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Rising Incomes and Financial Support: What Low-Income Families Need to Know in May



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Millions of individuals experienced a substantial increase in their income this April as the new fiscal year commenced, ushering in a rise in benefit payouts.

The annual uprating of benefits is designed to ensure that incomes adjust in proportion to the escalating prices fuelled by the ongoing cost of living crisis.

The economy has shown positive momentum in recent months, with inflation dropping to 2.4 per cent in April from the previous month’s 3.4 per cent figure.

Concerns linger, however, as the deceleration in inflation has slowed down following a rapid decline in late 2023, indicating a prolonged path to reaching pre-2020 levels of 1 per cent or lower.

Official data from the government reveals a grim reality for low-income households in the UK, with absolute poverty witnessing a two-year consecutive increase, resulting in almost a million more individuals living in poverty in 2022/23 compared to the previous year.

In light of the challenging economic backdrop, it is crucial for low-income families to be aware of the financial support options available in May.

The standard benefit and pension payments are scheduled to be distributed mostly as usual during May, with adjustments made for bank holidays falling on payment dates.

The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has alerted recipients of six ‘legacy benefits’ that will be phased out in favor of Universal Credit, necessitating timely action.

Furthermore, the government’s Household Support Fund, extended by Jeremy Hunt, continues to offer assistance to vulnerable households through various channels chosen by local councils.

The Household Support Fund allocations vary from cash grants to energy bill subsidies, and individuals are advised to check their local council’s website for available support.

For those facing financial emergencies, budgeting advance loans from the government offer interest-free borrowing options for Universal Credit claimants.

Charitable grants also present an avenue of relief for those in need, covering a spectrum of situations and requirements based on eligibility.

Energy providers, such as Scottish Power and EDF, extend aid programs for individuals struggling with energy bills, while British Gas offers substantial grants for eligible customers, with criteria to be met.

Local councils may provide council tax reductions of up to 100 per cent for qualifying individuals, with options for discretionary reductions in cases of severe financial hardship.

In parallel, childcare entitlements have expanded, granting 30 hours of free childcare for 3 to 4-year-olds and newly including 15 hours for 2-year-olds.

As energy prices undergo fluctuations and benefit schemes witness adjustments, the financial landscape for low-income families in the UK requires a proactive approach to accessing available support.

Rachel Adams

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