Cost of Living

As you will know, the cost of essentials has risen drastically in the last few months, with no signs of stopping. If you're struggling to afford living costs, here are some potential sources of income and some tips that might help you.

You can also read tips on Money Saving Expert,  learn ways of raising/saving money as a student on Save the Student, and visit our Budgeting page.


Energy Bills //

£400 discount was applied from October to all domestic electricity accounts. The £400 discount was administered automatically by suppliers and paid to consumers each month over a 6 month period. The discount payments were £66 in October and November, then £67 from December to March 2023.

If you're in a bills-inclusive tenancy, your landlord will have received the discount if they have a domestic (not business) contract, and should pass this discount on to you - they must comply with Ofgem guidance and they cannot overcharge tenants for the energy they’ve used or make a profit on it. The Energy Prices Act 2022 and The Energy Bills Support Scheme and Energy Price Guarantee Pass-through Requirement (England and Wales and Scotland) Regulations 2022 have now passed, requiring landlords to inform tenants in writing when they have benefitted from the Government’s energy price support, and to pass on that support as soon as reasonably practicable. In some cases the landlord may calculate a lower amount to pass on to you (using methods set out in the regulations), where they can show that this is ‘just and reasonable’. Landlords who pay the bills should also not reject any Energy Price Guarantee tariff reduction offered to them. Guidance on these new laws can be found on the Government website.

The Energy Price Guarantee will ensure that a typical household in Great Britain pays an average £2,500 a year on their energy bill until July 2023. From July 2023 - March 2024 the Energy Price Guarantee will be £3,000.

The Energy Price Guarantee limits the amount you can be charged per unit of gas or electricity, so your exact bill amount will continue to be influenced by how much energy you use.


Does this mean I won't pay more than £2,500 for the year, regardless of how much energy I use?

This amount is only an estimate of how much a typical household will spend. If you use more energy than a typical household, you may pay more than £2,500 a year.

The Energy Price Guarantee does NOT cap your energy bills - the more energy you use, the more you will pay.


Do I need to do anything to get the Energy Price Guarantee?

No, you do not need to apply and there's no need to contact your energy supplier.


My bills are included in the tenancy - what does this mean for me?

Many students have ‘bills inclusive’ tenancy agreements with their landlord. It is important to check for a fair usage clause in your agreement - a fair usage clause means that if your energy bills rise above the amount you agreed with your landlord, you will be charged for the extra energy used. 

Most 'bills inclusive’ tenancies will have a fair usage clause so it is vital to check your tenancy agreement to avoid getting an unexpected bill. You should also talk to your landlord about the new guarantee to make sure you're charged a fair amount. 

Landlords who pay the bills should also not reject any Energy Price Guarantee tariff reduction offered to them.


Where can I read more about the guarantee?

You can visit the website for more information on the Energy Price Guarantee.

If you’re in debt with your energy supplier, you might be able to get a grant to help pay off those debts. If your supplier doesn’t offer grants, you might be able to get one from the British Gas Energy Trust. 

If you’re struggling to pay your energy bills you can tell your supplier that you want to set up a payment plan. Your supplier has to take into account how much you can afford to pay and how much energy you’ll use in the future, so make sure you do a budget to work out what you can afford.

The Energy Saving Trust has some useful tips to help you work out where you might be able to reduce your energy use and how much money you might save.

Money Saving Expert has some additional tips on how to use less.



Extra Support //

Your Students' Union provides a variety of free products and services:

  • Contraceptives
  • Sanitary products
  • Microwaves and hot water
  • Water at the Squirrel and at the fountain/bottle refill on the Ground Floor
  • Electricity via plugs on the Ground Floor
  • Confidential advice from Advice & Support at Keele SU
  • A free soft drink for designated drivers on nights out
  • Attending Union General Meetings to take part in our democracy (plus free food!)
  • Safety Bus
  • Street team
  • Societies – many are free to join
  • Free entry nights on Sundays, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays
  • Fridays are free before 11
  • Covered bike rack
  • Place to chill on campus, in the Living Room and Hub

You can also buy items cheaply from the Great Donate stalls!

The University has created a page on their website that lists their initiatives to help you with the cost of living, including food vouchers, subsidies and free products.

They also have a Financial Support team, who can administer emergency loans and assess whether you qualify for a harship fund payment. You can visit the University website for information about the fund and loans.

You can also check the bursaries available through Keele; this will depend on the year you started at Keele so if you started before 2022 make sure you follow their link to the archived bursaries.

if you're in hardship your local council might be able to give you vouchers or a prepaid card to help pay for essentials like food or fuel. You could also get household appliances like a fridge. Each council runs its own scheme so what you can get depends on where you live - it's worth getting in touch with your local council to see if they can help.

If you have children in school and you’re on a low income or claim Universal Credit, you might be able to get free school meals. You might also be able to get help from your council with other costs, like uniforms. You can do a search for support on the website.

You can search for charity grants using the Turn2us search function.

You can search Scholarship Hub for organisations that provide grants and scholarships to students in specific situations / studying specific subjects.

