THE COST OF LIVING CRISIS

 

If you are struggling with energy payments then there may be help available via this link: The Website also has economy cooking hints from Jack Monroe

Many councils have indicated they will be raising Council Tax, you cannot stop the rise, but do check that you are not already overpaying. Are you due a discount, because if you live alone (or just with children or students), are on a low income, have disabilities or have a live-in carer? If so you may be entitled one. In addition, many with conditions such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's or who have had a stroke could be due a severe mental impairment reduction as well. You can check online for this HERE, or phone Wealden District Council, asking about Council Tax Discounts.

To get the £150 council tax 'energy rebate' for homes in England Band A-D automatically paid into your bank account, you will need to be paying by Direct Debit. If not then you will be invited (by letter I understand) to claim it. There is still time to set up a Direct Debit, should you wish to, and you don't have one already. Either way, you will not have to repay this rebate.

If you Pay for a prescription (£9.35) and need them regularly it can quickly add up, however you can get a prepayment certificate, which can mean savings. If you're getting only one prescription a month for up to three months, then you're better off getting single prescriptions, but if you're getting more prescriptions each month or at least one a month over a longer period, then you'll definitely save with a payment certificate. A person needing two prescriptions a month would save more than £100 a year, compared with paying for individual prescriptions. Your local pharmacist will help you here.

It's important to realise you can often save by buying an identical pill, but just in different packaging. Some tablets are half the price.  Check the 'PL (product licence) number' on the packet. It is a unique licence number given exclusively to a particular drug. The medicine is sometimes put in different packaging, but if the PL numbers match then it is the same drug. In July 2021 Asda was selling Sudafed Sinus Max Strength Capsules for £4. But its own-brand Max Strength Sinus Relief Capsules had an identical PL number (12063/0067), costing only £1.75.

The electricity and gas price caps will rise 54% on the 1st of April, but the energy price cap is misnamed, because there is no cap on how much you pay. If you use more energy, you'll pay more. The cap is on the standing charges and the unit rates for gas and electricity. The present Standing Charge for electricity is 24.88p per day, and this will increase to 45.34p per day on March 1st. For gas, the present standing charge for gas is 26.12p and this will increase to 27.22p per day on March 1st. Unit price, electricity, will increase from 20.8p to 28.34p, and gas from 4.07p to 7.37p. Due to the Ukraine crisis these figures could easily rise again.

I know there is confusion about the £200 bill credit ‘loan’ on energy that's due to start in October, and this in practice is how it should work. In October, on every single electricity bill in England, Scotland, and Wales, you will either have your bill reduced by £200, or you will be given a bill credit. If you're on prepayment, it will be paid through your smart meter, or you will receive a voucher or a cheque.

This is going to happen, there is no choice about it, it is not optional. It will happen automatically on every single bill. Then, from April 2023, and for five years after that, you will then have your bill automatically and without choice, increased by £40 a year. That is how it will work. So in October there will be a negative levy, £200 will be taken off our bills. Then each April after that, there will be a £40 levy placed back on them for five years to recoup the cost. If at present you are living at home with parents and you move out in two years' time, even though you didn't get the £200, your bill will still be £40 higher, every household will be charged £40 more. You'll simply get your energy bill, and it will be higher because of this levy and the one this October will be lower.

Rev Peter.