It’s no secret that there is a cost of living crisis on the way, with bills and taxes set to jump significantly from April.
While it’s not necessarily possible to avoid these increases, there are support schemes on offer which you could claim which could help you deal with the pain on the way.
Council Tax rebate
The Council Tax rebate has been introduced as a way to try to take the edge off the incoming energy bill price hikes. It is being issued automatically to households in England, Wales and Scotland, and is worth £150.
There is certain criteria that needs to be met though. Your property needs to be in Bands A to D for Council Tax ‒ if you’re in a higher band, then you won’t qualify, though you may be eligible for separate support.
In addition, it is only paid automatically if you pay your Council Tax bill by direct debit. If you don’t, then you will need to wait for your council to get in touch to arrange payment, and we don’t know how long that might take.
What’s it worth? £150
Energy bill loan
The Council Tax rebate is the first of two measures from the Government focused on energy bills.
The other comes in the form of an energy bill loan, being issued in October ahead of our energy use rising for winter. All households in England, Wales and Scotland will receive £200, whether in the form of a lowered bill or a bill credit.
Prepayment customers may get a voucher or a cheque instead.
There is no element of opting in with this loan, it simply happens regardless.
And as it is a loan, it has to be paid back. This will take place over the next five years, with your bills being bumped up by £40 a year to repay the entire £200.
What’s it worth? £200
Working from home tax rebate
Millions of us have had to work from home for extended periods over the last couple of years, thanks to the pandemic.
And while that has come with some benefits, like the ability to carry out certain chores when taking a quick break from work, it has had some downsides too.
Chief among them is the fact that working from home doesn’t come free ‒ you may incur additional costs, for example on your energy use.
If you’ve been working from home, then you can claim tax relief from HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC), for the last two tax years.
The amount you can claim varies on your Income Tax band, as well as how long you spent working from home.
Basic-rate taxpayers get £1.20 per week (up to £62 per year), higher-rate taxpayers get £2.40 per week (up to £125 per year) and top-rate taxpayers get £2.70 per week (up to £140.40 per year).
Crucially, you need to have been told by your employer to work from home ‒ it can’t have simply been your decision to do so.
What’s it worth? Up to £280
According to HMRC, around 1.8 million couples are taking advantage of the Marriage Allowance already, yet it’s likely that around 2.4 million couples are eligible but haven’t yet claimed a penny.
The marriage allowance essentially allows couples who are married or in a civil partnership to share their personal allowance.
The personal allowance is how much you can earn each year before having to pay Income Tax, and stands at £12,570 for this tax year.
If one member of the couple earns less than that threshold, they may be able to pass it onto their partner, up to a maximum of £1,260 in unused allowance.
It could work out at saving £252 on your Income Tax bill, while the fact you can backdate it by up to an extra four years, means you could save a total of £1,260.
It’s worth remembering that there are certain eligibility rules you’ll need to meet in order to qualify, such as the fact that the allowance is only available if the higher earner of the couple is a basic rate taxpayer. If you are a higher or additional rate taxpayer, you no longer qualify.
What’s it worth? Up to £1,260
As any parent knows, childcare can be mind-bogglingly expensive, to the point that it actively puts some parents off returning to work.
Yet there is a Government scheme that can cut the cost, but which is being massively underutilised.
The tax-free childcare scheme allows you to claim up to £500 every three months, up to a maximum of £2,000 a year, for each of your children.
Essentially, for every £8 you pay into your central account, to cover the costs of childcare, the Government will top it up by a further £2.
However, according to the taxman, as many as one million eligible families aren’t claiming the tax-free childcare they are eligible for.
What’s it worth? Up to £2,000
Broadband providers do a terrible job of advertising the fact that they offer social broadband tariffs.
According to Ofcom, 4.2 million households could qualify for these deals, which mean you can get fast broadband for as little as £15 a month, much lower than you may pay with a regular broadband tariff.
The regulator reckons that average households save £144 a year thanks to social tariffs.
However, a shocking 55,000 households are currently on them, just 1.2% of those eligible. Social tariffs are open to any households receiving Universal Credit.
What’s it worth? £144