We are all experiencing an increase to our monthly household bills. The increase in the cost of living has resulted in things such as the weekly food shop being more expensive, a rise in our electricity and gas bills, higher prices at the petrol pumps and a general increase in prices. It is not unsurprising that people may feel uncertain and anxious as a result of this, and needing to look for advice and guidance to deal with situations that they were not expecting or had made plans for.
Help with cost of living
Confidential guidance and support
The University's Employee Assistance Programme provides all employees access to a free confidential helpline 24/7, 365 days a year and an online portal which includes practical advice and guidance including legal and financial wellbeing.
Oxford Brookes operates a Staff Assistance Fund that will make a grant of up to £1,000 to those employees who are facing unexpected pressures that have resulted, or will result in severe financial difficulty and where support is not available elsewhere.
You must have be an employee for a minimum of 6 months and have passed your probation to be eligible to apply for a grant from the Fund. Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis.
Guidance and the application form can be found on the Staff Assistance Fund page:
They manage schemes on behalf of companies, authorities and charities and facilitate the application process. The schemes they manage can be accessed direct from the originating body.
Citizens Advice Bureau
They provide independent, impartial advice on issues from consumer rights, employment issues, housing, immigration, law courts, health to financial concerns. They can be accessed online, by phone, or in person twice a week in Oxford.
This is a UK charity which supports the mental health and wellbeing of teachers and education staff in schools, colleges and universities. There are tools and resources to help with financial and wellbeing support, but they also provide grants if the eligibility criteria are met. Any money received does not have to be paid back.
Dedicated Government website that has links to specific areas to do with the cost of living.
The website of the HRMC where you may be able to apply for a tax rebate if you have been working from home.
The website of the consumer champion Martin Lewis, with links to all aspects of household management. It is very accessible and has a lot of advice on the current situation.
The website has household energy advice that mirrors that as signposted and offered by other organisations. The advice and guidance around the affordability of energy bills directs individuals to talk with their energy supplier, but has links to Government schemes Winter Fuel Payment, Cold Weather Payment, Warm Home Discount etc.
Previously the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), they provide advice and guidance on all money-related issues. They can organise Debt Management Plans, Individual Voluntary Arrangements, and cover all areas of financial concerns.
A helpful tool to calculate if you are entitled to benefits and a list of all benefits available.
UNISON (the trade union which mostly represents professional services staff) members experiencing financial and emotional difficulties can contact UNISON Welfare, which provides confidential advice and support services for members and their dependants. Apart from advice, financial support can also be requested from "There for You", particularly those with financial problems, simple solutions are rare. UNISON can provide financial grants to relieve the pressure while long-term answers are found.