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Rent and rail fares frozen under cost of living support package announced by the Scottish Government - here's what's happening

The Scottish Government has frozen rent and rail fares as part of emergency legislation introduced to help people during the cost of living crisis. Here's what's happening.  

First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, set out the plans as part of the 2022/23 'Programme for Government'. She said: "The cost crisis means this Programme for Government is more focused than ever before – deliberately so – with priority actions to provide help now."

We explain what's happening below, but if you're struggling, see our Cost of living guide for more help. 

Rent and fuel fares frozen from 6 September

Ms Sturgeon announced several reforms. Here's a round-up of some the key measures:
  • A rent freeze put in place until at least 31 March 2023. This applies to public and private rented properties and means landlords cannot raise the price of your rent.

  • There will be a moratorium on evictions until at least 31 March 2023. This means landlords cannot evict tenants for not paying rent. We're checking if there's an end date on this and we'll update this story when we know more. 

  • ScotRail fares will be frozen from 6 September. These will be capped until at least 31 March 2023. This means rail fares in Scotland will NOT go up during that period.
  • The 'Fuel Security Fund' will double from £10 million to £20 million. This provides support for households struggling to pay their energy bills.
  • Free school meals will be widened out to ALL primary school ages. Until now, free school meals had only been available to families who claimed benefits with children roughly between the ages of four and nine. But this will now be extended to children in all Primary school ages (up to 12-years-old). See our Free school meals guide for more on info on help available across the UK.

  • Funding for discretionary housing payments will be increased by £5 million. This is available if you claim housing benefit but it doesn't cover all your rent, if you claim Universal Credit but still can't afford your housing costs, need help with removal costs, need help with a rent deposit.

  • Additional funding will be provided to the 'Tenant Grant Fund', which was initially made available as part of the Scottish Government’s Covid response This will provide help to those in rent arrears.

  • A Housing Bill will be introduced in the coming year. This is aimed at helping to improve affordability for the longer term, provide new and strengthened rights for tenants, and preventing homelessness.

  • From 14 November, child payment support will increase to £25 a week per child. This has gone up from £20 a week per child and includes all eligible children under 16. 

  • The 'Early Learning Payment' and 'School Age Payment' will be automatically awarded to families getting the 'Scottish child payment'. The Early Learning Payment is a £252.50 payment for parents who receive benefits and have children between two and three-and-a-half years old. The School Age payment is also a £252.50 payment for parents on benefits, though it's specifically designed to support those struggling to prepare their child/children for school. Eligibility for this also depends on your child's age. See more info on the Scottish Government's website.  

We've asked the other devolved nations if they have any plans to take similar action. A Welsh Government spokesperson said: "Following that announcement, all social landlords will be expected to carefully consider affordability, and set rents as appropriate across their housing stock. The rate is a maximum, not a requirement or a target." 

We will update this piece as soon as we've heard from England and Northern Ireland. However, the English Government recently launched a consultation looking at potentially capping rent for social housing tenants from 1 April 2023 and 31 March 2025. 

Grants to help you with your energy bills

While the support announced by the Scottish Government doesn't go directly towards rising energy bills, there are grants that some energy suppliers are offering.

EDF, E.on Next, and Scottish Power are among those offering support to their own customers, while British Gas's hardship scheme is available to customers of other suppliers too. Most of the help offered is in the form of a non-repayable grant that goes towards reducing energy debts. See our supplier-by-supplier energy grants round-up for more info.

You can also visit our What to do if you're struggling to pay for your energy bills and Housing and energy grants guides.

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