Help with the rising costs of living
If you are impacted by the increased costs of living, the following support is available.
This includes support from central government, the councils and our partners.
If you are at risk of eviction or being cut-off from by your energy supplier please access the help available as soon as possible.
Please check your eligibility before applying for support.
- On 20 September 2023, the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that households in the UK will receive £300 between 31 October and 19 November. This is the second of three payments totalling up to £900 for those eligible and on means-tested benefits, such as Universal Credit, Pension Credit, or tax credits, in 2023 to 2024, and eligible pensioner households will also receive a further £300 payment later this year as an addition to the Winter Fuel Payment. The payment will be sent out automatically and directly to recipients, meaning those eligible do not need to apply, contact the government, or take any action to receive it.
- On the 14 September 2023, the government launched the £1 billion Great British Insulation Scheme to help some families insulate their homes.. Families in lower council tax bands with less energy-efficient homes will be offered upgrades such as roof, loft or cavity wall insulation. Use an online checker for the Great British Insulation Scheme to find out if you are eligible.
- The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding scheme launched on Monday 27 February 2023. Details of who can apply and how are available below. Please note, this scheme has now been expanded to cover payments made from June 2022 onwards.
- The Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) has announced that that it has raised how much parents on Universal Credit can claim for childcare. The government is also helping eligible parents cover the costs for the first month of childcare when they enter work or increase their hours. Those parents will now receive up to 85% of those childcare costs back before their next month's bills are due.
These are safe, non-judgemental spaces where you can: sit and be warm, study or work on your laptop (with access to Wi-fi), have a hot drink, be with company, access advice or information on things such as debt, bills, benefits and food.
Cost of living support on GOV.UK
You can find out about many forms of support on the government website: costoflivingsupport.campaign.gov.uk.
Anyone in financial difficulty can access money and debt guidance for free via Money Helper UK: moneyhelper.org.uk.
Household Support Fund - Re-opened October 2023
Does your household need extra financial support? If you're finding it difficult to keep warm, buy enough food or pay essential bills, you may be able to get extra help. A further round of Household Support Fund grants is now open.
Lewes District Council 'safety net' fund
Lewes District Council is offering funds to residents on a low income who will miss out on the government's £650 cost-of-living payments.
Our 'safety net' payment is available to eligible residents in Lewes district who are struggling to keep warm, buy enough food or pay essential bills.
To qualify you must currently receive housing benefit or council tax reduction but not one of the means-tested benefits that would qualify you for a cost-of-living payment from the government. Alternatively you can claim if you do not receive a means-tested benefit but you have a low household income, as set out in the eligibility framework.
The safety net award is a one-off payment of £400, that will be paid alongside the latest Household Support Fund payment of £250 which opened for applications in October 2022. You only need to apply once to receive a payment of £650.
The funding is limited and will be paid out on a first come, first served basis.
Apply via our grants portal: grantapproval.co.uk
Or you can call the Lewes district freephone cost of living crisis number: 08081753990.
Energy Bill Support Scheme - Alternative Funding
This scheme opened on Monday 27 February 2023 to provide support to those that are experiencing increased energy costs, but pay for their energy as part of a larger charge, such as within their rent, or as a service charge for the property they reside in.
The government has announced on 12 April 2023 that it has expanded the Alternative Fuel Payment scheme, supporting more households using heating oil, Liquefied Petroleum Gas, biomass and other alternative fuels.
The government has increased the period of time that applicants can provide evidence of the purchase of alternative fuels by three months to June 2022, instead of from September 2022. This means those eligible for £200 Alternative Fuel Payment can now apply using receipts from June 2022 until May 2023. This ensures that households who purchased fuel in bulk ahead of the winter are able to receive the £200 energy bill support they are entitled to.
Eligible people can only receive the payment once. The eligibility criteria are:
- The dwelling support is being claimed for is the main or sole residential address of the beneficiary.
- The resident or applicant is responsible for paying for energy used in the dwelling, either directly or as part of a service charge, rent or other arrangement, and may, through these charges increasing have the impact of increased energy bills costs passed on to them between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023.
- The household dwelling is not already benefitting from EBSS payments in whole or in part.
- The household dwelling is not a business premises or other form of non-domestic premises, is used wholly or mainly for domestic purposes, with the exception of businesses whose main business activity is to provide long term residential accommodation (landlords, etc).
Due to this eligibility criteria, you may need to liaise with your landlord or managing agent before applying, to ensure the household is not already benefitting from EBSS payments in whole or part.
Applications will be made online through www.gov.uk/apply-energy-bill-support-if-not-automatic
If you have any questions about this scheme please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
if you are unable to apply online you can telephone: 0808 175 3287 on Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
As we are not leading on this scheme, our Customer Advisors will be unable to provide any further details.
£200 Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP)
If you don't have a contract for heating with a gas or electricity supplier and use alternative forms of fuel to heat your home, you may be eligible for a £200 Alternative Fuel Payment from the government. You are likely to be eligible for this payment if the main way you heat your home uses tank, bottled or liquid petroleum gas, oil, wood or solid fuel and you haven't benefited from the £2,500 energy price guarantee.
