If you’re having trouble making ends meet due to the cost of living crisis currently affecting the UK, it’s vital to look at ways you might be able to ease some of the financial pressure.

Costs are increasing across the board on everything from food to energy, clothing and household goods, with rising interest rates pushing up borrowing costs for those with variable rate mortgages, credit cards and loans. These rises in general living expenses are making it particularly tough for those on lower incomes to manage their spending.

Here’s our rundown of some of the ways you might be able to get help.

Mortgages and rent

If you think you’re not going to be able to afford to pay your mortgage, contact your lender as soon as possible to discuss the options that might be available to you.

There may be certain ways to make your monthly payments more manageable. For example, you might be able to move your mortgage from a repayment to an interest-only basis, although you’ll need to be able to demonstrate to your lender that you’ve got a plan in place to pay back the capital you owe at the end of your mortgage term. Alternatively, if you’re not tied into your current mortgage deal, you could think about remortgaging to a cheaper rate to reduce your monthly payments.

A fee-free mortgage brokers should be able to advise on the best remortgage deals which you’ll be eligible for.

If you’re looking for mortgage advice, you can speak to a Rest Less Mortgages advisor and get high quality advice** on standard, retirement interest-only and buy-to-let mortgages.

If you’re renting, let your landlord know as soon as possible if you’re not going to be able to pay your rent. They may be able to work out a way you can temporarily reduce your payments. Landlords can’t start eviction proceedings against tenants until they have missed more than three months of rent payments, so even if yours is unsympathetic, they can’t ask you to leave straight away. The charity Shelter has plenty of useful information and housing advice for those struggling to pay rent.

Overdrafts

If you’re overdrawn on your bank account, and you do not have an arranged overdraft or you have exceeded the limit on one, charges can rack up quickly. Contact your bank directly to ask how they can help you. They should try to help if you’re struggling to meet everyday living costs, and going into the red on your account. For example, they may offer to reduce or cancel fees, or offer a manageable repayment plan.

If you fail to get the help you need from your bank, and you’re struggling with spiraling debts, it may be worth contacting a debt charity to see if they can provide a solution. You can find out more about overdrafts in our guide How overdrafts work.

Credit cards and personal loans

If you’re worried about paying off your credit card balance, you could consider switching to a balance transfer credit card with a lengthy 0% introductory interest rate. This would let you pay off what you owe without building up hefty interest charges on top of it. We regularly update our list of the best balance transfer credit cards so you take a look at some of your options.

If you’re having trouble paying off a personal loan, get in touch with your provider directly and see if you can arrange a different repayment plan that suits you better.

Energy bills

The current crisis has left customers across the UK with very few options. Energy bills rose by an eye-watering 54% in April, and Ofgem has just announced that it expects a further rise of 78% in October as the average annual bill soars from £1,971 to around £3,500. This is higher than predictions, which estimated that the price cap would push average annual bills to £2,800 in the autumn. Read more in our article What is the energy price cap?

October’s increase is expected to push more households into debt to their energy supplier, but many might be entitled to some help with their bills. Find out more about what your options are in our articles Are you eligible for help with heating costs? and What can you do if you’re in debt to your energy supplier?

If your home is in Council Tax band A-D, you’ll have received a £150 rebate on your Council tax bill to help with energy costs in April, although many households have reported that they are still waiting for their payments to arrive.

The government has also announced a £400 energy grant to be paid to every household in the UK in October. The £400 payments replace the government’s earlier plans to provide a £200 rebate for every household in October. These rebates had to be paid back, whereas the £400 payments aren’t repayable.

Extra payments of £650 will also be provided to those receiving Universal Credit, Tax Credits and legacy benefits. This is being paid in two instalments over the summer.

If you were born on or before 26 September 1955, check if you’re entitled to the Winter Fuel payment. This is a tax-free amount of between £100 and £300 to help pay your heating bills over winter, and the amount you receive depends on your age and anyone else in your household.

The government will also give an extra £300 to those receiving the Winter Fuel payment, with a further £150 payment to those receiving disability benefits.

If you’re not entitled to the Winter Fuel payment, you might be eligible for the Warm Home Discount Scheme, which gives you a one-off discount on your electricity supplier between September and March.

Read more in our article The energy bills crisis: what can you do about soaring costs? You can also find tips on how to reduce your energy bills in our article Save money on your energy bills.

Water bills

You might be able to save money on your water bills by having a water meter installed. Some companies, such as the Consumer Council for Water, provide a calculator to help you figure out if getting a meter installed could keep your bills down. Find out more about this and other ways you can reduce your water bills in our article How to reduce your water bills

Most water companies offer support to customers who are having problems paying their water bills.

Options may include moving to a capped tariff where your payments won’t exceed a certain amount, taking a break from payments until you’re able to get back on track, or your provider might agree to lower your bills temporarily.

What you’ll be offered will depend on your individual situation, so get in touch with your supplier to see what help they can offer.

Council tax

If you don’t think you’ll be able to afford to pay your council tax because you’re now on a lower income or claiming benefits, you might be eligible for a council tax reduction which could reduce your bill by up to 100%. The amount you receive will depend on where you live, your circumstances, your household income and whether you have children or other dependents living with you. You can apply for a council tax reduction here.

If you don’t qualify for a reduction, you may still be able to ask your council whether you might be able to take a break from payments for a month or two. The support available varies from council to council so it’s worth contacting your local council to find out what help they can provide – you can find their contact details here

Petrol and diesel

UK petrol prices have hit new record highs every day this month, according to the RAC, and at the time of writing (June 15) petrol cost 186.59p per litre, with diesel at 192.48p. Although the Government has cut fuel duty by 5p a litre until next March, prices are likely to remain steep, so it could pay to shop around next time you need to fill up.

You can search for the cheapest fuel prices in your area at Petrolprices.com, which has data for nearly 8,500 petrol stations across the UK. The site claims that the average user can save as much as £220 a year by always locating the cheapest places to buy fuel.

Seek professional help if you’re struggling

As well as asking for support on your regular bills, it’s a good idea to look at other ways you might be able to reduce your outgoings. Hopefully our articles How to save money – 18 money saving tips and 21 frugal living tips might have some useful ideas.

If you’ve explored all of your available options and are still struggling, your council may offer a local welfare scheme for families and individuals who are struggling to meet basic costs. The Household Support Fund is provided by the government to councils for this purpose. Contact your local council to see if you might be available for support. You can read more about this in our article The Household Support Fund Explained.

If you’re finding it impossible to manage your finances during this difficult time and are worried about your debts spiralling out of control, it’s important to get professional help as soon as possible. Charities StepChange, National Debtline and the Debt Advice Foundation all offer free debt advice and may be able to help you arrive at a manageable repayment plan with your creditors. The sooner you act, the better your chances of finding a workable solution so don’t be ashamed about speaking to someone during these times of crisis. Find out more in our article Are money worries affecting your mental health? 

We hope you found these suggestions helpful. Do you have any other tips to share? We’d love to hear from you on the Rest Less Community forum

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