Cost of Living Support

Whether you are struggling to pay bills or are concerned about food and rising energy costs we have a range of support available to help you through the current cost of living pressures many people are experiencing.  

The Government has a ‘Help for Households’ programme which includes information on discounts, support and offers by national shops and stores.

West Sussex County Council Community Hub 

The Community Hub is open 7 days a week and can help households with the costs of fuel or food bills through the Government’s Household Support Fund. Visit the Community hub website or call 033 022 27980 for information on how to access the fund and where to get further advice. 

Support & Advice for Residents

Find out more about the range of help and support services available and some of the key schemes you may be able to access. 

Food Support

Many residents in Mid Sussex are concerned about the cost of living crisis facing them and worry about getting food for themselves or their families. If you need help to access food there are a number of local options available.

Food Banks, Low Cost and Free Food 

Mid Sussex Voluntary Action who lead on the Mid Sussex Food Partnership group have created a dedicated webpage to signpost you to a range of local community support.  

The webpage provides information on food banks, how to access low cost and free food, food saving ideas and other forms of support such as NHS healthy start vouchers. You can find all this information on their website. 

Website: Get Help with Food - where to turn for support (msva.org.uk) 

Call: 07887 325816 (Food partnership co-ordinator) 

Email: sara.smart@msva.org.uk 

NHS Healthy Start Scheme  

If you’re over 10 weeks pregnant or have children under the age of 4, you may be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme which provides regular payments to spend on fruit, vegetables and milk, as well as free vitamins.  

Find further information including eligibility criteria on the Healthy Start Scheme website and details of how to apply. 

Call: 0300 330 7010 

Email: healthy.start@nhsbsa.nhs.uk 

Website: https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk 

Free School Meals 

These are available to parents in receipt of a qualifying benefit with children attending West Sussex County Council maintained schools, free schools and academies. You can find more information on free school meal eligibility and how to apply on the West Sussex County Council website.  

Call: 0330 222 5555 

Email: fsm@westsussex.gov.uk 

Website: West Sussex CC Free School Meals  

Saving Money on Your Food Bills 

You can find lots of information and advice on saving money on your food bills, food storage, using up leftovers and food sharing apps, Community Fridges and Food Banks in the Food Recycling section of our Community Recycling webpage 

Heating and Warmth

Energy Bills Support Scheme (automatically applied) 

Provides £400 non-repayable discount to all households with a domestic electricity connection to help with their energy bills over winter 2022 to 2023. This is an automatic discount applied to your monthly household electricity bill.  

Website:https://www.gov.uk/guidance/getting-the-energy-bills-support-scheme-discount 

Warm Home Discount Scheme (energy bill help) 

The Warm Home Discount has been increased to £150 off electricity bills for the winter of 2022/2023 and the eligibility criteria will be extended by almost a third and will benefit up to three million vulnerable households. Most households will receive the discount automatically through energy suppliers and a letter confirming their eligibility.

The Government has launched a new online tool to make it easier for the public to check eligibility.

Call: 01243 974063 (Citizens Advice)

 

Cold Weather Payment 

You may be entitled to a Cold Weather Payment if you are getting certain benefits or support for mortgage interest and the average temperature in your area is recorded as or forecasted to be zero degrees Celsius of below for 7 consecutive days. You can find out more on the Government’s Cold Weather Payment page 

Website: https://www.gov.uk/cold-weather-payment 

Winter Fuel Payment (if born before 25 Sept 1956) 

If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’. You can find out more on the Government’s Winter Fuel Payment page  

Website: https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment 

Energy Support

Advice for Energy Costs

Citizens Advice Energy Team 

Any resident in Mid Sussex can access FREE tailor-made energy advice, available to all housing tenancies. The energy advice is provided by the Arun and Chichester advisers. They can help with checking the best energy tariffs, energy and household debts, local and national schemes, grant funding and accessing relevant community services. Simply call the energy line (local call rates apply). 

