Cost of Living: Advice on what you can do if you are struggling

Bills have skyrocketed in recent weeks. Credit: PA

Words by ITV News Meridian Journalist Harry Acton

The cost of living is soaring across the UK and it's set to get worse as food, fuel and energy continues to increase in price.

Charities across the South East are warning of the impact these costs will have on households, with thousands expected to be pushed to the brink.

Households’ financial wellbeing is at its lowest point in two years, as rising bills hits people’s ability to save.

The Scottish Widows index, which measures households’ overall perceptions of financial wellbeing, fell to an overall score of 38.5 the first three months of 2022.

Readings above 50 in the index indicate an improvement and those below this mark are a sign of a deterioration.

The latest score is the lowest recorded by the index since early on in the coronavirus pandemic in the second quarter of 2020, when the score was 37.8.

It's left many to ask how they can afford to live and what to do if they cannot pay the rising bills.

Morenike Ajayi MBE, an accountant and founder of social enterprise, Career Nuggets, says people shouldn't panic and understand how they spend their money.

"Understand what you earn and what you spend" she said.

"It's about budgeting and having a clear understanding of what money you can bring in and how you spend it.

"Have a detailed understanding of where your money goes. Assess whether you are paying for what you really need."

  • Watch: Morenike Ajayi MBE explains what consumers can do.

Almost half of adults were struggling to pay their energy bills before the biggest jump in prices in living memory came into effect, figures suggest.

Some 43% of adults in Britain who pay energy bills said they were finding this very or somewhat difficult in March, according to the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

With the cost-of-living crisis continuing to bite, 6% of those with gas or electricity supplied to their homes said they were behind on these bills.

The stark findings reveal the struggles people were experiencing even before Friday’s hike in the energy price cap.

Cost of Living: What support is available to people in the South East.

Community pantries

Community pantries provide groceries at a lower rate than shops and supermarkets.

Community pantries offer access by memberships, where for a small weekly contribution, members receive food to a significantly higher value.

Several pantries organise activities and provide a wraparound support services and social interaction for those who are isolated.

Further info on Community pantries:

Your Local Pantry

SOFEA Community Larder locations

Hampshire County Council advice

Kent Community Pantry


Help and Kindness - Poole

Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole Council advice

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Energy bills

There are several UK charities and companies that offer free advice on how to save energy.

Simple steps could knock pounds off of your bills.

Some can also offer advice if you can't afford your bills.

Who can help:

Energy Saving Trust

Act on Energy

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Debt advice

There are many charities and firms that can offer advice if you are in debt.

One of those is Christians Against Poverty.

It provides free debt help and local community groups across the UK.

The charity runs free services, partnering with local churches, and provides practical and emotional support and show people that there is always hope.

Go to: Christians Against Poverty or call 0800 328 0006

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As the 54% increase to Ofgem’s price cap hit bills, the Resolution Foundation think tank said the number of English households in fuel stress – those spending at least 10% of their total budgets on energy bills – was set to double overnight from 2.5 to five million.

With many people still working from home, due to the pandemic, reducing energy usage isn't an option.

Morenike is urging people to claim a rebate on tax that they are owed by the government because they are working from home.

"Go onto the government website" she said.

"They're offering rebates for some people, such as rebates on council tax. There is support out there.

"But also be efficient on how you use your energy."

Further advice:

  • If you need support, call Citizens Advice on 0808 223 1133 (or 0808 223 1144 to contact a Welsh-speaking adviser), or visit citizensadvice.org.uk

  • Another charity called Turn 2 Us also offers support and can help you find any benefits or grants you may qualify for if you need a bit of support with your bills.

  • If you are struggling to make payments, then contact the company you are making payments to or your council.