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Help with rising living costs

Help if you’re concerned about how to pay for everyday costs and financial support.

Not sure where to turn?

If you’re not sure where to go for the support you need, speak to your local library. The team can help by pointing you in the right direction. Contact your local library to find out more.

Support from your local council

The district and city councils have the details of local organisations that can provide practical support and advice on money matters, housing, living costs and mental health.

There are also a number of national or countywide options to explore.

Saving you money

Accessing financial support

An estimated £15bn of benefits are believed to go unclaimed each year. Use a free benefits calculator to find out what you could be entitled to. Or contact Citizens Advice Oxfordshire for one-to-one help to do this.

Citizens Advice can also help with planning your budgeting and debt advice if things are tough.

Through the NHS there is a range of support to help people access health services such as support with travel costs and financial support for people on low incomes. Find out more on the NHS website.

Stay fit and find ways to manage your money with local advice and support on Live Well Oxfordshire.

If you cannot pay your tax bill on time, contact HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) as soon as possible.

The MoneyHelper service provides free, confidential and impartial help on a range of finance-related issues including benefits, savings, pensions and work.

Energy, water and broadband savings

With the Better Housing, Better Health service you’ll get practical advice on saving energy and accessing grants and financial support. This is a free service, supported by Oxfordshire County Council, which could save you money, make your living space more comfortable, reduce stress and improve your health.

If you can’t pay your energy bills now, contact your energy supplier. Further information about the help available with energy bills can be found on gov.uk.

All domestic electricity customers in Great Britain will receive a £400 reduction in their electricity costs from October 2022 through the Energy Bills Support Scheme. There will be no requirement to pay it back. Households will not need to apply for the scheme and, in most cases, the government expects electricity suppliers to apply the reduction automatically to bills from October 2022.

There is a range of support available nationally, find out more about it on the government’s website.

Some broadband providers offer cheaper packages for those who receive certain government benefits. These are known as social tariffs. Ofcom has a list of broadband providers who offer these packages. You should always check with your existing provider before starting any new contracts to make sure there are no charges for stopping your existing contract.

Many water companies run hardship schemes or fund independent charitable trusts which can help you pay your bills.

Discounts and offers

Find out what offers are available from grocery, entertainment, retail, health, travel and other businesses to help with the cost of living on the gov.uk website.

Supporting your family

Free School Meal Equivalent support ahead of school holiday periods

Oxfordshire County Council continues to provide funding to schools and colleges to put in place free school meal equivalent arrangements around holiday periods, using specific government funds available for this purpose. This discretionary scheme is currently funded at the rate of £15 per holiday week per eligible child or young person and typically comes in the form of a supermarket voucher or digital equivalent. Those eligible are those lower income families also eligible for means-tested free school meals. The scheme is administered through schools and colleges directly and support is issued ahead of school holidays. Parents and carers who believe they have missed a payment should contact their child’s school or college. 

Early Years Support

This winter for children not of school age, rather than support ahead of each holiday periods, a single one-off support offer is being made to the families of eligible children through participating early years providers. Participating providers will issue a one-off support voucher of £60 per eligible child (equivalent to the support made available to children and young people in schools over the period). In early years, eligible children are those in receipt of two-year-old funded places or those three and four-year-old children who attract Early Years Pupil Premium. Parents and carers should approach their child’s setting with any queries. Early Years settings are not obliged to make this payment and we are grateful to all those who are able to do so for providing support to some of Oxfordshire’s most in-need children.

Childcare support

You could be eligible for support with free childcare. Certain criteria apply, so find out if you are eligible for 3 to 4-year-old and 2-year-old support.

If your child is eligible for free school meals, you will also be able to get equivalent support during the school holidays. Activities and events will be available for 4 to 11-year-olds during the Christmas holidays. Your school or early years setting should be in touch directly but if not, please contact them.

Accessing food support

If you're at least ten weeks pregnant or have a child under four years old, you might be able to get free vitamins and Healthy Start vouchers for milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk.

The Oxfordshire food access map allows you to search for community food services such as food banks, community larders, and food projects.

Most food banks need a referral to access them - this can come from many groups - a doctor, housing association, local council, charity, the council.

Larders and fridges do not work on a referral basis and give either low-cost or free food which otherwise would go to waste. 

Keeping you warm and safe

You may be eligible for a fully funded energy efficiency update to your home. Check if you’re eligible to apply.

You’ll get a warm welcome in our libraries. Everyone is welcome – and you’ll have access to the internet and computers as well as our wide range of books and audio books.

There are grants and schemes available designed to help you make essential repairs and improve the comfort, safety and security of your home.

Warm spaces are open this winter to provide free and low-cost places to get together and get support.

Oxford's network of warm spaces can be found on its website https://www.oxford.gov.uk/warmspaces

The national Warm Welcome Network lists a wider network of organisations that have opened up free, warm spaces across Oxfordshire.

Support organisations in Oxfordshire

If you need to talk to someone on any topic regarding your mental health, there are local organisations that can help:

  • Oxfordshire Safe Haven for you if you are over 18 and living in Oxfordshire. 
  • Connection Support is a local charity that provides flexible and tailored support and advice to adults and families.
  • The Mind Guide – a mental health services directory in Oxfordshire.
  • The Youth in Mind Guide – information on young people's mental health services in Oxfordshire.
  • Citizens Advice – access free, confidential advice on money matters, housing, employment and consumer rights. 

The government’s Help for Households website provides information on a range of support.