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Updated 14 November 2023
New information added to top of some sections
Cost of living support
We have brought together sources of support and advice to help you face rising costs.
The government has announced the energy price cap (also called the Energy Price Guarantee) will be £1,834 per year for a typical household from October 2023 to December 2023.
This is not the maximum a household could be charged, but based on typical consumption. What is fixed is the price per unit of energy and the standing charge, so being conscious of your energy consumption can still help with your fuel bills.
If you’re struggling to pay your rent or bills, please contact us or get in touch with your usual SNG (Sovereign Network Group) contact to see how we might be able to help you.
Don’t be tempted by loan sharks , high-interest credit or store cards - they target people who are already struggling with rising costs and you could get stuck with unaffordable repayments.
Household Support Fund (HSF)
Councils have been allocated money to help the most vulnerable households with essential food and energy costs. Search on your local council’s website for details – conditions apply.
2023 cost of living payments for low income families
Eligible means-tested benefits claimants, including those on Universal Credit, Pension Credit and tax credits, are due two more cost of living payments direct to their bank account:
- £300 – Second Cost of Living Payment – during Autumn 2023
- £299 – Third Cost of Living Payment – during Spring 2024
There will also be a separate £300 for pensioners during Winter 2023/4 on top of their Winter Fuel Payments. Find out more information on the cost of living payments .
Further information on support available
Save money on your bills
We have an arrangement with Pocket Power , a telephone triage service that can help you save money on your household bills. This looks at more than just gas and electric. It includes savings on water and sewerage, broadband and mobile phones.
Free debt advice
We can support you with completely free and independent debt advice and help you to find a solution that is right for you.
Better Off Calculator
Are you thinking about starting a new job and wondering how it might impact your financial situation or benefits? Or perhaps you’re considering making some changes to your household budget?
To see what affect changing your circumstances could have, fill in our Better Off Calculator.
Benefit changes and budgeting
Employment and skills
Sometimes getting job-related training, a job (or a better paid job) could boost your income to help. See details on our employment and business start-up support service and grants. You can also upskill with free learning courses.
Digital training and grants
Find out about online training and digital equipment grants.
Did you know we can also support local community groups with advice and community grants?
If you’re worried about paying your mortgage, please speak with your lender or talk to an independent financial advisor. UK Finance’s Reach Out campaign has details on what support could be available.
If you haven’t been paying your service charges, please get in touch with us as soon as possible, so we can discuss next steps.
Worried about money?
Find out how we can help
Martin lives on his own and was struggling with debt and his mental health after losing his job
He couldn’t afford food and wasn’t heating his home
We helped Martin by:
Securing a £500 Cost of Living Assistance Fund payment
Providing emergency food and fuel vouchers
Securing £700 council tax arrears support
Giving him access to the internet and a digital device
Helping him develop his CV and interview skills to secure a new job
Supporting him to clear his debts
Gas end electricity companies cannot cut off your supply unless they have first offered you a range of payment methods to help you pay. They can only disconnect your supply as a last resort and they must give you proper notice first.
- See what support is available from your energy providers: British Gas , Scottish Power , Ovo Energy , E.ON Energy Fund and E.ON Next Energy Fund , EDF Energy , Octopus .
- If you can’t afford to top up your prepayment meter, ask your energy supplier for ‘emergency credit’. You can also ask your local council or a food bank if there are fuel vouchers available.
- If your energy supplier goes out of business , Ofgem will appoint a new supplier and your supply won’t be disrupted. Take a meter reading, don’t switch, wait for Ofgem to choose a new supplier (this way any credit you have will be moved across) and wait for the new supplier to contact you. You can then switch to another supplier if you prefer.
- If you’re a vulnerable person, ask your energy provider to put you on the Priority Services Register . This gives you information like advance notice for planned power cuts (important if you rely on your energy supply for medical reasons) and priority support in an emergency.
- If you pay your energy bills by direct debit, ask for a breakdown of what you’re paying for. This is to make sure your supplier is charging you for what you’re actually using, not an estimate. Not submitting your meter readings? Do it now for more accurate billing.
Don’t automatically renew on things like insurance, TV and broadband. Price-compare with other companies and speak with your current supplier to see what they can offer.
Don’t leave electrical items on standby (e.g. kettles and TVs – leave the fridge and freezer on!) and remember to switch off lights in rooms you’re not using. This can add up to £100s a year.
