Getting help with the cost of living
On this page you will find information and links to help if you are being deeply affected by the rising cost of living.
Please click below to find what help you can receive.
Benefits and government support
Make sure you're getting the right benefits SHOW
It's important to make sure you are claiming all the benefits you can and accessing government funding. Even if you are already getting benefits like Universal Credit or Pension Credit, there may be extra money you can get:
- You can access a benefits toolkit
- The free Turn2Us website benefits calculator can help you understand what you might be eligible for
- The Citizens Advice website has information about benefit calculators, so you can check you're getting what you're entitled to
- If you are eligible, you can apply for Housing Benefit or Council Tax reduction
- If you have No Recourse to Public Funds, you won't be able to claim benefits. Contact CLEAR Project or Citizens Advice Southampton for advice
- If you are a council tenant, the Welfare Rights and Money Advice team can help offer support and check you're receiving the right benefits
Get government support SHOW
Every household will get £400 off of their electricity bill as part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme. You don't need to do anything for this payment, and you won't need to pay it back. It will be added to your energy account over six months starting from October 2022.
The government has a webpage offering a wide range of support and links to offers and tips.
There are other schemes to support residents with various needs, including the Household Support Fund.
Bills, housing and living costs
I'm worried about paying my energy bills SHOW
The government has announced an energy price guarantee, limiting a typical dual-fuel household energy bill to £2,500. This is not a cap on how much you'll pay - your bill will depend on how much energy you actually use.
- The Energy Bill Support Scheme is offering eligible households £400 off energy bills this winter.
- Read about The Warm Home Discount Scheme, which could get you £150 off of your electricity bill, and eligibility for Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment
- Southampton Healthy Homes is the city's affordable warmth programme. It offers support and advice to residents who are finding it difficult to pay their energy bills
- The Environment Centre can help with advice on how to cut your energy costs and make your home warmer. Select the 'Get help' (contact us) button if you are struggling to top up your pre-payment meter
- British Gas Energy Trust provides grants for customers in utility bill arrears, irrespective of energy company
I'm worried about paying my Council Tax bill SHOW
If you begin to struggle with Council Tax payments, please contact us immediately. We can offer options that could help your circumstances, such as:
- Spreading your payments over 12 months instead of 10
- Adding a discount or exemption on to your Council Tax account. Find out more about discounts and exemptions
- Setting up a payment plan to pay the outstanding amount
- If you have a low income or receive a benefit, you may be entitled to Council Tax Reduction
Remember: If you apply for a discount after receiving a bill, you will still have to pay the full amount until we make a decision. If a discount is awarded, you will receive an amended bill within 15 working days after applying.
I'm worried about paying my rent or mortgage SHOW
If you are worried about how to pay rent there is advice at Worried about paying your rent?
It's really important to check you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to for help with housing costs.
- There is information about support with mortgage debt
- Visit the Citizens Advice website, which can help you check if you're getting everything you're entitled to
- If you can't pay your rent, speak to your landlord. Tell them you're doing everything you can to pay the rent and ask if you can come to an arrangement
- Citizens Advice has lots of information and advice about dealing with mortgage arrears
- If you are a council tenant, you can speak to our Money Advice Service
I'm worried about affording food SHOW
In Southampton there are many community and volunteer led projects that help people with food from places serving free hot meals, pay as you feel cafes and community larders to food clubs, pantries and food banks.
Use the big green button to find more information on:
- How to join a food membership club
- How to get referred to a foodbank
- Where to get free hot food
If you have a young child and receive benefits, you might also be able to get a Healthy Start card. This gives you extra allowance to buy milk, formula or fruit and vegetables. You can apply for a Healthy Start card on the NHS website.
I'm worried about debt SHOW
If you're finding it hard to pay your bills, we have a dealing with debt toolkit to guide you through how you can ease your money problems.
Further support services include:
- Step Change Debt Charity - a specialist debt charity
- Debt Advice Foundation - a specialist debt charity
- Money Helper - set up by government, they provide advice including tax and NI advice
- National Debtline - provides a four-step guide to preventing and dealing with debt
- Money Saving Expert mental health guide - provides resources to help manage the stress of debt
- Money Navigator Tool - provides help and guidance for your finances
- Money Adviser Network - free, confidential and independent debt advice.
I'm worried about other household bills SHOW
- Southern Water has a few different schemes to support you if you're struggling to pay your water bill. This includes discounts on your bill and help to pay off debt. They also offer WaterSure which allows you to have your water bills capped if you are on certain benefits
- You might be able to get a cheap phone and broadband deal. This is called a social tariff. Check Ofcom's website to see which deal is best for you.
