The Cost of Living Crisis and Where to Get Help

Cashfloat finds that disposable income among payday loan applicants plummeted as high inflation hit the UK. Find out where help is available!
Cashfloat is a responsible direct lender. Our loans should only be used in an emergency and shouldn’t be used by people with ongoing financial problems that need a longer term fix.

Cashfloat’s analysis of the cost of living crisis

At Cashfloat, we were wondering how the cost of living crisis is affecting payday loan applicants, and we thought we’d see if we could use some of the data we collect to shed light on the situation.

Here’s what we did:

We gathered information from all the payday loan applications we received between Jan 1st 2022 and the end of the year. Then we did some calculations.

  • We looked at the disposable income of each applicant over 2022
  • We calculated the average disposable income for all our applicants for each day of 2022
    Disposable income (DI) = How much money people have left over after paying their essential bills and monthly credit commitments. Essentially, how much spare money people have.
  • Then we plotted all the averages on a graph to show how the average disposable income of our loan applicants changed over the course of 2022

Here is the graph showing our results:

As you can see, the average DI dropped drastically in June 2022 and didn’t properly recover. This huge decline in disposable income most likely came about as inflation jumped, primarily as a result of the rise in fuel costs.

Analysing our customers’ DI changes since 2015

After we’d identified the drastic disposable income change in the past 12 months, we thought we’d see if we could find out anything about DI changes over a longer period. We decided to look at how some of our customers DI has changed since they first started borrowing from us. We did this by analysing information from customers who had successfully taken loans from us since January 2015.

We calculated the average disposable income over time for customers that:

  • Have had at least three loans with us since Jan 2015
  • Took their last loan in 2022

The downward trend was just as obvious:

Only use a payday loan for an emergency

As a payday lender, we’re aware that people may look to use a loan to cover everyday expenses where they have ongoing financial difficulties. However, we continue to urge our customers to only borrow payday loans in a one-off emergency and not to use them to try and solve long-term money problems.

If you’re struggling because of the cost of living crisis, help is available

Cost of living help from the government – September 2023 update

The cost of living payment

The cost of living payment is a payment the government introduced to help during the cost of living crisis. Many people received payments under this scheme in 2022 and in early 2023. More payments will also be made in autumn 2023 and in 2024.

Payments are only available to those on certain benefits or tax credits. There are payments available for people on low income benefits and tax credits, people on disability benefits and for pensioners. You do not need to contact the government if you are eligible because payments are made automatically.

Payments were made to most eligible people in July and November 2022 and in May 2023. Future payments will mostly be made in autumn 2023 and in spring 2024. You can check your eligibility for cost of living payments here. If you have not received a cost of living payment that you think you were entitled to, then you should report a missing cost of living payment.

Cost of living support

Here are the amounts and dates for 2023/2024 cost of living payments:
Normal cost of living payments
Spring 2023
Autumn 2023
Spring 2024
Disability cost of living payment
Summer 2023
Pensioner cost of living payment
Winter 2023/24
There is no need to apply for payments. If you’re eligible, you will receive payments automatically.

Help with energy bills

On the 1st of October 2022, the Energy Price Guarantee was introduced for the UK. This came in addition to the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme for the winter of 2022/2023.
The Energy Price Guarantee reduces the maximum amount energy suppliers are allowed to charge per unit of electricity or gas for British homes. Energy suppliers automatically make reductions to their customers’ bills if they are eligible.
The Energy Price Guarantee was reviewed in April 2023 and, from 1st July 2023, households without a prepayment meter will no longer get a discount on their energy bills. This is because the Ofgem price cap is lower than the Energy Price Guarantee level, which effectively removes the need for the Energy Price Guarantee. While this is the case, the Energy Price Guarantee will remain in place until March 2024, in case prices start to creep up again.
You should inform your energy provider if you are struggling to pay your energy bills. Most providers have plans in place to help customers who are having difficulty paying their bills. You may also be eligible for a grant or for emergency credit.
Christians Against Poverty provide further information about support for people who are struggling to pay their energy bills.

Help with transport costs

Fuel duty for diesel and petrol was reduced by 5p per litre across the entire country from March 2022. For the average car driver, this saves around £100 per year. For a van driver, it saves approximately £200 per year. This scheme was initially set to be in place for 12 months but was extended in March 2023 for a further 12 months.
The government also introduced a £2 bus fare cap. This will be in place until October 2023. From then it will increase to £2.50, and then it will stay in place until November 2024. Information about which bus companies and routes the cap applies to can be found here.
If you are on Universal Credit, you may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card. Find out more about it on
If you have reached State Pension age or are disabled, you will be eligible for a free bus pass. Railcards are also available in the UK, and you can save up to ⅓ on rail travel with one.

