Here at Citizens Advice Stroud and Cotswold Districts we are seeing an increase in demand for our services as a result of the cost of living crisis.
Over the last three months we have seen a 92% increase in requests for charitable help from the same period last year, with people seeking help with food, fuel or hardship fund payments.
Whilst the Energy Price Guarantee announced on the 8th September comes as a huge relief to households, energy bills are still very high. In winter 2021, the energy price cap was set at £1,277 for typical use. The new Price Guarantee starting on 1 October for households on typical use will be £2,500 a year.
We are very concerned about how vulnerable residents will cope this autumn and winter when temperatures drop and they need to turn their heating on. Many of our clients have been unable to afford their essential costs during the summer months. We have already had clients on prepayment meters who do not have enough credit to run medical equipment that relies on electricity; clients who cannot afford to heat their water; parents who are skipping meals to feed their children and pensioners unable to afford their fuel bills. In our largely rural districts, many residents rely on oil for heating and hot water and we have been contacted by people who cannot afford the cost of the minimum order.
What to do if you are worrying about money
If you are worried about paying your bills there are a few simple things you can do:
- Work out your budget. Find out exactly how much you have coming in, and what’s going out, and think about where you may be able to make savings. There is a useful budgeting tool on the national Citizens Advice website (https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk) to help you.
- If you don’t think you can pay your energy bills, contact your supplier. There are schemes to help customers but if you don’t tell them you are struggling then they can’t help you.
- If you have debts, look at the guidance on debt on the national Citizens Advice website.
- Check if you might be entitled to any benefits. If you have internet access you can use Turn2Us, Entitledto or Policy in Practice benefit calculators to check what you might get.
- Make sure you have received any cost of living payments that you are entitled to. If you are in council tax Band A-D property you should have received a rebate on your council tax and if you are a pensioner, on benefits or disabled there are various payments that you should be receiving.
If you cannot access the internet please call us on our freephone number 0808 800 0510 to access advice.
If you are really struggling and don’t have enough food to eat you can call the Trussell Trust Help through Hardship Helpline on 08082 082138.
Please do ask for help – we understand that these are worrying times.
You can get advice by calling us on our freephone number (0808 800 0510) and email advice through our local website (https://www.citizensadvice-stroudandcotswold.org.uk/) under the Get Help section. We are also seeing clients by appointment in our Stroud and Cirencester offices and in the community at various venues across both districts – currently Dursley, Paganhill Community Hub, Stonehouse APT, Wotton under Edge and Moreton in Marsh and Tetbury.
We are also looking for new volunteers to train as admin assistants in both our Cirencester and Stroud offices – if you are interested please email email@example.com. We also welcome donations to support our service – find out more on our website https://www.citizensadvice-stroudandcotswold.org.uk/).
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