Help with Cost of Living
Cost of living increases are affecting everyone.
We have listed below the available help, budgeting tips, and ways to manage energy use over the winter.
If you are finding it hard to meet your rent or other living costs, please contact your housing officer to discuss any available help.
Cost of living payments
You could get up to 5 different payments depending on your circumstances on a particular date or during a particular period:
If you receive qualifying low-income benefits you could receive 3 payments.
- Spring 2023 = £301
- Autumn 2023 = £300
- Spring 2024 = £299
If you receive qualifying disability benefits. you will receive a one-off payment of £150 in Summer 2023.
Pensioner households will receive a one-off payment of £300 in Winter 2023/24.
You do not need to apply, you will receive these payments automatically if you are in receipt of qualifying benefits
The Scottish Welfare Fund
The Scottish Welfare Fund provides two types of grants to people on low incomes, depending on their circumstances (these do not have to be paid back):
- Crisis grants for people who need help quickly because of an emergency or disaster.
- Community care grants help people on a low income live independently in the community or ease pressure on families
Contact The Highland Council on 0800 083 1887 or find out more at Benefits - Scottish Welfare Fund | The Highland Council.
Child & Family Payments
A wide range of grants and other forms of support are available for families with children from pregnancy through early years and right through primary, secondary and further education.
Full details can be found at www.costofliving.campaign.gov.scot/children-and-families
Help from Energy Suppliers
Many energy companies have support funds and hardship grants available for customers who are struggling with their energy bills. Here's a list of those we know:
Customers from any supplier can apply to British Gas Energy Support Fund - apply for a grant on the British Gas Energy Trust website
Winter fuel 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. If you receive the state pension or certain benefits youwill be paid this automatically Otherwise, you may need to make a claim by calling 0800 731 0160
The Warm Home Discount Scheme
An additional £140 energy discount may be available to find out if you receive the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or if you have a low income and meet your energy supplier's criteria. Find out more at www.gov.uk/the-warm-home-discount-scheme
Child Winter Heating Assistance
This benefit from the Scottish Government was first paid in 2020. It's a payment to help disabled children and young people and their families with increased heating costs over winter. It's paid once a year. The payment for Winter 2022-2023 is £214.10. Find out more at www.mygov.scot/child-winter-heating-assistance
Affordable Warmth Highland
Albyn and Cairn were successful in applying for funding to support energy advisors, based at Changeworks who are dedicated to offering advice and support to Albyn and Cairn tenants. You can be referred by our Tenancy Sustainment team by contacting them, or you can self-refer
0300 323 0990
Energy saving light bulbs:
Traditional bulbs such as incandescent, or filament bulbs, only convert about 5% of the electricity they use into light, meaning energy is wasted. Switching bulbs can help you save money.
Compact Flourescent Lamps (CFLs): Use about 75-80% less electricity than a traditional light bulbs and last up to 10x longer, but are usually more expensive and not as widely available.
Light Emitting Diodes (LED bulbs): Use about 10-25% less energy and last 25x longer. These currently offer the best value for money.
Halogen bulbs: Energy saving halogen bulbs lower energy by 20-30% and are cheap to buy, but have a shorter lifespan.
Energy Saving Tips
- Turning your thermostat down by one degree saves £80 per year on average
- Turn radiators/heating to low settings in rooms that aren’t used
- Only boil what you need in the kettle
- Clothes will still dry on a washing line in colder weather
- Electric airers are a cheaper alternative to tumble dryers
- Many clothes can now be washed at 30°C clothes and using ‘quick’ settings on your washing machine
- Use draught excluders and thermal door curtains to reduce draughts
- Turn off all appliances not in use
- Wear warm clothes at home and use blankets to help you keep warm
For more visit www.homeenergyscotland.org or call 0800 808 2282
The website run by TVs Martin Lewis is proving an invaluable source of help to many across the country. If you have online access, check out the range of advice offered in coping with cost of living increases at www.moneysavingexpert.com
Maximise Your Income From Benefits
Recent figures suggest as much as £15 billion of benefits people are entitled to remain unclaimed each year.
Maximise your income by making sure you receive all you’re entitled to.
