We know times are hard right now. On this page you will find a range of information to help you access support and advice to support you with the rising cost of living.
You can also get more help from the Government's Help for Households website.
Use the links below to find the information you need:
- Claiming benefits
- Cost of Living payments from the Government
- Pension credit
- Help with housing costs
- Help with Council Tax bills
- Help with energy bills
- Help with water bills
- Help with broadband and mobile bills
- Help accessing food
- School holiday food and activities
- Help with childcare costs
- Low-cost furniture
- Household Support Fund
- Advice to help you manage your money
- Debt advice and other financial support
- Credit unions
- Loan sharks
- Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s services
If you are struggling financially then make sure you are claiming all the money you are allowed to.
Use the Government's benefits calculator to see what you could claim. This should only be used as a guide and the results may differ from what you are actually offered.
Cost of Living Payments from the Government
The Government has announced further cost of living payments up to £900 for people on qualifying low-income benefit, £300 for pensioner households and £150 for people on a qualifying disability benefit. We will update this page when more qualifying and payment dates are announced.
Cost of living payments totalling £650 were paid to qualifying low-income households during July and September.
Six million disabled people in the UK will received their one-off £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment from 20 September 2022, to help with the rising cost of living.
For anyone currently awaiting a decision on a disability benefit claim who subsequently receives an award, the Disability Cost of Living Payment will be made automatically as long the qualifying benefit covers 25 May 2022. For disabled people on low-incomes, this payment comes on top of means-tested Cost of Living payments, £400 for all households to help with energy bills, and an extra £150 for properties in Council Tax bands A to D in England.
Find out more about Cost of Living Payments from the Government.
Please note this scheme is being administered directly by the Government. Please do not contact us for information as we are not involved with this scheme.
About a third of eligible pensioners are missing out not only a top up to their monthly income but also help with other costs such as heating bills, housing costs, council tax, NHS dental care and if you are over 75 you can get a free TV licence.
If you, or someone you know, are of pensionable age please check to make sure you are claiming the money you are entitled to.
Check if you qualify for pension credit.
Help with housing costs
Housing Benefit financially covers both housing association rents and privately rented accommodation. You may be able to claim for help to pay the rent for your home if you or someone who lives with you are on a low income.
Find out more about applying for Housing Benefit.
Housing Benefit will not cover heating, hot water, energy or food. If you need help, use a benefits calculator to check what else you might be entitled to.
If your Housing Benefit does not cover all your rent, you might be able to get extra money from our Discretionary Housing Payment scheme. Read the Government’s factsheet on Discretionary Housing Payments.
Help with Council Tax bills
We froze our share of the Council Tax bill this year for the fifth year in a row. By April 2023 this will have kept £1.9 million in the pockets of our residents.
If you are struggling to pay your Council Tax then please get in touch with us as soon as possible so we can discuss your options.
If you are on a low income or claiming benefits then you may qualify for Council Tax Support which can reduce your bill. This applies whether you own or rent your home and whether you are unemployed or working.
There are other discounts you may qualify for and you can also ask to spread your payments over 12 months instead of 10 to lower the monthly cost, although the total bill remains the same.
Find out more about applying for Council Tax Support.
Help with energy bills
Energy Bills Support Scheme
Most people will have received an automatic £400 discount off their energy bills from their energy supplier. Some people, including those who live in a park home, houseboat, off the electricity grid or who pay for energy through a landlord, housing manager or site owner, will need to apply. But hurry, as the deadline to apply is 31 May 2023.
Apply for energy support if you do not get it automatically on the Government's website.
Alternative Fuels Payment
If your household is not connected to the mains gas grid and you use tank or bottle gas, liquid petroleum gas (LPG), oil, wood or solid fuel as your main form of heating, then you may qualify for an Alternative Fuels Payment of £200. But hurry as the deadline to apply is 31 May 2023.
Apply for an Alternative Fuels Payment on the Government's website.
Energy Bills Rebate
Help with energy bills
Act on Energy has money available to support people in certain circumstances with their energy costs. To find out more follow the link or call the Act on Energy free advice line on 0800 988 2881.
Talk to your energy supplier if you are struggling to pay. Certain energy suppliers offer grants to customers to help with their bills.
