It might seem like a long time ago, but way back in May, the Chancellor announced the Cost of Living Payment – a £650 payment to help people on certain benefits get through the cost-of-living crisis.

Since then, energy prices are set to double to £3,549 for those on a standard variable tariff – or £3,608 if you are stuck with a prepayment meter. Inflation is hitting record levels and the Government have failed to come up with any realistic plans to help face down the cost-of-living crisis.

We know from Mirror reader’s letters and emails – and from the response to our Facebook live events – that this is the single biggest concern for people around the UK. We’re committed to bringing you the best advice and tips to save money and get help. But more must be done by both the Government and businesses to stave off this nightmare situation.

In the meantime, I’m going to take a look at where we are up to with the Cost of Living Payment and the other benefits schemes announced by the Government.

The Cost of Living Payment

The Cost of Living Payment is being made in two halves, with the first payment of £326 already made. Everyone entitled should have received the payment by the end of July.

In order to have qualified for the July payment, you needed to have been confirmed to have been entitled to receive one of the following benefits on 25 May 2022.

  • Universal Credit
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit

You did not need to apply for the payment as it should have been paid automatically to you if you met the qualification criteria. The Government are using a computer program to identify who should be getting the payment. While I’ve heard some reports of people getting the cash at the last minute, so far, the process seems to have worked fairly well – though it’s vital you speak up if you didn’t get the money.

If you’ve not received the payment despite being entitled to get it, you should contact the office that pays your benefits and ask them to look in to the matter urgently.

The next payment date has not been confirmed yet – nor has the ‘qualifying period’ when you have to have been in confirmed for your benefits. If there’s been a change to your benefits status recently, then speak to your local benefits office to find out if that will affect your chance of getting the second payment. So far, all we know is £324 will be due in Autumn.

You can keep an eye on all the latest updates on the Government Cost of Living Payment page:

Who doesn’t qualify?

People in receipt of some benefits don’t qualify for the scheme, including the New Style Employment and Support Allowance, contributory Employment and Support Allowance, or New Style Jobseeker’s Allowance. This is because these payments are ‘contributory’ – meaning you’ve paid in a certain amount of money over the years in National Insurance and have savings over £16,000.

I’ve heard many distressing stories from older people who are just over this threshold. There are other grants and schemes available if your savings have prevented you from qualifying in my recent Mirror article here:

Tax credits

The £650 payment is also available if you get the following tax credits:

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit

Again, the payment is being made in two halves, but at a later date in the year. I understand that this is to ensure that people don’t get paid twice if they are in receipt of overlapping benefits and credits.

For tax credits, you should receive the first payment of £326 between 02 and 07 September 2022 and the second £324 payment in Winter 2022. The official website does include the line ‘for most people’. If you don’t receive the money, let the team at the Mirror know.

The official payment schedule [taken from the Government website]

Benefit or tax credits Cost of Living Payment When you’ll be paid
Universal Credit £326 Between 14 and 31 July 2022 for most people
£324 Autumn 2022
Income-based JSA £326 Between 14 and 31 July 2022 for most people
£324 Autumn 2022
Income-related ESA £326 Between 14 and 31 July 2022 for most people
£324 Autumn 2022
Income Support £326 Between 14 and 31 July 2022 for most people
£324 Autumn 2022
Pension Credit £326 Between 14 and 31 July 2022 for most people
£324 Autumn 2022
Tax Credits £326 Between 2 and 7 September 2022 for most people
£324 From winter 2022

Disability benefits

You get a lump sum payment of £150 if you’re getting any of the following disability benefits:

  • Attendance Allowance
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance for adults
  • Disability Living Allowance for children
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Adult Disability Payment (in Scotland)
  • Child Disability Payment (in Scotland)
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement

The qualifying rules are the same as the other benefits. The latest news says you will be paid the £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment automatically from 20 September 2022. Most people will receive their payment by the beginning of October 2022.

What if things go wrong?

Things do go wrong, especially with payment schemes that are introduced quickly and affect over 8 million people.

In addition, given the problems many readers reported getting the Government rebate of £150 through your council tax (with some payments still taking up to the end of September to arrive), people are understandably concerned.

I’ll be keeping a close eye on this with the team at the Mirror, so let us know if you don’t get the money or hit a problem with the payment.

Other help that’s available now

The Household Support Fund was created last year to provide help for people struggling with their bills or who might fall in a ‘vulnerable’ category.

You apply for a grant from the fund from your local council. The money is provided on a discretionary basis, meaning the councils decide who gets what (and how). That means quite a bit of variance around the UK over who gets what.

You might find that you are offered vouchers instead of cash – presumably because councils can get a better deal block buying these from participating retailers.

Will the fund help me clear my bills?

Not necessarily. The way the funds are distributed means your council calls the shots about how the money is handed out – and payments aren’t likely to be huge. Many of the councils I’ve spoken to are talking about payments of up to £200, with mixtures of cash and vouchers offered in many cases.

The payments are designed to help those in need make a dent in key bills like food and energy.

Who qualifies for a payment?

Because the separate councils will be setting criteria depending on the needs within their own catchment areas, it’s a bit of a postcode lottery, but you start the process by going through the council website. Just type ‘Household Support Fund’ in to their search drive.

Because of this, it’s only possible to say who might qualify in very general terms. But as a starting point if you’re struggling to pay your bills now, classify as vulnerable or have kids and money is tight you may be able to claim. 

What about my energy bill?

The scheme is on top of the energy rebate announced already by the Government. That gets you £400 off your bill starting from October. However, as with so many other announcements, it’s not what people expected.

The £400 will be paid in six separate chunks from October with the first two £66 and the final four £67. We don’t have the dates yet. How you get the money depends on how you pay for energy, but there are a number of people who might miss out. Check out this guide from Citizens Advice:

Featured in Mirror – Martyn James

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