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Help if you're struggling with living costs

Many residents are currently struggling with rising living costs. That’s why it’s important to know what help and support is available now – that could benefit you, a relative, friend or neighbour.

Here are some sources of support that could help you or someone you know.

Check you’re not one of up to 7 million people in the UK missing out on income-related state benefits

An estimated £15bn of benefits are believed to go unclaimed each year. Use a free benefits calculator to find out what you could be entitled to.

Or contact North and West Gloucestershire Citizens Advice for one-to-one help to do this.

If you are turned down for a benefit, seek advice on whether to challenge the decision. Many benefit decisions are overturned, and organisations like Citizens Advice can offer advice about challenges.

The Cost of Living Payment is available for households on means tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Tax Credits. This government guidance explains how and when you will receive an extra payment to help with living costs.

If you’re over State Pension age, check if you’re eligible for Pension Credit

Pension Credit (0800 99 1234) provides extra money for living costs and access to other help. Around a third of eligible pensioners don’t claim Pension Credit – often because they don't know they can or that they need to. Find out if you’re eligible and how much you could get using the Pension Credit calculator.

People of State Pension age may be entitled to Pension Credit even though they may have modest savings, or a retirement income or own their own home. An award of Pension Credit can provide access to a range of other benefits such as help with housing costs, Council Tax, heating bills and, for those aged 75 or over, a free TV licence.

Find out more here: https://www.gov.uk/pension-credit 

The Pensioner Cost of Living Payment is a one-off automatic top-up to the Winter Fuel Payment. See the government's 'Cost of living support factsheet' for all additional support available.

Check if you can claim a Discretionary Housing Payment

If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn't cover all your rent, check to see if you can make a claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Help if you’re experiencing illness or disability

Check if you or your family may be entitled to benefits for those experiencing illness or disability. 

Check your eligibility for Carer's Allowance

If you are a carer, you may be entitled to Carer’s Allowance and/or an extra amount called the ‘carer element’ within Universal Credit. This could mean £69.70 a week in Carer's Allowance if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and you, the person you care for and the type of care you provide meets the criteria.

Apply to the Household Support Fund

The Household Support Fund is available through Gloucestershire County Council to support households in the most need with food, energy and water bills and other essential items.

Government Council Tax rebate

Forest of Dean District Council is distributing the £150 Council Tax rebate announced in February 2022 to help with the cost of living. You can find out more here.

Check if you're eligible for Council Tax Support

You may be eligible for Council Tax Support through Forest of Dean District Council if you receive certain benefits or are on a low income. You can find out more on our website here.

If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax as a result of the changes to the way that we now calculate Council Tax Support from 1 April 2021, you can apply for additional assistance from our Hardship Fund.

Apply for our Hardship Fund

Energy Bills Support Scheme

The government announced (May 2022) that all domestic electricity customers in Great Britain will receive a £400 reduction in their electricity costs from October 2022. There will be no requirement to pay it back. Households will not need to apply for the scheme and, in most cases, the government expects electricity suppliers to apply the reduction automatically to bills from October 2022.

Find out more here.

Support from your energy supplier

Contact your energy supplier if you are struggling to pay for energy or think you may get into difficulty. If you already have energy debts, some larger suppliers offer grants to help pay this off.

Many of the energy suppliers are providing support for people during this crisis. Check your supplier's website or call them to find out what support they can provide:
https://www.ovoenergy.com/customer-support-package
https://www.britishgas.co.uk/energy/british-gas-energy-trust.html
https://www.edfenergy.com/content/how-edf-are-supporting-their-customers-through-uks-cost-living-crisis
https://www.scottishpower.co.uk/blog/cost-of-living
https://www.eonnext.com/energy-bill-support-scheme
https://www.goodenergy.co.uk/about-us/whats-happening-in-the-energy-market/

You can also visit Warm and Well for advice and support on managing your home energy. If your household income is under £30,000 and you privately own or rent an inefficient property, you could qualify for free support.

The government's Energy Bills Support Scheme will deliver a £400 non-repayable discount to eligible households to help with energy bills from October 2022. Find out more on the government website here: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/energy-bills-support-scheme-explainer

Help to make your home more energy efficient

Warm and Well is managed by Severn Wye Energy Agency Ltd on behalf of the local authorities in Gloucestershire.

Warm and Well offers energy efficiency advice to householders and also administers grant funding on behalf of the local authorities and other funders.

Since the scheme began in 2001 it has offered energy efficiency advice and has supported the installation of over 60,000 measures. These have included loft insulation, cavity wall insulation, boilers, heating systems, solar photovoltaics and solid wall insulation.

They also have a list of top tips for improving energy efficiency on their website here.

The Warm and Well advice line is 0800 500 3076 (open Mon-Fri 9am to 5pm).

