Where to find support for those affected by the rise in the cost of living

A pile of lose change (British currency) against a pine background.

Updated 14th June 2022

Are you looking for useful resources to help those you are supporting?

The cost of living problem is affecting everyone. According to the Office for National Statistics, 9 in 10 adults reported an increase in their cost of living, with nearly a quarter finding it difficult to pay their usual household bills. Given the current climate, your organisation or charity can play its part to support those who are struggling in these financial times.

If you have any amendments or additions do email us, so we can make this is an active and up-to-date resource for Barnet’s VCFSE.

You may also want to have a look at the Mayor of London’s Hub on Help with the Cost of Living which has further information this topic.

Financial Support

The Barnet Crisis Fund

The Barnet Crisis Fund can help people who need extra help in an emergency or help to support or maintain themselves in the community following a stay in hospital or being released from prison.

Conditions include:

  • Be aged 16 or over
  • being resident in Barnet for at least 6 weeks or having a connection with Barnet
  • not being excluded from receiving public funds due to immigration status
  • claim must not be covered by insurance

Barnet’s Crisis Fund can also help residents who are working but on a low income and people who have a pending Council Tax support or Housing benefit claim.

Barnet’s Crisis Fund policies are available on the Child Poverty Action Group’s (CPAG) website.

Turn2Us’ grants checker can help you find local charities and grants who may be able to provide financial support based on your location, age and gender.

Friends of the Elderly are providing grants to help people of state pension age on low incomes and with little savings (less than £4,000). The grants are up to £400 and to be eligible for this funding, you must be a professional or organisation including a charity, community organisation, cultural and religious centre or can refer a member/client who is of state pension age. To apply, use the online application form. Read guidelines before applying.

If you are looking for support for children and young people with disabilities under 25, the Children Today Charitable Trust are offering grants for up to £1,000. This grant aims to provide vital, life-changing specialist equipment, such as wheelchairs, walking aids, trikes, educational toys, communication aids, lifting and posture paedic sleep equipment and specially designed sensory equipment like fibre optic sprays. If you like further information, call them on 01244 335 622

 The Family Fund is open to families with children and young people who have a severely disabled child aged 17. The household income needs to be less than £25,000 if you live in England. This will be the total amount of money you receive from benefits and tax credits from working and other sources of income, for example maintenance or rental income. They do not count Disability Living Allowance or Child benefit. They give grants for things that make life easier and more enjoyable for the disabled child, young person and their family, such as washing machines, driving lessons, computers and holidays. To find out more about this fund and how to apply have a look at their website or give them a call on: 08449 744 099

Smallwood Trust are providing grants under the Cost of Living Fund for women who are the most affected by the rising costs such as energy bills, fuel prices, food and basic essentials. The Fund will support some of the women who are likely to be hardest hit by the rise in the cost of living including those living alone or with dependent children; Women with disabilities; Women with no recourse to public funds and/or women who are or who have been affected by domestic violence or abuse.  To find out more about the grant and how to apply, visit the website.

Age UK Barnet will be delivering their Household Support grants on behalf of Barnet Council to help older Barnet residents struggling with rising utility bills and food prices. The Household Support fund is there to support Barnet residents of pensionable age with utility bills and food costs as well as wider essentials. ‘A growing number of people we speak to are finding it hard to manage financially because of the current cost of living crisis or the ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic,’ says Age UK Barnet CEO Helen Newman.

If you or someone you know is facing financial hardship, please call Age UK Barnet on 0208 203 5040 and ask for the Household Support team or email support@ageukbarnet.org.uk

Goods and Food

Barnet-based Sebby’s Corner believes no child goes without basic essentials. We supply items such as clothing, nappies, formula and baby equipment to local families living in poverty. Families in need get referred to them by social workers, health visitors, family support workers, midwives and other professionals to ensure we reach the most vulnerable families. Find out more.

