As the cost of living continues to increase, we know that many foster carers across the UK are looking for help and advice to support them, the people they care for and their wider communities. Here, we have collated some general resources to help you find out what support is available.
The information on this page has been pulled together to give an overview of the range of support available to households in the UK as the cost of living continues to rise. It is not intended to be advice or guidance from The Fostering Network but instead is general information for all households, as the exact support available will depend on your individual circumstances.
- Help to support your income
- If you’re on a low income or out of work, you may be eligible for benefits or other financial help. Use the UK Government’s online tool to check whether you are entitled to any benefits or other financial support.
- Individuals on means tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Tax Credits, will receive a Cost of Living Payment of £650 this year. This will be made automatically in two instalments, one in summer and another in the autumn, and is in addition to the £400 discount on energy bills (see ‘Help with your energy bills’ below).
- People on disability benefits will receive a one-off payment of £150 in September 2022 to help with extra costs such as for specialist equipment or transportation. This is in addition to the £650 Cost of Living Payment for disabled people who also receive means tested benefits. Check if you’re eligible for the Disability Cost of Living Payment.
- The UK Government’s Money Helper service provides free, confidential and impartial guidance based on your individual needs. You can get in touch online or call 0800 011 3797.
If you are a carer looking after a young person over the age of 18 (for example, in a Staying Put arrangement) it may be worth reviewing the financial arrangements you have in place in light of the cost of living crisis and the additional support payments being provided.
- Help with your energy bills
- If you are worried about paying your energy bills or think you might get into debt to your supplier, you should contact your energy supplier as soon as possible. Under Ofgem rules, energy suppliers must work with you to agree a payment play that you can afford. You can ask for payment breaks, more time to pay or access to hardship funds, among other options.
- The Energy Bills Support Scheme will provide an automatic, non-repayable discount of £400 for households in England, Scotland and Wales to help with their energy bills through winter (October 2022 to March 2023). There is no need to apply for the scheme and you will not be asked for your bank details. The government is working to make sure that households in Northern Ireland get the equivalent of this support as soon as possible.
- Under the Help to Heat scheme, you may be eligible for grants to improve the energy efficiency of your home, which could help to reduce your energy bills. Find energy grants for your home.
- If you own a property in England or Wales you can get recommendations for home improvements that could make your property cheaper to heat and keep warm. Find ways to save energy in your home.
- There is different advice on reducing your household’s energy use if you live in Scotland. This is available through Home Energy Scotland.
- You can also visit NI Direct for advice on reducing your household’s energy use if you live in Northern Ireland.
- In winter months, pensioners can get between £100 and £200 to help pay heating bills. This winter, pensioners will also receive an extra one-off £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment which will be paid as an automatic top-up to the Winter Fuel Payment (see below). Check if you’re eligible for the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment.
- If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a Winter Fuel Payment. If you get the State Pension or another social security benefit, you’ll get your Winter Fuel Payment automatically; otherwise, you may need to make a claim.
- Eligible households in Wales can claim a one-off £200 cash payment in addition to the Winter Fuel Payment. Check if you're eligible and apply through your local authority website.
- An extra £25 per week in Cold Weather Payments is available to people who receive certain benefits during the winter months (November – March) when the temperature is zero or below for more than seven days. Check if you’re eligible.
- Some people getting Pension Credit or in low-income households may be eligible for a Warm Home Discount of £150. Check with your energy supplier to see if you are eligible.
- Child Winter Heating Assistance is a benefit from the Scottish Government to help disabled children and young people and their families with increased heating costs over winter. The payment for winter 2022/23 is £214.10 and payments are usually made automatically. Check if you're eligible.
- For the next five years, there will be 0% VAT on energy saving materials such as thermal insulation or solar panels. Installing energy saving materials will help improve energy efficiency in your home and keep heating bills down.
- Help with childcare costs
- You can claim Child Benefit if you’re responsible for bringing up a child who is under 16 (under 20 if they stay in education or training). It’s paid every 4 weeks and there’s no limit to how many children you can claim for. Claim Child Benefit.
- You may be eligible for other benefits or other financial help. Use the UK Government’s online tool to check whether you are entitled to any benefits or other financial support.
- If you’re eligible for Universal Credit, you may be able to claim back 85% of your childcare costs. Find out more about claiming back childcare costs.
- Check if your child(ren) can get free school meals. You may also be able to get help with transport to school or grants to buy school uniforms. There is different help available if you live in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- If your children can get free school meals, you can get access to free activities and food for your children in the school holidays. Contact your local council to find out more.
