The cost-of-living crisis has led to people’s budgets being squeezed.

Food and drinks prices have shot up since the turn of the year thanks to inflation levels rising to a 40-year high.

The cost of utility bills has also skyrocketed, after the government quango OFGEM raised its energy cap. The amount in which gas companies such as British Gas can charge.

Most recently OFGEM said energy bills would go up to a record £2800 in October.

Now Swindon Borough Council has given 16 tips to help its residents deal with the cost of living crisis, which are listed below.

  1.  Check to make sure you’re not one of up to 7 million people in the UK who are missing out on income-related state benefits

•An estimated £15bn of benefits are believed to go unclaimed each year.

•Use this free benefits calculator to find out what you could be entitled to.

•Or contact Citizens Advice Swindon - 0808 278 7813 - for one-to-one help to do this.

•If you're turned down for a benefit, seek advice on whether to challenge the decision. Many benefit decisions are overturned, and organisations like Citizens Advice can offer advice about challenges.

2. If you’re over State Pension age, check if you’re eligible for Pension Credit - 0800 99 1234 - which provides extra money for living costs and access to other help.

•Around a third of eligible pensioners don’t claim Pension Credit – often because they don't know they can or that they need to.

•Find out if you’re eligible and how much you could get using the Pension Credit calculator.

•People of State Pension age may be entitled to Pension Credit even though they may have modest savings, or a retirement income or own their own home.

 3. Over one million families are missing out on up to £2,000 a year towards childcare costs – check what help you could get

  • Free childcare for children aged between two and four.
  • Help with childcare costs if your child is under 16 (or under 17 and disabled).

4. If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn't cover all your rent, check to see if you can make a claim for a discretionary housing payment.

5. Swindon residents of working age who claim means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit or Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), may be eligible to apply for Council Tax Support.

This could pay up to 80 per cent of your council tax bill or 100 per cent if you receive certain disability benefits. If you’re on a low income and overstate retirement age, you could also be eligible for 100 per cent support.

6. Check if you or your family may be entitled to benefits for those experiencing illness or disability. For example:

•Personal Independence Payment (PIP) (for adults under state retirement age), Attendance Allowance (for those over state retirement age), and Disability Living Allowance (DLA) (for children under 16, for new claims) are not means-tested. The assessment considers the way that your health conditions affect your daily living and mobility needs.

•Receiving these benefits may increase entitlement to other benefits such as Pension Credit and Council Tax Support.

•Seek advice if you're already claiming a disability benefit such as DLA for adults, as your award will stop if you claim PIP instead.


7. If you're a carer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance and/or an extra amount called the ‘carer element’ within Universal Credit. This could mean £69.70 a week in Carer's Allowance if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and you, the person you care for and the type of care you provide meets the criteria.

•If you’re too unwell to work, you may be entitled to New Style Employment and Support Allowance and/or Universal Credit with limited capability for work or work related activity.

8. Get free and impartial energy saving advice from Warm & Safe Wiltshire - 0800 038 5722 - to help manage energy costs and keep your home warm.

9. Contact your energy supplier if you're struggling to pay for energy or think you may get into difficulty – if you already have energy debts, some larger suppliers offer grants to help pay this off 

•If you can’t get a grant from your supplier, check if you can get a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust. These grants are available to anyone – you don’t have to be a British Gas customer.

10. Contact Swindon Citizens Advice - 0808 278 7813 - if you’re struggling to afford enough food, to discuss options which could include a referral to the food bank in Swindon.

11. If you're at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, you might be able to get free vitamins and Healthy Start vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk.

12. If you or your child receive certain benefits, you can apply to the Council for free school meals from Year Three and above.

13. Check if your child is eligible for free holiday provision through the Holiday Activities and Food Programme running in the summer and Christmas holidays.

14. If you’re in debt, seek advice early rather than let things spiral out of control. Contact:

• Citizens Advice Swindon - 0808 278 7813

• StepChange - 0800 138 1111

• National Debtline - 0808 808 4000

• Crosslight Advice - 020 7052 0318

15. Households earning below £16,480 can apply for a 50 per cent discount on their water bill through Thames Water’s WaterHelp scheme, or call their Extra Care Services Team on 0800 009 3652.

16. The Council’s Emergency Assistance Fund provides emergency assistance to Swindon residents who need it most.