You can also read our energy saving tips to help cut back on your energy use and save money.
The British Gas Energy Trust supports both British Gas Customers and non-British gas customers to clear energy bills debt. Find out more about grants from the British Gas Energy Trust.
If you receive the guaranteed credit element of Pension Credit or are on a low income with high energy bills, then find out if you qualify for the Warm Homes discount.
Information on energy bills support for people living in a park home, houseboat, off-grid or paying electricity as rent, can be found on the Government's website.
Other sources of additional financial support with energy bills can be found on the Government's website:
- Warm Home Discount Scheme information
- Cold Weather Payment: Overview
- Winter Fuel Payment: Overview
- Cost of Living Payment information
Free home energy efficiency improvements
We are offering to fund energy efficiency improvement work costing up to £25,000 for households with a combined income of £30,000 or less and living in a property with an Energy Efficiency Rating of D or below.
Find out more about free energy efficiency improvements from Wychavon.
Making your home more energy efficient
If you can afford to do so, another way of potentially cutting your energy bills is to improve the insulation of your home or install renewable technology like solar panels. If you do not qualify for help under Wychavon's scheme, then you may still be able to get help from other sources.
The Government is providing funding up until 2025 to replace your boiler with a greener alternative that, depending on your circumstances, could also save you money long-term. The scheme offers £5,000 off the cost and installation of an air source heat pump or a biomass boiler or £6,000 off the cost and installation of a ground source heat pump.
Act on Energy can offer you advice on what energy efficiency grants you qualify for. You can also find out more about the Government’s Boiler Upgrade Scheme on their website.
The Government has also announced its £1 billion ECO+ scheme. This will fund energy efficiency measures, such as insulation, for those on low incomes living in some of the least energy efficient homes and in lower Council Tax bands. The scheme will run from April 2023 until March 2026. We will update this page with more information when we have it.
Use the Government's energy efficiency calculator to find out how much it would cost to upgrade your home.
Information on how to use central heating controls effectively
Knowing how to use your heating controls effectively could save you money. Quick videos are guides are available using the links below. If you’re still unsure, you can search online for your boiler/heating controls manual for more information. Simply search for the the manufacturer and model to find the manual.
- Watch a video on how to use your gas, LPG and oil boiler heating system controls efficiently
- Watch how to use your room and radiator thermostats efficiently
- Read a guide on how to control your central heating system
- Read an explanation of your heating controls
Help with water bills
Severn Trent offers a reduction on its bills to customers with a household income below £18,278. Other schemes are also available
Find out more about support paying your water bill from Severn Trent or call them directly on 0345 7500 500.
Help with broadband and mobile phone bills
If you struggling to afford your broadband or mobile phone bill, and are you are receiving certain government benefits, you may be able to get a lower cost broadband or mobile phone package, known as a social tariff.
View social tariff broadband and mobile phone offers on the Ofcom website.
Help accessing food
If you are struggling to afford food then please visit Here2Help which can direct you to support available. Additional support is available during the school summer holidays for children receiving free school meals and vulnerable families. Go to the next section on this page information.
Your local food bank may be able to help provide you with an emergency food parcel but you will need to be referred. If you can’t afford food then please call the Trussell Trust’s free helpline on 0808 208 2138 to talk to a trained Citizens Advice adviser. They will talk you through the issues you are facing, provide support and issue you with a food bank voucher if needed.
Community pantries fridges and larders operate in Droitwich Spa, Evesham and Pershore. They offer free or low cost food to people, regardless of their situation, and unlike food banks, you do not need to be referred. The aim of many of these is to stop as much food as possible from going to waste. Find out where they are located and opening times by clicking on the links below.
