Single Parent FAQs: Cost of living


Our advice and information team who work on our Lone Parent Helpline, webchat and Ask a Question feature, receive questions from single parents around Scotland every day.

Our new feature – Single Parent FAQs – on our newsletter and blog spotlights Frequently Asked Questions on a different topic each month.

At this time of year we are receiving many enquiries from parent’s about current challenges resulting from the high cost of living.


Reducing your living costs

If you want to make the most of your income as fast as possible, one of the best things you can do is reduce your cost of living.

Take a look at our tips and links to websites to help.

Take a look at the FAQ's

I am struggling every month with the cost of living. I don’t have a lot of support with this and feel very isolated and lonely. Are there any other single parents I can speak with to share ideas and tips to reduce costs in the home?

Things are difficult right now and we understand the pressures that you may be experiencing.  Reaching out to others in a similar situation can help. There may be local groups or activities running in your local area where you can connect with others.  At OPFS, we have a Single Parent Forum where you can post questions, get answers and start discussions with other single parents. We also offer a listening ear and many other services which may help during the cost-of-living crisis.  You can call on 0808 801 0323, webchat at or email

I have twin boys who need new bunk beds. Are there any grants that can help with this? I cannot afford to buy new beds.

Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible for a grant to help with the costs of furniture.  This grant is administered by the Scottish Welfare Fund.  To get information on how to apply in your local area, check with your local authority.  It may also be worthwhile looking at local community adverts within supermarkets, or on social media or preloved item sites like Gumtree or Freecycle.  Remember to stay safe when buying anything online, see tips on shopping online securely.

I am on a low income and have been using my credit card to pay for household goods when I can’t afford these. This is causing me a lot of stress because of the interest on the credit card. Is there any support I can get?

It’s always best to get some advice when you are worried about debt.  Money Advice Scotland could help by giving you debt advice and help you budget your income.  Money advisers may also help set up a payment plan with your creditors on your behalf.  It is important that you get advice about your circumstances from a debt expert as some decisions could affect your credit. As a single parent, you can access a free benefit entitlement check via our helpline or webchat.  You may be missing out on additional income.  OPFS also have a Budgeting Tool which may also be useful for planning finances.

I live in a rural area in Scotland and have very high energy costs. I am not coping with the price of energy. Are there any ways to help with energy costs or grants to help with costs or home energy improvements?

Energy costs are at an all-time high and you are not alone in struggling to afford these.  Home Energy Scotland has a wide variety of energy help – from useful tips on regulating your usage, to home visits and even grants to help with improvements to your home like new boilers, heat pumps or insulation.  Due to ongoing high prices, there aren’t many suppliers deals or offers, but you may still want to check for these on a price comparison site.  If you are struggling to pay your bills, it’s always a good idea to speak to your energy supplier as they often have grants or schemes which may help you.

Food prices are really worrying me. How can I make the most of my money when it comes to the food shop?

It’s always a good idea to go prepared to the shops.  Try looking online for low budget family recipes and plan your meals in advance.  Check what you already have in the cupboards and write a list to take with you of what you need.  Set a budget for spending: stick to the list, try not to be tempted by deals or offers you don’t need and shop around where you can.  Look out for reduced items – check to see if you can freeze items with a short date.  There are also great apps like Too Good To Go that heavily discount food that would otherwise go to waste.  Your local community may also have a food pantry or low-cost food initiatives – these are usually advertised in the local community or on community pages on social media.  You may also be able to access food banks if you are in food crisis.  OPFS can try to help you with your financial stresses.  Give us a call on 0808 801 0323, webchat at or email us on

Summer is coming and I'm worried that I can’t afford to take my children on holiday or take them places. Do you have any ideas on where I can get help with this?

Parent Club have lots of good ideas for what to do with the kids during the summer. Most areas in Scotland will host free or low-cost activities and events over summer.  You could check on your local authority website, community postings or even on social media sites.  Children are entitled to free bus travel (you must present their transport card) and children travel for a £1 on most Scotrail services.  It can be a lot of pressure to provide holidays and outings.  Try to be kind to yourself – kids will treasure the time spent with them, not the amount you spend on them.

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