Martin Lewis offers £50,000 to charity at breaking point after 'bloody depressing' phone-in

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Martin Lewis has described his appearances on GMB as bloody depressing. (GMB)
Martin Lewis has described his appearances on GMB as bloody depressing. (GMB)

Martin Lewis has offered to give £50,000 to a charity at “breaking point” because of the overwhelming number of people it is trying to support.

The consumer champion answered a plea for help from the Money Buddies financial advice charity following what he described as a “bloody depressing” phone-in while appearing on ITV’s Good Morning Britain to discuss the cost-of-living crisis.

Posting on Twitter, Lewis said: “Bloody depressing phone-in again. So many people at crisis point regarding energy bills – including those with v high usage due to disabilities (home ventilators, oxygen concentrators, elec wheel chairs etc). I am nearly OUT OF TOOLS to help. Govt must intervene.”

Money Buddies, which is based in Leeds, responded to Lewis, saying they were in “the same boat”.

“We saw twice as many people than we expected to see in February, same again in March, and we have a huge waiting list of people desperate to see us who are vulnerable. We are at breaking point... the state must intervene now,” the charity said.

Read more: Ukraine crisis: Energy bills could soar by hundreds of pounds as gas prices spike after invasion

Within minutes, Lewis had offered to donate the substantial sum of money, which was accepted by the charity.

“We have trained advisers working part-time who would quickly increase their hours,” they responded.

Lewis described it as an "impulse spend" and said he would try and get the money to the charity today.

Money Buddies is registered charity based in the heart of one of the most deprived areas of Leeds. Its aim is to help people out of debt, poverty and for them to have social justice.

Lewis’s comments come amid a nationwide cost-of-living crisis that threatens to plunge millions of households into significant financial hardship.

Watch: Martin Lewis struggles to help caller with her energy bill

The Trussell Trust charity warned on Thursday that a third of people on Universal Credit have not been able to afford to heat their homes for more than four days over the last month.

It said four in 10 adults receiving the benefit had fallen into debt this winter because the payment was not keeping pace with the soaring cost of living.

Some people are turning off their fridges to save money, others are experiencing mould because they cannot afford to put the heating on and some cannot afford to get to work or take their children to school, it said.

Changes in April, including rises in National Insurance contributions and an increase in the energy price cap that will see typical household energy bills increase by £700 are set to make the situation worse.

Read more: Three major changes that may affect your energy bills

Experts have warned that households could be facing the sharpest decline in real incomes – about £1,000 a year – since the 1970s.

Inflation is predicted to hit around 8% this spring with the Resolution Foundation warning that living standards may become worse than during the economic shutdown sparked when the UK was placed into COVID lockdown in March 2020.

"Even when you get to the middle of the 2020s, we still won’t be as well off as you were during the pandemic," they said. "That’s how big what is going on – we'll be pulling our way back to where we were when it was when the actual lockdowns were going on."

Lewis recently posted three tips in a video on TikTok to help households worried about increasing energy prices.

Pre-pay users

Lewis advised pre-pay users they could pay a cheaper rate for slightly longer if they max out their top-up in March.

He said: "Ofgem has confirmed you get the rate on the day you top up not when you use energy.

"Now that means if you max out your top-up in March before the rate goes up, that's what you'll get even if you then use that energy in April."

Direct debit users

Lewis told direct debit users to carry out a meter reading immediately and then again on 31 March.

By doing this, he hoped customers could clearly see what they’re currently paying so they don’t overpay and when prices go up in April.

Lewis added: "You'll draw a line and tell the energy company, all this energy I've used should be at the cheap rate."

Council tax rebate

He also had advice on how to get a £150 rebate on council tax bills by urging people to set up a direct debit.

"All those in bands A to D council tax will get a £150 rebate to help with energy costs,” he said. "Well, for the scheme, we're being told you will get the money automatically paid into your bank account, as long as you pay council tax by direct debit."

To receive the rebate, customers must contact their council to set up a direct debit, if they are not already paying that way.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak previously announced a £9bn package, including a one-off £200 discount to all energy bill payers that will be recouped by annual payments of £40; a £150 rebate on council tax bills; and £144 million to councils to support vulnerable households.

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