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Following the rise in energy bills and other costs of living, we have put together a one-stop source of help and information for local residents – from who is eligible for the £150 council tax rebate and how to get your hands on it, to finding your nearest food provision service and the cheapest fuel.

Some of the information is specific to North Herts, and some is more general.

Information was correct at the time of publishing and we cannot accept any responsibility for third party information or actions.  

Scam warning

Criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated in their attempts to take advantage of the financial worries people are facing. Do not give your bank account details to anyone cold-calling you, and only follow advice from the council for claiming your council tax energy rebate. Find out more: Scams - Citizens Advice.

Easing the squeeze logo

Easing the squeeze

Council tax energy rebate

Food

Healthy Hub

Children's holiday provision

Tax-free childcare

Reduce your energy bills

Home grants

Business grants

Money advice and help

Help with prescriptions

Water

Petrol/diesel

Looking for work, training or voluntary work

Council Tax energy rebate

All councils in England will be giving a one-off £150 ‘council tax energy rebate’ to all households in bands A to D. This follows a government announcement in February to help protect millions of households from rising energy costs.

If you pay your council tax via Direct Debit (DD) you will automatically receive the £150 after you have made your first DD payment in April (to validate the bank account). There are five DD dates in April so the date of your rebate will be 10-15 days after the date of your usual DD.

If you don’t pay by Direct Debit, you will receive a letter advising you to apply for the payment on this website – Council tax rebate 2022. These payments are likely to take longer to process as more checks are required before payment can be made.

If your home is in council tax bands E to H, there is a discretionary scheme for the energy rebate for those on a low income – please look out for further information on this soon.

If you are struggling to pay your council tax, or any council related bills, please contact us asap so we can help and discuss your options – the sooner the better.

Food

There are a number of food banks and food provision services in North Herts.

Watch our short video on North Herts Food Provision Network, illustrating how the council has worked with organisations across the district to help local communities through the pandemic and now with the cost of living crisis.

Every child in the first three years of primary school can receive free school meals via Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) regardless of family income. For older children, eligibility for free school meals is dependent on family income, but there may be exceptions. Information about provision during school holidays will be promoted at the time by your school and HCC.

There are lots of ways to save money and make your food go further, including:

Recipes for people on tight budgets and those using free school meal vouchers – “Pocket-friendly, easy-peasy recipes for mega-tasty, super-filling, hearty home cooked grub!”

Jack aka Bootstrap Cook is a former foodbank user and food poverty campaigner who’s carved a career out of sharing budget recipes designed with the simplest, cheapest ingredients. Check out the Cooking on a bootstrap website or her social media channels.

Healthy Hub North Herts

The Healthy Hub North Herts is a one-stop shop where you can access practical help and support for a range of issues that affect your health and wellbeing. Whether you’re feeling lonely or isolated, need help with accessing food support or if you are looking for some advice on staying healthy and well, the Healthy Hub can help.

The Hub provides free fortnightly sessions in Letchworth, Hitchin and Royston, providing support through activities for adults and children such as the Creative Chef session below. Numbers are limited so please book your place – email healthyhub@north-herts.gov.uk or call 01462 474111.

Children's holiday provision

The Hertfordshire Holiday Activity Programme (HAPpy camps) provides free activity camps during the main school holidays, including summer 2022. Children entitled to benefit-related free school meals will also receive a free, healthy meal on the day.

Tax-free childcare

You can get up to £500 every three months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every three months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year). Find out more: Tax-Free Childcare - GOV.UK

Reduce your energy bills

  • HEAT app
Someone using the HEAT app on their mobile phone

Did you know you could save up to around £70 a year on your fuel bills just by using the Herts Energy Advice Tool (HEAT) app? This easy-to-use energy saving app is for all Hertfordshire residents and available for free from Apple and Android app stores for your phone or tablet. The app is designed to take you through your home, room by room, to answer questions to identify how you may be able to reduce your energy use, and in turn save you money.

Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert team has investigated the cheapest ways of keeping yourself warm, rather than your whole home. This guide provides some options and information for those looking to cut down on energy use for financial reasons and/or to help the planet. It includes a table of heating methods from hot water bottles to electric blankets, their initial cost and cost per hour.

Home grants

  • Green Homes Grant (Warmworks)

If you find your home hard to heat and worry about your energy bills, this government grant scheme can fund a range of energy efficiency measures including:

  • wall insulation
  • loft insulation
  • renewable heating systems (such as air source heat pumps)
  • double/triple glazing (to replace single glazing)
  • energy efficient doors
  • thermostats and heating controls.

We are working in partnership with Warmworks so if you want to check if you qualify for any assistance please complete a short online survey or call 0808 196 8255.

The council has limited funding to assist extremely vulnerable residents with urgent repairs, such as a broken boiler, or disrepair that is deemed an imminent risk to health and welling. Grants of up to a maximum of £5,000 are means tested and only households with an income of below £20k can be considered. Each case will be assessed on its own merit. For more information about this grant please contact the council on 01462 474000.

These mandatory grants are available to residents who need to make changes to their accommodation to enable them to continue to live independently. The grants up to a maximum of £30,000 (subject to a means test) are available to owner/occupiers and tenants for adaptations and/or facilities. These grants are delivered on behalf of the council by Herts Home Improvement Agency – contact them on 01438 843467.

Shop with an open sign

Business grants

The only business support scheme available from the council at the moment is for grants of up to £10,000 for businesses impacted by Covid restrictions for specific and general business advice provided by Hertfordshire Growth Hub, the county’s flagship business support provider powered by Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Money

Money advice and help

This is an independent local charity offering free, confidential and impartial information and advice on a range of issues including benefits, debt, budgeting, housing, relationships and employment.  They provide face-to-face advice in Letchworth, Hitchin and Royston and via email, telephone and video call.  The best way to contact them is to use the form on their website or call 01462 689801. 

HCC’s Money Advice Unit has a number of resources to help you with your money, including a simple to use benefit and budgeting calculator, information on all major benefits and factsheets for pensioners, families with disabled children, people who are unfit for work, students and young people. Follow the link above to further information from Adult Care Services and voluntary organisations, such as a debt solution finder and information about care costs for older people.

Credit unions provide ethical financial services at reasonable cost to individuals and small businesses, and Black Squirrel services those within North Herts and some surrounding villages in Central Bedfordshire. You can save money safely and borrow money affordably.

Help with prescriptions

Did you know, if you regularly pay prescription charges, a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) could save you money? Or, if you have a low income you may qualify for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme. In addition, some groups are automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions, and others can apply for certificates that entitle them to free NHS prescriptions.

Water

  • Affinity Water

If you are having trouble paying your water bill, Affinity Water would like to let you know that they are here to help. Affinity Water has a number of schemes in place to help make things a little bit easier, such as spreading costs with payment plans or fixing the amount you pay. Find out more: Help with paying your bill - Affinity Water

  • Anglian Water

Depending on your situation, customers of Anglian Water could be eligible for a discount of up to 50% on their water charges, with different tariff options available. They have a specially trained Extra Care support team that can create personalised payment plans to help you budget, give you some breathing space if you need extra time to pay, and guide you towards other help and benefits available. Find out more: Water Care | Anglian Water

Petrol/diesel

There are lots of different websites and apps to find the cheapest fuel in your area – Money Saving Expert recommends Petrol Prices | Find the Cheapest Fuel Near You, just register and follow the steps.

Looking for work, training or voluntary work

Are you currently out of work or looking at how you might expand your experience to help aim higher? Local organisation Create Community could help you establish a healthy mindset and wellbeing in order to take steps like learning new skills, taking on new responsibility or commitment, such as volunteering, and finding and securing employment.