- In England, you may be able to claim free childcare. Eligible working families in England with 3- and 4-year-old children can receive 30 hours of free childcare a week. Families in England who have 2-year-old children and who are on certain benefits can get 15 hours of free childcare a week. Childcare Choices can help you find out more.
- You may be eligible for Tax-Free Childcare. This means you can get up to £500 every 3 months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. You can get Tax-Free Childcare at the same time as 30 hours free childcare (see above) if you’re eligible for both. Childcare Choices can help you find out more.
- Help with household costs
- Check if your local council has a Household Support Fund or welfare assistance scheme. This might help you pay for bills, food and essential items. You don’t have to be getting benefits to get help from your local council.
- If you’re struggling to pay for food, you might be able to get a referral to a food bank.
- If you have a child under 4, and you are receiving certain types of benefits, you may be eligible for a Healthy Start card to help you buy certain types of milk, fruit and vegetables.
- Check with Ofcom to see if you can switch to a ‘social tariff’ for your broadband or phone services. Social tariffs are often cheaper packages that are only available to customers who receive certain government benefits.
- If you are struggling to pay your water bill, contact your water company and explain your situation. There may be some payment schemes or hardship funds available to help you.
- Check if you are eligible for a Budgeting Loan, which can be used for household items, rent in advance and travelling costs. Budgeting Loans are usually available to people who have been getting one or more income-related benefit for the past 6 months.
- If you are renting, you may be able to get help to pay all or part of your rent. Use the UK Government benefits calculator to find out if you are eligible.
- Housing Benefit can help you pay your rent if you are a pensioner, or you’re in supported, sheltered or temporary accommodation. Check if you are eligible for Housing Benefit. If you are already claiming Housing Benefit, you may also be eligible for support for additional housing costs. Contact your local council to find out more.
- There are also Discretionary Housing Payments which provide financial support to help with rent or housing costs. You can apply for these payments if you receive Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit and need more financial support. This funding is available in England, Wales and Scotland.
- If you’re a homeowner, you might be able to get help towards interest payments on your mortgage or loans you’ve taken out for repairs to your home. This is called Support for Mortgage Interest.
- Help with transport costs
- You can get up to 1/3 off train fares in England, Scotland and Wales with a railcard.
- Unemployed people claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit can apply for half-price travel using the Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card.
- You may be able to get free travel on buses. You can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach the State Pension age in England, or when you reach 60 years old in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. In Scotland, you can also get free bus travel if you are under 22 years old; in Wales, you can get approximately 30% off bus travel if you are aged 16 - 21. You may also be able to get discounted or free bus travel if you have certain disabilities in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
- Discounts and offers
- As part of the UK Government’s Help for Households campaign, businesses can sign up to provide discounts on their products and services, to help with the cost of living. You can find a list of available discounts on the GOV.uk website.
- Foster carers, along with social care staff, are eligible to apply for a Blue Light Card (£4.99 for two years). The card provides access to more than15,000 discounts from large national retailers to local businesses across categories such as holidays, cars, days out, fashion, gifts, insurance, phones, and many more.
- Members of The Fostering Network also get a range of discounts on products and experiences, including days out, holidays, mortgages and insurance.
- Help to manage debt problems and budgeting
- If you owe money and you’re struggling to pay it back, there are things you can do to help you get out of debt. Citizens Advice has lots of information about the different options.
- National Debtline gives free, independent and confidential advice on personal debt over the phone and online. It is run by the Money Advice Trust which is a national charity helping people across the UK to tackle their debts and manage their money with confidence.
- StepChange is a debt charity offering free, flexible debt advice that is based on a comprehensive assessment of your situation. They provide practical help and support for however long it’s needed.
Other organisations that might help
- The UK Government’s Money Helper offers free, impartial information and guidance on all aspects of money including benefits, savings, pensions, everyday money and money troubles.
- Turn2Us is a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially. It offers a benefits calculator and grants search function, and a helpline.
- Citizens Advice offers free, confidential and independent advice to help people find a way forward. It is available to people in England (Citizens Advice), Scotland (Citizens Advice Scotland), and Wales (Citizens Advice Wales). People in Wales can also access Advicelink Cymru, a Welsh Government-funded Citizens Advice service for people who are most in need.
- Advice NI is an independent advice network in Northern Ireland.
- advice.scot is Scotland’s largest digital advice hub. Its Knowledge Centre offers free, practical and impartial advice and information on topics including benefits, employment and housing.
Published: 15 September 2022
Updated: 4 October 2022
The information on this page is accurate at the time of publication. The Fostering Network is not responsible for the content of any external websites or liable for any actions taken as a result of the information on this page or any page to which it links.