The government is implementing a package of measures which are supposed to tackle the increasing cost of living crisis that many people are facing. Some Shared Lives carers have asked about who exactly will receive two particular types of support. Below are quick explanations of the different measures and who could receive them in a Shared Lives context.
Energy bills discount – In response to the significant rise in energy prices, the government announced in February that they would be issuing a £200 discount on energy bills for all bill-payers, repayable over the following months. Now, the government has increased the discount to £400 and removed the need to repay it. The discount will be automatically deducted from bill payers’ usual payment method – either credited to the account of those paying through direct debit, or to the cards of those paying through a pre-pay method. Shared Lives carers, if they are bill payers in their household, will automatically qualify for this discount and do not need to take any action. The cut-off date for eligibility for the July payment – i.e. the latest date by which you needed to be in receipt of the relevant benefits to qualify, was May 25.
Cost of living payment– This is a cash grant of £650 which will be paid in two lump sums -one in July and another in autumn – to those receiving low-income benefits or tax credits. These are defined as the legacy benefits and Universal Credit as well as Child Tax Credit and Working Tax Credit. A full list of the qualifying benefits, as well as more information about how they are paid and further support in the form of increased winter fuel payments for those eligible can be found here . Shared Lives carers will receive the cash grants only if they are in receipt of any of the qualifying benefits – but those people supported in Shared Lives will usually all qualify. We know that many Shared Lives carers have struggled as the cost of food and utility bills has increased, but people supported in Shared Lives’ benefits, from which their contributions to these costs should come from, have not done so. We are working to create some advice for Shared Lives carers to have conversations with the people they support about increasing their contributions, as well as conversation starters for schemes to ask Local Authorities to increase the cost-of-living portion of a person’s payments as much as possible.
More information about the full range of the government’s cost of living measures, including winter fuel allowance and a council tax rebate of £150 for those in Bands A-D properties, can be found here