of 10% off.
My Morrisons My Morrisons Personalised offers for you, basket bonuses and digital vouchers to spend on the things you love next time you shop.
Making the most of your food shopping – The internet is full of great recipes for keeping costs low, batch cooking for your family and freezer tips to make sure you waste nothing!
Maximise your freezer – Lots of things you may not think that you can freeze, but you can. Here are a few examples:
- Avocado (pureed)
- Baked goods such as muffins, cupcakes and brownies
- Citrus fruits
- Corn on the cob
- Grapes, berries
Eat seasonally – This is the cheapest way to get your 5 a day. Seasonal vegetables are the cheapest to produce and in most cases the saving is passed on to the consumer. For example, making your own soup from winter veg can be a great way to get creative in the kitchen and save money on tinned produce.
Shop online – Shopping online can be a savvy way to avoid impulse purchases, especially on an empty stomach! Also, most supermarkets that offer online deliveries will give you free delivery vouchers when you sign up.
The big C word – No not Covid! Christmas… Christmas is the same time each year which is great for planning but saving for Christmas can be hard and it can be difficult to explain to children what things cost. Lots of people live in the shadow of Christmas past and borrowing to pay for Christmas each year can be an expensive burden.
- Take advantage of when your children are younger and that their imaginations with the smallest things can provide hours of fun and activity.
- Secret Santa with adults can keep costs down and be a bit of fun when getting together.
- If family want to buy for children, set up an online chat to discuss what they would like or need without excessive spending or pressure.
- The internet is your oyster! Searching online for games and activities you can pull together with smaller children using bits and pieces around the home can keep them entertained for hours. For example – 50 Things to do with kids at Home: Fun Indoor Activities
- Older children want the trendiest clothes, most up to date mobile phones and latest games consoles – knowing these types of expenses are coming up is something to consider budgeting for. Second hand refurbished goods can be snapped up at half the price on sites such as Ebay or the retailers ‘seconds’ shop and in 99 out of 100 cases they’ll never know the difference. The packaging gets recycled anyway!
Low-cost household goods suppliers in your area:
Gloucester Furniture Recycling Project, 108 Eastern Avenue, Gloucester, GL4 4LP Furniture Recycling Project
British Heart Foundation Furniture and Electrical Store – 92-96 Northgate Street, Gloucester, GL1 1SL
EMMAUS Furniture Store – Chequers Road, Gloucester, GL4 6PN
Gillmans Electrical Appliances – St Oswalds Road, Gloucester, GL1 2SG
Stephens Electrics – 2 Wellington Street, Gloucester, GL1 1RA
Priority Debts and Bills –
Priority debts and bills. Find out which debts to pay first, some bills are classed as priorities because the consequences of not paying them are greater than the consequences of not paying others. Rent is one of them! Prioritising the ones that you should pay first, include fines and Council Tax will ensure you safeguard the roof over your head. Avoid unnecessary costs from us and get in touch if you are struggling to make your rent payments so our Income and Tenancy Sustainment teams can help you budget better to protect your home.
Our Income Account Managers are on hand to chat to you about your rent account and they work their magic with our Tenancy Sustainment Team to help maximise your income, reduce your commitments where they can and help claim any benefits or funding you may be missing out on.
Pick up the phone today to see how our heroes can help you!
Buy now pay later schemes – There are lots of online schemes out there that can make spending seem more affordable than it realistically is. It is really important to make sure you can afford the payments, at the time they are due and that you are considering the amounts if you have multiple purchases to pay back this way.
Loan Sharks – Unfortunately there is a concerning level of loan shark activity in Gloucestershire and again, when our pockets are pinched it can seen reasonable to take short term lending from doorstep lenders. Loan sharks are illegal and help and advice is available if you think you have been a victim of such lending.
If you, or you know someone who has been affected by illegal lending you can report a loan shark confidentially online.
Payday Loans – Payday loan companies shout loud and proud about making easy, quick and online applications with funds being available the same day in lots of cases. This always sounds great but what they don’t shout about is how much it can cost you if you do not stick to their terms. The interest rates with pay day loans can be very high and best avoided. Speak to the team about other funding options for life’s essentials such as a washing machine replacement or help with flooring. You may be surprised what our heroes can do!
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The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has shared its January 2024 newsletter with useful updates and changes to government