Help with the cost of living

Cost of living support

Could you have missed out on some of the support that's available to help with the rising cost of living? 

We've put together some helpful information below to help you.

Rebates, discounts and benefits

Council Tax rebate

If you live in a council tax band A to D you are likely to be eligible to have received a £150 council tax rebate to help with the cost of living. This rebate does not have to be repaid. 

There is also additional discretionary fund (Household Support Fund) available to support vulnerable households and those on low income who do not qualify for the council tax rebate. If you think you might be eligible ring the council.

Benefits calculators

Use an independent benefits calculator to find out what benefits you could get and how to claim.

Dealing with high gas and electricity bills

National Debtline fact sheet

This National Debtline fact sheet details support that is available and offers advice on how you can try to make your living costs more manageable.

Government's Energy Bill Support Scheme

The government recognises that many households need support to help deal with rising energy bills. Through this Scheme, domestic electricity customers in Great Britain will receive a £400 grant which will appear as a credit from energy suppliers from October 2022 onwards. This will not need to be repaid.

Read more about the government's Energy Bill Support Scheme.

Warm home discount

You might be able to get £140 off your electricity bill or a £140 voucher for your prepayment meter under the Warm Home Discount Scheme if you’re either getting the guarantee credit part of Pension Creditor on a low income. 

Cold weather payment

You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits or Support for Mortgage Interest.

Winter fuel payment

If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a winter fuel payment. More information is available on gov.uk - winter fuel payment.

Phones and broadband

If you are having difficulty paying for phone or broadband service, speak to your provider as soon as possible to see how they might help you. Some providers are able to offer a social tariff (for as little as £10) which is a cheaper package offered to those on certain benefits, such as universal credit. 

If you are not eligible for this help and your contract is finished, it is worth looking at the comparison sites (make sure that it is credited by Ofcom) and then seeing if your provider will match the price. 

Foodbanks

Food banks are grassroots, community organisations aimed at supporting people who cannot afford the essentials in life. Local food banks work with referral agencies to issue food vouchers to those in need of emergency food in times of crisis.

Use The Trussel Trust website to find your nearest foodbank.  Your local foodbank will provide advice on visiting the food bank and how to get a food voucher.

More help and advice is available from The Trussel Trust helpline: 0808 208 2138.

Support with rent or mortgage payments

The support available to you will depend on whether you’re in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit.

Housing Benefit or Housing Cost element of Universal Credit claimants

You can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment if the benefit doesn’t cover your rent.

Private tenants (not in receipt of these benefits)

Shelter offer help on how to approach the issue with your landlord, as well as offering support if you face eviction.

Homeowners

If you’re a homeowner who’s unable to pay your mortgage, you should call your provider as a matter of urgency. Get in touch with Citizen's Advice who can help you to claim Support for Mortgage Interest from the government (if you’re eligible) and also talk you through any legal proceedings that may arise if you’re in mortgage arrears.

Debt and money advice

National Debtline 

National Debtline provide a Digital Advice Tool to get instant, tailored debt advice.

Money Advice Service

The Money Advice Service offers free and impartial money advice. Set up by government, it can provide:

  • Advice and guides to help improve your finances
  • Tools and calculators to help keep track and plan ahead
  • Support over the phone and online
  • Telephone support: 0300 500 5000

StepChange

Stepchange offer free debt advice online and provide support to get your finances back on track. 

Visit the Stepchange website or call them on 0800 138 1111.

Help and advice

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice provides confidential support and advice to assist people with legal, debt, consumer, housing, and other problems. Here are the details for the local offices:

  • Banbury: Cornhill House, 26 Cornhill, Banbury, OX16 5NG.
    Telephone: 01295 221 448 
  • Bicester: The Garth, Launton Road, Bicester, OX26 6PS
    Telephone: 0344 411 1441

Additional support and guidance can be found on the local Citizens Advice website.

Help paying bills using your benefits

Did you know that you can have some of your bills (including rent, services charges, fuel or water bills) paid directly out of your benefits payments if you’re having difficulties. This is called ‘third party deductions’ and sometimes Fuel Direct. More information, including how to apply can be found on Gov.UK bills and benefits website.

Other organisations that can help

There are many advice organisations within the district and county that can offer help including

  • The Samaritans offer a 24-hour listening and support for those in need. Call 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org.
  • Refuge - confidential, non-judgemental information and expert support for victims of domestic violence. Contact 0808 2000 247.
  • Family Lives (formerly Parentline) for emotional support, information, advice, and guidance on any aspect of parenting and family life. Call 0808 800 2222.