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Help with household bills


Help with household bills overview video

New Supporting You service

We've launched a new holistic service to support those who are struggling with the cost of living. This is delivered by a dedicated team of trained advisors - our Supporting You team - who are able to support people with a range of challenging issues at once. You can contact the team on supportingyou@chichester.gov.uk or 01243 534860. For more information, read our .

 

Can I access help with my energy bills?

The Government has also announced plans to help households. Measures include introducing an energy price guarantee (opens new window). All households will also be given a one-off £400 discount on their fuel bills from October. This will be applied automatically to your energy bill. 


In addition, £650 will be paid to more than eight million low-income households who receive many benefits or tax credits. In the winter months, pensioners could get between £100 and £300 in Winter Fuel Allowance to help pay heating bills. In addition, this year all pensioners will also receive an extra one-off £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment, and payments of £150 to disabled people will also go ahead. These payments will be made automatically by the Department for Work and Pensions. (opens new window)

If you are on a low income, then the Government's Warm Home Discount (opens new window) could save you £140 off your electric bill during the winter months. Check with your electricity provider to see if you are eligible.

In very cold weather, people may be eligible for extra support. If you're in receipt of certain benefits and the weather drops to zero or below for more than seven days, you may be able to apply for a 'cold weather' payment (opens new window) from the Government.

Individual energy companies often have support and advice schemes to help customers struggling with energy costs and energy debt, some of these are listed. If your supplier is not listed, you could try contacting your supplier to ask if they have support schemes.

Ofgem, the UK's independent energy regulator, also has lots of information on getting help if you can't afford your energy bills. (opens new window) and the Energy Saving Trust website provides free energy tools and calculators (opens new window) to help you see how much you could save.

In addition, Electrical Safety First offers advice on saving money on energy bills while keeping your home electrically safe (opens new window). This includes tips on using portable heaters, shopping for electrical goods online safely, things to look out for when shopping for second-hand goods, and advice on running appliances at cheaper times.

If your energy costs are high, your household income is low and your home isn't energy efficient, you may be experiencing fuel poverty. West Sussex residents can get help from Arun and Chichester Citizens Advice service. You can call the team on 01243 974063 (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm).

We also want to make people aware of the organisations supporting the 'warm welcome' scheme. The mission of the initiative is to support organisations to open their doors and provide a warm welcome for those struggling to heat their homes this winter. You can find a full list of places and their opening times by entering your postcode on the Warm Welcome website. (opens new window) . In our area, a number of organisations are supporting this initiative.

Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Fund (EBSS AF)

 

The EBSS AF supports households who do not have a direct relationship to a domestic energy supplier. It supports these households as:

  • they do not hold a domestic energy contact themselves; or,
  • the intermediary who provides their electricity has a commercial energy contract, such as a landlord.

Eligible homes

You may be eligible to apply if your main home is:

  • A residential park home.
  • On a boat on a permanent residential mooring.
  • On a permanent Gypsy and Traveller site.
  • Part of a heat network without an electricity meter.
  • In social or private rented accommodation which has a business energy connection or a communal electricity supply.
  • Off the mains electricity or gas grid.
  • In a care home or assisted living facility and you pay for some or all of your care (directly or through loss of pension or other benefits).
  • In a separate domestic home within a non-domestic property (such as a farmhouse or a flat above a shop).

Before you start you will need:

  • An email address and phone number (if you have one).
  • Your bank account details (a UK current account in your name).

If you are not registered for Council Tax, you will need to upload proof of address. This can be as a bank statement or tenancy agreement.

If you live in a care home, you will also need to upload either:

  • An invoice for your care home fees from the past 3 months.
  • An official document from the care home, including your name and address, a funding statement and the name and address of the care home.

You can check your eligibility and apply online. You can also call the contact centre helpline on 0808 175 3287. A representative will guide you through the application process. The helpline is open 8am to 6pm on Monday to Friday.

You cannot apply if you have:

  • received the 6 automatic monthly payments; or,
  • prepayment meter vouchers of £66 or £67 from your energy supplier, from October 2022 as part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme payments.

The EBSS alternative funding scheme is open to all eligible households until 31 May 2023.

