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There’s no shame in admitting that you’re struggling with the rising cost of living. Right now, there are very few people who aren’t.

Since I started in my role a couple of months ago, the costs of essentials like food, energy and fuel have risen by more than we’ve seen in decades. Members have told me they’re concerned about paying their bills. 

When I discuss this with members, our focus depends on their individual situations, but it’s always good advice to regularly review your income and expenditure. Some need to urgently apply for benefits they’re entitled to which they weren’t aware of. For others its more helpful to look at ways to help them budget.

Many people are surprised that RCN members may be entitled to any benefits. But it depends on personal circumstances.

If someone isn’t able to work due to ill health, they’re likely to struggle to get the same income they had when they were working, but we’ll explain how we can help them maximise their income by ensuring they apply for the support they’re entitled to. 

Many people are surprised that RCN members may be entitled to any benefits

There will also be some members, especially those with young children, who are working but are still eligible for some help – perhaps with their rent through Universal Credit.

My advice to all RCN members is to make sure you’re maximising whatever income you have. I want members to feel empowered and have the strength to tackle their budgets head-on.

We have a brilliant budget planning tool on our website and if you haven’t already, take a few minutes to complete an online benefit checker. You might be surprised by what you’re entitled to, and it could make all the difference in the coming months.

Helping you cut spiralling energy costs

Make your home energy efficient 

This will naturally reduce the amount of energy required to heat your home and the amount of money you spend. If you’re renting, ask your property owner to insulate your home. This can be done by installing double glazing, insulation and draught proofing. There may also be recommendations on your energy performance certificate. 

Use an energy advice calculator to find out how to increase the energy efficiency of your home.  

Home improvements cost money to install, but you may be able to apply for funding. Use the Money Helpers Guide to get information on how to pay for home improvements. 

Everyday changes to cut your bills 

  • Get everyone in your household to switch off lights and electricals if they’re not being used. 
  • Reduce the temperature of your water or heaters on your boiler.
  • Lower the temperature on your thermostat by a small amount.
  • Use a timer in the shower. 
  • Use draft excluders under doors and block holes to eliminate drafts around your home. 

Get rid of your pay as you go meter  

Although it means you only spend what you have, a pay as you go meter is the most expensive way to pay for energy. Set up a Direct Debit to ensure you don’t miss a payment and get a smart meter which will allow you to monitor how much energy you’re using throughout the month. 

If you have no choice but to stick with your meter, use our money management tools to save where you can. 

Check what benefits and grants you’re eligible for  

Use online calculators such as Entitledto and Turn2us to check if you’re entitled to any benefits or grants that you aren’t claiming. Don’t be shy. Call your energy provider to ask if they offer any grants and check our website for sources of funding.

Make sure you're not missing out on a discount

Some of the most common ones we’ve seen members missing out on are: 

  • the warm home discount, which reduces your energy bill if you’re on a low income.
  • the Household Support Fund. This is a scheme in England which can provide vouchers or financial support to homes in need. Each council pays this, at their own discretion. While the rules vary you don’t need to be on benefits to qualify. Visit your local council website for more information. 

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