Giving World is providing business surplus stock free of charge, such as clothing, food items, toiletries, cleaning and household products as well as other useful items to help those who have struggled due to the increase to the cost of living. Goods can be collected directly from them at their depot in Leicester, or they can arrange delivery at cost – you will only ever pay for transport. To access these goods when you need them, simply register your organisation here. For more information, call 0116 251 6205 between 9.30am-4pm Monday-Thursday and 9.30am-12.30pm Friday. You can also email any queries to admin@givingworld.org.uk.

Barnet Furniture Centre is the pioneering furniture reuse charity in the borough of Barnet. As a non-profit organisation, we have a strong community focus to help low-income families by providing affordable furniture via our two-tier pricing structure for those on benefits.

Look at website such as Gumtree, Freegle and Freecycle where local residents posts items they no longer need, and people can add posts on what they’re after.

The Barnet Food Hub support 17 foodbanks within the borough of Barnet. If you are in need of support from a foodbank, please visit their website to find your closest and how to access it.

Learn at Home is a Raspberry Pi Foundation programme that aims to tackle the digital divide by distributing free Raspberry Pi computers to young people in the UK who are experiencing educational disadvantage due to lack of access to technology. The programme aims to give these young people a free Raspberry Pi computer to use within their own homes, so they can keep up with their schoolwork and ensure that they do not fall behind their peers. Raspberry Pi will provide the equipment, expertise and technical support to get the young people up and running, but they require the distribution partners to identify suitable young people within their community to receive donated devices and handle the distribution of computers to the young people and their families.

The young people should be:

  • Aged 6-18 years
  • In full-time education
  • Lacking a suitable device for completing their schoolwork at home and the resources to acquire such a device
  • Have an internet connection at home or that the partner can support to obtain an internet connection

If you are interested in learning more about the Learn at Home programme, Raspberry Pi would love to hear from you. Please register your interest by completing this questionnaire.

Home Improvements

Home improvement grants for elderly, disabled people or those on a low income. Your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) may help you to repair, improve, maintain or adapt your home. There are about 200 not-for-profit, locally-based HIAs around the country that can help in varying ways. Assistance can include putting together flat-pack furniture or looking after your garden. Search for your nearest on Foundations in England.

Check out the Free Insulation and Boilers guide to see if you qualify for help making energy efficient home improvements.


Energy

Some providers offer an Energy Trust scheme for their account holders to help cover energy arrears and sometimes other essential household items. Those who live in a home supplied by the provider, but are not account holders, can apply for the Further Assistance Payments only. You need to complete a full income and expenditure budget sheet along with proof of your income, give details on how your arrears have built up, eg, due to illness or redundancy, and say how the grant will help you. It can take several weeks to process your claim but can give £1,000+ in support. The following energy companies offer grants and schemes that are open to anyone, not just their own customers: British Gas Energy Trust / EDF Energy Trust / E.on Energy Fund. There are also companies who offer grants specifically for their customers: Npower Energy FundScottish Power Hardship FundOVO Energy Fund, SSE Priority Assistance Fund – check eligibility by calling 0800 072 8616.  For other providers or general advice, contact Simple Energy Advice on 0800 444 202 (for England and Wales).

The Warmer Homes programme is a pan-London programme providing free heating, insulation and ventilation improvements for low-income homeowners and private tenants. Grants of between £5,000 and £25,000 are available with funding amounts depending on your existing energy efficiency rating, your tenure and your current fuel type.  There are several options available if applicants qualify for the programme inc. heat pumps; insulation for walls, lofts and floors; heating system improvements or repairs; draughtproofing and solar energy installations. Find out whether you are eligible and apply now.

Have a look at the Housing and Energy Grants guide for discounts and grants to help you pay for heating.

Green Doctors London are a charity that offers free and impartial energy advice to help residents stay warm, save money and live greener. We’ve recently resumed home visits in a few boroughs, with risk assessment in place to allow us to safely carry out the consultations. In other areas, we’re working closely with our partners to return to face-to-face service in the near future to better support residents. You can access their services online and via telephone or alternatively request a home visit. Check out their website.