If you use alternative fuels for heating, you may be eligible for a £200 Alternative Fuels Payment (AFP) if both the following are true:

  • your household is not connected to the mains gas grid
  • you use alternative fuels as your main form of heating

This is on top of the £400 from your electricity supplier. You are eligible for this payment if the main way you heat your home uses:

  • tank or bottled gas;
  • liquid petroleum gas (LPG);
  • oil;
  • wood; or,
  • solid fuel

Most homes that are eligible for this payment will get it automatically as a credit on their electricity bills from February 2023.

You may not get the payment automatically if your home is either:

  • in an area which is mainly connected to the gas grid
  • not connected to either the gas or the electricity grid

If you do not get this payment automatically you may have to apply for this payment through the Alternative Fuel Payment Alternative Fund.
Applications will open on 6 March 2023.Please apply for the Alternative fuels for heating (opens new window) scheme.

 

How can I save money by making my home more energy efficient?

If your heating bills are very high, it may be that your home isn't very energy efficient, and that by making improvements, you'll be able to reduce your energy bills.

There are a range of grants available to help both householders and tenants to make their homes more energy efficient and comfortable. Landlords would also benefit from improving their property if their tenant fits the eligibility criteria. To see if you're eligible, contact Arun and Chichester Citizens' Advice (opens new window) or call 01243 974063 (Mon-Fri 10am-4pm).

An example is the Warmer Homes programme. To qualify, a home must have an Energy Performance Certificate of E, F or G (with limited funding for EPC D rated properties). If you're not sure what your rating is, you can find your energy certificate on the Government's website. (opens new window). If your home has never had an EPC and you think it is likely to have a poor standard of energy efficiency, please contact Warmer Homes who may be able to arrange for an assessment to be done. In addition, your household income also has to be £30,000 or less, or you need to be in receipt of means-tested benefit.

Funding under the Warmer Homes programme is available until March 2023, for improved insulation; air source heat pumps; and solar PV panels. If your home is connected to the gas network, funding of up to £10,000 is available. If your home is not on the gas network, funding of up to £25,000 is available. The Warmer Homes programme is available to both owner occupiers and private rental tenants. If you are a private rental tenant, your landlord will be required to make a financial contribution and give consent for the improvements. If you are a landlord, your tenant will be required to give consent for the improvement, and you will be required to make a financial contribution. If you are interested in finding out more, please visit the Warmer Homes website. (opens new window) or call 0800 038 5737.

 

What can I do to save energy at home?

There are lots of different things people can do to increase energy efficiency in their homes, which will not only save money but also help tackle climate change.

Even small DIY measures, such as fitting a hot water cylinder with an insulation jacket can save you £20 a year in heating and 150kg of carbon dioxide.

You can find lots of tips on our climate change web page.

 

What should I do if I'm struggling to pay for food, medicine and essentials?

We'd urge you to apply for support through the Community Hub (opens new window) at West Sussex County Council by calling: 033 022 27980.

If you are struggling to pay for food, the Chichester District Food Bank (opens new window) is available to assist. You can also access affordable food, learn low-cost cooking, and find support through Community Food Hubs (opens new window), which take place in locations across the district. Just bring a bag and a suggested donation of £5.00 for a selection of groceries and rescued produce. 

You can find lots of advice and downloadable fact sheets on how to access free or low cost food through the Arun and Chichester Food Partnership. (opens new window).

Free school meals (opens new window) are available to parents who are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, in West Sussex County Council maintained schools, free schools and academies.

The Healthy Start Scheme (opens new window) helps people who are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of 4 and in receipt of a qualifying benefit. 

 

How can I save money on my food bill?

There are a number of ways to help your food go further and save you money:

  • Freeze food like bread, milk and cheese - you can freeze almost any food, which stops it spoiling.
  • Buy what you need - writing a shopping list and sticking to it and buying single fruits and vegetables as opposed to large packets that you won't use, are all ways in which you can reduce the amount of food and money that may otherwise go to waste.
  • Check 'use by' and 'best before' dates - while 'use by' dates indicate that food cannot be eaten after this date for food safety reasons, 'best before' dates are more about the quality of the food. If an item of food has gone past its 'best before' date but looks fine to eat, then it does not need to be thrown away.
  • Make sure your fridge is at the right temperature (5 degrees Celsius) - fridges set to the right temperature can make your refrigerated items last up to three days longer.

