Skip to main content

Help with the cost of living

With rising energy bills and other costs of living, we have put together a one-stop source of help and information for local residents – from information about this winter's £400 energy bills support scheme, 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.  

If you are struggling and need help, please contact us, your housing provider or Citizens Advice North Herts for help. If you are in crisis, please call HertsHelp on 0300 123 4044.

Cost of living survey

If your health and wellbeing is suffering due to the cost of living, please take a few minutes to complete this survey before 31 March to help direct and improve NHS services in Hertfordshire: The Impact of the Cost of Living Crisis Survey.

Government's 'Help for households'

See what cost of living support you could be eligible for through the government's nationwide scheme which includes retail discounts and offers with major UK businesses such as Asda, information on income support and help with transport costs: Help for Households - GOV.UK

Hertfordshire County Council's 'Help to manage the cost of living'

The county council has also put together a webpage of resources offering advice and practical help to manage your finances and make savings while also helping the environment: Help to manage the cost of living | Hertfordshire County Council


Easing the squeeze - winter graphic

Energy & keeping warm

Energy bills support

Warm Home Discount Scheme

Reduce your energy bills

Warm spaces

Food

Food banks & other food services

Supermarket offers

Love Food, Hate Waste

Recipes for people on a budget

NHS healthy start

Free school meals

Utilities & household costs

Council tax

Broadband and phone

Water

Home grants

Travel

£2 bus fare cap

Petrol/diesel

Health

Healthy Hub

Help with prescriptions

Children

Tax-free childcare

Hertfordshire Holiday Activity Programme

Older people

Age UK Hertfordshire

Other support

General money advice and help

Looking for work, training or voluntary work


Energy & keeping warm

Energy bills support

The government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme is delivering a £400 non-repayable discount to all households with a domestic electricity connection to help with energy bills during winter 2022 to 2023. There is no need to apply for the discount, or contact your energy supplier, as suppliers will automatically deliver this support over six months from October. You will see a discount of £66 applied to your energy bill in October and November, and then £67 from December to March.

The government has also announced that low income households which claim means-tested benefits - Universal Credit, Pension Credit and tax credits - will get £900 split into three installments across the next tax year: £301 in spring 2023, £300 in autumn 2023 and £299 in spring 2024. People who are eligible for this support will be paid automatically, there is no need to apply. More information should be available soon.

Warm Home Discount Scheme

You could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2022 to 2023 under the government's Warm Home Discount Scheme. The money is not paid to you, it's an automatic one-off discount on your electricity bill, or gas bill if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity and you’re eligible. To qualify you should get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit or be on a low income (in receipt of certain means-tested benefits) and have high energy costs.

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.

Warm spaces

As it's more expensive to heat your home this winter, as well as your local library there are other Warm spaces throughout North Herts and Hertfordshire to help people stay warm.

Food

Food banks

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.

Supermarket offers

Iceland offer
  • Iceland - Letchworth and Hitchin

If you're 60 or over you can get 10% off your shopping in store at Iceland and The Food Warehouse with no minimum spend. To redeem you need to show your driver's licence or a senior bus pass/railcard.

  • Morrisons café – Letchworth

Kids eat FREE when an adult spends £4.99 or more on a meal – this is thought to be an ongoing offer.

Kids eat for £1 at all stores, all day, every day – offer until January 2023. FREE Ella's baby food pouches for under 18 months with any purchase.

Those aged 60 and over can also get soup, a roll and unlimited tea and coffee for just £1, all day, every day, throughout November and December.

Love Food, Hate Waste

Check out Love Food, Hate Waste for tips and recipes to save food (and money!) from the climate action charity WRAP including Nine ways to save money on your food shop.

Recipes for people on a budget:

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 their social media channels.

NHS Healthy Start

Healthy Start graphic

If you are more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, and are in receipt of certain benefits, you could be entitled to help to buy food and milk through a Healthy Start prepaid card worth £4.25 per week (£220 a year), to spend on healthy food and milk. If you are entitled to Healthy Start, you will also get free vitamins designed to help pregnant and breastfeeding women and growing children.

Free school meals

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.

Utilities & household costs

Council tax

The ‘council tax energy rebate’ scheme has now closed, whereby households in council tax bands A to D were given payments of £150.

However, the council has recently consulted on proposals to simplify our council tax reduction scheme, which gives a discount on your council tax based on the income of your household. The changes would provide additional support and greater stability to households on the lowest incomes, make the scheme easier to understand and access, and enable the scheme to work better with Universal Credit. If approved, any changes will come into effect from 1 April 2023.

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.

Broadband and phone

Mum looking at mobile phone with 2 children

With money tight, your broadband and phone might be something you consider doing away with - but there is support to lower your broadband and telecoms contracts. Firstly, are you out of contract? Ofcom reports that millions of people are out of contract for their phone, broadband and pay-TV, so could get a better deal. Additional help is also available for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits, but a significant amount of people eligible for these tariffs don’t take advantage of them. There are a number of comparison sites which Ofcom accredits to help you make an informed choice and get the right deal.

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. They have 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.

  • 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.

Home grants:

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 £20,000 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.

Travel

Bus graphic

£2 bus fare cap

The government has introduced a £2 bus fare cap meaning a single bus journey will cost no more than £2 on most routes across Hertfordshire, from 1 January to 31 March. The scheme is designed to support families through the cost of living pressures and also applies to the HertsLynx on-demand bus service.  

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.

Health

Healthy Hub

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 Fun with food with Creative Chefs as below. Numbers are limited so please book your place – pre-book online, email healthyhub@north-herts.gov.uk or call 01462 474111.

Watch what happens at a 'Fun with food' Healthy Hub session

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.

Children

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 through Tax-free childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every three months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year).

Hertfordshire Holiday Activity Programme

The HAPpy Activity Camps run by Herts Sports Partnership are for children and young people who attend a Hertfordshire school and are in receipt of benefits-related free school meals. They provide healthy food and fun activities during the main school holidays.

Older people

Age UK Hertfordshire

Age UK Hertfordshire supports older people by delivering services that help make later life a fulfilling and enjoyable experience. This includes providing local weekly 10 to 3 lunch clubs with a hot meal and opportunities to socialise. They also offer a reliable Handyperson service, carry out winter wellbeing checks and this winter can provide physical measures to prevent draughts and maximise heat dispersion and efficiency from radiators - these measures are free, funded by Hertfordshire County Council. For more information email Handyperson@ageukherts.org.uk or call 07951 105370.

Other support

General money advice and help:

Money

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.

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.

Step2Skills Adult learning and employment support runs a wide range of quality and approved courses for Hertfordshire adults aged 19+ aimed to help improve people’s lives. Courses are free or have a fee of £15 which can be waivered in certain circumstances.

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.