Call: 01243 974063 (Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm) 

Email: energy@arunchichestercab.org.uk 

West Sussex Affordable Energy 

You can find a range of trusted information from local services on the West Sussex affordable energy website. Simply select the ‘advice’ section, followed by ‘Mid Sussex District Council support’. There is also energy saving tips, heating grants and up to date information from the latest government schemes. 

Visit: www.westsussexenergy.co.uk 

Ofgem (support and guidance with your energy bills and supplier) 

Ofgem are the energy regulator for Great Britain. They provide guidance and support for you to understand what help you are entitled to, your energy rights, advice if you need extra help, have difficulties with your supply or want to complain. There are also tips on switching suppliers, government grants, benefits and energy efficiency schemes.  

Website: https://www.ofgem.gov.uk/information-consumers 

Energy Debt & Arrears

Step Change debt charity can provide help and advice if you’re worried about not being able to keep up to date with energy payments or you already have arrears on your energy bills. You can get debt advice online 24/7 or if you prefer to speak to someone call their debt advice helpline.  

Call: 0800 138 1111 (Monday-Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday 8am-4pm) 

Website: Need Help With Gas or Electricity Bills? StepChange 

Energy Company Support Schemes 

Many energy companies provide advice and support schemes to assist customers who are struggling with energy cost and energy debt. Try contacting your supplier to ask if they have a support scheme in place. 

If you are unsure who your energy supplier is you can find help and support on the Ofgem website 

Improving Energy Efficiency 

Free Home Energy Visits 

LEAP – Local Energy Advice Partnership provide FREE support for lower income households across West Sussex.  

They offer Home Energy visits with free energy saving measures installed. Also there is a telephone support for money advice, information and referrals to other services, schemes & grants and support with bills. 

Call: 0800 060 7567 

Email: support@applyforleap.org.uk 

Visit: Applyforleap.org.uk 

Free Energy tools and calculators from the Energy Savings Trust 

The Energy Savings Trust provides free energy tools and calculators to help you manage your energy use. There is also information and advice on all aspects of home energy use, home energy efficiency measures, financial support and the benefits of smart meters and how they work. 

Website: https://energysavingtrust.org.uk/energy-at-home 

Warmer Homes Programme (energy efficiency improvement grant) 

The Warmer Homes programme offers a range of energy-efficiency improvements up to £25,000 per household for eligible Mid Sussex residents. Available until March 2023 it includes insulation, solar PV panels and air source heat pumps. 

Funding is offered on a first-come, first-served basis and applications take no longer than 5 minutes! Further information including eligibility criteria can be found on the Warmer Homes website. 

Call: 0800 038 5737 (freephone) 

Website: www.warmerhomes.org.uk/programme and click ‘apply now’  

Help with Housing

Housing Benefit and Discretionary Housing Payments 

Universal Credit is a benefit for people of working age on a low income administered by the Department for Work and Pensions. It is a single monthly payment intended to cover the cost of living costs such as rent and bills for those on low incomes or those out of work or unable to work.  Find out more on our Universal Credit webpage 

Those of state pension age and/or living in supported sheltered or temporary accommodation will not be eligible for Universal Credit but can apply for Housing Benefit instead. Find out more on our Benefits and Council Tax Support webpage 

Discretionary Housing Payments are not the same as Housing Benefit. They are special payments that come from a separate cash-limited fund and a way of helping you if the Housing Benefit or Universal Credit (Housing Costs element) you get is not enough to pay your rent.  

Find out more about them and how to apply on our Discretionary Housing Payments page 

Homeless Households and Housing Advice 

Our housing options team can provide help and advice to those who consider themselves homeless or threatened with homelessness. Please visit our homelessness and housing advice page for more details.

Housing Related Support 

Supported housing or 'housing related support' is available to people with a wide range of support needs. More information about the support services available can be found on our housing support page  

Mortgage Support and Advice 

If you are in mortgage arrears or have problems paying your mortgage visit the Government’s Money Helper website for lots of helpful advice.

Benefits Support

If you are struggling to pay your bills or rent visit our benefits pages where you can find details of a range of support available.  