For assistance, you can contact the Highland Council Welfare Support Team on 0800 090 1004, your local citizens advice bureau or Social Security Scotland on 0800 182 2222.
You can also complete free and confidential online checks of your entitlements using online benefit calculators at www.entitledto.co.uk/benefits-calculator or benefits-calculator.turn2us.org.uk
Council Tax discounts for people
The initial council tax bill for a property assumes there are at least 2 residents aged 18 or over. A full charge for council tax, water and waste water is then applied. You may be able to get a discount for any of the following reasons:
Single occupancy - including where the second adult in your home is disregarded for any of the following reasons.
- Severe mental impairment
- Care leavers
- Students, apprentices and youth trainees
- Careworkers and carers
- Working away from home
- Patients in hospital, care or nursing homes
Social tariffs for households on certain benefits
Currently nine broadband providers offer so-called social tariffs for those on certain benefits. However, according to regulator Ofcom, while they are available to an estimated 4.2 million households that receive universal credit, only 55,000 have signed up to the schemes.
Ofcom says this means millions are missing out on an average annual saving of £144 each.
Getting on top of debt
Help is available if you’re struggling with debt – however bad it gets.
If you’re struggling to make payments, contact your local citizen’s advice bureau or one of the debt advice agencies listed below as early as possible – their services are free, confidential and there to help.
- Money Advice Scotland Helpline – 0800 731 4722
- Citizens Advice Direct – 0808 800 9060
- Step Change Debt Advice Line – 0800 138 1111
- The Money Advice Service – 0800 138 7777
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- Christians Against Poverty – 0800 328 0006
Swap bank accounts and earn cash back (see Martin Lewis Money Saving Expert Guide)
Spread your council tax bill over 12 months instead of 10 months
Is it time to renew your house/buildings insurance, car insurance? It is usually cheaper to look elsewhere rather than stay with your current provider
Learn to cook fake-aways!
Look for offers/discount codes before you make a purchase.
Bulk buy where possible, reduced supermarket offers and freeze them. This can include poultry, meats, vegetables, bread, rolls and many more.
Most supermarket own brand tins, etc taste exactly the same as the leading brands but can be up to half the price.
Albyn have a number of different funds which we have put in place in order to support our tenants who require a little extra help either with day to day costs, or the result of rising energy bills. They are there to be used so please speak with your housing officer, or ring our main office numbers and ask for more information.
In light of securing some additional funding. We are in the process of reviewing the criteria of these funds to ensure that it is distributed fairly and to those who need it the most, keep an eye out for news of these changes but in the meantime get in touch to access support. 0300 323 0990
The Albyn TRUST Fund
This fund provides support to tenants who find themselves in exceptional need. Each housing patch is allocated £2000 each year which can be used to support tenants during particularly challenging times. The Fund can be used in different ways depending on what would most help - examples so far include provision of a microwave, school uniforms and mobile phone tops ups.
The Albyn Energy Fund
This fund was introduced in 2022 in response to rising energy costs. Tenants can apply in person, by phone or by email for a £50 voucher to help meet energy costs. The current fund runs until the end of March 2024 with a total of £100,000 available. Use the numbers above to call us or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Are you worried about falling behind with your rent? Don’t wait until its too late, we are here to help you. Your housing officer can help you with any enquiries you might have or will be able to point you in the right direction to a specialist agency. Taking action as a result of rising rent arrears is Albyn’s last resort.
We want to work with residents who are struggling to meet their obligations and support them to sustain their tenancies through a range of means. If you are experiencing financial difficulty and are worried about paying your rent, contact your housing officer on the Customer Services numbers as soon as possible. The sooner you talk to us about any issues you might have, the sooner we can help.
Most efficient way of cooking food at home.
There are a number of food banks across Highland. To receive help from one of these food banks, you need to be referred by one of the food bank’s partner agencies, like your GP, health visitor, or social worker. If you prefer, you could make an appointment at your local Citizens Advice Bureau, or contact your Housing Officer.
Once you receive a referral, you will be given a voucher to take along to your local food bank. You will be provided with a three-day food supply, along with recipes to help you make the most of this food.