Some people could be eligible for an up to 90% discount – MSE explains why and how to check if you’re eligible .
If you’re finding it difficult to pay your water bill, speak to your water supplier as soon as possible to see if they have support available. Your water company will also be able to give you some water saving tips, and you might be able to get some free water saving devices from them.
For some more great advice, visit the MoneySavingExpert website .
Age UK shares tips on how to use less water, potential discounts, and the Priority Services Register.
You may be entitled to a council tax discount or rebate - find out more information on the types of discounts available . Contact your local council to apply for a discount.
TV, broadband and phone
Cheaper broadband and phone packages - You may be able to able to access a 'social tariff' broadband and phone package if you claim Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits.
Save money on your TV - find out if you can cut costs by making the most of Freeview, switching streaming plan and finding the best digital TV deal.
Check if you have an exemption from paying NHS costs . An NHS exemption certificate helps you to pay for your NHS costs, such as prescriptions or dental treatment.
Support for disabilities
The government has an overview of different support available – including benefits; help with transport and housing costs; employment, VAT relief and armed forces compensation.
Pension credit is a benefit aimed at retired people on low incomes. Pensioners may still be eligible if they own their home or have savings. If you're eligible for pension credit, you can also get other financial help such as help with heating costs, housing benefit and a free TV licence if you're over 75. Find out more information about pension credit and how to apply .
Other Government support towards bills , including information on the Energy Bill Discount, Cost of Living Payment, Disability Cost of Living Payment, Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, Winter fuel payments, Cold weather payments and Warm Home Discount.
- Check through your Direct Debits to see if there are any services you might want to cancel (e.g. streaming services). Always check there aren’t any cancellation fees.
- Got something non-essential you spend your money on, like takeaways? Money Saving Expert has a tool called the Demotivator to see how much it adds up to over time.
- Looking for low-cost activities and days out?
- The ‘Visit’ page for your county, city or town (for example Visit Dorset , Visit Bristol , Visit Newbury ) often has information on free or cheap things to do.
- You could visit a museum or gallery or find out about 2for1 days out with National Rail.
- The National Trust has 50 outdoor activities (including some safety tips ) you could get inspiration from.
- Don’t fancy going out? Mumsnet has 105 ideas for activities at home.
- Plus, keep an eye on your local council’s social media pages, particularly around the holidays – in some cases, they provide free or low-cost events.
- Find out about help with childcare costs.
- Check if you’re entitled to any benefits with our Better Off Calculator.
- See if your child can have free school meals .
- Find out if you qualify for a Maternity Grant and check if you qualify for help as a new family.
- You may be eligible for a Family Fund grant if you are the parent, or carer, of a disabled child and you meet the eligibility criteria.
- Unemployed but got a job interview? Need to dry clean your outfit? Timpson offer free dry cleaning
- Support for pet owners - If you're a pet owner who's struggling to cope with the cost of food or healthcare, get advice on finding a pet food bank and help with vet bills.
- If you’re struggling to afford personal hygiene products, check with your local food bank if they have anything available and how to access them.
If you go out to eat, don’t be embarrassed to ask to take away any leftover food.
With food prices going up, now more than ever it's important not to waste food. The websites below will help you make the most of the food you buy.
Love food, hate waste - discover some simple tips and guidance to make the most of your food at home, including:
- creating meal plans before you go shopping
- making a shopping list and setting a budget
- storing your food in the right place to keep it fresher for longer
- great food saving recipes.
12 ways to stop wasting food and drink - Money Saving Expert tips help you stop avoidable food waste, including:
- Keeping the right food in the fridge.
- Making better use of your freezer.
- Using up leftover food.
Get help to buy food and milk - If you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, you could get help to buy milk, fruit and vegetables.
Free or cheaper food
- Discount food - grab a bargain on 'yellow sticker' foods .
- Community fridges and community pantries offer surplus food, and anyone can visit them. Some are free, others have a small subscription cost. It’s always worth searching online to see if there is a fridge or pantry near you.
- Food banks offer emergency food parcels through referrals. You can find many food banks listed on The Trussell Trust website.
- The Olio app matches volunteers with surplus food. They then offer this free to their community.
- Car-sharing with friends, family or colleagues can be a more cost-effective way to travel to work or do errands.
