Cost of living support
We understand that the cost of living crisis is affecting many of us and we want you to know that you are not alone. You may want help accessing grants and debt advice, support getting all the money you're entitled to, or simply want to know more about the government's recent support fund.
We've put together some useful information in the links below to help you:
Rebates, discounts and benefits
- Council Tax Energy Rebate - payment has been made to all eligible properties and the application process has now closed.
- Discretionary Council Tax Energy Rebate - You will not need to apply for these payments as eligible households have been identified.
- Housing Benefit
- Discretionary Housing Payments
- Council Tax Support
Help with food costs
All residents in receipt of housing benefit (as of 5 October) will automatically qualify for £100 food vouchers in time for Christmas as part of a package to address the cost of living crisis. Everyone who is eligible will receive a letter from us, starting from the end of November, and will be able to download their vouchers immediately using the HUGGG website. Those unable to download their vouchers online will be invited to call the council and alternative arrangements will be made.
Foodbanks in Oxfordshire
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.
NHS Healthy start scheme
If you're at least ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, you might be able to get free vitamins and Healthy Start vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk.
Help for Households Campaign
Retail deals and discounts have been signed with various businesses, including Asda, Morrisons, Amazon and Vodafone and are designed to reduce costs at the checkout, help provide entertainment and ensure access to necessary services for families.
Find out how you can access help with bills, childcare, transport costs and more through the Help for Households campaign.
Better Housing, Better Health
Oxfordshire Better Housing Better Health is our partner who can provide free, impartial help and advice on energy efficiency. Contact BHBH If your household is struggling to pay fuel bills, or you want advice or information on any of the following:
- Saving energy and switching energy suppliers
- Things you can do to keep your home warm, dry and also reduce the cost of heating, lighting and running household appliances
- Grants and discounts that may be available to help with the cost of energy efficiency improvements, including insulation
Call Better Housing Better Health on 0800 107 0044 or email email@example.com. Sign up to the Better Housing Better Health Service's newsletter for the latest information other grants and offer that may be available to help improve your home and save energy.
Energy efficient grants and loans
- Grants and loans which can help with home energy efficiency improvements:
- Landlords can apply for our CHEEP grant to help improve their rented properties, provided they already meet the legal minimum energy efficiency standard.
- Homeowners in receipt of certain benefits can apply for our Essential Repairs Grant which could be used to help quickly replace an old broken boiler or other main heating appliance.
- Our Small Repairs Service can help homeowners and tenants aged 60 years or over with small jobs such as lagging an immersion tank or draught-proofing.
- Owners of homes needing major works can apply for a Flexible Home Improvement Loan.
- Warm home discount scheme
You might be able to get £140 off your electricity bill or a £140 voucher for your prepayment meter under the scheme if you’re either getting the guarantee credit part of Pension Creditor on a low income.
- Cold weather payment
You may be able to claim this 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.
- Sustainable Warmth Grants
You may be eligible for this grant to retrofit your home and reduce your energy bills. The current schemes run until March 2023 and aim to improve poorly insulated homes for low-income residents in properties with an Energy Performance Certificate (EPC) Rating of D or below.
- 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.
Winter warmers and Warm spaces
The Winter warmers project provides a warm meal to eat and another meal to take away. Currently funded from the Contain Outbreak Management Fund.
We are working with local partners to provide a warm space offer across the district, with venues available to drop into, enjoy the warmth, and meet people. The council is also looking to add activities and potential food offerings in these spaces.
Rent or mortgage payment support
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.
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.
Help, advice and support
- You can use an independent, free and anonymous benefits calculator to check what you could be entitled to. This will give you an estimate of:
- the benefits you could get
- how much your benefit payments could be
- how your benefits will be affected if you start work or increase your hours
- how your benefits will be affected if your circumstances change - for example, if you have a child or move in with your partner
- 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
- National Debtline
Advice on making the most of your money and dealing with high gas and electricity bills. Call 0808 808 4000 for free debt advice or use their Digital Advice Tool to get instant, tailored debt advice.
- The Money Advice Service offers free and impartial money advice to help improve your finances.
- Tools and calculators to help keep track and plan ahead are available as is telephone support 0300 500 5000
For free debt advice and support to get your finances back on track - call them on 0800 138 1111.
Mental health support
If you need to talk to someone on any topic regarding your mental health, there are local organisations that can help:
- Oxfordshire Safe Haven for you if you are over 18 and living in Oxfordshire.
- Connection Support is a local charity that provides flexible and tailored support and advice to adults and families.
- The Mind Guide – a mental health services directory in Oxfordshire.
- The Youth in Mind Guide – information on young people's mental health services in Oxfordshire.