Cost of Living Hub
We understand that you might be worried about the cost of living and you’re probably feeling the pinch. That’s why it’s important to know what help and support is available to you. We have a knowledgeable team at SLH who can provide you with advice and support and can signpost you to help available. Don’t suffer in silence, if you are struggling please contact our Income Team. Our specialist colleagues can help you find ways to improve your situation and manage your finances. Get in touch by calling 0300 303 8540 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We’ve created this hub packed full of resources and information which can help you make your money go further, as well as useful tips on healthy ways to save energy in your home and advice to support you through both good and bad times. We’ve also signposted to our partners and other organisations across the region who can provide additional support. We’re continuing to look for more ways to offer you support and will regularly update this hub when new initiatives are launched.
Support with Food
If you are struggling to feed yourself or your family there are organisations that can help. They are used by hundreds of people every week in Cumbria from all walks of life. Many food projects make use of surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, distributing it locally or turning it into hot meals. Foodbanks can provide emergency food parcels in a crisis. Details of your nearest foodbank in Cumbria can be found here.
There are also details of how to find support with your food and other useful information about the availability of Warm Spots during winter 2023, visit Electricity North West’s website: Help for your household (enwl.co.uk).
You can also find out more information and join Electricity North West’s free Extra Care Register – a dedicated service for households looking for a little extra help and support during a power cut. View the Extra Care Register Leaflet here.
There are also foodbanks available in other areas as follows;
Other food providers
Contact Details for other affordable Food Outlets and Foodbanks in South Lakeland can be found here.
Free School Meals & Clothing Vouchers
If you are on a low income, your children may be entitled to free school meals and clothing grants. For Cumbria You can check your eligibility here
Cumbria’s Holiday Activity and Food programme
Details of an exciting programme of fun activities for the Winter holidays can be found here.
Healthy Start Scheme
You might be able to get a Healthy Start card to help you buy certain types of milk, infant formula, fruit and vegetables.
To get the Healthy Start card you must be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4 years old. You must also be getting either:
- Universal Credit – but only if your household earns £408 a month or less
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance – but only if you’re pregnant
- Pension Credit
- Child Tax Credit – but only if your household earns £16,190 a year or less.
As well as help with the cost of food and milk as part of the Healthy Start scheme, eligible families in Cumbria can also apply for free vitamins. Details can be found here
Energy Bills Discount
You may be able to get up to 5 payments to help with the cost of living if you’re getting certain benefits or tax credits.
You do not need to apply. If you’re eligible, you’ll be paid automatically in the same way you usually get your benefit or tax credits. This includes if you’re found to be eligible at a later date.
Warm Home Discount
If you receive the Guarantee Credit of Pension Credit, or if you get certain means-tested benefits or tax credits and your property has a high energy cost score based on its characteristics, you may be eligible you could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2023 to 2024. Contact your supplier to find out if you qualify and/or find out more here.
Winter Warmth Fund
If you are a Cumbria resident aged 60 or over and receive the State Retirement Pension and/or pension credit or struggle to maintain a basic acceptable standard of living during the winter due to the cost of heating your home and the restrictions of cold weather, you may be eligible for a grant of £200, or £300 in exceptional circumstances, from the Cumbria Community Foundation’s Winter Warmth Fund. More details about the fund and how to apply can be found here
Winter Fuel payments
If you were born before 26 September 1957 you could get between £250 and £600 by way of a Winter Fuel Payment to help you pay your heating bills. For winter 2023 to 2024 only the amount you could receive also includes the Pensioner Cost of Living Payment of between £150 and £300. More information here.
Cold Weather payments
You could get a Cold Weather Payment if you are in receipt of certain benefits. You would then receive a payment if the average temperature in your area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees celsius or below over 7 consecutive days. If you qualify, you’ll get £25 for each 7 day period of very cold weather between 1 November and 31 March. The Cold Weather Payment scheme runs from 1 November 2023 to 31 March 2024. More information here
Keeping Warm and Well in Winter
Changes to our bodies as we get older often mean cold weather and winter bugs affect us more than they used to – but there are things you can do to help you stay warm and well. More information here.
For more information about the availability of Warm Spots during winter 2023, visit Electricity North West’s website: Help for your household (enwl.co.uk).
You can also find out more information and join Electricity North West’s free Extra Care Register – a dedicated service for households looking for a little extra help and support during a power cut.
Energy Saving Tips
We’ve been working with Energy Saving Trust to create Healthy Home Top Tips to help you save energy and maintain a healthy home.
