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Cost of living support in Fenland

Ways to help reduce your living costs

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Across the country, people are struggling with the cost of living. Energy, food and fuel prices continue to rise, leaving people facing the biggest squeeze in household budgets for more than 50 years.

To help people manage their household budget, we teamed up with our energy partner PECT and Citizen's Advice Rural Cambs to offer some helpful resources.

Where to turn to for advice

  • Citizens Advice Rural Cambs: Provides free, confidential help and advice with debt, money, benefits, tax credits, housing and employment. Contact 0808 278 7807 or visit their website for more information and to use their online chat service.
  • StepChange: A dedicated charity offering free, confidential debt advice and money guidance. Call 0800 138 1111 or visit their website.
  • MoneyHelper. Produced by the Government's Money and Pensions Service, MoneyHelper provides free, impartial guidance on money and pensions. Call 0800 011 3797 or visit their website.
  • National Debtline: Provides free, independent, and confidential advice about debt. Call 0808 808 4000 or visit their website.
  • Business Debtline: Run by the Money Advice Trust, Business Debtline can help those who are self-employed or have small businesses. Call 0800 197 6026 or visit their website.
  • Turn2Us: Helps people in financial hardship gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and support services. Call 0808 802 2000 or visit their website.

Financial support

Additional support from the Government

Cost of Living Support: Check if you are entitled to the Government's Cost of Living Support. There are different schemes available including new one-off payments as well as existing benefits and schemes, such as:

Council Tax and Benefits

  • Benefits: Check if you're entitled to benefits by using a free benefits calculator. This could include Universal Credit, Disability and Carer's' benefits, Pension credit, help with childcare costs and Working from Home Allowance.
  • Council Tax Reduction/Housing Benefit: If you need help to pay your Council Tax or rent, you may be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction and/or Housing Benefit. Apply online or phone 01354 654321.
  • Discretionary Housing Payments: If you rent your home and claim Housing Benefit or the housing element of Universal Credit, then Discretionary Housing Payments can provide help with rent or housing costs. Apply online or phone 01354 654321.
  • Budgeting Loan: You may be eligible for a Budgeting Loan if you have been on certain benefits for six months. You will have to pay back the amount you borrow; repayments are taken automatically from your benefits. You can't get a budgeting loan if you're on Universal Credit, but you might be able to get a loan as part of your Universal Credit if you need to cover a specific expense - this is called a 'budgeting advance'. Apply online or phone 0800 169 0140 to ask for a paper form to be posted to you.

Help with travel costs

  • Rail travel: You could save up to a third on train fares with a railcard. If you're on Universal Credit you may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card for up to 50% off.
  • 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 childcare costs

Help with health costs

  • Check your eligibility for free help from the NHS for example, prescriptions, dental or glasses.
  • A Personal Health Budget (PHB) is an amount of NHS money allocated to meet your health and wellbeing needs if you are eligible to receive it. You will be able to plan your care and use your budget to buy services and equipment that best meet your needs and help you maintain your independence.
  • 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.

Household Support Fund

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. It is money the Council has been awarded to help those in need and those most affected by the cost of living crisis; supporting them to resolve their financial issues. It is not charity.

Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme (CLAS)

The Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme can provide information, advice and practical support and assistance in times of exceptional pressure. You may be eligible for a CLAS award, which can be in the form of supermarket vouchers, energy vouchers, new cookers, or recycled white goods and furniture. Visit the CLAS website for more information or call 0808 248 7807.


Help with energy bills

Warm Homes advice service

Fenland District Council has teamed up with energy advice organisation PECT to offer Fenland residents free help and advice on how to make their homes warmer, cheaper to run and more energy efficient. Their Warm Homes advice service can provide information on energy tariffs, details about grant funding for home energy improvements, and free small energy-saving measures. To take advantage of the Warm Homes service, call 01733 568408 (extension 313) or 0800 8021773, or email: warmhomes@pect.org.uk. For more information and to use an online referral form, visit the PECT website.

Household Support Fund

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. It is money the Council has been awarded to help those in need and those most affected by the cost of living crisis; supporting them to resolve their financial issues. It is not charity.

Action on Energy Cambridgeshire

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. 

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.

To register an interest in this scheme, please email: cjablonski@fenland.gov.uk 

Energy Bills Support Scheme

The Energy Bills Support Scheme will deliver a £400 non-repayable discount to eligible households to help with energy bills from October 2022.

