Cost of living
Higher prices of essentials like energy, food and fuel mean many households across the UK are struggling with the cost of living. Find out what support is available to help.
Households in Scotland are benefitting from around £7 billion of cost of living support from the UK Government in 2022-2024. The average household in Scotland will benefit from around £1,850 in cost of living support from the UK Government. The poorest 10% of households in Scotland will benefit from an average £2,445 from the UK Government. This is the equivalent of an extra two months’ net salary for these households.
- Supporting your income
- Help with bills
- Help with childcare costs
- Housing support
- Help with transport costs
- Help finding work
Supporting your income
Raising the threshold for paying National Insurance
The UK Government has changed how much you can earn before paying National Insurance. From July 2022, you can earn £12,570 a year completely tax-free. This means employees who earn £36,600 or under (around 70% of workers) will pay less National Insurance. A typical employee will save over £330 a year.
The National Living and National Minimum Wage rates rose in April 2023.
Check your pay to make sure you are getting the pay rate you’re entitled to.
Check if you’re eligible for Universal Credit
If you’re on a low income, out of work, or cannot work, you may be eligible for Universal Credit.
The UK Government has introduced changes to Universal Credit so workers can keep more if they increase their earnings. These changes mean working families on the benefit are on average £1,000 a year better off.
Extra money available for carers
You could get £69.70 a week if you care for someone for at least 35 hours a week and the person you care for gets certain benefits. You do not have to be related to, or live with, the person you care for.
Pension Credit for those on low income
You could get extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income, even if you have savings or own your own home.
Help with bills
Energy Price Guarantee
From 1st October 2022, a new ‘Energy Price Guarantee’ will reduce the unit cost of electricity and gas for UK households. This is automatic and applies to all households. Beware of scams – there is no need to apply and you will never be asked for bank details.
Energy saving tips to save money
There are several simple, quick actions you can take that could add up to serious savings on your energy bills, alongside some home improvements to reduce your bills in the long term.
Cost of Living Payment
Cost of Living payments are helping nearly 700,000 households in Scotland that are on means tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Pension Credit, and Tax Credits.
The first payment of £326 was made in summer 2022. The second payment of £324 was made in November 2022. Three further payments totalling £900 are planned for 2023/24.
Disability Cost of Living Payment
Around 607,000 people in Scotland on certain disability benefits could be eligible. There was a £150 payment from September 2022, and there will be a further £150 payment in summer 2023.
This is in addition to the £650 Cost of Living Payment for disabled people who also receive means tested benefits.
Winter Fuel Payments and Pensioner Cost of Living Payment
If you were born before 26 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. This ‘Winter Fuel Payment’ applies to around 1 million pensioners in Scotland.
The amount you get includes a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’. This is between £150 and £300. You’ll get this extra amount in both winter 2022 to 2023 and winter 2023 to 2024. This is in addition to any other Cost of Living Payments you get with your benefit or tax credits.
Cold weather payments
£25 extra a week if you’re getting certain benefits is available during the winter when the temperature is zero degrees or below for more than seven days.
0% VAT on energy saving materials
It will be cheaper for you to install energy saving materials such as thermal insulation or solar panels with 0% VAT for the next five years, helping to improve energy efficiency in your home and keep heating bills down.
Warm Home Discount
Nearly 3 million low-income households in the UK are eligible for a £150 rebate on their winter electricity bills.
You may be eligible for a Budgeting Loan if you’ve been on certain benefits for 6 months. This can be used for household items, rent in advance and travelling costs.
Cheaper phone and broadband
You may be eligible to move onto a social tariff if you’re struggling to afford your broadband or phone services.
TV Licence fee freeze
The TV licence fee will remain at £159 until 2024 before rising in line with inflation for four years.
Help with childcare costs
You can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the cost of childcare.
Claim back childcare costs
You may be able to claim back up to 85% of your childcare costs if you’re eligible for Universal Credit, with up to £646 back each month for one child or £1,108 for 2 or more children.
More schemes in Scotland
Other schemes apply in Scotland that you may be eligible for, including:
- Up to 30 hours free childcare during term time for 3 and 4 year olds
- Childcare for 2 year olds
- Best Start Grant and Best Start Foods payments towards the costs of being pregnant or looking after a child.
Get help with all or part of your rent
You may get help with all or part of your rent. There’s no set amount of Housing Benefit and what you get will depend on whether you rent privately or from a council.
Council Tax support schemes
Councils run support schemes to help people on low incomes with their Council Tax bill.
Help with transport costs
Cutting fuel duty
Fuel duty for petrol and diesel has been cut by 5 pence per litre across the whole of the UK until March 2023. It saves £100 for the average car driver, £200 for the average van driver and £1,500 for the average haulier.
Save a third on rail journeys
You can get up to a third off train fares with a railcard in Great Britain, saving up to £142 a year on average.
50% off travel if you’re on Universal Credit
You may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card if you’re on Universal Credit.
More schemes in Scotland
Find out what public transport schemes and bus passes you may be eligible for.
Help finding work
Get help looking for jobs
You can search and apply for jobs across a range of industries across the UK through the Find a job website.
Personalised job support
You can get personalised support, tips and advice to find your next opportunity through JobHelp.
Extra support for working families
The Flexible Support Fund is available to those on Universal Credit and can help pay for things you need to get into work and progress your career, such as initial childcare costs, training, uniforms and work tools.
See how the UK Government can help you with childcare costs.