7th September 2023
The cost of living crisis is a growing problem locally, impacting many people and families
With the rise in food and energy costs, as well as increases in rents and mortgages, this year may have been more difficult than any before. Paying bills, keeping people fed and keeping a roof overhead is more expensive than ever before.
Hundreds are relying on credit cards, borrowing from family, loans and overdrafts. If this sounds like your situation, help is available. This is predicted to get harder as we go into winter.
If you’re worried about money, you can get advice and help easily.
Support is available to help you with the cost of living crisis
Call Citizens Advice locally on 0808 278 7958 for friendly advice on benefits, bills or other advice if you’re having a difficult time.
Or visit the cost of living help hub on Wokingham Borough Council’s website.
Quick links from the Cost of Living Help Hub:
Get up to £240 to help with food and bills
You can apply to the Household Support Fund if you’re struggling to pay for things like food, energy, bills or other essentials
Payments have been increased for the winter months, which are often more expensive because of the need to stay warm at home.
Apply to our Hardship Alliance partners if you need help. The options are:
- Parents of children who receive means-tested free school meals can get £20 per week for each eligible child during the school holidays
- Households with pensioners, carers, a disabled person and/or households with four or more people can get a one-off £240 payment
- A one off £120 payment is available for any other households which are struggling to pay for essentials
If you’ve applied and received a grant from Age UK Berkshire or Citizens Advice Wokingham between April and September 2023, you can now apply again. New applications are welcome.
Great British Insulation Scheme
You may be able to get free or cheaper insulation to reduce your home’s energy bills.
You might get support if your home:
- has an energy performance certificate (EPC) of D to G – check your EPC
- is in Council Tax bands A-D in England or A-E in Scotland or Wales – check your Council Tax band
You can be a homeowner, landlord or tenant (either renting privately or from a housing association). If you’re a tenant, speak to your landlord before you apply. You’ll need their permission before any insulation can be installed.
Click HERE for more information and to find out how to apply.
Get items to help lower your energy bills
There is a supply of slow cookers, air fryers, heated clothes dryers and more (subject to availability) at no cost. These will help bring energy bills down.
Check the warmer winter project webpage to see how to access these items.
Get help with savings and loans
You could join a credit union.
A credit union is a not-for-profit financial provider that helps people access banking products like bank accounts, savings and loans. They’re usually:
- Run by members to benefit communities, rather than to make a profit
- Able to help those turned away by other providers
Your local credit union – BOOM Community Bank
Wokingham Borough’s credit union is Boom Community Bank. This is open to people who live or work in the borough.
Berkshire Credit Union became part of BOOM, which has 12,000 members, in 2022.
The benefits of becoming a member are:
- They help you save regularly
- Provide loans to members at very low rates
- Help members manage their finances
- Loans for people with low incomes and low credit scores
- Open a current account without any credit checks
- Save as you repay schemes
- Free tools for financial education.
Credit unions must be registered with the Financial Services Authority (FSA). They are covered by the Credit Union Act 1979.