Read Barnet-based energy broker’s Guest Blog for us on Understanding the current energy market and how to reduce your energy costs.

Water

Water UK’s website has info on all the water company schemes inc. referrals to hardship funds and help in applying for direct payment from benefits (Water Direct). If you’re on a meter and a means-tested benefit, and either have three or more children under 19, or someone in the household with a medical condition needing lots of water, you could get help from the WaterSure scheme which caps your bills at the average for your area. Some providers also offer other special tariffs and/or New Start/Restart (name depends on where you live), a scheme that can match payments or write off some of your debt if you enter an arrears payment plan. Also see the Cut Water Bills guide.

Phone and broadband

If you’re in receipt of income support, income-based ESA, income-based JSA, pension credit or universal credit (and you’ve no earnings), you can get BT’s special basic tariff for around £5/month. The package includes £1.50 worth of calls to landlines and free weekend calls to 0845 and 0870 numbers up to 60 minutes. However, normal landline calls are costly (12p a minute, plus 21p set up fee for each phone call). The tariff lets you make and receive calls as well as stopping certain calls being made, eg, mobile or premium rate numbers. You can also call to check your bill amount at any time, or check online, helping to keep costs down and budget for your bills. If you need broadband as well you can get its Basic+Broadband package which costs £9.95/month including basic line rental for which you get 12GB at up to 17Mb/s. Also see the Cheap Broadband guide.

If you’re a charity that needs support for digital inclusion programmes, you can apply for free Vodafone SIMs, each loaded with 20GB data a month for six months, plus unlimited calls and texts. You can use these however you like – for example, to provide connectivity to your service users or deliver training to people in need.  Vodafone cannot distribute SIMs to individuals, but do so through charities.  Here’s the application form for charities.connected.

BOOST Barnet has a scheme to support Barnet residents who do not have access to broadband in their home. To benefit from the free of charge 12-month broadband subscription with Community Fibre, successful applicants will be required to provide Direct Debit details as security for the broadband router. To apply for free Community Fibre broadband, you need to make sure that it’s available in your area. Use the postal code checker

TalkTalk and the Department for Work and Pensions’ (DWP) have a new scheme, available UK-wide to help offer six months’ free broadband. You need to apply for the free broadband via your Jobcentre. If you’re out of work, ask your Jobcentre Plus work coach if you can apply. It will be up to Jobcentre Plus staff to determine eligibility on a case-by-case basis. However, if you’re out of work – particularly if you don’t currently have home broadband – you could be eligible.

If you’re eligible, you’ll be given a referral code to give to TalkTalk. You should redeem this code via a dedicated TalkTalk phone number, which you’ll be given by Jobcentre Plus staff. Applying this way means you can bypass the usual credit check to take out the product, so it shouldn’t have a negative impact on your credit score. There’s no limit on the number of voucher referral codes available, and there’s no end date you need to apply by.

The National Databank provides free sims and mobile data (as well as talk minutes and texts) to people in need via Good Things Foundation’s network of local community partners. It’s like a ‘food bank’ but for internet connectivity data. Community organisations can apply to access the databank, enabling them to provide data to people in their communities who need it.

Virgin media are offering a broadband deal for Low Income Families who are on Universal Credit. Essential broadband is a broadband-only package with average speeds of 15Mbps that costs £15 a month, and this price will never change for as long as you’re on Universal Credit. It runs on a flexible 30 day rolling contract, so you have the freedom to upgrade to our other Virgin Media services or cancel at any time

BT Home Essentials – Stay connected with BT low-cost broadband and phone plans are available if you’re on specific benefits, they’re perfect for everything from accessing services to video calls and streaming TV.

FREE Holidays

Holidays for 800 families is a £600,000 from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport are aiming to provide holidays for 800 families who are struggling financially, or facing illness, isolation or bereavement. Through the ‘England for Everyone’ fund, families who may never have had a holiday can be referred to the charity for a weekend trip and will have a choice of where they will visit. Referees could include people such as social workers and teachers, and holiday vouchers would be provided to help cover transport, accommodation and food. Find out more information about this fund by visiting their website.

