Worried about the rising cost of living?
Are you worried about increased energy bills and the growing cost of putting food on the table? Are you managing on a low income and struggling to make ends meet?
Surrey Heath Borough Council and our partners are doing everything we can to help support our local community.
£150 energy rebate on Council Tax
The Borough Council has distributed the £150 non-repayable energy rebate for households living in Council Tax bands A to D. This was paid out automatically for those who pay their Council Tax by direct debit, to the bank accounts of those residents whom applied online and credited to the council tax account for those who did not request a payment to their bank account. The scheme remains open for applications up to and including 30 November 2022. If you live in a property that is in council tax valuation band A to D and were resident on 1 April 2022 and have not received your £150 council tax energy rebate please contact firstname.lastname@example.org before the 30 November 2022 deadline.
The Government has also provided funding for billing authorities to operate a discretionary fund for households in need who would not otherwise be eligible. Details of Surrey Heath’s discretionary scheme and how to apply can be found here.
Household Support Fund
In the first two phases of the Government funded Household Support Fund scheme earlier this year, the Council distributed £338,654 in grants via Citizens Advice Surrey Heath, and direct support to local foodbanks, building upon the support provided to individuals and families on low incomes with essential household expenses such as food, energy and water.
The latest phase of the Household Support Fund (HSF) is now open to applications in Surrey Heath, aimed at vulnerable households struggling with the rising cost of living. Grants of up to £100 are available, payable in supermarket vouchers.
You could be eligible if you live in Surrey Heath and:
- are in receipt of means-tested benefits such as Universal Credit or Pension Credit
- are of pensionable age and on a low income
- have a disability and are claiming a disability benefits
- are on a low income but have not received any of the Government cost of living payments
How to apply
SHBC is working in partnership with Citizens Advice Surrey Heath to deliver this scheme, and the quickest way to apply is online on the Citizens Advice Surrey Heath website (external website), or if you don’t have access to the internet you can call 01276 417906 and an adviser will call you back to assist you.
Deadline for applications is 31 March 2023, subject to funds being available.
Please note that you will be required to provide the following in order to be awarded a grant:
- Proof of ID (for example a passport or driving licence)
- Proof of address (for example a recent utility bill)
- Recent bank statements and/or evidence of benefit awarded.
The total funding allocation for this round of the HSF for Surrey Heath is £140,529.
Help for Households
The government has announced further support for households, including £400 off energy bills for all households from this October, and a cost of living payment of £650 for households on means tested benefits, including Universal Credit, Pension Credit and Tax Credits. More information on this and other cost of living support available can be found at the government's Help for Households webpages.
Financial help and advice
SHBC has provided funding to Citizens Advice Surrey Heath (CASH) to help ensure support, information and guidance relating to the cost of living crisis is available to all residents who need it.
Overwhelmed by increasing costs?
For confidential guidance on the help that is available, you can visit the CASH website, or call them on 01276 417900. There is support available, and you can find lots of helpful information via their website, including this worrying about money webpage.
You may also be able to reduce your household expenditure on certain items. More information here: Reducing your regular living costs - Citizens Advice.
You may be entitled to Benefits
You may be entitled to benefits, even if you are in full time employment. Use this SHBC online benefits calculator to check your possible entitlement for benefits, including help with your rent and Council Tax costs.
You can also call SHBC on our main number – 01276 707100 – and talk to our officers about any issues you may be experiencing (Mon-Thur 8.30am-5pm, Fri 8.30am-4.30pm).
Help with Energy Costs
Are you worried by rising fuel costs, or getting into debt to your gas or electricity supplier?
Energy Savings and Grants
If you pay Council tax via Direct Debit you should have received your £150 energy rebate (Council tax bands A-D) but if you pay Council Tax by any other method you will need to apply for this rebate. More info here.
Funding and Grants are often available for home improvements to help reduce your energy consumption and make your home more efficient. Visit Action Surrey to find out what you may be able to apply for. Funding is currently available for home energy efficiency improvements through the Sustainable Warmth grant.
Citizens Advice Surrey Heath may be able to help you find a cheaper supplier. By supplying details about your current energy provider and tariff, they can run a price comparison check and talk you through the results, possibly making your energy costs cheaper for you moving forward. Contact Citizens Advice Surrey Heath on 01276 417900 or email@example.com.
Reducing Energy Consumption
Reducing your energy consumption and making sure your home is as energy efficient as possible will help you manage your costs and will help you reduce your impact on the environment. More information can be found on the Energy Savings Trust webpage.
