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Cost of living and money worries

Information and advice

  • Government guidance on getting an extra payment to help with the cost of living if you’re entitled to certain benefits or tax credits

  • The Government have extended their Help to Save scheme for low earners until April 2025. The scheme offers a 50% bonus payment worth up to £1,200 over four years.
    See information below for local and national support and advice relating to specific topics.

      Help with food

      • If you can't afford to buy enough food, you may be able to get some short-term help from your local food bank. You will need a voucher to use a food bank. To find out where you can get a voucher, contact your local food bank or phone the Citizens Advice national phone service on 03444 111 444.

        Community pantries provide groceries at a lower rate than shops and supermarkets. Access to the Community pantry is through membership. Members make a small weekly contribution and receive food with a higher value than the same items would cost elsewhere.

        Find your local food bank or community pantry.

        • The Smart Living website has tips and ideas for making the most of the food you have and avoiding waste.
        • The BBC has a range of healthy recipes to help you Eat Well for Lessas well as £1 Mealsto help you prepare tasty, hot meals on a budget.
        • The Too Good To Go app allows you to ask for a surprise bag of food at a low price. The app makes use of unsold food from restaurants, grocery stores, cafes and shops that have not been sold in time.


        Debt and money management

        Debt and budgeting

        The organisations below offer free, impartial advice on debt and budgeting:

        Breathing space is a new government scheme which is designed to give you time to receive debt advice and find a solution to sort out your debt problems. Eligibility criteria apply.

        Always make sure you are claiming any benefits you may be entitled to.

        Gambling and debt

        Gamcare offers support and advice to those affected by gambling, including specific advice regarding money management.

        Economic abuse

        Economic abuse often occurs alongside other forms of abuse. Surviving Economic Abuse has information and advice as well as a Financial Support Line for victims of domestic abuse.

        Money worries and mental health

        • The NHS has practical advice on coping with financial worries.
        • Mind has practical tips on managing your money and improving your mental health
        • Money Savings Expert, supported by Mind, Rethink, CAPUK and others, have developed a guide - Mental Health and Debt - for people with mental health problems and those caring for them.
        • Mental Health and Money Advice has practical advice and support for people experiencing issues with mental health and money.
        • If you are receiving mental health crisis treatment and struggling with problem debt, the Mental Health Crisis Breathing Space scheme has been set up to create time and space for you to get the treatment you need, without having to worry about your debts growing or your creditors contacting you during your treatment. (Hampshire County Council residents can submit a referral form here).

          If you need support with your mental health and wellbeing, there are many local and national organisations and helplines. See our Mental health information page.

        Keeping your home warm

          • If you are struggling to keep your home warm,  and live in the Hampshire County Council area, visit the Hitting the Cold Spots web page or call the advice line on 0800 804 8601. The friendly Hampshire-based team will be able to provide a range of advice and assistance including one-off emergency fuel vouchers for pre-payment meters for people who meet certain eligibility criteria.
          • See information from Switched on Portsmouthabout help available for Portsmouth, Havant and Gosport residents. (See also SwitchedOnGosport)

          See our keeping warm in wintersection for more advice, energy saving tips and details of financial assistance that may be available.

          Free school meals

          Eligibility for free school meals depends on the circumstances of the parents or carers.

          Find out more from:

          Hampshire County Council
          Portsmouth City Council
          Southampton City Council

          Housing advice

          If you are having problems paying your rent or are worried about mortgage or council tax payments:

          Keeping your home warm in winter.
          If you claim benefits, you may be able to claim discounts or grants to help heat your home. More about keeping warm in winter.

          Repair cafes

            If you can't afford to replace something which is broken, or to pay for costly repairs, you could try visiting a Repair Cafe.

            Repair Cafés are free meeting places and they’re all about repairing things (together). In the place where a Repair Café is located, you’ll find tools and materials to help you make any repairs you need. On clothes, furniture, electrical appliances, bicycles, crockery, appliances, toys, et cetera. You’ll also find expert volunteers, with repair skills in all kinds of fields.

            Find your local Repair Cafe

            Broadband tariffs

            If you are on benefits and struggling to pay your monthly broadband costs, contact your provider to see if you are eligible to move to a social tariff. 

            Social tariffs are low-cost broadband deals offered to customers on benefits and cost about £15 per month. 

            Broadband providers are not obliged to offer social tariffs, but have been encouraged to do so by the government and Ofcom. 

            All those receiving Universal Credit are eligible, although some providers extend eligibility to those in receipt of other benefits, such as Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support.

            Further information from Ofcom.

            Short-term grants and advances

            The Department for Work and Pensions provides grants and short-term advances for people who already claim benefits, such as:

            You can check you are receiving the right benefits:

            Tax

            • Tax Help for Older People is a service from the charity Tax Volunteers providing free, independent and expert help and advice for older people on lower incomes who cannot afford to pay for professional tax advice.

            Furniture

            Use the internet to search for reuse organisations that may sell secondhand furniture and appliances.
            Here are some websites or organisations you could try:

            Gumtree - for secondhand furniture and appliances for sale.
            Emmaus Hampshire is a social enterprise which helps people out of homelessness.
            The Community Furniture Project in Basingstoke sells a wide range of used furniture.
            The Furniture Helpline in Alton provides affordable household goods, household furniture and white-goods at very low prices to those with a need.
            Jacob's Well Care Centre aims to provide furniture to those in need in the Gosport area.
            Search the Community Directory to find organisations that can help with furniture.

            Charity shops, such as the British Heart Foundation,are also a good place to start if you want to buy secondhand goods for the home at affordable prices.
            Some household waste recycling centres have sections where you can buy secondhand furniture.

            Financial help from charities

            • Some charities provide financial help such as grants or subsidised care in a care home. Often these charities are concerned with particular groups or occupations.

              Use the Search for Grants tool on Turn2Us to find out what charitable funds you may be eligible for.

            TV Licence 

            • The Simple Payment Plan was created for those in financial difficulty and who meet certain eligibility criteria.

              Qualifying customers can choose from either a fortnightly or monthly payment plan that spreads the cost of a TV Licence over 12 months. This means you make smaller payments more frequently. The Simple Payment Plan offers flexibility if a payment is missed, as it can be spread across the remainder of the plan instead of having to pay double the amount next time. If payments are missed three months in a row, customers are removed from the Simple Payment Plan.