Cost of living support
Across the country, people are struggling with the cost of living. Food bills and household bills continue to rise, alongside fuel prices, at the fastest rate seen in 50 years.
To help people manage their household budget, we've put together some helpful resources.
Find out about the emergency go fund me campaign to help with the cost of living crisis
Where to turn for advice
- Visit one of our free-to-use Warm Hubs, which are being established across South Cambridgeshire this winter.
- For general advice on cost of living and support, you can visit the Cambridge and District Citizens Advice
- For advice on cost of business and support, you can visit our cost of doing business support page.
- Step Change is a dedicated debt charity offering free debt advice and money management.
- Business Debtline is run by the Money Advice Trust and can help those who are self-employed or have small businesses.
- You can obtain support from the Charity Turn to Us which helps people access the money available to them.
- Please beware of loan sharks who lend money outside the legitimate agreed standards for money collection. You can report a loan shark (in confidence) online.
Remember, as briefly mentioned above, we are setting up a series of community-led and free-to-use Warm Hubs this winter.
Benefits, money and debt advice
Cost of Living Support Campaign
Find out about the many different government schemes that are available to help with the cost of living.
Council Tax and Benefits
- Our benefits calculator will help you check your eligibility to benefits. These benefits could include: Universal Credit, Disability and Carer's' benefits, Pension credit, and Working from Home Allowance.
- If you are on a low income and struggling to meet Council Tax payments, you may be eligible for Council Tax support.
- If you are already claiming certain benefits, you may be entitled to a Discretionary Housing Payment, which can provide further financial help.
- You may be eligible for a Budgeting Loan if you’ve been on certain benefits for six months. You will have to pay back the amount you borrow (repayments are taken automatically from your benefits).
- If you’re on Universal Credit you may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card for up to 50% off.
Income and budgeting
- You can check the National Minimum Wage calculator to see if you’re being paid the right amount. If you believe you are not being paid the right amount, or your deductions are incorrect, you can seek support from Citizens Advice to correct this.
- Our Welfare and Money Maximisation Officer supports people in crisis or distress. They can signpost help on the best deals, and offer advice on grants. You can contact them on: email@example.com
- The cost of living survival guide (including saving money and budgeting tips) is available from MoneySavingExpert.com (founded by Martin Lewis CBE).
- To help you to sort your bills/payments into the right order and advise on what you need to do if you’re struggling to pay (before you miss a payment) you can use the Government bill prioritiser tool.
- You can visit the government’s MoneyHelper website for help living on a restricted income.
- The government also have a Money Navigator Tool, that will help you work out what issues to deal with first and ways of staying on top of your bills.
Help with energy and water bills
Energy bills help and advice
- We have produced a booklet with up-to-date information on home energy efficiency improvement [PDF, 1MB] and renewable energy upgrades. The booklet also covers the types of funding that are available for Cambridgeshire residents.
- For simple advice on Energy bills and energy efficiency visit the GOV.UK website or call 0800 444202.
- The Household Support Fund (HSF) has been created to help people who are experiencing immediate financial hardship. It helps them to pay for food and household energy bills.
- The Energy Bills Support Scheme will deliver a £400 non-repayable discount to eligible households to help with energy bills from October 2022.
- 'Which' has published 10 ways to reduce energy bills.
Action on Energy Scheme
Through our Action on Energy scheme, run in partnership with neighbouring councils, we provide grants to help households install energy efficiency improvements and low carbon heating. You can fill in this form to register an interest in this scheme.
The grants are available for homeowners and private landlords that meet both of the following criteria:
- Homeowners or tenants on certain means-tested benefits or with a total household income of less than £30,000 before tax or other deductions
- The property’s Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) rating is E, F or G (Check your EPC rating – contact us if you don’t have one)
- For homeowners, the grant will cover 100% of the cost of improvements.
- For landlords, the grant will cover two-thirds of the cost of the improvements, with the landlord expected to cover the outstanding amount.