There are more tips at Love Food Hate Waste (opens new window) where you can also find recipes designed for using up leftovers.

There are even some mobile apps that can help. OIio (opens new window) provides a platform for you to share unwanted food and other items within your community or to pick up leftover goods from stores or catering suppliers for free. Foodcloud (opens new window) connects supermarkets with charities and community groups. Through the app, supermarkets can upload a description of unsold food and a local charity will get a notification to collect it. Nowaste (opens new window) allows you to scan receipts and barcodes, log your weekly shop, make lists of what you already have, plan meals and receive automatic reminders about when food items are going to expire. Finally, there is Too Good To Go (opens new window) which lets you buy and collect 'Magic Bags' filled with surplus food at a significantly reduced price from local businesses.

You can find lots of advice and downloadable fact sheets on how to access free or low cost food through the Arun and Chichester Food Partnership. (opens new window)

 

Is there help available towards council tax payments?

We're urging those who claim Universal Credit to check if they are also eligible for help with their council tax, by applying for our Council Tax Reduction scheme. Council Tax Reduction is a means tested benefit and does not take account of outgoings. 

You won't automatically receive this, so if you think you may be eligible, visit My Account.

Whatever your situation, please contact us if you're struggling to pay your council tax bill by emailing taxation@chichester.gov.uk as there are different ways in which we may be able to help you. You can find out more at Council tax discounts.

 

Is there help to pay utility bills?

There are many grants, discounts, and assistance packages that you may not be aware of, including those offered by utility companies, such as Southern Water and Portsmouth Water. There are different types of support available. For instance, Southern Water offer up to a 50% one-year bill reduction for customers hit temporarily by hard times. They also offer debt write-off of up to £2,000 for customers who have managed to get back on track with payments, but who will never be able to repay their debt; and they offer a grant of up to £1,000 to make improvements to a customer's home. While Portsmouth Water offers debt support, as well as a new tariff for customers who have a low income or are in receipt of certain benefits. You can find out moreon Southern Water's website (opens new window) andon Portsmouth Water's website. (opens new window) There are also lots of water saving tips (opens new window) to help you save money if you're on a meter.

You may also be eligible for cheaper phone and broadband packages through social tariffs (opens new window). These are available to people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits. They're delivered in the same way as normal packages, just at a lower price.

It's also worth being aware that the TV licence fee has been frozen at £159 until 2024. This means households will not see any change to the licence fee until 1 April 2024. If you're over 75, you can find out more information on free TV licences. (opens new window)

 

Is there help available to pay for childcare costs?

There are a range of schemes to help people with childcare costs. These include:

  • £500 every three months (up to £2,000 a year for each child).
  • 15-20 hours of free childcare (depending on the number children you have).
  • Child benefit, which is available for each of your children (under 16 or under 20 of in approved education or training).
  • Holiday Activities and food programme.
  • National breakfast clubs in participating schools.

You can find details on the Government's website. (opens new window)

 

Can I get help with travel costs?

There are a few different schemes available to help with travel costs.

Buses:

  • Until 31 October 2023, the Government is running a bus fare cap (opens new window), 'Get Around for £2', with many routes charged at no more than £2 for single tickets. You can find more information on the Stagecoach website. (opens new window)
  • If you're of state pension age, you can get a bus pass for free.
  • If you're disabled then you may be eligible for a disabled person's pass.

Trains:

  • Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card: If you're on Universal Credit, you may be eligible for a travel card giving 50% off your travel costs.
  • You can get up to a third off train fares with a railcard, saving up to £142 a year on average
     

    Help to buy a bike:


    For more information about help with travel costs, visit the Government's website. (opens new window)

     

    Supporting You leaflet

    The rise in the cost of living has impacted on all of us in many ways. Whether you are struggling to pay bills, feel isolated, or are concerned about rising energy costs, the council and our partners are here to help.

    We have produced a new leaflet called Supporting You, which aims to highlight key information. This includes support for the vulnerable; help with finances; and energy tips, and you can read this here. Supporting You leaflet (PDF) [321KB]

     

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