  • The energy bill reduction is not a loan. There will be no interest due, no debt attached and it will not affect your credit rating.
  • There is no need to apply for the discount. Energy suppliers will deliver this support to UK households with a domestic electricity connection over 6 months, from October 2022.
  • All households with a domestic electricity connection in the UK are eligible for the £400 discount. There is no need to contact energy suppliers concerning this.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

Through the Warm Home Discount Scheme, households on means tested benefits with high energy use may be eligible for a one-off £150 payment from their energy supplier. This winter (2022/23), the payment is rising from £140 to £150.

  • The £150 is not paid to the applicant but taken off their electricity bill sometime before March 2023.
  • Applications must be made directly to the energy supplier, except for those on Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit) who should receive this automatically.
  • Receiving the discount will not affect any of your other benefits.

Local Energy Advice Partnership (LEAP)

LEAP is a free 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. Book an appointment or call free 0800 060 7657.

Priority Services Register

All energy suppliers have a Priority Services Register, which is a free support service to help people in vulnerable situations. Contact your energy supplier to find out more.


Help with food costs

  • Food and milk vouchers: If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four, Healthy Start can provide vouchers to help buy fruit, vegetables, and milk.
  • Free school meals:  If you are in receipt of certain benefits your child may be entitled to free school meals, saving you up to £450 per year per child. This scheme is available for school-age children and to post-16 students at a school with a sixth form or college.
  • Love Food Hate Waste can advise on how to limit food waste at home.

Foodbanks

Foodbanks are designed to provide short-term, emergency support with food.

  • Trussell Trust foodbanks: These foodbanks provide emergency food parcels on presentation of a foodbank voucher. Fenland District Council can issue vouchers to those in need - just call 01354 654321 for more information. You can find your nearest Trussell Trust foodbank online.
  • Whittlesey Emergency Food Aid, located at the Whittlesey Christian Church in Broad Street, Whittlesey, can also provide emergency food parcels. For more information, call 01733 752093.
  • The March Community Fridge, based within the FACT Community Hub at Martin Avenue, March, aims to reduce food waste and tackle food poverty by offering surplus food to the community. There is no requirement for a foodbank voucher. For more information, call 01354 661234.

Help with household bills

Water

  • Water bills: If you are struggling to afford your water bill, Anglian Water's Extra Care Support Team can help, with a personalised plan to find the cheapest tariff or a flexible payment plan. For more information, visit the Anglian Water website or call 0800 169 3630.
  • Save water: Anglian Water also provides advice on how to save water, and in turn money, and you can apply for a water meter too. Visit the Anglian Water website for more information.
  • Save Money Save Water collates all the free water saving devices available from the water companies across the UK, such as aerated shower heads, which give the same shower pressure using far less water.
  • Get a water meter: A water meter may save you money. Use this water meter calculator to see if you would be better off getting a water meter installed.

Phone/Broadband/TV

  • A number of phone and broadband companies offer social tariffs to customers which receive certain benefits. For more information, visit the Ofcom website.
  • It's also worth checking whether you could be on a cheaper broadband deal. Use a comparison site like Broadband Genie to check if you could be on a cheaper deal.
  • Many streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video allow multiple people to use the same account. For instance, under a standard Netflix subscription for £10.99 per month, two people can watch simultaneously and up to five accounts can be added. Contact your streaming service provider for more information.

Help with managing your budget

MoneyHelper

The MoneyHelper website, produced by the Government's Money and Pensions Service, provides information on a wide range of financial subjects, including:

You can also contact them for money guidance that's impartial and free to use, whether that's online or over the phone. See the Money Helper: Money Guidance page for more information.

Money Saving Expert

The Money Saving Expert website contains articles and tips for saving and managing your money, including:

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.

Clockwise Credit Union has alsocompiled a general list of 60 tips to help you with the cost of living.


Support if you are in distress

  • Samaritans: Offering emotional support 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Call 116 123 for free or visit a Samaritans branch in person.
  • NHS: For urgent mental health advice (but not a 999 emergency) call 111, available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Mental Health Innovations: If you'd prefer to text, text 'SHOUT' to 85258 for free. You'll then be connected to a Mental Health Innovations charity volunteer for an anonymous conversation by text message.
  • Age UK: Information, advice, and support for older people. Call their Advice Line on 0800 678 1604.
  • MIND: Provides help and support to anyone experiencing a mental health problem. Call 0300 123 3393 or text 86463.
  • Anxiety UK: Offers support to anyone affected by anxiety, stress and anxiety based depression. Call 03444 775 774.
  • 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.

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