Could you be paying less for your fuel bills?

Ofgem recently announced an increase in the energy price cap from 1st October 2021.

All the major energy firms confirm massive price hikes from October – act now to avoid huge bill shock

The price cap puts a limit on how much companies can charge per kilowatt hour of gas and electricity.  The increase in October is 12% and it means the ‘average’ household cost for both fuels would rise to  £1,277 a year or £1,309 a year for a prepayment meter.  NOTE: this is an average cost – you could be paying more or less depending on how much you use.

The price cap only applies to you if you’re on a default or prepayment tariff:

You’re likely to be on one of these tariffs if you haven’t switched energy suppliers before or you’ve automatically rolled on to the standard variable rate after a fixed rate tariff came to an end.

If this applies to you you may be able to switch to a cheaper tariff and save a considerable amount on your bills.

You could ask your existing supplier if there is a cheaper tariff for you – this is the easiest option and you may be able to save money without switching supplier.

However, may be able to save more by switching to another supplier.  There are a number of comparison sites who can look at your energy costs and show you cheaper options, for example http://www.uswitch.com/  or http://www.moneysupermarket.com/  (these are both ofgem accredited but others are available).

If you want some help looking at options to save on energy bills, we might be able to assist you, call Valerie on 0748 3333 115 or email valerie@caringtogether.org.uk 

Note: before switching supplier there may be other things than just price to consider – for example if you get warm home discount you may need to check whether switching will affect this.

Free Will Service with Turn2Us

Turn2Us (a national charity that helps people to gain access to information and support around benefits, charitable grants and support services) has a scheme that enables you  to make your Will for free, using qualified solicitors within reasonable travelling distance of where you live.

This offers you the opportunity to make or amend a simple single or joint Will with a qualified solicitor, free of charge.

Making a Will is very personal and can be daunting initially. However, it is the best way to ensure that people and causes you care about are taken care of exactly as you wish.

Turn2Us say there is no obligation to include a donation to them in the will you make but they hope that you will consider a gift to them or a charity of your choice – after you have taken care of your loved ones

Here’s how it works
Register your interest on the Turn2Us website https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Support-Us/Ways-To-Donate/free-wills-service and tick the Free Will Service box.
Their partner, the National Free Wills Network, will then send you the names and addresses of at least two local firms of solicitors taking part in this scheme.
The solicitor draws up your Will and you don’t have to pay the bill.

There is also lots of other  information on the Turn2Us website that you may find useful

Do you need to pay for a TV Licence?

Last year, the automatic entitlement for free TV licences for all aged over 75 was scrapped and anyone not in receipt of pension credit now has to pay for their TV licence.

There has been a transition period which has meant anyone who hadn’t initially bought a licence would not be given a penalty charge.  This has now ended and so now if you haven’t bought a licence you could be prosecuted – although the BBC has said it will be arranging ‘customer care’ support visits initially.

If you are over 75 and not receiving Pension Credit, you will need to pay for your TV Licence, it currently costs £159 a year but there are a number of instalment options.  See https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/pay-for-your-tv-licence/ways-to-pay 

If you get Pension Credit and are over 75 it continues to be free but you do have to apply for it:  https://www.tvlicensing.co.uk/check-if-you-need-one/for-your-home/aged-74-and-over-aud3

If you are under 75, nothing has changed and you still need to buy your licence.

You need a TV licence to watch or record live programmes on any television channel in the UK or if you’re watching something live using an online streaming service on any type of device.

If you are over state pension age and not receiving Pension Credit, it is worth checking if you might be entitled to it, you can find out more at gov.uk/pension-credit. You can use the online Pension Credit calculator which will provide you with an indication of how much you might get.

 

 

Rainbow Junktion Pay as You Feel Cafe now open – Mondays and Thursdays

Rainbow Junktion Cafe is back for pay as you feel sit down meals.  They will only be serving outside for the moment.

Mondays and Thursdays 12-2.30pm for the cafe – advice and signposting also available – 11.30am – 3pm

Fridays will be Food Share – groceries etc available for ‘pay as you can’ shopping 11.30am -4.30pm

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Legal challenge to inequality for ‘legacy benefits’

This may apply to you if you are getting ESA or JSA or have been during the pandemic – since March 2020.

We will be keeping an eye on the outcomes and sharing information as we get it.

