Support with the cost of living crisis
As the cost of living crisis goes on, we know many families are struggling, especially as the weather gets colder, and utility prices get higher. Our CEO Sally Polanski has issued a statement about how Amaze is supporting families during the cost of living crisis.
We’ve also updated and expanded our information here for you, to help you check you’re getting every bit of help you can, from organisations across Brighton & Hove and East Sussex, as well as national organisations and government support:
Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
If your child might be eligible for DLA (or PIP if they’re aged 16+), get that application in! We’ve got loads of DLA and PIP info on our website to help you put together the best application you can, including downloadable fact sheets, or you could attend one of our free DLA/PIP workshops.
In some cases we may be able to offer extra help with your application, for example if you have a disability or additional needs yourself, or speak English as an additional language. Call 01273 772289 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Carer’s Allowance is a weekly cash payment for anyone who spends at least 35 hours a week looking after someone who gets the care component of DLA at the middle or higher rate, (or either rate of the daily living component of PIP) but is not paid to do this.
Household Support Fund
This is a fund to help people who are struggling with the costs of food, heating and lighting, or water bills. This is a temporary fund created to help people during Covid-19, that has been extended again to March 31 2023. Councils in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex are currently accepting applications – don’t wait to apply, as once the fund runs out, it runs out. For more information and eligibility criteria, visit the following websites:
- Lewes and Eastbourne Household Support Grants – residents of Lewes district can also apply for the Lewes District ‘safety net’ fund
- Hastings Household Support Fund
- Rother – financial help for residents
- Wealden Household Support Fund
- Brighton & Hove Household Support Fund
East Sussex families can contact Sussex Community Development Association to apply for support from the fund.
Discretionary help from your council
Your council provides emergency help with accessing food, utilities and other essentials to people in certain circumstances. This will not usually be provided as cash, but instead as vouchers or food. Local Discretionary Social Fund (Brighton) | Discretionary East Sussex Support Scheme [DESSS]
Disabled Facilities Grant
A wide range of help for disabled people, including a Warm Safe Homes Grant, as well as grants to make adaptations to your home and assist hospital discharge. These are all non-repayable grants with a simple application process. Disabled Facilities Grant (Brighton) | Disabled Facilities Grant (East Sussex)
The Family Fund
The Family Fund gives grants to families across the UK who are raising a disabled or seriously ill child or young person aged 17 or under. The grants can be used for things like family breaks, computers and tablets, clothing or household items. They focus on families on low incomes so you will need to be in receipt of benefits or tax credits (see full eligibility online). If you have already received a grant from the Family Fund, you can reapply after 15 months.
They have also recently launched their Emergency Essentials fund, for children and young people who are facing exceptionally difficult circumstances – please note, you must be referred by a professional to get support from this fund.
The charity Contact provides information on their website about different benefits you may be entitled to.
They also have a benefits calculator you can use to check your entitlement.
Cost of living payments
The government has announced there will be further cost of living payments in 2023 to help with the cost of living if you’re getting certain benefits or tax credits. The payments will total £900 for eligible claimants and will be split into multiple instalments. There is also to be a £150 payment for people on disability benefits.
Exact details have not been confirmed by the DWP yet, but the gov.uk cost of living payments page should be updated when information about next year’s payments is available. (Currently it shows information about the payments in 2022.)
Money Advice Plus
This charity offers specialist debt and benefit advice, casework and support in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex. Some of their services have eligibility criteria, and you may need to be referred by social services or another professional. See the Money Advice Plus website for more information, or call 01273 664000 (Brighton) or 01323 635999 (Eastbourne).
They have recently launched their Lift Up project for people who are ‘just about managing’, who need help to manage on the money they have, via a combination of grants, specialist debt and benefit advice and financial capability coaching (for Brighton & Hove residents only).
Moneyworks (Brighton & Hove only)
This is a free service in Brighton & Hove, provided by a partnership of community advice agencies across the city. They can help with all money issues, including:
- fuel bill payments and vouchers
- debt and benefits help
- foodbank referrals
- getting a bank account
- getting online
Call their advice line on 0800 9887037 (open Mon 1pm to 5pm, Tues 9am to 1pm, Weds and Thurs 12.30pm to 4.30pm, and Fri 10am to 2pm).
HARC (East Sussex only)
Hasting Advice and Representation Centre offer a free service based in Hastings but covering all of East Sussex. Benefits advice and access to specialist money and debt advice. Opening hours (Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm)
Benefit Helpline 0333 344 0681 and HARC Advice Line 01424 428375
This is a national debt advice line. Contact them free on 0800 138 1111. There is also a wealth of information available on the Stepchange website.
St Luke’s Advice Service (Brighton & Hove only)
St. Luke’s advice service provides free advice, information and help with form filling in relation to debt, benefits and pension credit. Contact them on 01273 549203.
Contact your supplier
Ask to be added to their Priority Service Register. Each energy supplier offers a bespoke level of support depending on needs.
You may be eligible for a discount on your bills, or other kinds of help. Check their website for info about help they offer to customers who are struggling to pay their bills. For example: Southern Water | South East Water
Apply for an energy grant through the British Gas Energy Trust. The process can be convoluted but you do not have to be a British Gas customer to apply.
ScottishPower customers can also apply for the ScottishPower Hardship Fund by calling 0808 800 0128.
Many broadband suppliers offer cheaper rates for households on certain welfare benefits – ask about your broadband supplier’s social tariffs
SCOPE – Disability Energy Support
This national disability charity offers advice and information through their Disability Energy Support advice line and can signpost and help with application forms. There is a form on their website to apply for help (by email or phone appointment). If you have questions, call 0808 8003333 or email email@example.com.