Get help if you're struggling to afford enough food

If you are struggling to buy food you can approach North and West Gloucestershire Citizens Advice who will be able to provide advice on where you can get local support.

Get help with childcare costs

Over one million families are missing out on up to £2,000 a year towards childcare costs – check what help you could get.

Use this calculator to find out how much you could get towards approved childcare, including:

  • free childcare for children aged between two and four
  • help with childcare costs if your child is under 16 (or under 17 and disabled)

See if you can get Healthy Start vouchers

If you're at least ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, you might be able to get free vitamins and vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk. Find out more on the Healthy Start website.

Apply for free school meals

If you or your child receive certain benefits, you can apply for free school meals from Year 3 and above.

Cutting costs around broadband costs

Broadband is essential for many people now working from home and can be a significant monthly cost for households.

If you are looking to reduce your broadband costs or struggling to pay there is a range of helpful advice on the Ofcom website here.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits you could be eligible for ‘Social Tariffs’ that cost less than normal packages. Find out more here.

Seek advice about debt

If you’re in debt, seek advice early rather than let things spiral out of control. There is a range of free advice available including:

Local charity P3 can also provide support and advice around financial skills, dealing with debt, education and employment.

The Money Helper website has useful guides related to dealing with debt.

Support if you are struggling to pay rent or mortgage costs

If you are struggling to pay rent or your mortgage there is a range of help available. 

Support if you are struggling to pay rent

If you are renting privately and struggling to pay your rent there is advice on what you can do on the gov.uk website here.

If you are on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit and it doesn't cover all your rent, check to see if you can make a claim for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Advice if you are struggling to pay your mortgage

If you are struggling to make mortgage payments, always speak to your mortgage provider as early as possible as they may be able to support you. You can also contact Citizens Advice for financial advice.

If you are at risk of homelessness

If you are homeless or threatened with homelessness please contact us as soon as possible so we can provide advice and support. Find out more on this page.

Apply for a discount on water bills

Households on low income can apply for financial support through their local water provider. Please visit their website to see what support is available.

If you are not sure who your provider is you can use the postcode search here.

Looking after your mental health

Looking after our mental health and wellbeing is important. There are a variety of organisations and websites that may be able to offer you the support, advice and help you need – whether in person, over the phone, via text, self-help or in group community settings: 

The Every Mind Matters website offers advice and practical steps that people can take to support their wellbeing and manage their mental health.

Be Well Gloucestershire is a local campaign to help when stress, anxiety, isolation and other challenges become hard to deal with. The Be Well Gloucestershire website is the start of what will be a central hub for anyone who needs help or support for themselves or a loved one. Working alongside local organisations, charities and communities, we will develop resources to enable more people to access mental health and wellbeing support for those who live in the county.

If you or someone you know needs help in a mental health crisis, you can contact the Gloucestershire Crisis Team or call 0800 169 0398. If there is an immediate danger to life, please dial 999 or go to your nearest Accident and Emergency Department.

Gloucestershire Carers Hub provides a wide range of support specifically for carers. You can call them on 0300 111 9000 Mon, Wed & Fri 9am-5pm, Tues & Thurs 8am-8pm

Other national charities you can contact are:

Samaritans If you’re having a hard time, they can provide you with advice and support. Call them anytime for free on 116 123. 

Mind The National Mental Health Charity. Call their information line on 0300 123 3393.

CALM The Campaign Against Living Miserably is a charity that supports all those with mental health issues and aims to lead the movement against suicide. You can call them on 0800 58 58 58.

Help accessing health services

Through the NHS there is a range of support to help people access health services such as support with travel costs and financial support for people on low income. Find out more on the NHS website.

Help if you, or someone you know, is suffering domestic abuse

Domestic abuse is a pattern of abusive and controlling behaviour. It is any incident of threatening behaviour, violence or abuse (psychological, physical, sexual, financial or emotional)

If you or someone you know is being abused contact Gloucestershire Domestic Abuse Support Service on 01452 726 570 or visit www.gdass.org.uk/. If there's a risk to life, please call 999 or text 999.

Support for those in the Armed Forces

The Royal British Legion has launched the Everyday Needs Grant, providing up to £2,400 over 12 months for members of the Armed Forces community, including the Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force, veterans and their families.

For more information go to their website: https://www.britishlegion.org.uk/get-support/financial-and-employment-support/finance/grants/cost-of-living-grants

Support available in your community

For a list of support available across the district, including community groups and local organisations that can help people who are struggling with the cost of living see our webpage here.

Further support from government

You can find out more about what support is being provided by government to help with the cost of living by visiting: https://helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk/

See the government's 'Cost of living support factsheet' for all additional support available.

External support

There are a range of external support agencies who may be able to offer further advice and support.

Ways you can help support others

If you want to help others, see here for how you can support your local community through the cost of living crisis.