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 16 October 2023, the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) announced that more than three million households will be informed that they qualify for the Warm Home Discount. The automatic one-off £150 payment will help eligible, low-income customers pay their energy bills over the winter.
- On 20 September 2023, the 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 DWP has announced 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 £900 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 be in receipt of housing benefit or council tax reduction but not in receipt of any other means-tested benefit, unless you are also receiving a qualifying disability or carer's benefit. Alternatively you are not in receipt of any means-tested benefit but your household is on a low income, as detailed in the Household Support Fund 4 Eligibility Framework.
The safety net award is a one-off payment of £400, that will be paid alongside the Household Support Fund 4 award which opened for applications in April 2023. You only need to apply once to receive a payment of the Household Support Fund 4 and Cost-of-Living Emergency Fund
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.
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.