Most students can't claim Universal Credit or the older means-tested benefits but for those of you who do fit into one of the exceptions, there will be a Cost of Living Payment of £900 in 2023-24 for those on means-tested benefits, and the first payment of £301 will be paid in the spring. A further £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment will also be paid in the summer to those on Personal Independence Payment or Disability Living Allowance.

The Chancellor has recently announced that the benefit cap will be raised from £20,000 to £22,020 (or from £23,000 to £25,323 in Greater London).

Foodbanks are there for those in extreme hardship who are unable to afford food or essentials. If you'd like a foodbank referral you can visit Citizens Advice or get in touch with ASK.



Your Income //

If you're getting undergraduate loans/grants from Student Finance, make sure your parents' income has been assessed - if your parents haven't declared their income properly or sent the necessary evidence you may only be on the basic rate. If you're estranged from your parents, you can complete an estrangement form. 

Students who are responsible for a child or adult dependant may also be entitled to Parents' Learning Allowance, a Childcare Grant, or the Adult Dependants' Grant.

You can visit our webpage for more information.

The University’s Careers and Employability Service has a job database to help you find flexible part-time work in the Keele area. They are also a valuable resource for developing your employability skills. You can access practical guidance and support on writing your CV, completing job applications, and preparing for interviews.

SU job vacancies are posted on our website.

You can visit our Employment page for information about your rights as a student worker.

You can visit this Save the Student article to read some ideas of other ways to raise money.



Saving Money //

Using a TOTUM card or your student card in shop or online can help save you some money on everyday times, for example with a TOTUM card you can get 10% off in any Co-op, including the one on campus. You can get additional discounts and offers at the Co-op by becoming a Co-op member.

Other student discount sites and apps like Student BeansMy Uni DaysSave the StudentMy Student Discount and Student Money Saver give student deals. You can register as a student using your Keele email address and some of their apps can be used as student ID.

Many restaurants, entertainment venues and shops also offer student discount if you show your student ID so look out for this on their websites or in the buildings.

Cooking for yourself or with your housemates is cheaper and healthier than eating out and getting takeaways; if you're sharing meals with your housemates it will lower the cost even more. Plan your menu for the week, make a shopping list and stick to it! This will make sure you only buy what you need and less food will go to waste. You can also shop around for for the best prices using sites and apps like Latest Deals.

Supermarket own brands, particularly their value brands, are cheaper and often even preferred by consumers in blind taste tests. Try sampling a value version for one shop and see if you like it - even if you prefer the brand, you may still find the difference in price makes up for it. 

You can become a Co-op member by paying just £1, giving you access to discounts and offers in the shop on campus.

Take a packed lunch to your classes or work and bring your drinks in a flask or reusable bottle - it will be cheaper than buying sandwiches and coffees on campus every day.               

Asda and Sainsbury's do Meal Ticket Cards where a parent or guardian can put money on the card and the student can spend the money on food and hardware. 

Instagram and Youtube chef Miguel Barclay runs One Pound Meals, which will help you cook on a budget. You can view his videos on Youtube or check out some of his recipes for free on the BBC website.

Freecycle is a useful resource for local people to list items they are giving away. There is also the Facebook marketplace.

Books for your course are usually very expensive when brand new but they can often be bought second hand from previous students, so check out local charity shops and look online for discounted textbooks before you spend your money.


The Great Donate

The Great Donate is a Keele SU program that collects donated clothes, kitchen equipment, and household items to resell back to students at affordable prices. The program also receives food donations which are sent to the Trussel Trust.

The Great Donate holds stalls throughout the year where you can buy their items. These will vary so check or follow on Instagram and Facebook.

**If you'd like to donate, donation points are located at the Students’ Union as well as all the campus common rooms (The Stye, The Cross, and the Hex). Non-perishable food donations such as tinned food or cereals can be put in trays that are left in Halls of Residence Kitchens at the end of each academic year.**

Don’t pay extra for brands or for medication that claims to target one type of pain - more basic medicine can be  cheaper than brands even though the ingredients are identical.

Take care when buying medication for a specific type of pain. If you look at what's in the medication you will find many of them have the exact same content yet claim to be for pain different areas - often the same brand will just use different packaging and charge more for the same pills. 

If you're on low income, The NHS Low Income Scheme can help you cover health-related costs on the NHS such as travel, prescriptions, dental and optician’s bills. To apply, download the HC1 form, complete it and return it to the NHS.

You can also buy a pre-payment certificate (PPC) to save you money if you need regular prescriptions of at least two items. You can read about pre-payment certificates on the NHS website.

Local bus services offer a bus ticket called the 'Keele Key' for students and staff, to lower the cost of travelling locally. You can read about the scheme on the University website.

16-25 railcard gives a third off train tickets in the UK and comes with some bonus offers. It’s also available to full-time students over the age of 26. It does cost some money but you can save some by buying a three-year card and by buying online. Some banks also offer free railcards if you open a student account with them.

National Express's Young Persons Coach Card gives a third off standard and fully flexible coach tickets for those aged 16 - 26 or in full-time education.

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