Energy supplier grants
Some of the bigger energy suppliers have their own funds to support households in energy arrears. Some of these funds are open to all, not just their customers. We would advise going through a local Citizens Advice Bureau for these Grants, as a financial statement prepared by a Debt Advisor is needed as evidence of seeking Debt Advice. Main examples include:
Local Energy Advice Partnership (LEAP)
LEAP is an advice service, offering energy tariff comparisons, installing simple energy saving measures (like LED lightbulbs and radiator reflector panels), and giving referrals to more complex energy saving measures. You can call LEAP free on: 0800 060 7657.
Stay Well heating grants
Your local Stay Well this Winter programme is a network of partners who work across the local health and social care system to mitigate the risks associated with cold weather. They work to improve the health and wellbeing of our most vulnerable groups who live in cold homes, due to fuel poverty.
If you are at risk of or living in fuel poverty, there are several ways in which your local Stay Well this Winter programme can help you access the services, information and potentially even financial support to keep warm and well this winter, whilst reducing your energy bills.
The Stay Well Heating Grants application process is now open (previously titled Warm Homes). You will need to be referred by an organisation.
Cambridgeshire Home Improvement Agency
Our partners at the Cambridgeshire Home Improvement Agency can help you save money on energy bills. They can:
- Help reduce older and disabled residents’ fuel costs by fitting new, energy efficient boilers.
- Use Disabled Facility Grant funding to replace a boiler for a homeowner whose health is impacted by a lack of warmth. They may be eligible for a grant because their existing boiler doesn’t work (or doesn’t work as well as it should).
- Provide Special Purposes Grants, which are means-tested for people on low incomes. They can also pay for replacement doors and windows, roofing repairs, damp proofing or security improvements.
- For a small fee, they can support those not eligible for grants, but who struggle to organise the work themselves.
Water bills help and advice
- Anglian Water’s Extra Care Support Team can help find you the cheapest tariff or a flexible payment plan. Visit Extra Care Support or call 0800 232 1951
- Visit Save Water Save Money for free water saving devices, such as aerated shower heads, which give the same shower pressure using far less water.
- Cambridge Water have the Assure tariff which is a discounted tariff for those on a low income. They have other special tariffs, too.
- Use this water meter calculator to see if you would be saving money having a water meter installed.
Help for parents and families
- Visit the Government’s childcare webpage for information on tax-free childcare, Child Benefit and a one-off payment of £500 to help with maternity costs.
- The highly successful holiday voucher scheme currently operating in Cambridgeshire has been extended until the end of March 2023.
- The Cambridgeshire Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme offers holiday scheme places for free during the Easter, Summer and Christmas school holidays, to eligible children.
- Regular food and milk vouchers can be provided by Healthy Start to help buy fruit, vegetables and milk for those who are pregnant or have a child under four.
- If you are in receipt of certain benefits, your child may be entitled to free school meals. This scheme is available for school-age children and to post-16 students at a school with a sixth form or college.
- Secondary school children who are entitled to free school meals might also qualify for help with school transport costs.
- Kids eat free in Morrisons cafes all day, everyday, when an adult meal is bought for £4.99 or over.
- You could save up to a third on train journeys with a railcard.
- Try local free or recycling websites to purchase low cost items. Some examples in Cambridge include:
Cambridgeshire Christmas Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) Programme
We are helping the County Council to publicise their Christmas Holiday Activities and Food (HAF) programme which is funded by the Department for Education. Families in receipt of income-related free school meals can access a holiday scheme for up to 16 hours per child and will receive enriching experiences, a meal and snacks, daily. Ukrainian and other refugee families can attend, as well as families struggling financially. Please do pass this information on to your local contacts. You can read details about the Christmas programme and also see the Holiday Schemes operating (click on South Cambs Schemes). There is also a Parent Poster available to download and display if you can.
