Support with the cost of living crisis
With the rising cost of living, we know many of you will be struggling. Increases in the prices of utilities, fuel, and food have stretched already-tight budgets to breaking point. Now’s a good time to check you’re getting every bit of help you can.
Here’s what’s out there:
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 email@example.com.
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 until the end of September 2022. Don’t wait to apply, as once the fund runs out, it runs out. Household Support Fund Brighton | Household Support Fund East Sussex
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. The Family 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
It was recently announced you may be able to get a payment 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. This is money you don’t have to pay back. Read about these cost of living payments on the gov.uk website.
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).
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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 email@example.com 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or apply online.
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 email@example.com.
We offer information, advice and support to parent carers and young people with SEND aged 14 to 25, in Brighton & Hove and East Sussex.
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)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, or use the Samaritans online chat