Uswitch have also put together 103 energy-saving tips for your home. Tips that can help significantly reduce your household energy usage, in turn saving on your energy bills. These include;
- Turning your thermostat down by just a single degree can save you as much as £60 per year, and you probably won’t feel the difference.
- Use energy-efficient lightbulbs like LEDs or compact fluorescents rather than the commonly-used incandescent types. LEDs in particular use a quarter of the energy of incandescents and can last up to 25 times longer.
- Rather than boiling water directly on the hob, it’s quicker and more energy-efficient to use the kettle to boil water and transfer it to a pan on the hob for steaming and boiling.
- If you’re using the kettle to boil water, avoid overfilling it – this could save £11 a year on your electricity bills.
- Where possible, use a cold water or 30°C cycle. It’s only for particularly dirty clothes that you are likely to need warmer temperatures, and you can save energy (and around £28 per year) by limiting the hot water you use.
- Use a shower timer to help you save water and money by cutting time off every shower. A four-minute shower could save an average household £70 a year on energy bills.
- Move your furniture away from radiators on the wall to enable warm air to flow more easily and efficiently around the room
- You can install reflector panels behind your radiators so less warmth gets lost through the wall.
You can also find out more information on saving energy and keeping your home healthy by checking out our Healthy Home video and Handbook on our Healthy Home webpage here.
Energy Advice Support
For free energy saving advice in your area;
Cumbria – please refer to Cold to Cosy Homes
Lancashire – please refer to Green Rose
North Yorkshire – please refer to Warm & Well in North Yorkshire
Electricity North West in collaboration with Citizens Advice and Energy Savings Trust also offers a wealth of support from energy efficiency advice, debt advice to benefit checks, though there website – Home – Take Charge Campaign (takechargetoday.co.uk)
Help with Bills
United Utilities provides a range of help and support for people experiencing difficulties with paying their water bills. If this is you, please see how United Utilities can help
According to the Energy Saving Trust, on average, 16% of a household’s energy bill is from heating water for activities such as baths, showers, washing up and water-using electrical appliances. United Utilities therefore offer some water saving tips
Phone & Broadband
Seeking out the best deals on your phone, broadband and TV packages could save you money. See this advice for example, from MoneySaving Expert.com
For cheaper broadband and phone packages, Social Tariffs, or what some providers call ‘essential’ or ‘basic broadband’ are available for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits. For more details, see this information from Ofcom
Budgeting and Debt
For advice about making your money go further and the various ways you can do that here is a collection of guides to help you manage your money and save on your everyday household bills.
There are many ways of borrowing money, and they have different features. Knowing which is best for your specific situation can be difficult but it is important to consider your options before taking the plunge. Help and advice is available here
Credit Unions help people save money and can also provide loans at low interest rates. They are an alternative to payday lenders and ‘loan sharks’ and can help you avoid getting into problem debt. There are four Credit Unions in Cumbria:
- PCCU, recently merged with Affinity Credit Union, covers the whole of Cumbria:
- Carlisle and District Credit Union also covers the whole of Cumbria:
- Barrow & District Credit Union operates South West Cumbria:
- Whitehaven, Egremont and District Credit Union operates in West Cumbria:
There are also Credit Unions available in other areas as follows;
Should you require help dealing with debt, including where to go for free debt advice then a range of advice and information is available here
It is tempting to turn to Loan Sharks when you need quick cash but any money borrowed from such individuals can come at a high price and may lead to violence, threats and intimidation. If you think you or someone you know is involved with a loan shark help is available from Stop Loan Sharks.
- PCCU, recently merged with Affinity Credit Union, covers the whole of Cumbria:
Tax and Benefits
Find out about benefits you may be entitled to via this link if you;
- Have children
- Are sick, disabled or are a carer
- Are in later life
- Need help with housing costs
Grant giving funds are a form of financial help given to people with no expectation that they be paid back. Moreover, many charitable funds will help people who have No Recourse to Public Funds – and cannot claim welfare benefits. This tool from turn2US can be used to search for available funds
- Mental Health Support
Help with the cost of childcare
Details of the support available for families including help with Child Care can be found here
Help with Health costs
Although most NHS treatment is free, there are still some costs you might need to pay, for example, to get your prescriptions or to travel to your hospital appointment.
It is always advisable to take out home insurance to protect your furniture, belongings and decorations against fire, theft, weather, vandalism and water damage such as from burst pipes. It is also advisable to shop around for home contents insurance and therefore here is some advice about securing the best and the cheapest deals