You will find lots of information online about the help that is available, but if you are unable to do this, then please see below:
- Highland Food Bank, Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch and Strathspey - 01463 717 630 / 07875 332 696
- Highland Food Bank, Dingwall Free Church Hall, Dingwall - 01349865112 / 07782 551854
- Highland Food Bank, Capstone Centre, Obsdale Road, Alness - 07884 869 021 / 01463 717630
- Highland Food Bank, St Duthus House, Tain - 07884 869 021 / 01463 717630
- Highland Food Bank, Carnegie Library Building, Sinclair Terrace, Wick
- Highland Food Bank, 13 Princes Street, Thurso
Other local food projects
You do not need referrals for the Local Food Banks, and Community Larders listed below and will be able to find opening times and availability on your local Community Noticeboard.
The message is if you’re in need, or know of someone who is, please take some items, and If you’re lucky enough to have some items to spare then donations are always welcome.
PACE Community Larder, Old School Place, Ardersier
The Community Larder, The Barn, Drovers Square, Ardgay.
Community Café in Bonar Bridge Hall
Badenoch & Strathspey Food Hub, St. Andrews Church Hall, Grampian Road, Aviemore
Sharing Shed, George Street car park -
Brora Village Hub Community Larder, Murfiled Road
Contin Sharing Shed, outside local shop. Open when shop is open
Goodness Community Fridge, The Barn Centre
Dingwall Community Fridge
Near the Community Centre
The Hut @The Hub operating as a food larder for zero waste
The Cabin, community larder In the shed at the bottom of the car park of Café 82
A Bite and Blether in the Blairbeg Village Hall.
The Sharing shed isn't in place yet , but there may be boxes outside the door of the VICTORIA DIAMOND JUBILEE HALL
Sharing Shed, Leisure Centre car park
Community Food bank - Sutherland Care Forum Craig House Main Street
Food Hut – Next to the Service point, behind the Police Station
Community Food shed - to the left of the Community Centre.
Inverness Ness Bank Church Drop in centre.
Café 1668, 86 Church Street.
Crown and City Community Cupboards, 1 Ardconnel Street.
Salvation Army Food Bank, 20 Tomnahurich Street.
Merkinch Community Centre Coronation Park, Merkinch Inverness
Community larder & fridges - Caberfeidh Horizons, High Street
The Storehouse, contact Durness & Kinlochbervie Church of Scotland
Community Sharing Shed in layby near shop
Assynt Food Larder, outside Leisure Centre, Lochinver.
Mercat Centre – Breakfast Club for Primary Children
Mercat Centre - Action for Children Foodbank
Muir of Ord
Moo Foods Community Larder, The Muir Hub & Café, Great N Road, Muir of Ord.
North Kessock Community Larder, next to surgery
Sharing Shed, Courthill Road
Thurso Community Larder, outside the Community Café, Thurso Harbour
Sharing Shed, located at Thurso Youth Club on Millbank Road
Ullapool Community Pantry, in the car park beside Tesco.
Inside the front doorway of the Pultneytown Peoples Project - Foodshare
Most people find it easier to manage how much money they have coming in and going out by writing it down. If you don’t already do it, creating a weekly, fortnightly or monthly budget is a great way to work out how much you have available to spend and make informed choices about what you spend it on. We’ve provided a simple template below that you can use or you may wish to try some free budgeting tools available online Work out your budget - Citizens Advice Scotland, Budget Planner | Free online budget planning tool | MoneyHelper
We know that money worries can cause a lot of anxiety and impact our health in different ways. Below are contact details for organisations who can help if things are feeling too much. Please don’t hesitate to contact them and don’t feel like a burden – they know things can get on top of all of us and want to help!
- Breathing Space – 0800 83 85 87 www.breathingspace.scot
- Salvation Army – 01463 234123 – email@example.com
- Mikeysline – text 07786 20 77 55 for support – www.mikeysline.co.uk
- NHS24 - 111 – www.nhs24.scot
- Shout Crisis Text Line – for support in a crisis, Text Shout to 85258
- Rethink Mental Illness – Monday – Friday, 10am – 2pm, different types of therapy and medication; benefits, debt money issues; police, courts, prison; your rights under the Mental Healt Act – 0300 5000 927 We are Rethink Mental Illness
- Mind – 0300 123 3393 – firstname.lastname@example.org - 5pm to midnight