How We’re Here to Help with the Cost of Living
A few months ago, the Government announced that the UK will fall into a cost of living crisis due to inflation, which has resulted in the costs of consumer goods, energy, fuel and much more to increase drastically.
The rise in the cost of living has taken a toll on everyone, so we want to make sure we’re doing everything we can to support our customers during these difficult times. In this blog, we speak with our Neighbourhood Income Officer, Hollie Milford, on how she has been involved with Linc’s drive to help our customers and she shares her advice and knowledge on how we can help make the next few months that little bit easier.
Why Is the Cost of Living Increasing?
There are a few reasons why the cost of living has increased over the last few months, but the main factor has been due to the increase in inflation rates. The term ‘inflation’ simply refers to the increase in the price of an item over time, and the recent inflation has resulted in us moving into the highest cost of living rates in 40 years. This, as we all know, comes with many challenges, as everything from luxury items to essentials increase in price. Most people can make do without the luxury items, however, everyday basics such as food, fuel, electricity and gas are necessary for a comfortable life, and with incomes not keeping up with rising inflation rates, some people will have to start making difficult decisions.
Here at Linc, we care a great deal about our customers and our communities. We want to support them as best as we can, so they don’t have to be put into these tricky situations where they have to make hard decisions, such as whether to buy food or turn the heating on this winter. Hollie, our Neighbourhood Income Officer, has had over seven years of experience here at Linc, moving from the Rent Team to the Money Advice Team, and she’s now part of the Income Team. So, it’s fair to say that Hollie has had a great deal of experience in the financial sector of Linc and is full of tips and advice that’ll help our customers. Hollie discussed how her and the team “Frequently meet to discuss the impact the rise in the cost of living is having on our customers. We make sure we’re always up to date on any financial help and support available to ensure the Money Advice Service we provide is as helpful and efficient as possible.”
She continued, “We always aim to provide customers with advice and support to effectively manage their income and outgoings and this is more important now than ever.” It can get a bit confusing keeping up to date with everything going on at the moment, so Hollie and the team make it a priority to keep themselves and our customers informed on updates and changes the Government announces, as well update on existing and new support that’s available.
But even with this additional help, we recognise these difficult times can weigh down on people’s minds and wellbeing.
How Cost of Living Affects People
As we’ve already mentioned, the rise in the cost of living has affected most people, but there are specific areas where some people are struggling to cope. Hollie commented, “The increasing cost of energy and food is what seems to be impacting our customers the most. We’re finding that our customers have much less disposable income than usual, and in some cases are struggling to pay their essential bills.” Rising bills and outgoings have been a topic of conversation for several months, and as people start to receive these increased tariffs and markups on essentials, costs are outweighing the amount of household income. This means that families, couples, and individuals alike are struggling more than ever before to pay for basics.
The stress of these types of situations can have a large impact on someone’s mental health and wellbeing. The topic of money is a trigger for stress and anxiety for some people, and the number of people that feel this way will potentially increase as inflation rises. Money concerns doesn’t just impact our wallets, it affects our relationships, work and health as well. People lose sleep worrying about how they’re going to pay for tomorrow’s food shop or if they have enough money on the meter to put the heating on; over time this can drain someone both emotionally and physically.
So, we want our customers to know that they’re not alone, Hollie explained further, “Customers can contact their Neighbourhood Officer to discuss finances, or for any other issues surrounding their tenancy and wellbeing.” As well as this, there’s a variety of support and schemes that our customers can access through our new Tenancy Ready site.
Linc’s New Tenancy Ready Site
Tenancy Ready is our new website that contains lots of useful advice and support in a range of areas, from budgeting and finance to guides to moving into your Linc home and how to pay your rent. It’s a space to find answers to those all-important questions, and we dedicated sections on the website to address cost of living queries as well as provide support on budgeting, where to find online deals, and how to be more energy efficient.
When asked about the benefits of the Tenancy Ready site, Hollie mentioned, “We hope the Tenancy Ready site will assist in educating all on Money Advice matters. Giving the best tools and support to enable all to recognise and address money issues independently.”
She continued, “We aim to provide lots of useful information, tips and links surrounding Money Advice, providing basic, accessible advice.” We asked Hollie to give us a quick guide as to what types of advice and information can be found on the new site, she answered, “As well as the Cost of Living section on the Tenancy Ready site, we also offer a Money Advice Service which is tailored to a customers’ individual circumstances, which we hope will be a big help during these times. There are lots of grants and schemes available that we can help customers apply for, but these all have different eligibility criteria, so this has to be assessed on a case-by-case basis. During a session with one of the team, we look at the following:
- Income and Expenditure exercises
- Maximising Income
- Advice on reducing outgoings, including energy usage
- Welfare Benefit and Universal Credit advice, applications and appeals
- ‘Better off’ calculations
- Eligibility and applications for grants, funding and schemes such as Warm Home Discount, Discretionary Housing Payment, Welsh Water Help U.
- Accessing support from fuel and food banks.
- Identifying/educating on essential and non-essential outgoings and priority debts.
- Referrals for Debt advice.
- Referrals for other support services, such a tenancy support and mental health support.
- Flexible rent payments and repayment of arrears
This process helps us to help our customers find the best schemes and initiative for them, and the Tenancy Ready site has so much more to offer on top of that.”
The Tenancy Ready site has been created with our customers in mind, and we’ll continue to update all areas of the site with the latest information, guidelines, schemes and funding that our customers can access. The rise in the cost of living will be difficult for most people, but we hope that our new site will help ease the burden, stress and anxiety that comes with these challenging times.
Photo credits: Quattro