Arrow going over coins and a milk bottle

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

If you're in a bills-inclusive tenancy, your landlord will receive 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. There's currently no specific legal obligation for landlords to pass on the discount but legislation is being developed. You can read more about this on Shelter's website.

The discount will be applied in the following ways:

  • Direct Debit customers - received automatically as a deduction to the monthly Direct Debit amount collected, or as a refund to your bank account following Direct Debit collection during each month of delivery.
  • Standard credit customers and payment card customers - the discount will be automatically applied as a credit to your accounts in the first week of each month of delivery, with the credit appearing as it would if you had made a payment.
  • Smart prepayment meter customers - the discount will be credited directly to smart prepayment meters in the first week of each month of delivery.
  • Traditional prepayment meter customers - you will be given redeemable Energy Bill discount vouchers or Special Action Messages (SAMs) from the first week of each month, issued via SMS text, email or post.You will need to redeem these at their usual top-up point.

NB: In all cases, you should not be asked for bank details at any point.

The government recently announced an Energy Price Guarantee, which will ensure that a typical household in Great Britain pays an average £2,500 a year on their energy bill for the next 2 years, starting from 1 October 2022.

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 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. 

 

Where can I read more about the guarantee?

You can visit the Gov.uk 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 //

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, DWP will be paying claimants £650 per household. You should have received the first instalment in July, and a second instalment of £324 will be paid in the Autumn.

Students claiming Personal Independence Payment will also be receiving £150 in September.

The university has 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.

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 Gov.uk 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.

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.

If you're working and earning the minimum wage, make sure your employer increased your salary on 1 April 2022 . The current minimum wage is:

  • 23 and over — £9.50
  • 21 to 22 — £9.18
  • 18 to 20 — £6.83
  • Under 18 — £4.81
  • Apprentice — £4.81

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

 

 

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. Details of how to buy one can be found here.

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. 

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 KeeleSU.com/Whatson or follow on Instagram and Facebook. Stalls will be set up for Welcome Week from 10am-3:30pm on September the 22nd, 23rd, 27th, 28th, and 29th at Union Square.

**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.