This payment is in addition to the Energy Bills Support Schemes above which give households a £400 discount on the electricity bills.
Most eligible households will receive the payment automatically from their electricity supplier. If you do not have an electricity supplier, you will need to apply for it. Applications open on Monday 6 March.
To apply for either or both of these payments, or to find out more, search "apply for energy bill support if you do not get it automatically" at gov.uk or call the helpline on 0808 175 3287.
Pensioners are the age group least likely to be claiming all the financial help available to them, including Pension Credit. This can provide thousands of pounds in extra help each year. Check if you can claim at www.gov.uk/pension-credit/how-to-claim
Emergency fuel vouchers are available for qualifying households in Sussex.
The vouchers (£28 for a single person and £49 for a family) are for vulnerable residents (ie. due to age or a health condition) on limited incomes or means-tested benefits and facing difficult financial circumstances and with a pre-payment meter.
Warm home check service
East Sussex County Council provide a warm home check service which is available all year round. It offers advice and support to anyone who struggles to keep warm at home.
The service includes:
- advice on getting help to pay for heating
- an assessment of your home to identify how to keep warm
- small works such as improving insulation or repairing boilers
- emergency temporary heating
For more information about the service and to check eligibility, visit East Sussex County Council - Keep warm and well
Warm Home Discount scheme
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy will be reopening of the Warm Home Discount scheme. The scheme provides a discount of £150 off, with most households receiving the discount automatically.
All customers will receive a letter between this month November 2023 and mid-January 2023 confirming their eligibility and the payment will be made automatically through energy suppliers by March 2023.
Check if you could be eligible for the scheme by visiting: www.gov.uk/check-if-youre-eligible-for-warm-home-discount
Help with local travel - Flexibus scheme
FlexiBus is a flexible, on-demand rideshare service, for areas with limited or no bus service. Residents can book a FlexiBus journey to their nearest town, train station, hospital and other key destinations.
FlexiBus operates exclusively for places not served by a regular bus service. You can't book a FlexiBus journey to travel along an existing public transport route.
Services run 7am to 7pm, Monday to Saturday (not Sundays or Bank holidays).
To find out more, visit East Sussex County Council's Flexibus webpage.
Help if you are at risk of your power being cut off
Citizens Advice have set up an Extra Help Unit for people who are vulnerable or at risk of being disconnected by their energy provider. They can help raise complaints with your energy provider - ehu.org.uk
Loans and grants to maintain your home
There are a number of loan and grant schemes available to help home owners maintain their homes. This includes the Disabled Facilities Grant, home improvement loans and grants to repair your heating.
Citizens Advice - other grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills
Citizens Advice have information about other grants and benefits to help pay your energy bill. This includes Winter fuel payment, Warm Home Discount, Grants to help pay off your energy debts and Cold Weather Payments.
Advice on reducing energy use at home
The Energy Saving Trust offer help to save money on bills at the same time as reducing your carbon footprint.
The British Gas Energy Trust is an independent charity set up to support families and individuals facing financial hardship and energy debt. You do not need to be a British Gas customer to access help.
Help with water bills
Southern Water has set up a Customer Hardship Fund to help their customers in financial difficulty to reduce their water your bills or write-off debt.
There are three different types of support available:
- Up to 50% one-year bill reduction for customers hit temporarily by hard times
- Debt write-off of up to £2,000 for customers who have managed to get back on track with payments but will never be able to repay their debt
- A grant of up to £1,000 to make improvements to a customer's home
To find out more including who is eligible for help visit:
Phone Southern Water on 0330 303 0368.
Water Sure is for households with 3 or more children aged 18 and under or have a person with a medical condition that means they use a lot of water.
Residents can find more information at Southern Water - Help paying your bill or by calling 0800 952 4000.
Help if you are struggling to afford food
If you are finding you can't afford food there is a range of support available through local authority and community services.
- Help if you are struggling to afford food
- - Lewes District Food Partnership leaflet
NHS Healthy Start
If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.
- Visit NHS Healthy Start Scheme to find out more
Help if you are struggling to pay your Council Tax or need to claim Housing Benefit
Depending on your circumstances, you may be eligible to claim Housing Benefit or a reduction on your Council Tax.
Exceptional hardship payments
The exceptional hardship payment fund has been set up to support our most vulnerable customers who have seen a reduction in the Government support which helped to pay their Council Tax liability or are suffering financial hardship due to unforeseen circumstances. Find out more at:
Help if you might get evicted
Discretionary housing payments (DHPs) help those who are in receipt of housing benefits or the Housing Element of Universal Credit (UC) to meet the cost of their rent. This is normally awarded where there is a shortfall between the eligible rent and housing benefit or UC. Find out more at:
Help with money and debt
If you are struggling with managing your money, debt or the causes of debt, there are several organisations that can help guide you.
Be Aware of Scams
Unfortunately, scammers are using the cost-of-living crisis to take advantage of those in need.
Anyone can be a victim irrespective of age, education or income and this can have a devastating impact.
Advice on how to spot and report scams:
- Get Safe Online
- East Sussex County Council - Scams
- Trading Standards - Scams Team
- Police - Action Fraud
Please help spread the word to others about scam awareness to keep vulnerable people in our community safe.