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.
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:
- NEA (external link)
- Citizen's Advice Bureau (external link)
- Money Saving Expert (external link)
Government Energy Bill Support Schemes – Alternative Funding
The government has announced two new schemes which will be available for those households who are not entitled to the £400 discount via the Energy Support Scheme.
Applications for these schemes will need to be made direct to the gov.uk website and not to the Council. Link below.
Energy Bill Support Scheme Alternative Funding
This scheme is intended to provide the £400 of support for households across the UK that would otherwise miss out on the Energy Bill Support Scheme, as they do not have a domestic electricity contract.
The government will be opening the scheme for applications from 27 February 2023 via GOV.Uk https://www.gov.uk/apply-energy-bill-support-if-not-automatic
If you are eligible for the payment, your payment details will be shared with West Lancashire Borough Council, to verify your home address and make the payment.
You may be eligible to apply if your main home is:
- a residential park home
- on a boat on a permanent residential mooring
- on a permanent Gypsy and Traveller site
- part of a heat network without an electricity meter
- in social or private rented accommodation which has a business energy connection or a communal electricity supply
- off the mains electricity or gas grid
- in a care home or assisted living facility and you pay for some or all of your care
- in a separate domestic home within a non-domestic property (such as a farmhouse or a flat above a shop)
Who should apply
You can apply if:
- you pay for the energy your household uses
- you’re applying for your main, permanent home
- you have a fixed address in England, Scotland or Wales
Who cannot apply
Most households get the £400 support automatically. You do not need to apply if you or your landlord:
- has a domestic energy meter
- pay your bills directly to an energy supplier (such as British Gas or EDF)
You cannot apply if you’ve already had Energy Bills Support Scheme payments. This is 6 automatic monthly payments or prepayment meter vouchers of £66 or £67 from your energy supplier, from October 2022.
If you think you should have got a payment but have not, contact your energy supplier.
You also cannot apply for a discount if you live:
- in purpose-built student accommodation
- in a care home and do not pay any of your fees
- on a boat with a continuous cruising licence (currently under review)
- on a non-permanent caravan or mobile home site (currently under review)
- in accommodation provided by your employer (such as seasonal workers, ‘service occupiers’, security guards, building caretakers)
- in a building where you are acting as a property guardian
- in business premises, such as a pub or hotel, where your address is the same as the business address
Alternative Fuel Payments
This scheme is also intended to deliver a one-off payment of £200 to UK households who are not on the mains gas grid and therefore use alternative fuels, such as heating oil, to heat their homes.
The government will be opening the scheme for applications from 6 March 2023 via GOV.UK. https://www.gov.uk/apply-energy-bill-support-if-not-automatic
If you are eligible for the payment, your payment details will be shared with West Lancashire Borough Council to verify your home address and make the payment.
If you cannot apply online or need help with your application, contact the helpline team.
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm
West Lancashire Borough Council Corporate Privacy Notice can also be found here.
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:
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 (firstname.lastname@example.org) 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.
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.
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
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:
- Citizens Advice (external link)
- West Lancashire Debt Advice (external link)
- The money advice service (external link)
- Stepchange (external link)
- National debtline (external link)
- Debt support trust (external link)
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 email@example.com.
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.