Small charity 3H Fund has a grant scheme to help disabled people (whether physically or mentally disabled), on a low income, along with their families and carers, to take a short break in the UK. Maximum awards vary. Find out more by visiting their website.

 

Want to study, up-skill or re-train?

Check out Barnet Council’s website for free training opportunities in the Borough.

Care to Learn are helping to pay for childcare costs for under 20s who want to start or return to learning. For further information, call them on: 0800 121 8989

The Thomas Wall Trust have an individual programme aims to support motivated adults living in the UK to undertake education and training that will increase their chances of employment. They are offering grants up to £1,500 to undertake accredited vocational training up to level 3 (Qualification levels explained) and towards other costs associated with studying. To find out more about the grant and how to apply, visit the website.

 

Need help while looking for work?

Jobcentre Plus provide a Flexible Support Fund to help support jobseekers looking for work. Each centre decides how to use their fund which can include things such as cost of transport, childcare, work clothes, tools and more (during the job search or to enable you to accept an offer of employment) if an adviser believes it’ll make the transition into work easier. Ask your local office if it provides any help. To find out more information, speak to an adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus.

Barnet BOOST and Work Avenue are two Barnet-based organisations offering a wealth of support and training for those looking a new job.

 

Benefits and Welfare Rights

Barnet Council’s Welfare Rights Advisors are on hand to help with any housing and benefits claims you may have. The advisors will make sure families are receiving support and can offer help with any applications you need to make. Contact: Ayesha Feisal, Amina Baadhio, Laureace Richards or Fatime Ruhani.

The Help to Claim Universal Credit Project within Barnet Citizens Advice can assist those that reside in Barnet, Enfield, Islington, Camden, Westminster and K&C. Clients can be assisted with telephone claims, digital claims, better off benefit checks etc. The project is for those that  have not received the correct first payment of Universal Credit. You can refer here.

Need more support?

There are number of organisations working to support Barnet residents. Here are a selection to get you started. If they can’t help, they will be able to signpost you to those who can.

Age UK Barnet
Later life planning service (over 55’s), free and confidential information and advice on welfare and benefits, housing or support services as well as how to keep healthy and active. Telephone: 020 8432 1417 (telephone appointments Monday to Thursday, from 10am to 1pm). Email Age UK Barnet

Barnet Mencap
A range of support to anyone living with a learning disability/autism and their carers. Telephone: 020 8349 3842
Email Barnet Mencap

Barnet Carers Centre
Support to informal carers (anyone who cares, unpaid, for a friend or family member who due to illness, disability, a mental health problem or an addiction cannot cope without their support). Telephone: 020 3995 1909
Email Barnet Carers Centre

Barnet BOOST
Employment and benefit advice, skills and wellbeing service. Telephone: 020 8359 2442
Email BOOST

Christians Against Poverty
Support if you are struggling with debt or unemployment and need some help breaking free from habits or learning new life skills. Telephone: 0800 328 0006

Citizens Advice Barnet
Provide free, independent, confidential and impartial advice and guidance to people who live, work or study in the London Borough of Barnet, on their rights and responsibilities. Telephone: 0300 456 8365 (Monday to Friday 9.15am to 4pm and Wednesday 9.15am to 7.30pm).

Touchpoint 
Touchpoint supports people experiencing any form of disability in Barnet to access the services and resources they need including Benefits Advice. Telephone: 020 3475 1306
Email Touchpoint Barnet

 

This blog has been compiled from a range of online sources, of particular help was Money Saving Expert, therefore you may want to explore this site in more detail.

 

If your charity or organisation needs more support check out the resource hub on Charity Excellence which provides lots of resources and 100s of organisations providing free goods and resources to UK charities. This includes everything from pro bono legal & property advice, to consultancy, mentors, software, meetings rooms, volunteering services and much more.

 

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