- Visit Droitwich CVS website - Provides Food Vouchers - The Old Library Centre, 65 Ombersley Street East, Droitwich Spa, Worcestershire, WR9 8QS, 01905 779115 – No referral required
- Moving Forwards Community Fridge also provides food vouchers. Visit Moving Forward website. Westlands Community Hall, Meadow Way, Droitwich, WR9 9BF, 07562 009906 - No referral required
- Droitwich Community Pantry and Fridge - Visit Droitwich Community Pantry and Fridge Facebook page - Droitwich Baptist Church, Ombersley Street East, WR9 8QS - 07546 553835 - No referral required
- Visit Caring Hands Food Bank & Food Pantry website - Vale of Evesham Christian Centre, Bewdley Street, Evesham, Worcestershire WR11 4AD - 07749 377473 – The Food Bank requires referral, the food pantry does not require a referral
- Wallace House Community Larder - Wallace House Community Centre, Oat Street, Evesham, Worcestershire, WR11 4PJ – 01386 446580 - No referral required
- Visit Evesham Adventure Playground Pantry & Lunches website - Evesham Adventure Playground, Woodlands, Evesham WR11 1XH - 01386 442154 - No referral required
- Visit All Saints Food Bank website - Church House Market Place, Evesham, Worcestershire WR11 4RW - 01386 442213 - No referral required
- Pershore Community Cupboard - Pershore Baptist Church, Broad Street, Pershore, WR10 1AY - 01386 556088 – No referral required
School holiday food and activities
During the school holidays, children receiving free school meals and vulnerable families can get support with food, finance, activities and more from Ready Steady Worcestershire.
Help with childcare costs
Over a million families in the UK are entitled to support with the costs of childcare from the government, but many are missing out because the childcare providers in their area haven’t signed up to accept the various offers.
See if you qualify for help with childcare costs on the Childcare Choices website.
Household Support Fund
The Household Support Fund is currently closed.
We are working with 17 local organisations to distribute the Government’s Household Support Fund. This is aimed at providing essential goods and services to support households. The funding is being distributed locally to support charities to provide food and white goods, fuel vouchers and direct support to families to help reduce poverty through advice and information.
A proportion of the funding this time is also aimed at older people over the age of 66 as well as families.
If you need help, contact your local volunteer centre for more information.
Roundabout is a furniture reuse charity near Evesham that offers good quality used furniture at affordable prices. If you meet the qualifying criteria you can be referred to Roundabout for free basic furniture to meet your needs by our housing team or another referral agency, such as Worcestershire County Council and South Worcestershire Citizens’ Advice.
Find out more about Roundabout reuse furniture charity.
Advice to help you manage your money
Create a budget
Creating a budget will help you live within your means and avoid getting into debt with loans and credit cards. A budget is a financial plan which lists the money coming into your household (income) against the money going out (expenses). It will also help you work out what you need to spend money on and what you want to spend money on.
To work out a budget for your household follow the steps below:
- List your monthly income
- List your recurring monthly expenses
- Take away your expenses from your income
If your expenses are more than your income, work out how to cut unnecessary spending. You can then develop a savings plan if there is any money left over.
Use the Money Advice Service's online budget planner.
Tips to help you manage your money
- Keep track of your spending. Only spend money you have and avoid getting into debt.
- Plan ahead and protect against unexpected costs or events. Save money if you can.
- Make informed choices. Pay the bills you must pay first (rent/mortgage, Council Tax, living costs).
- Control your spending. Make sure you only buy the important things and don’t buy anything you don’t need. Keep a spending diary.
- Use price comparison websites and switching services to get the best deals on things like your gas and electricity supply, your phone contract and your weekly food shop.
- When you are food shopping, make a shopping list and stick to it.
- Understand what might happen if you lost your job or you got into debt.
- Renegotiate credit card repayments/loan repayments to reduce your monthly out-goings or pay more if you can afford it.
- Do not borrow money from payday lenders with excessive interest rates or Loan Sharks. Try a credit union instead. Visit sixtowns website for more information.
- Look at ways of increasing your income. Sell things you don’t need, check you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to, look for new work or development opportunities with your existing employer.
- Look at ways to cut your expenses. Shop around for the best deals, cook your own food and eat what you buy. The average family household throws £700 of food away every year. Visit the Love Food Hate Waste website for help
Debt advice and other financial support
If you are worried about your finances, then seek help as soon as possible. You can access money and debt guidance for free.
Money Helper UK provides guidance based upon individual circumstances and help to find support in your area.
On the Money Helper UK website you will find information on
- What issues individuals need to deal with first
- Ways of staying on top of bills
- How to find extra support
- Where to get extra help
You can also get help locally.