DWP court battle means millions could get £1,000 benefits back pay.:
People on older ‘legacy benefits’ could be in line for a payout as the Government faces a court benefits battle.
The legal fight centres on the £20 a week uplift given to people on Universal Credit at the start of the pandemic, The Mirror reports.
The payment didn’t go to those on older benefits, like employment support allowance (ESA), income support, and jobseekers’ allowance (JSA).
Many of those still claiming the older benefits are disabled, sick, or carers. According to Disability Rights UK, over 1.9million disabled people are still claiming ESA payments.
And this week, two recipients of ESA challenged this decision at the High Court for judicial review.
They argued it was discriminatory and unjustified to exclude people from higher payments just because their benefits were administered under an old system. On Thursday, the High Court agreed the issue could be arguably unlawful and will decide the case later this year.
The claimants have asked for the trial to be heard before the end of July 2021.
William Ford, of Osbornes Law, which is representing the claimants, said: “We are pursuing this legal challenge based on the proposition that the pandemic means those dependent upon basic allowances are facing higher basic living costs, and yet despite their very similar circumstances, only some of them receive a Covid-specific uplift to help meet those costs.
“This unfairness calls for a properly evidenced justification, particularly as almost 2 million disabled people are disproportionately affected by this decision and the pandemic generally. Thus far the Government has failed to provide any objectively verifiable reason for the difference in treatment of people in essentially identical circumstances.”
A DWP Spokesperson told The Mirror: “It has always been the case that claimants on legacy benefits can make a claim for Universal Credit if they believe that they will be better off.”
Helen Barnard of the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, said “everyone should have access to a strong social security system that protects them from harm when they are struggling to stay afloat.”
She added: “Disabled people and carers already face a greater risk of poverty, so there can be no justification for offering them less support than people claiming Universal Credit simply because they are in a different part of the system.
“Discrimination has no place in our social security system and every day we fail to act undermines public trust and intensifies hardship. Ministers must right this injustice by urgently extending the £20 increase to legacy benefits.

Protect yourself from online scams with a personalised action plan

There’s been a rise in online scams over the last year and research by the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) – a part of GCHQ – suggests 81% of Britons fear themselves, friends or family falling victim to cyber crime.

In response to this, the UK’s cyber security agency has launched a free tool providing people with bespoke advice on how to better protect themselves from online threats.

The service allows users to complete a short survey about their IT habits which will generate a personalised list of recommendations, as part of the government’s Cyber Aware campaign.

Create your action plan here https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware/actionplan

Or more general advice and tips https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/cyberaware

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Watch Leeds City Council Budget debate live on YouTube

You can watch the full council debate on the 2021/22 budget on YouTube on Wednesday 24th February at 1pm, if you want to hear about the spending plans for the next year and how they are being decided.

https://www.youtube.com/user/Leedscouncil

There have been some tough financial decisions to be made as the council faced a huge deficit and there was a public consultation at the end of last year about what should be the priorities.  The budget then went to Executive Board before coming up for debate at full council tomorrow.  There is more background detail here: https://news.leeds.gov.uk/news/council-presents-balanced-budget-despite-facing-substantial-deficit

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Keeping Warm – And Saving Money

The temperatures have plummmeted this week so we hope you are all keeping warm.  We would like to share with you this home energy checklist from NEA – Action for Warm Homes.

This guide has lots of helpful information and tips about keeping your warm and managing your energy bills.

Your-Energy-Checklist-January-2019-PRINT

Lots of other useful information can be found on the NEA website: https://www.nea.org.uk/advice/

You can also call Caring Together to talk about any issues around keeping your warm or your energy bills and we will do our best to help.

Leeds City Council Budget Consultation 2021-22

As the council considers its budget for the coming year, residents from across Leeds are encouraged to help inform how essential services continue to be delivered.
Launched today, this year’s budget consultation focuses on both our Covid-19 recovery and the challenges our city faces.
Highlighting proposals for spending and making savings in 2021/22, you can have your say with our short online survey and learn more about the council’s current financial position.
Your views will then help make sure the final budget is set in the best interests of the city and its residents.
The budget consultation runs until 13 January.
Find out more about the proposals and help shape the budget plans for the next year at: http://orlo.uk/7JLjV
Leeds Bridge - by Illiya Vjestica - Unsplash

“Councillors will see the results of this consultation before they make a final decision on the budget in February 2021. Your views will help to make sure the final decision is in the best interests of the city and its residents. To help you consider your responses we will provide a summary of the key points from our proposed budget throughout the survey. If you’d prefer to look at the Proposed Budget in full, you can read this in our 16th December Executive Board Agenda here at Item 6.Like many councils across the UK, Leeds faces significant challenges with next year’s budget. This is due to the impact of COVID-19 and reduced funding from central government.

By law we have to address the £119 million gap we have estimated in the budget for the next financial year (2021 to 2022), so we have developed a series of savings proposals that our Executive Board has been considering at its monthly meetings since September 2020.

We must look again at how Leeds City Council delivers services to residents, and we want these decisions to be informed by your views and opinions.

We also want to hear how you’re coping with the COVID-19 pandemic, to better understand the concerns of Leeds residents and the people who work in and visit the city.

The survey should take you 10-15 minutes to complete. Thank you for taking part. Your views are very important to us and by participating you’ll help shape Leeds services in the future.  Please complete the survey before 13 January 2021.”