Cost of Living Support Hub

The cost-of-living crisis is affecting us all. We understand that residents may be concerned about the rising fuel and living costs, and so we have gathered a range of support in place across the Council and wider organisations to help plan for winter.

Lancashire Warm Spaces

Lancashire County Council are developing a network of warm, safe and welcoming spaces to support residents during the winter months. These warm spaces will provide you with somewhere to keep warm, access information and advice or spend time with others.

Visit Lancashire County Council's website (external link) and search their directory by entering your postcode or address to find nearby warm spaces and what they offer.

Energy costs

If you are struggling to pay your energy bills don't delay in contacting your provider for further advice.

Charities across the country have put together some information on how to conserve energy and save money on your bills:

Government energy support schemes Alternative Funding

On 19 December the Government announced further schemes, to provide certain households with further help towards their energy costs. These schemes will be introduced in the coming months. This further help will be targeted at a fairly small number of households in our area.

  • The Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF) scheme will be targeted at households that missed out on the £400 Energy bills discount scheme due to not having a direct contractual relationship with their electricity supplier. Customers who are eligible for support under the main Energy Bills Discount Scheme will not be eligible for EBSS AF.
  • The Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP) scheme will be directed to those households that heat their homes using alternative energy sources, such as oil, coal, liquified petroleum gas (LPG) or biomass rather than gas or electricity.

Applications for these schemes will need to be made direct to the Government via the .gov.uk website and not to the Council.

The Council is waiting for further information from the Government about exactly how these schemes will operate and what our role will be in relation to administration. As soon as we have more information we will update this page of our website.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/vital-help-with-energy-bills-on-the-way-for-millions-more-homes-across-great-britain-and-northern-ireland

The Local Council Tax Discretionary Energy Support Scheme

Applications for the Local Council Tax Energy Support Scheme is open, this is to support households with rising costs by awarding a reduction on their council tax account. Visit here to find out more:

https://www.westlancs.gov.uk/bills-benefits/council-tax/council-tax-payment-difficulties.aspx

Fuel Voucher Support

West Lancashire Citizens Advice Bureau can provide fuel support for those on pay as you go meters.

This scheme is for fuel vouchers to use with Prepayment Meters (where you top-up as you use). The vouchers are NOT compatible with meters where you pay by DD/Monthly or on receipt of bill.

This scheme only allows CAB to issue ONE x £30 voucher at a time, with a maximum of 3 vouchers being issued in a 12-month period.

If you have already had 3 fuel vouchers from any agency for this scheme, they will not be able to assist you. You should contact your supplier directly and seek assistance from them.

Fuel voucher scheme - New Ground Together

If you are struggling to pay for fuel, we can refer you to New Ground Together . You don’t have to be on benefits to receive a voucher. If you are in fuel poverty and can prove the below, we can refer you if you meet the following criteria:
• are on a pre-payment meter
• have below £20 credit on each meter
• can provide photographs of your meter

Once you have been referred by us, someone will be in contact within 48 hours by an assessment team to see if they qualify.

Please direct requests to our Money Advice Team (moneyadvice@westlancs.gov.uk) or More Positive Together (MPT@westlancs.gov.uk) .

 

Pensioner Cost of Living Top-Up Payment

Households who receive the Winter Fuel Payment may receive an extra payment of between £150 to £300 this year. The Pensioner Cost of Living Payment will come as a top-up to annual Winter Fuel Payments in November/December. Visit https://www.gov.uk/winter-fuel-payment/how-much-youll-get for more information.

 

Financial support

If you are concerned about your finances, there is a range of help and advice available. Visit our dealing with debt page to access further information and useful links or read below to make an appointment with our Money Advice Team.

Advice on running a bank account, planning your finances and cutting costs can also be found at  Money Helper along with useful calculators and tools to help you.

Benefits Calculator and Budgeting Tool

We want to help you maximise the income available to you and our Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out an estimate of what you could be claiming. https://westlancashire.entitledto.co.uk/

Why not also try our Budgeting Tool: https://budgetnew.entitledto.co.uk/WestLancashire 

It's free to use and the details you provide are kept anonymous.

We have also produced some simple money saving tips to help support residents to budget in other areas whilst the cost of living crisis may be causing some financial stress.

Find out more from our directory of wider  support services

Disability Cost of Living payment

Any person who receives DLA, PIP, Attendance Allowance, armed forces independence payments or war pensions mobility supplement may be entitled to an extra £150. Visit  https://www.gov.uk/guidance/cost-of-living-payment  to find out more.

Council tax payment difficulties

If you're having difficulties paying your council tax bill then please get in touch with us to discuss a payment arrangement. We will try to accommodate any reasonable offer. Don't wait for a reminder or a summons to drop through your door.

Email: council.tax@westlancs.gov.uk

Tel: 01695 577177

Discretionary Housing Payments

Information about a discretionary Housing Payment scheme for residents in receipt of Housing Benefit or Universal Credit, who are struggling to meet their housing costs, can be viewed here: https://www.westlancs.gov.uk/bills-benefits/benefits/discretionary-housing-payments.aspx

Cost of Living Payment - Help for households

If you claim certain benefits or tax credits, you may be eligible for an extra payment to help with the cost of living. If you’re eligible, payments will be made automatically.

Find out more: Cost of Living Payment – GOV.UK

 

Food support

There are numerous organisations across West Lancashire that can support you if you are struggling with your shopping. You can find details of these food banks here.

 

Help with Debt

Regardless of how much debt you have, there are many ways to get help. There are several agencies that can assist with debt issues. Some of these are listed below:

You can find a full comprehensive list of West Lancashire and national organisations that can support with debt here, or contact our Money Advice Team on moneyadvice@westlancs.gov.uk.

 

Mental Health and Wellbeing

Whilst the other support on this page is based around practical advice, we know that worrying about making ends meet can also take a severe toll on your physical and mental health. It’s crucial that you take care of your own wellbeing to help support you through difficult times.

The NHS has several support services that can support you, from Every Mind Matters that provides practical tips for enjoying better mental health every day, to a range of digital wellbeing tools that can help with poor sleep patterns, low moods and other symptoms of stressful thinking.

If you are struggling with your mental health and need support, you can find a list of adult mental health support services and children's mental health support services on our website.

Warm and welcome places

Our libraries will become warm and welcome spaces over the forthcoming months where people can shelter and get information and advice.

Find a library to view facilities, what’s on and opening times. All of the libraries have disabled access.

You can also download a printable list of the libraries which are warm and welcome places (PDF 263KB), but please check the individual library web pages for up to date opening times.