Call South Worcestershire Citizens’ Advice Adviceline on 03444 111 303.
Call the Government backed Money Advice Service for free and impartial advice on 0800 138 7777.
The Cost of Living Campaign website is a government run scheme with links to a range of support with housing, transport and general living costs.
Worcestershire Here 2 Help offers advice on money matters and other topics. You can also make a request for help to them and they will refer you to an organisation that can offer you support.
The Money Saving Expert Cost of Living Survival Guide has been put together by money saving expert Martin Lewis and his team and includes a range of basic and practical tips to help you during this challenging time.
Credit Unions are an alternative to high street banks. They are not-for-profit organisations created to support their members rather than shareholders. They can be used by anyone and offer a range of services including current accounts, savings accounts, Christmas saving accounts and loans.
They are a welcome alternative to pay day lenders and loan sharks which we advise you to avoid using.
There are two Credit Unions that offer services to people living and working in Worcestershire.
Have you ever been offered a cash loan? Did they fail to give you paperwork? Did they add huge amounts of interest to your loan? Have they threatened you? Are you scared of people finding out? Have they taken your bank card, benefit card, passport, watch or other valuables from you?
If you answered yes to any of those questions then you could have borrowed money from an illegal money lender, more commonly known as a loan shark. You are not alone. It is estimated 310,000 people across the UK are in debt to illegal money lenders. We support the work of the national Illegal Money Lending Team to raise awareness of what loan sharks are, support victims and direct people to safe and legal alternatives.
If you suspect a loan shark you can report in confidence by calling 0300 555 2222, text 078600 22116 or use the online form on the stop load sharks website
If your income is low, you have a poor credit rating or you only need a small amount for a short period of time then there are alternatives to loan sharks that are legal and safe, such as a Credit Union. If you are in debt and struggling then please seek financial advice.
Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s services
Free Home Energy Checks
Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s skilled and professional Home Support Team can provide, practical advice and support with making your home more energy efficient. From this assessment they can then install free energy efficient equipment such as:
- Insulation foam for doors and windows
- Letter box seals
- External door brush seals
- Under door internal & round the door draught excluders
- Radiator panels
- Night lights
- Selection of energy efficient light bulbs
- Hot water cylinder jackets
- Chimney pillows
- Remote controls for sockets
- Cold alarms.
- Over 50
- Long term health condition
Warm Home Discount
The Warm Home Discount is available for people on certain benefits and can result in £150 being deducted from your energy bills.
Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire can provide information and check your eligibility for this scheme to ensure that you are maximising your entitlement to support.
Benefit and Entitlement Checks
Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire can ensure that your household is maximising its income and are receiving all entitled benefits. As part of this, they can complete benefit calculations to identify any potential income and support you with any benefit applications.
Last year, Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire identified and supported older adults across the two counties in claiming over £1 million worth of benefits.
Information and advice drop-in clinics
Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire hold free and impartial information & advice clinics within the local community where you can speak directly with a friendly and trained advisor.
They can provide guidance and support regarding a number of different issues such as benefits/income, later life planning, navigating care options and much more.
Drop in to one of the Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire clinics across Wychavon:
Location: Droitwich Library, Victoria Square, Droitwich, WR9 8DQ When: Every third Monday of the month – 10.30am-12.30pm
Location: Pershore Wellbeing Hub, 4 High Street, Pershore, WR10 1BG When: Every 2nd Friday of the month – 10am – 12.30pm
Location: Wallace House Community Centre, Oat Street, Evesham, WR11 4PJ When: Every 2nd Monday of the month – 9.30am – 12pm
‘Pay what you can’ at Droitwich Dementia Meeting Centre
The Droitwich Dementia Meeting Centre offers on-going warm and friendly expert support to people with mild to moderate dementia and their families.
As well as providing a social hub for members to have fun and talk, Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire Meeting Centres are based on researched evidence of what helps people cope well and adjust to living with the symptoms and changes that dementia brings.
As a response to the current cost of living crisis, Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire will be asking members to pay only what they can for their attendance from January until the end of March. All the funds raised will go towards the running costs and continuously improving the experience for Dementia Centre members.
Visit the Age UK Herefordshire and Worcestershire’s services website for full services available.