Help with the cost of living
From financial support and budgeting to debt management and help with weekly food shops, there are a wide range of services and organisations available that can assist you in relation to the cost of living.
Requests for advice and support to help with the cost of living feature regularly in my constituency surveys and form a significant number of casework enquiries to my office. My team and I are always happy to assist you as best we can however, as your MP I am unable to provide specific financial advice and it is sometimes better to speak with another advisory organisation in the first instance.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) Cornwall can provide advice through their trained benefits and financial advisors, providing general and specialist advice in the field of debt, benefits, employment, housing, family and consumer law and can carry out benefits checks to ensure you are receiving everything you are entitled to
I have included links to the left for a number of organisations that can assist if you are encountering difficulties with a variety of issues.
Income Support and benefits / Universal Credit
Many constituents are not always aware of their entitlement to Income Support and other benefits.
There are a range of benefits available for individuals not in work, on low incomes and or with a health or disability need. Information about benefits which can be applied for, including their eligibility criteria are available at the Gov.uk website here.
The simplest way to check eligibility is via a benefits calculator which asks for details about your financial situation to determine whether you might be eligible. Once completed, the calculator will give you an indication of what you might be entitled to apply for.
The Gov.UK website also provides information and links to the three most commonly used Benefits Calculators. These are, Gov.UK, entitled to and Turn2Us. Simply select which benefits calculator you would like to use here.
If you are still unsure whether you might be eligible and you would like to speak with someone in person you can do so by contacting either one of the advisory bodies such as Citizens Advice Bureau or Advice Portsmouth or speak to the relevant Government Department, directly. If you wish to contact the relevant Government Department, directly please use the following information and contact numbers for some of the main benefits constituents frequently contact me about.
Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. You may be able to receive it if you’re on a low income, out of work or you cannot work.
For more information about Universal Credit please visit:
Universal Credit applications can now be made online using the following link:
Apply for Universal Credit
- Alternatively, you can call DWP on 0800 328 5644
- Or for textphone users please use 0800 328 1344
- Relay UK is also available if you cannot hear of speak on the phone; dial 18001 then 0800 328 5644
- A video relay service is also available for British Sign Language users. Check if you can use this service by using the following link; Universal Credit: Contact Universal Credit – GOV.UK
Help to Claim
If you struggle with understanding complex information or need some help with completing forms the Citizen’s Advice Bureau provide a Help to Claim service for Universal Credit. For more information about the Help to Claim service please visit:
To speak with the Help to Claim service please call 0800 144 8 444. For Relay calls please dial 18001; then 0800 144 8 444.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
You can apply for ESA if you have a disability of health condition that affects how much you can work
You may also be able to get ESA if you were unable to work whilst self-isolating because of Coronavirus.
You can apply if you are employed, self-employed or unemployed.
You could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of ‘new style ESA’ to check if you are eligible use one of the benefits calculators and make a claim by applying online for ESA using the following link;
If you cannot make an application online or you are an appointee for someone please call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 and select Option 3 or by Textphone by calling 0800 328 1344 also choosing option 3.
Relay UK and Video Relay are also available. For more information about these services please visit:
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Personal Independence Payments (PIP) can help with extra living costs if you have both:
- A long term physical or mental health condition or disability
- Difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition
You can get PIP if you are working, have savings, or are in receipt of other benefits.
If you need help understanding or applying for PIP you can get help from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. For more information about the support they provide please visit the following link:
To apply for PIP you need to call DWP to start your claim using the following telephone number,
- 0800 917 2222
- For textphone please use 0800 917 7777
- Relay UK is available by dialling 18001 then 0800 917 2222
- Video Relay is also available. Check if you can use this service by using the following link:
If you need someone to help you, you can ask for a person to be added to the call (not available via textphone) or you can ask someone to call on your behalf (you will need to be present during the call)
If you are applying for PIP a carer (or someone who looks after you) might be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. For more information about Carer’s Allowance please visit:
Tax Credits have now been replaced by Universal Credit. They were provided to those on low incomes for help with living and childcare costs. You can only make a claim for Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit if you already get Tax Credits.
If you cannot apply for Tax Credits you can apply for Universal Credit instead using the previous details provided for the Universal Credit Helpline.
You cannot claim Tax Credits and Universal Credit at the same time. Your Tax Credits will stop if you or your partner apply for Universal Credit. To check how Universal Credits and Tax Credits affect each other please visit:
How tax credits and other benefits affect each other
For those in receipt of Tax Credits you can now manage your tax credit claim online using the following link:
Manage your tax credits
Household Bills, Utilities, Winter Fuel & Council Tax
Help with Household Bills: (including help for; Utility Bills, Heating and Winter Fuel and Help with paying Council Tax)
Many constituents approach my office seeking advice and support about how they can manage their household bills or reduce debts they may have incurred with their utility providers. The following information provides advice and contact details which can help reduce your household bills, and manage debts associated with these
Gas, Electricity and Water
Since 2015 Energy companies have been required to put customers onto the cheapest available tariff suitable to their needs. If you are unsure whether you are on the cheapest tariff or you would like to compare the costs of your energy bills please contact your energy provider direct or visit the Money Saving Expert website at the following link:
You can also use price comparison tools to check your usage and costs for energy providers which are readily available on the internet by searching price comparison tools.
If you are on a low income or over a certain age you might also be able to receive help.
For more information on the schemes and payments available and whether you might be eligible please use the links below:
Additionally, for those struggling to pay energy debts, grants are available to help. Contact your energy supplier directly to find out more. If your energy supplier does not provide a grant scheme you can apply to the British Gas Energy Trust for help. These grants are available to everyone whether you are a British Gas Customer or not. To check if you are eligible use the following link:
Grants Available – British Gas Energy Trust
Broadband and TV
For those on low incomes or in receipt of certain benefits there are low income broadband packages available which provide a basic broadband connection with some packages offering to waive connection fees. For more information about the packages available and to check eligibility please visit Uswitch at
Broadband deals for low income families
Further advice and information on how to reduce broadband and TV costs is also provided at the Money Saving Expert website at the following link
Broadband & TV Guides
Most advisory organisations recommend contacting your provider directly for help if your struggling with your mobile phone bill. Your provider may be able to help by sorting a payment plan, reducing your bill, giving you more time to pay, increasing your data or download limit or moving you to a contract which suits your needs better.
Detailed advice is provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau in relation to options that might be available if you are struggling to pay your mobile phone bill on their website at
If you’re struggling to pay your mobile, phone, internet or TV bill – Citizens Advice
Alternatively, you can call the Citizen’s Advice Consumer helpline Line directly for help on 0808 223 1133.
Debt Advice and Support
There are a number of charities and organisations both nationally and locally who are able to provide Debt Advice and Support. Trained advisors can review your income and expenditure and help with arranging repayment plans to your creditors.
I know from speaking with many constituents how difficult it can be to make the first step and speak with someone about their money worries but I would always encourage everyone to seek the specialist help they need. The advice available from the charities and organisations listed below is free and is always treated with the utmost confidence.
Some organisations can also provide further specialist advice and assess eligibility for debts to either be written off usually through a variety of different debt solutions for example a Debt Relief Order.
- Money Helper
Free and impartial help with money, backed by the government | MoneyHelper
- Debt Advice Foundation
Debt Advice Foundation
– Call Debt Advisers free on 0800 043 40 50
- Step Change at
StepChange Debt Charity – Free Expert Debt Advice
- Citizens Advice Bureau
Debt and money – Citizens Advice