When the Government announced a new Help for Households campaign, my instinct was this to be good news. Any assistance to cope with increased bills and costs is going to be welcome. A parting gift from Johnson in his final weeks at Number 10.
But rather than find something genuinely useful, he and his ‘Cost of Living Business Tsar’ have bundled together a collection of promotions and deals from big brands such as Amazon, Asda and Sainsbury’s. It’s effectively regifting a present that was not his in the first place and putting a pretty bow on top.
And those offers? Well, they aren’t exactly going to stop us worrying about how to pay our bills.
Take the Amazon offering. They’ve created a new page on their website showing you ‘how to access free or discounted products and services’. What this actually looks like is a list of existing offers such as advert-supported music streaming, 15% off if you subscribe for household essentials, up to 50% off open-box products and deals on Kindle books.
to page? really? This is the best that one of the world’s biggest companies and the UK government could come up with to help?
I could give you a dozen better ways to save money, one of which would be to watch out for Amazon’s ‘special offers’.
Asda, meanwhile, has agreed to extend its £1 café meals for kids under 16 beyond the summer. That’s going to help a lot of people. But as a flagship announcement for this campaign? It’s rather disappointing. In fact, the majority of the deals seem to be existing discounts on meals for children at the likes of Ikea, Beefeater and Morrisons.
Elsewhere the campaign includes news of free kids’ tickets in the West End in August when an adult pays. Once more, this is nothing new. The Kids Week has been a popular promotion for years, and wrapping it up in this bundle is hardly going to convince families to hit the theater if they can’t afford the petrol to get there.
In summer 2020, the Chancellor’s Eat Out To Help Out scheme was accused of copying popular discount schemes like Tastecard (and helping spread Covid once more), but at least there was some direction behind it to get us back out supporting local restaurants. This scheme takes us nowhere.
Launching the campaign, Johnson said: ‘This won’t solve the issue overnight but it’s yet another weapon in our arsenal as we fight back against scourge of rising prices and inflation.’
He’s (almost) being honest. This really won’t solve the issue. Not just overnight, but at all.
Ultimately, it is just some weak PR to cover the cracks – because the reality is this government can’t do anything substantial until a new leader is in place.
By then it will be too late to substantially address the next huge energy price hike – and that’s even if whoever is in charge wants to help those most in need.
Andy’s Best Buys: Bank switching deals
There’s a new switching deal from Halifax bank, which new and some existing customers will be able to get if they switch into a Reward or Ultimate Rewards current account.
As long as you’ve not had a bonus from the bank since April 2020 you’ll be eligible for the offer. As part of the switch you’ll need to move over two active direct debits, as well as close the account you’re moving – which needs to be from a different bank.
The two accounts you can choose between both come with fees, though the £3 monthly charge on the Reward account can be avoided if you deposit at least £1,500 a month (the money doesn’t need to stay there).
I think this is probably the best choice for most people as the Ultimate Reward account comes with included insurances most won’t need.
Other current account switching offers available right now include £150 from First Direct, up to £125 from Nationwide and 20,000 Virgin Red points from Virgin Money.
The offers and accounts all come with terms and conditions, so make sure you read up before applying.
Halifax: Get £150 up to three working days after completing the switch
FirstDirect: Get £150 up to 28 days after meeting criteria
Nationwide: Get up to £125 within ten days of completing switch
VirginMoney: Get 20,000 Virgin Points up to 14 days after meeting criteria
For more details on these accounts head to Be Clever With Your Cash.
Andy Webb is an award-winning blogger and podcaster from Be Clever With Your Cash. Follow Andy on Twitter, YouTube and Instagram via @andyclevercash
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