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Get help and advice

You can get free information, advice and guidance on welfare benefits, debt, employment, and housing matters.

There is also information/advice available about where to get:

  • Support for food if you are in financial crisis (this will mainly be via foodbanks but also via our Local Welfare Provision Scheme for specific vulnerable groups)
  • Help with utility bills, or if you have a shortfall in your rent
  • How to apply for a range of support including free school meals, Healthy Start vouchers and general help around money

Have a look at what is available, and who to contact, in your area:

Where to get help in the Coalfields area

Where to get help in the East area

Where to get help in the North area

Where to get help in Washington

Where to get help in the West area

Additional Government Support with Cost of Living Pressures

The government had previously announced a range of help for people experiencing cost of living pressures and much of this support is still ongoing and still to be paid:

  • Council Tax Energy Rebate which meant households in council Tax Bands A-D would receive a minimum £150 payment or £170 where the household received Council Tax Support, and with a discretionary scheme to cover other circumstances. If you have not already applied for help the scheme has now closed but you can check more details on our council news page, including credits being made to council tax accounts to ensure you do not lose out

The following additional support is also being provided to households to help them meet extra costs. Many households will qualify for more than one type of support and these support payments are being made automatically if you qualify - so you do not need to apply for these:

  • Energy Bills Support Scheme - £400 help over 6 months starting from October and this does not need to be repaid. There is no need to apply for the discount, or contact your energy supplier, as suppliers will automatically deliver this support over six months starting in October. However, if you don't receive your first instalment by the end of October, please do contact your supplier. You will see a discount of £66 applied to your electricity bill in October and November, and then £67 from December to March.

    Direct debit customers will receive the discount automatically as a reduction to your monthly direct debit amount collected, or as a refund to your bank account following direct debit collection each month.

    Standard credit customers and payment card customers will see the discount automatically applied as a credit to your standard credit account in the first week of each month, with the credit appearing as it would if you had made a payment.

    Smart prepayment meter customers will see the discount credited directly to your smart prepayment meter in the first week of each month.

    Traditional prepayment meter customers will be provided with redeemable vouchers or Special Action Messages (SAMs) from the first week of each month, issued via SMS text, email or post. You will need to take action to redeem these at your usual top-up point. For more information please see the GOV.UK Energy bills support scheme explainer
  • £650 Cost of Living Payment for those on the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) means tested benefits or Tax Credits (see list below). Eight million households are expected to benefit from this support

- Universal Credit (DWP)

- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance (DWP)

- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (DWP)

- Income Support (DWP)

- Working Tax Credit/Child Tax Credit

- Pension Credit (DWP) (PC)

The first payments for DWP benefit claimants were made in July and the second payment of £324 is due to be made between 7 and 23 November. Tax Credit only claimants received their first payment at the beginning of September and should receive their second payment in the winter

  • £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment was paid towards the end of September to those that receive Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence payment, Attendance Allowance and equivalent War Disablement and Armed forces Independence Payments - this will be paid from September 2022 onwards
  • A One-off £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment is being paid in addition to the normal Winter Fuel Payment and this will benefit another eight million households - this will be paid from November 2022 onwards

The Governments Cost of living support factsheet contains more details and the Government have also included this information on a their Help for Households webpage. This will provide updates on when payments will be made, any qualifying periods and also includes sections on:

  • Supporting your income
  • Help with bills
  • Help with childcare costs
  • Housing support
  • Help with transport costs
  • Help finding work

Household Support Fund 2 (HSF2) - NOW CLOSED

A second phase of DWP  Household Support Fund Funding (HSF2) was used by the council to deliver a range of additional discretionary support between June and the end of September to families, pensioners' and other households but these schemes - both application based and targeted support have now closed. HSF2 was a very small part of the overall support that the government is providing to households.

Household Support Fund 3 (HSF3) - October 2022 to March 2023

Councils will be implementing a further range of support for vulnerable low income households based on DWP Final Guidance and funding confirmations. This support will be implemented in stages and will again include:

  • Application via the council and/or local Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations
  • Proactive targeted support for specific vulnerable and low income groups

In addition extra support is being given to foodbanks and food aid organisations to help assist them in managing some additional demands and help to supplement their current food offers. 

All HSF3 awards are discretionary rather than being a legal entitlement and will be based on available/remaining funding. HSF3 is also a very small part of the overall support that the government is providing to households.

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