Managing Energy Debt
Project Wenceslas was set up by Woking Lions Club to help the people of Woking and surrounding areas (including parts of Surrey Heath) who may be struggling to pay their fuel bills, and have possibly built up debt to their energy supplier.
Money is collected from people who are awarded the Government’s Winter Fuel Allowance but who choose to donate it to those in Fuel Poverty. For residents in Surrey Heath it is administered through Citizens Advice Surrey Heath.
Small grants are available to individuals who make an application and who meet certain criteria.
The Council has changed the terms of the Surrey Heath Emergency Food Poverty grant scheme to allow not-for-profit organisations to apply for funding for energy costs to help support the setting up of ‘warm banks’.
Warm banks are places in the Borough such as libraries, community centres and church halls that people can go to keep warm during the day, which will help manage the increasing costs of energy bills, and can help alleviate isolation and loneliness.
Up to £5,000 can be applied for via this grant scheme, now known as the Emergency Food, Fuel and Energy Scheme. Visit here for more details.
View the list of local warm banks here.
It is important to identify and deal with your ‘priority debts’ first – if you don’t pay these you could be evicted, fined or even imprisoned. There’s useful information at the Citizens Advice website, and a budgeting tool on the National Debtline website.
If you are experiencing food poverty, please contact Citizens Advice Surrey Heath via their website or on 01276 417900 or the Council. You can contact SHBC on 01276 707100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Struggling with the cost of food
Reducing food waste may help you manage the cost of the food for your household: Advice on this can be found here.
The Council has provided additional funding to our local food banks. If you need the support of a food bank, you can get a food bank voucher from a front line professional, such as a doctor, social worker, adviser at Citizens Advice, Frontline, SHBC’s Housing/Family Support/Welfare team, Surrey County Council’s Children’s and Adult Social Care teams, Accent and other social housing providers or the police.
Your nearest Citizens Advice can often refer you if you do not have contact with the police, doctor or a social worker. They will ask you about your circumstances, income and needs, and will ask if it is just you that needs food or if you also have a family to feed.
Our food parcels are generally provided by the Camberley Besom and Woking Food Bank (which covers Chobham, West End, Bisley) - they normally require a referral. The Bisley and West End Food Bank has recently opened. A referral is required to access this food bank. More information can be found on the respective websites.
Free Food Stall
Old Dean Community Group and St Martin's Church run a Free Food Stall every Sunday from 12.30-1.30pm in the Youth Centre, Old Dean.
St Martin’s Church also run a Free Community Breakfast at St Martin's Church Hall, Old Dean, on Sundays from 10-10.40am. St Martin’s Church also offer the free Wednesday and Saturday Cafe from 10-11.30am, - both cafes serve free refreshments and everyone is welcome.
The Council recently opened an Emergency Accommodation Service in Camberley offering short-term accommodation for people needing emergency housing. If you are experiencing issues due to homelessness, please visit our Homelessness webpage. You can also call our contact centre on 01276 707100 to get advice, or visit our offices at Surrey Heath House and speak to one of our advisors.
SHBC works in partnership with The Hope Hub, a charity working to prevent and end homelessness in Surrey Heath.
Surrey County Council community helpline
Surrey County Council has launched a community helpline for residents in need of financial, health and welfare support.
They provide advice over the phone and / or direct individuals to appropriate external support.
Telephone: 0300 200 1008 (9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays)
Surrey Crisis Fund
The Surrey Crisis Fund is a discretionary fund run by Surrey County Council. It provides financial help to Surrey residents who have nowhere else to turn in an emergency or following a disaster. It also can provide assistance to set up a home in the community where no other funds or resources are available. More information on the Surrey Crisis Fund website
Free period products at Surrey Heath libraries
Surrey County Council has launched an initiative with charity Binti to provide free period products in locations across Surrey.
People can help themselves to free period products as needed, can be found in libraries across Surrey Heath, including Camberley, Lightwater and Frimley Green.
A Binti app is available to download on the Apple app store for IOS users or the Google Play store for Android users, so people can find the nearest location where free period products are available to collect and where you can donate.
More info on the Period Dignity scheme.
Other useful links:
- Statutory Sick Pay
- Universal Credit
- Employment and Support Allowance
- Your rights if your hours are cut or you’re laid off
- What to do if you cannot pay your tax bill on time
- Government Job Support Scheme
Independent advice on how to ensure you get the help that is being provided by the Government can be accessed on the Policy in Practice website.