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8 ways to save money if you’re on Universal Credit or benefits

It’s no secret that the UK is in the middle of a cost of living crisis. Inflation levels are soaring, alongside steep rises in the cost of energy. And if that wasn’t bad enough, council tax and national insurance are due to increase in April.

If you’re a recipient of Universal Credit or benefits, there are a range of discounts, grants and money saving schemes that you could be eligible for.

  1. Discounted train and bus fares

If you’re unemployed and claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit, you could be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card. You may also be eligible if you are a recipient of other benefits if you are actively engaged with a Jobcentre Plus adviser.

Cardholders are entitled to 50% off selected rail tickets. You can also use the card with selected bus operators – check with your local bus company before travelling.

You’ll need to speak to your local Jobcentre Plus adviser to apply.

  1. Council tax discounts

There are a range of council tax discounts available, depending on your circumstances. You could be eligible for a discount of up to 100%!

Discounts available include:

  • for people who live alone (25% discount)
  • for people with a live-in carer (up to 50% discount)
  • for people receiving pension credit (up to 100% discount)
  • for households on low incomes/benefits (up to 100% discount)

To apply, you’ll need to contact your local council. Find out if you’re eligible by entering your postcode into the council tax reduction tool.

  1. Council tax rebate

If you live in a property that is in council tax band A to D and you pay council tax, you will get £150 paid back to you from the council to help with rising energy costs. You’re also eligible for the rebate if you get the Disabled Band Reduction discount and your home is in band E.

If you pay your council tax by direct debit, this will happen automatically in April 2022. If you don’t have a direct debit set up, your council will contact you to arrange the payment, but you may not receive the rebate as quickly. Councils have until 30 September 2022 to pay.

Not sure if you’re eligible? Check your council tax band online.

  1. Grants to help pay off energy debts

If you owe money to your energy supplier, you could be eligible for a grant to help you pay off your debt.

The following energy suppliers offer grants to their customers:

If your supplier doesn’t offer a grant, check if you’re eligible for a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust. These grants are eligible to anyone no matter what energy supplier you use.

  1. Local energy grants

Simple Energy Advice can help you find any local energy grants that you might be eligible for.

You can also contact your local council to see if they have any schemes that can help with your energy bills. If you’re on a pre-payment metre and can’t afford to top it up, they might be able to help with a fuel voucher.

  1. Free or discounted broadband

TalkTalk has partnered with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to offer six months of free broadband to jobseekers across the UK. Eligible jobseekers will receive access to the TalkTalk Fibre 35 package, which is usually priced at £23 a month. To check if you’re eligible and to apply you’ll need to speak to your Jobcentre Plus adviser.

There are also several other affordable broadband deals for people on low incomes and Universal Credit. Uswitch has a list of the offers available on their website.

  1. Support if you’re struggling to pay for food

No one should go hungry. If you’re struggling to pay for food, then support is available. You can call Help through Hardship for free and speak to a trained Citizens Advice adviser on 0808 208 2138 (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm. Closed on public holidays).

You can also find a food bank local to you and contact them directly by visiting the Trussell Trust’s website.

  1. Make the most of your savings

If you’re in the position to put aside some money for a rainy day, the Government’s Help to Save scheme could be an option for you.

For every £1 you save over four years, the Government will also add 50p.

You can add up to £50 each calendar month, and you receive bonuses at the end of the second and fourth years. At the end of the fourth year your Help to Save account will close.

If you add the maximum of £50 a month for the full four years, you’ll have saved £2,400 plus £1,200 in bonus money from the Government.

Check if your eligible and find out more information.

If you’re unemployed or in work with a low income, help is available. Check if you’re eligible for employment support from Work Well.