Council Tax Support 

Council Tax Support is a benefit given out by your local Council. Help may be available with Council Tax payments in two ways, firstly for those on low incomes or via a second adult rebate based on the income of certain adults in your household. You can find further information, help and advice about the support scheme on our Benefits and Council Tax Support pages. 

Pension Credit 

Find out if you or someone you know could get Pension Credit to top up your weekly income if you are over state pension age. Receiving pension credit can also give you access to additional help, such as help with heating bills, housing costs and a free TV licence if you’re over 75. Visit the Citizens Advice 

Benefits Calculators 

There are a number of free independent benefits calculators available to help you find out what you may be entitled to: 

Citizens Advice – A free benefits calculator to help you find out what benefits you can claim. Details you provide are anonymous. 

Call: 0808 278 7969 

Website: www.advicewestsussex.entitledto.co.uk/home/start 

Entitled To – Free independent benefits calculator for individuals which provides you with an estimate of your entitlement to benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit. 

Website: https://www.entitledto.co.uk/ 

Turn2Us – a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially. They provide an A-Z of benefits, benefits calculator and grants search facility.   

Website: https://www.turn2us.org.uk/Get-Support  

Bills, budgeting and finance

Broadband and Phone  

Social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits. Some providers call them ‘essential’ or ‘basic’ broadband. They’re delivered in the same way as normal packages, just at a lower price.  Find further information including a list of broadband and phone social tariffs on the Ofcom website. 

Website: Cheaper broadband and phone packages - Ofcom

Water Bills 

Water companies understand that people can struggle to pay their bills and fall into debt at times. If this happens to you, contact your water company and explain your situation so that they can provide you with the best support they can offer.  

Many water companies run hardship schemes to help with bills and can also offer water saving tips and advice. You can find more information on the CCW website (CCW is the independent voice for water consumers in England and Wales). 

Website: Households | CCW (ccwater.org.uk)   

Water Saving Advice 

Find out how and where you use water in your home and discover easy ways to make savings on the Water Fit website. 

Website: GetWaterFit 

TV licence 

The TV licence fee has been frozen at £159 until 1 April 2024. You may be entitled to a free TV licence if you are aged over 75 years. Find more information on the TV licence website. 

Website: Over 75 TV Licence - TV Licensing ™ 

Public Transport 

Many people can access help with the cost of public transport. There are several national concessions available, some entitle you to discounts on your fares, while others allow you to travel for free. 

  • Concessionary bus travel 
  • Rail cards 
  • Home to school transport 
  • Care to Learn (for young parents under the age of 20) 
  • 16-19 bursary 
  • Discretionary learner support 
  • Job Centre Plus Discount Card (for unemployed) 

Visit the Government website to help with the cost of transport to find out more.

School Clothing 

It can often be an expensive exercise buying school clothing. Many schools operate second hand clothing schemes or second hand sale events so try contacting your school direct. Alternatively, you can register to join a Uniform swap shop online. 

Website: https://uniformswapshop.org.uk/  

Health and Wellbeing

We can help you to find local wellbeing information and services. You can also get support for things like getting your family fitter, dealing with stress or kicking a habit. 

Crisis Support 

If you feel that your own or someone’s life is in danger, we advise you to call 999 immediately. 

If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide or you are concerned about someone else who may be considering suicide, help is available.  

Mid Sussex Wellbeing 

The Mid Sussex Wellbeing service is a joint initiative provided by both Mid Sussex District Council and West Sussex County Council. The Wellbeing service can help you to find local wellbeing information and services. You can get advice and support on how to make small changes to improve your health and wellbeing such as looking after your mental health, debt and money advice, how to stop smoking, how to become more active or how to make your meals healthier. Free face to face or telephone outreach appointments with the wellbeing team are also available. Find out more on the Mid Sussex Wellbeing website   

Mental Health Support  

Sussex Mental Healthline 

The Sussex Mental Healthline offers listening support, advice, information and signposting to anyone experiencing difficulties, or who may be in crisis and in urgent need of help, with their mental health. Call 0800 0309 500 24 hours a day. 

The Stay Alive app, a suicide prevention resource produced by the NHS in partnership with Grassroots Suicide Prevention provides help, advice and tools to help you stay safe during a crisis. You can download the Stay Alive app for free on Android and iOS. 