- See if you're eligible for discounted public transport .
- From 1 November 2023, the bus fare cap will change to £2.50 for single tickets. This cap will last until 30 November 2024.
- Find out how to get cheaper train tickets , by booking ahead, splitting your tickets or using a railcard.
- Save money when travelling by car by finding the cheapest fuel in your area, making your car more fuel efficient and driving more efficiently.
Click on the links below for more details on ways to make your money go further.
*Please note, these are not endorsements and most require registering personal data so please consider carefully before choosing to use them.
Cashback - get money back on purchases with apps like:
- If you’re shopping online, always do a search to see if any discount codes apply.
- Most supermarkets offer coupons through their loyalty cards and some print them in their free in-store magazine.
- Money Saving Expert lists some on its website.
Supermarket loyalty cards - earn points, pounds or vouchers on your shop and turn them into money off vouchers:
Go green and save money
Please note that the information below was correct as at 3 April 2023
Support in your area
Cost of living support
- BCP Council - Cost of living help
- Food support in BCP - Find information on foodbanks, community larders, community fridges and social supermarkets.
- Healthy Homes Dorset - helping Dorset residents keep warm by installing loft and cavity wall insulation.
Feed our community, Boscombe - individuals and families facing hardship can register with 'feed our community'. There is no specific criteria or requirement except that the household is struggling to pay for food.
Venue - St George’s Church in Haviland Road, Boscombe
Further information - Email email@example.com.
Find a list of lunch clubs on the BCP council website .
You can find cost of living information and support from Dorset Council .
The Mug and Biscuit - St Andrews Methodist Church
The Mug and Biscuit provides low-cost snack and hot and cold drinks to the community on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 12pm.
- Venue - St Andrews Methodist Church, Western Way, South Ham, Basingstoke, RG22 6ER
- Day/time - Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 12pm. .
- Find out more information
Community food pantries
Community pantries provide groceries at a lower rate than shops and supermarkets. Find your closest community food pantry .
Keep well and warm in your home advice - The Environment Centre
Providing free and impartial advice to Hampshire residents, including
- how to make a home warmer and more energy efficient
- current grant schemes for energy improvements and who is eligible
- how to access support with energy bills.
- Find out more information
Support and services through your local council
Community Cafes - enjoy a hot drink or a wide variety of hot meals and fresh cakes and snacks.
- Community Spirited, East Cowes
Venue - Parkside Pavilion, Vectis Road, East Cowes, PO32 6HN
Day/times - Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 10am to 12pm
Find more information
- The Living Room, Newport
Venue - 82-83 High Street, Newport, PO30 1BH
Day/times - Mondays and Thursdays from 11am to 2pm
Find more information
- Aspire, Ryde
Venue - Trinity Buildings, Dover St, Ryde, PO33 2BN
Day/times - Tuesdays, Thursday and Fridays from 10am to 4pm. Wednesdays from 10am to 5.30pm
Find more information
- The Isobel Community Cafe - Pan Together - provides freshly-prepared, wholesome food at affordable prices whilst also acting as a social hub for the neighbourhood.
Venue - Pan Together, Downside Community Centre, Newport, PO30 2AX
Dates/times - Tuesday to Friday from 9am to 3pm
Find out more information
Foodbanks - helping those struggling with food poverty and short term crisis on the Isle of Wight.
There are a number of foodbanks on the Isle of Wight – find out where they are and opening times .
Heat hubs - warm spaces to go in the colder months, to relax and chat, with cheap or free refreshments.
Cost of living support
- Oxfordshire County Council - Help with rising costs
- South Oxfordshire District Council - Cost of living help
- Vale of White Horse - Household Support Fund
- Oxford City Council - Free and low cost food in Oxford
- West Oxfordshire District Council - Help if you're struggling with living costs
Oxford City Council has a list of warm spaces in and around the city.
The BBC lists more warm spaces across Oxfordshire .
Support and services through your local council
Help and support - Bristol Water - help with your bill, protecting your pipes and water saving tips
Money and debt
We can help with advice and support on claiming the right benefits, managing debt or making a budget. Or check out our tips and links to help lower your fuel bills and make your money go further.
Lower fuel bills
Help’s available from your supplier or Sovereign if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills. See links to grants and schemes, plus what to do if your energy supplier goes out of business.