Help with food and health costs
Food costs help and advice
- Find out the location and opening times of your nearest food bank/food hub through our dedicated foodbanks webpage.
- Real Food Wythenshawe: supports people who want to develop the skills to cook inexpensive, healthier meals from scratch. They also offer money saving tips.
- OLIO is an app that lists 'not needed' food/non-food in Cambridge that would otherwise have been wasted. You can request food/non-food items via the OLIO app.
- With the Too Good To Go app you can search for unsold food near you and buy it at a reduced rate. You will need to then pick up the food. Major supermarkets and smaller shops are taking part in this initiative, and, like the OLIO app, it was recently featured on ITV.
- Cambridge Sustainable Food: advises on how to limit food waste at home.
- Discounts and offers include: groceries, retail, utilities and entertainment.
Cambridgeshire's Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS)
Cambridgeshire’s Local Assistance Scheme provides information, advice and practical support and assistance in times of exceptional pressure and unexpected financial difficulties. Following an assessment, you may be eligible for a CLAS award. The awards can be in the form of: supermarket vouchers, energy vouchers, new white goods, decorating packs, beds, mattresses, recycled white goods and furniture.
Healthcare costs help and advice
- Check your eligibility for free healthcare help from the NHS. They can offer help with (amongst other things) prescriptions, dental needs and glasses.
- You can plan healthcare by using the Personal Health Budget (PHB) to buy services and equipment that best meet your needs, and help maintain your independence.
- If you rely on medical equipment, refrigerated medicines, or have children under five in your household, the UK Power Networks Priority Services Register will ensure that you receive extra support when you experience a power cut.
- Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS): If you're referred to hospital or other NHS premises for specialist NHS treatment or diagnostic tests by a doctor, dentist or another primary care health professional, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs.
Help with phone bills
- You may be eligible to move onto a social tariff if you’re struggling to afford your broadband or phone services. Check the Ofcom website to see if you can switch.
- It's also worth checking whether you could be on a cheaper broadband deal. You can use a comparison site like Broadband Genie.
- VOXI For Now is Unlimited 5G-ready data, minutes, and texts for £10 a month (usually £35 a month). To get 'VOXI For Now', you need to be receiving a government benefit, such as: Jobseeker’s allowance, Universal Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Disability allowance and/or Personal independence Payment. If you are eligible, you will get the package for six months from the day that your VOXI For Now plan starts. Then, after six months, you will be switched over to the standard £10 a month plan (with access to Unlimited Social Media, as well as Unlimited calls, texts and flexibility to change, pause, or cancel at anytime.)
Help with making your home warmer
We are dedicated to making South Cambs homes warmer. We have already been able to reduce energy consumption, improved efficiency, and reduced Carbon emissions in South Cambridgeshire. We have listed many useful tips on how to make your home energy efficient.
Why not borrow a thermal imaging camera to see where your home is leaking heat? Cambridge Carbon Footprint runs the scheme for us and provides free 1.5 hour online training sessions. (You must complete training before borrowing a camera).
Cold weather payment 2022
- You may get Cold Weather Payments if you’re receiving: Pension Credit, Income Support, Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit, Support for Mortgage Interest. For more information visit the government cold weather payment page.
Age UK Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Handyperson Service
The Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Handyperson Service is usually a charged-for service and the cost will vary dependent on the work being undertaken.
Exact handyperson services differ from place to place, but these are the sorts of jobs they can usually help with:
- Small repairs - putting up curtain rails, shelves and pictures
- Safety measures - fitting smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors and grab rails
- Home security - door and window locks, door chains and door viewers
- Energy efficiency checks - installing draught excluders, radiator heat reflectors and energy efficient lightbulbs
Support if you are in distress
- Samaritans: To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can call 116 123 (free from any phone), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit some Samaritans branches in person.
- Nightline: If you're a student, you can look on the Nightline website to see if your university or college offers a night-time listening service. Nightline phone operators are all students too.
- The NHS can help you find a local NHS urgent mental health helpline.