NHS Sussex Partnership Website 

Information on a range of support services to assist you with your mental health can be found on the NHS Sussex partnership website 

If you need support with your mental health you can obtain help and advice from local friendly professionals in a safe, supportive and welcoming environment 

Support for older people 

Age UK Mid Sussex 

Offers a free and confidential information and advice service for people over 50, their families and carers. Support for older people in our community is provided via a range of support services such as home help, emergency welfare and safety support, support at home after hospital, doorstep deliveries and telephone befriending.  

A range of activities and community café are available at the Age UK centre in Haywards Heath with further community wide activities on offer. To find out more visit the Age UK Mid Sussex webpage. 

Dementia and Alzheimers Support 

There are a wide range of support groups and services available to assist anyone affected by Dementia and Alzheimers. You can find further information on the health and mental wellbeing page of our website or the Dementia Services page of the Community Connections website. 

Community Connections Directory 

The Community Connections Directory of Services for Older People in Mid Sussex has been developed in partnership with organisations working with, and for, older people in Mid Sussex. 

It provides easily accessible information about services for older people in the form of a Directory available both online and in printed form, covering 

  • Health matters 
  • Money Advice 
  • Transport 
  • Support at Home 
  • Support in the Community 
  • Staying Safe 
  • Dementia Services 

Support for families 

Guidance for families on where to go for support is provided on the West Sussex County Council website. Their Family Information Service (FIS) directory provides information about activities and support services for you and your children (0-25 years), including: 

  • parent and child groups 
  • toy libraries 
  • leisure activities 
  • days out 
  • youth clubs and support 
  • parenting classes 
  • counselling, addiction and wellbeing 
  • learning, working and volunteering 

Support for carers 

Carers Support West Sussex offer a range of services to help support carers from counselling and access to relaxation therapies to a Carer Wellbeing fund, Support groups and Carer response online.  

To talk to one of the team, book into one of their dedicated phone surgeries and chose a date and time suitable to you. Simply call 0300 028 8888 or visit the Carers Support website for further details and online resources. 

Support for young carers 

If you are under 18 years old and look after a member of the family who is sick, disabled, has mental health problems or is misusing drugs or alcohol you could be a young carer. West Sussex County Council provide support, information and advice for carers aged under 18. Visit their webpage for further information and support. 

Business Support

Energy help for Businesses 

The Energy Bill Relief Scheme provides energy bill relief for non-domestic customers in Great Britain. Discounts will be applied to energy usage initially between 1 October 2022 and 31 March 2023. You can find further details including eligibility on the Government’s website. 

Website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-bill-relief-scheme-help-for-businesses-and-other-non-domestic-customers 

Business support in Mid Sussex 

You can find out more about business support in Mid Sussex at https://www.midsussex.gov.uk/business-licensing/business-support/ 

Employment Support

Helping you back to work 

The Council has an ‘employment support’ scheme that offers practical help and assistance in finding work. This 1:1 service works with individuals to overcome any barriers they may have in entering the workplace. It also provides sound and accurate advice and guidance relating to welfare benefits and how employment impacts on your benefit entitlement.  To find out more visit the ‘Employment Support’ page of our website

Free/low-cost activity ideas

Here we would like to add information on events and activities in Mid Sussex coming up this winter which are low cost or free. 

If you are organising an event/initiative that will benefit our community this winter please contact us with further details press@midsussex.gov.uk  We will need full details of the event (including date, times, location).  

November events

Fairer World Lindfield – Saving £££ Energy and Our Planet  

Volunteers will be on hand to provide help and advice on draught proofing and insulation; reducing water usage; everyday energy-saving tips; solar panels; heat source pumps; household grey water systems; hot composting; starting a wormery; grants available  

Location: Stand Up Inn, Lindfield High Street  

Date: 12 November 9.30am-11.30am 

Winter Support Guide (PDF Download)

This Guide aims to highlight some of the key schemes you may be able to access. 

Winter Support Guide 2022 (download)

Last updated: 17 November 2022