I’m worried about transport costs SHOW
Whether you take a bus to work to see family and friends, almost everyone relies on some form of transport.
The most recent bus offers include:
Families and older people
I need support for my family SHOW
- If you are pregnant or have a young child, check what help you can get to buy food and milk – see Healthy Start
- If entitled, claim free childcare for your 2 to 4 year olds
- Check if your child could get a free school meal every day
- If you have a child five years old or younger, you can visit your nearest Sure Start centre
I need support as an older person SHOW
It's really important to check you're getting all the benefits you're entitled to, including Pension Credit. Visit the Citizens Advice website, which can help you check if you're getting everything you're entitled to.
Older people can also get help from Age UK Southampton with benefits checks and claims for Attendance Allowance and Pension Credit.
If you get Winter Fuel Payments and you're over State Pension age, you'll get an extra £300. This will come with your usual Winter Fuel Payment in November or December.
Businesses and employment
I need support for my business SHOW
The cost of living crisis in not just affecting individuals and households, it’s affecting businesses too. The cost of doing business is higher, due to energy prices and the rising costs for raw materials and staffing. At the same time, customers have less money to spend.
But the cost of living crisis also affects your employees and this adds another layer to the difficulties you are facing as a business. To find more information and support for businesses during the cost of living, visit our GROW Business pages.
Other advice and support
Independent advice and support SHOW
Citizens Advice have lots of information about getting help with the cost of living.
Advice in Southampton
Advice in Southampton offer free, confidential and impartial advice. Visit their website for more information and contact details.
They have also produced a series of YouTube videos about what to expect when getting debt advice.
You can view the full series here.
Frontline Debt Advice
Christians Against Poverty
Christians Against Poverty has money and debt advice, including how to build a budget and deal with enforcement agents. Visit the Christians Against Poverty website for more information.
Southampton Advice and Representation Centre (SARC)
SARC provides advice and representation around benefits and employment issues. SARC aims to ensure all members of the community can receive support and assistance from their specialist team of advisors.
Warm welcome in Southampton SHOW
As the national cost of living crisis intensifies, Southampton’s libraries and family hubs are extending a warm welcome to residents who are concerned about the cost of heating their homes and need a safe place to go during this challenging time.
Cost of living scams SHOW
If in doubt – check it out. Unfortunately, during these difficult times there are many scams circulating, targeting the most vulnerable in our communities. Be aware these scams will try to con you out of money. They may be received by post, email, telephone, text or face to face.
When times are hard it can be tempting to think an offer or some extra cash may be helpful. If it sounds too good to be true it often is. It is always worth checking if you are not sure, remember reputable companies won’t contact you out of the blue for bank details.
For more information on what to look out for visit Take Five.
How to report scams
Reporting to Action Fraud can be done online or by calling 0300 123 2040.
Latest scam advice
Specific information about avoiding TV Licensing scams is available on their website.
Never borrow money from loan sharks. Loan sharks are not regulated and are likely to add huge amounts of interest, costing you much more than you actually borrow.
If you think you or someone you know may have borrowed money from a loan shark, you should report it to Stop Loan Sharks.
Phone: 0300 555 2222 (lines open 24 hours a day, seven days a week)
Or text information about the lender to 07860 022116.
Concerned about domestic abuse SHOW
Additional pressures at home from the increase in cost of living can lead to issues around domestic abuse. If you are worried about yourself or another person you can find information on the support available.
Staying safe while making changes because of the cost of living SHOW
Hampshire fire and rescue service
Hampshire fire and rescue have some advice and guidance on how to stay safe during this time.
Mental health and wellbeing SHOW
Your wellbeing and that of your loved ones is really important. We know that financial worries can lead to stress and anxiety.
If you have urgent concerns about a mental health problem and need immediate help you can:
- Call 111 and select the Mental Health option – this is how to access the NHS urgent mental health triage helpline 24/7 for all ages. You can also go to 111.nhs.uk
- Call the Samaritans on 116 123 – for 24/7 telephone support
- Text “HANTS” to 85258 – for 24/7 crisis text support
- In a life-threatening emergency call 999 or visit A&E
You can also seek general advice and support:
Support for veterans SHOW
The Royal British Legion are offering some means tested grants for veterans to support them with energy costs. Find out more from the Royal British Legion.