Keep Warm and Well in East Sussex – Warm Home Check Service (East Sussex only)
This free East Sussex service helps vulnerable people on low incomes, and families with children and on low incomes, to get advice and support to keep their home warm. Get advice by telephone, or if you’re eligible apply for a free home visit from their Warm Home Check Service. Call 0800 464 7307, text WARM to 80011 or complete their online enquiry form.
BHESCO advice, home visits and energy saving kit (Brighton & Hove only)
Brighton & Hove Energy Services Cooperative (BHESCo) can offer free advice on switching and energy consumption to residents who are struggling to pay their energy bills. They can also carry out free home visits to qualifying households to install energy-saving measures, help in dealings with energy suppliers and give guidance on efficient energy usage in the home. Contact BHESCo by calling 0800 999 6671 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading: Energy Advice.
NEA – Warm and Safe Homes Advice Service (WASH)
National Energy Action is a national charity. They offer free impartial support and advice for vulnerable and low-income customers on energy bills and keeping warm and safe in your home, via their WASH advice service.
The service can help with:
- Support with gas and electricity accounts including fuel debt
- Warm Home Discount and Priority Service Register
- Switching suppliers & tariffs
- Energy efficiency and water rates
- Trust fund applications
- Benefits advice and income maximisation
Contact the WASH Advice Service by calling 0800 304 7159, completing an online referral form, or using the chat function on the Facebook page to speak directly to an adviser who can give tailored advice.
LEAP – Advice, home visits and energy saving kit (Brighton & Hove only)
The Local Energy Advice Partnership (LEAP) is a free advice service helping people keep warm and reduce their energy bills. LEAP works in partnership with Brighton & Hove City Council and has helped lots of people in the city reduce their energy bills. Advisors can:
- fit free energy saving kit in your home (such as lightbulbs and draught-proofing)
- check if you are eligible for insulation or a new boiler
- give practical advice on heating systems and saving energy
- help with switching
- arrange a free money advice consultation to help with benefits, debt and other money problems
To book a free energy advice phone call or home visit for yourself or someone else call free on 0800 060 7567 email email@example.com or apply online.
Energise Sussex Coast
Energise Sussex Coast is a community benefit co-operative, aiming to help residents in East Sussex to bring down the cost of electricity, gas and water bills and also to save energy and carbon. They offer an Energy Advice Service – book a free appointment by ringing or texting them on 01424 390 062 (local rates) or filling in their referral form.
Help with internet access
Brighton & Hove Jubilee Library have signed up to the National Databank to help people who are experiencing data poverty. They have SIM cards that are preloaded with data that they can give away to people age 18+ who are from a low income household who meet one of these three criteria:
- No or insufficient access to the internet at home
- No or insufficient access to the internet away from home
- Cannot afford existing monthly contract or pay as you go (PAYG)
You do not need proof and they have a stock of SIM cards from three different providers (with 3 different offers) so they can match you to the best option. Go to the main desk at the Jubilee Library and say you are there for the databank scheme.
Useful info if you are struggling to buy food, including how to get help from a foodbank:
Holiday Activities and Food
This programme is for those aged 4 to 16 who are in full-time education and receive benefits-related free school meals. During school holidays a programme of free activities is provided, along with a free meal: Holiday activities and food (Brighton) | Holiday food and fun (East Sussex)
Free school meals
Healthy Start vouchers
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 from the Healthy Start scheme.
Compass and i-go leisure discount cards
If you have a child with significant additional needs and haven’t applied for your Compass Card (in Brighton & Hove) or i-go Card (in East Sussex) yet, there’s no time like the present! The card is free, and gives you access to tons of great deals and discounts.
If you already have a card, now’s a great time to go check out all the amazing offers on offer and make sure you’re making best use of your card. Don’t forget to like the Facebook page to make sure you don’t miss out on the latest offers and special deals: Compass Facebook | i-Go Facebook
Discount cards for carers
If your child has a Compass Card and you live in Brighton & Hove, you automatically qualify for a free Carers Card (Brighton & Hove). This is a discount card to help you look after your health and wellbeing.
East Sussex parent carers can apply for a Carers Card (East Sussex) from Care for the Carers.
If you’d like to talk things through with one of our SENDIASS advisers, get in touch on 01273 772289 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We offer information, advice and support to parent carers and young people with SEND aged 14 to 25, in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex.
Council information on cost of living support
Brighton & Hove City Council and East Sussex County Council have both created pages on their websites with information for families who are struggling with the cost of living crisis:
Community Hubs are here to help people affected by the pandemic who have no one else to turn to. The trained staff in the hubs will listen to your needs and put you in touch with the group or person best placed to help locally: Community Hub (East Sussex) | Community Hub (Brighton & Hove)
Gov.uk help for households
The government has created a website with information for families who are struggling with the cost of living crisis: Help for households
Looking after yourself
For some families, we know the extra strain from the cost of the living crisis may feel like the last straw. If stress from debt or money issues – or anything else – is affecting your mental health, don’t be afraid to reach out for help:
- The Sussex Mental Healthline is a 24/7 telephone service offering listening support, advice, information and signposting to anyone experiencing difficulties with their mental health: call 0300 5000 101
- The charity Samaritans provides a confidential 24/7 helpline for anyone who needs to talk: call 116 123, email email@example.com, or use the Samaritans online chat