Help with the rising cost of living
Many people are worried about the current rising cost of living. Prices are going up and energy bills are climbing fastest of all.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you are struggling to pay your bills.
You may be entitled to extra government support or help from local services.
To make sure you are getting the right support, contact your local advice centre.
National government support
The government has introduced a variety of measures to help people with the rising cost of living.
For details of what support is available visit GOV.UK help for households.
Local support we provide
There are various grants available that can help with energy bills or getting home insulation installed.
They can also advise on ways to keep your home warm and your bills down, such as closing your curtains and tucking them behind the radiators (but not other heaters as this may pose a fire risk).
We are giving out packs of supplies to help you keep warm. These are for families, single adults and pensioners who are struggling to heat their homes to 18°C.
The contents of the packs vary but they usually include:
- a hat
- a blanket
- a hot water bottle
- a thermal flask
- a torch
- tea bags
Age UK are also working with us to give out a limited number of warm packs to people aged 65 and over.
Radiator reflector packs
We are giving out packs of panels which you place behind your radiators to reflect the heat back into the room. They help keep your home warmer and save you money by reducing the amount energy needed to heat it.
Each pack has 10 panels and you should use 2 panels per radiator. They are easy to fit but you can use our free HandyVan service if you need help fitting them.
We have a limited number of radiator packs and these will be prioritised for:
- older people
- people on disability benefits
- people with certain health conditions
If you do not qualify for a free radiator panel pack, they are relatively inexpensive to buy and available from most hardware stores or online.
If you are struggling to heat your home, we are supporting a network of community welcome spaces across the area.
These warm spaces offer a friendly welcome and are free to use, some offer hot drinks and activities. Search for one near you on our community welcome spaces page.
In addition, all libraries in South Gloucestershire provide a warm and friendly place to stay for as long as you like within our opening times. Many have coffee and tea-making facilities during our staffed hours.
All our libraries are open 7 days a week with additional unstaffed hours provided by our Open Access scheme.
Other household bills
For help with other household costs there are a number of funds and grants available, including the household support fund. Details can be found on our financial support for residents page.
There are ways we can help if you are struggling to pay your council tax. Check our council tax pages for more information on the support available, including how to apply for a council tax reduction.
Free school meals
Your child may be able to get free school meals in Year 3 and above if you get certain benefits.
Applying for free school meals can also bring other benefits for your child’s health, wellbeing and learning – including free holiday activities.
Other local services that can help
Free debt and money advice is available but always check the organisation you are taking advice from is registered with the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Some registered providers in South Gloucestershire are:
More money saving advice and help
There are ways you can help boost your income and reduce your outgoings to make your money go further. Below are some ideas.
Check you are receiving all the benefits you are entitled to
Millions of pounds of benefits go unclaimed every year. Check if you are entitled to receive any extra money using the government online benefit calculators. We also have information about the different benefits there are.
If you are 66 or over, check to see if you can claim Pension Credit which can be worth £1,000s a year, and is a gateway for you to receive council tax discounts, free TV licences for over-75s and more.
Cut your household and utility bills every way you can
If you are out of contract for your phone or broadband using a comparison website to switch could help you save money instantly. Check for social tariffs which offer long-term, low-cost contracts if you are on benefits.
Switching energy providers is more difficult and less likely to help in the current crisis. With some providers you can sign up for a price alert to tell you when prices come down. If your provider offers this service make sure you sign up.
Check to see if you qualify for a grant that will pay to make your home more energy efficient. This could include things like home insulation, double gazing, solar panels or a new boiler. This will help reduce your energy bills.
The Simple Energy Advice website has lots of information about ways to save on energy costs. You can use their home energy grants page to find out what grants you could get.
Change your habits to help cut your energy usage:
- unplug electrical appliances such as TVs and phone chargers when you are not using them
- only boil the water you need when making a hot drink
- consider alternative ways of cooking – a casserole done in a slow cooker uses far less energy than in the oven, microwaving a jacket potato can work out up to 10 times cheaper than oven baking.
- put lids on saucepans when cooking to save time and energy
- have a shower not a bath to use less hot water
There is more help on energy saving at home on the Warm and Well website.
Save on food costs
Your family could save with our tips on how to spend less on food and make what you buy go further:
- plan meals for your family so you only buy what you need
- love your leftovers by putting them in the fridge and using them for lunch
- make them go further by adding leftover vegetables or sauces to pasta or rice
- you can freeze more than you think – if bread goes off before you can eat it, put half a loaf in the freezer until you need it
- leave your skins on – you can eat most vegetables with the skin on, just give your carrots, parsnips and potatoes a quick wash before you cook them
- own brand products are often just as good but cheaper
- buy frozen not pre-prepared vegetables and fruit, they are cheaper and last longer
There is more information on our how to reduce and recycle food waste page.
The Cooking on a bootstrap website has budget recipes designed with simple and cheap ingredients.
Cancel all subscriptions you no longer use
Check you are not wasting money on things you signed up for but no longer use. For example magazine subscriptions, gym memberships or streaming services.
Go through your direct debits and standing orders and decide if you still need the goods or service and then check to see if you can get a better deal. You should cancel if you no longer need it and you are out of contract.
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Money Saving Expert Martin Lewis has compiled The Cost of Living Survival Kit bringing together lots more useful ideas on how to make your money work harder in these difficult times.
Want more help?
If you would like to talk to us and check what financial support may be available, you can call our freephone helpline 0800 953 7778 (open 8.45am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 8.45am to 4.30pm Friday)
Alternatively you can book an appointment by emailing OSSAppointments@southglos.gov.uk.
Our customer care officers will speak to you in confidence.
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