Help with childcare costs

If you are on Universal Credit, you can try to claim back up to 85% of childcare costs. Other support is also available from the UK government. For a full list of what’s available, look here.
You may also be eligible for holiday activities and food for your children during the holidays through your local council.

Help from local councils

Local councils in the UK have schemes to help people with essential costs like food and electricity bills or even with things like clothes and furniture. You do not have to receive benefits to qualify for help from your local council. If you receive help from your council, this also won’t affect any benefits you do receive.
Here is a list of various locations in the UK and what local councils in these areas offer in terms of cost of living assistance.

Living in Birmingham? Birmingham has a number of Warm Welcome spaces where you can go if you are struggling with heating costs. They also have schemes available to help with energy bills. If you are going through a short term crisis, you may be able to get a Crisis Grant or Community Support Grant. Other help is available as well.
More information can be found here.
If you are struggling to pay for essentials (food, gas and electricity) in Leeds, you can see what help is available on Leeds City Council’s website. For people in an emergency or a crisis, help may be available through the local Welfare Support Scheme.
Other help is also available in the surrounding area. Yorkshire Water, for example, also have schemes set up to help those struggling to pay water bills.
Sheffield has a Household Support Fund where you can apply to get help with food, phone bills, gas, electricity, clothing, household expenses and other essential needs. Sheffield also offers independence grants and crisis grants for those in need as well as information on other help available.
Information about what help is available for people in Cornwall can be found on the Cornwall County Council website. Crisis and care awards are available to help families with immediate needs and a food map is available for people who need help with food.
If you are living in Manchester, you can contact the cost of living advice line. The line can offer you help finding community food provision and advice on managing your bills. You may also be able to get a cash grant or basic furniture and household goods if you are in a crisis. More complete information can be found here.
Buckinghamshire Council has a Helping Hand Team that is able to help people on low incomes if they are in a financial crisis. You should complete their online form and include on the form what kind of help you require if you are in need of help.
People who live in Bradford can access Bradford Council’s dedicated website to find help with the cost of living. Among other things, Bradford council has a Household Support Fund that can provide families with emergency help for things like topping up a fuel prepayments meter or paying for essential household goods.
County Durham
In County Durham, there are welfare assistance schemes which step in when circumstances change unexpectedly. The welfare assistance scheme can help with daily expenses (up to 1 week) or settlement grants.
Wiltshire Council offers a local welfare provision which helps those in crisis. They provide critical short-term help for households that would otherwise struggle to pay for essentials through a Household Support Fund.
More information can be found here.
If you are in a crisis, you can apply for financial help with food and basic necessities, including for gas and electricity vouchers, through the Household Support Fund. Other help is available, such as benefits advice and council tax support.
More information about support available to households in Liverpool can be found here.

Warm spaces

Most councils in the UK offer ‘warm spaces’ where anyone who is struggling to heat their home is welcome to go. Most of these warm spaces are libraries, churches and community centres. You can usually get warm drinks and hot meals there as well as advice and information.
You can find a warm space in your area on the Warm Spaces website.

Questions you might have:

Do pensioners get the cost of living payment?

During the winter of 2023/2024, pensioners who are entitled to Winter Fuel Payment will get either £150 or £300 extra on top of the standard Winter Fuel Payment to help with heating bills. This extra amount is known as the pensioner cost of living payment. This will be paid with the Winter Fuel Payment.

Will the cost of living ever go down?

This is the question asked by everyone. Some experts predict that the cost of living will reduce towards the end of 2024. The Bank of England, for example, predicts that inflation will fall by 5% by the end of the year. It’s hard, however, to accurately say how long inflation and interest rates will remain high. Most of the unpredictability is due to global events such as the war in Ukraine and the effects of Covid.

Where can I get help finding work?

Your local job centre is the best place to begin looking for work. There are also many job search sites online, such as reed and indeed, where you can find jobs near you.

How will I feed my kids during the school holidays?

Most local councils have schemes set up through which parents can get holiday activities and a food programme for their children if they get free school meals. Go to your local council’s website to find out more.
Research has shown that holidays can be difficult for low income families, and so it’s important to take advantage of all the help that is available. Advice regarding the cost of living crisis that is tailored to families can be found here.

How is disposable income worked out?

Here is how to work out your DI:
Income – living costs, such as rent, bills, food = DI
DI can be used to invest, save or to buy non-essential items.