Over the last few months, the UK and Scottish Governments have taken some action in response to the cost of living crisis. We’re going to attempt to explain this – information here is accurate to our knowledge at the time of publishing.

UK Government Actions

Winter 2022-23

  • Price cap on energy bills as of October 2022 will be in place till April 2023.  This means that the average household bill will be capped at £2,500, but the amount you pay may be more or less, depending on type of property, number of rooms, and energy efficiency of the building. The cap is on the standard unit charge of electricity and gas, not on the actual annual bill. This has been done automatically, you don’t need to do anything. This will in place till April 2023. 
  • A total of £400 energy payments in winter 2022-23 to combat increasing energy prices.  Depending on your meter, this will be paid onto your bills or onto your account directly. If you have a traditional payment meter, you can cash in a voucher at the Post Office or other top-up centre. If you’re in Halls or Purpose Built Student Accommodation, the Government has not made it clear what support (if any) you are entitled to. If this is ever clarified, we will update the guide. If you live in private accommodation and your bills are included in your rent, the UK Government has legislated that   landlords must pass this £400 onto tenants. Payments will be made every month from October 2022-March 2023 
  • Additional cost of living payments have been brought in for 
    • Low income households who receive various benefits to a total of £650. The first payment was made directly to bank accounts in July
    • Some people on disability benefits will have received £150 on 20th September 

1st April 2023-31st March 2024

  • The Energy Price Guarantee from 1 April will continue to cap the average household bill at £2,500, by capping the unit price on electricity and gas. This will be in place till 30 June 2023  as announced in the   Budget on 15  March   2023  by the UK Chancellor. Your individual energy bill will differ depending on your energy usage, how you pay your bill, and your locality, as standard and unit rates for energy depend on your location.  Money Saving Expert provides more information on the specifics depending on how you pay your bill and locality. There's also more specific information on rates for those on prepayment meters and those who pay for their energy upon receipt of their bill (as opposed to those who pay by direct debit).
  • The £400 support with energy costs for all will end as of 31st March 2023, so in effect, the price cap is higher than the average £2,500
  • After June 30 2023, energy prices will be controlled by Ofgem's Energy Price Cap, as it is anticipated that it will be lower than the Government's Energy Price Guarantee. This price cap was used to regulate the energy market before the Government put their Energy Price Guarantee in place. It is projected that energy prices will continue to fall throughout 2023.  
  • Additional support payments will be available for
    • Households who get certain benefits will get a one-off payment of £900 next year 
    • Those with specific disabilities will receive £150 as a one-off payment
    • Those who use alternative fuels (heating oil, LPG etc) will get £200

Scottish Government Actions

Winter 2022-23

  • A   rent freeze   is in place till 30th March 2023 meaning that landlords cannot increase rents for tenants within this period.
  • Moratorium on evictions  – this means that the landlord has to meet further requirements in order to evict you this winter. There are some clauses whereby an eviction will be allowed in cases of anti-social behaviour, criminal activity, or rent arrears. 
  • Scotrail prices  have been frozen till at least March 2023
  • The Scottish Child Payment  will increase from £20 to £25 a week from 14th November, and from that date it will also be open to all children under the age of 16  
  • The Cost of Living website  has information on support available in the cost of living crisis. There’s information on energy bills, benefits, children and families, debt, money, health and wellbeing, disability, and older people. 

April 2023-24

Following from the UK Chancellor's Autumn Statement on 17th November, the Scottish Deputy First Minister revealed the Budget for Scotland on 15th December. Much of the content of this Budget may not be relevant to students, however, here are some of the key points:

  • Income Tax will increase for those earning at the level of Higher and Top Rates. Income Tax remains the same for those earning beneath those levels. If you earn less than £12,570 per year, you will pay no Income Tax.
  • The   Scottish Child Payment   will remain at £25 a week for children under 16. You will need to ensure you meet eligibility criteria for this.
  • Other social benefits will rise by 10.1% in line with inflation 
  • Funding to the Univeristy sector will increase by £20 million 
  • Local Councils have full flexibility to set Council Tax in their area, with no caps or freezes from the Scottish Government 
  • The Fuel Insecurity Fund, which supports people in fuel poverty, has had a £20 million increase 

What the University and Students’ Association are doing

The University has set up a Cost of Living Taskforce, which includes representation from the Students’ Association, which is focussing on:

  • Low cost and free provision of food and drink
  • Access to warm social spaces
  • Supporting access to part time employment
  • Working with student groups to promote lower cost and more sustainable groceries.

The University has created a Cost of Living webpage which will be kept up to date with the latest information on provision.