Cost of Living Crisis Winter 2023

cost of living crisis help

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:

Cost of living help hub

Get money to help pay for essentials like bills and food

Help with food

Get items to help lower your bills

Contact Citizens Advice Wokingham for help and advice

How you can help others

Cost of living help for pensioners

Cost of living help for people with children

Cost of living help for single people

Dealing with an emergency

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

      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

      The warmer winter project can get you energy efficient items for free through Wokingham Borough Council’s partners: SHARE Wokingham, First Days Children’s Charity its our Hardship Alliance partners.

      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.

          Build your confidence for future employment

          Wokingham Borough Council is introducing a new way to help people back into work.

          The programme will include an induction session, online employment research, employability courses and a volunteering assignment.

          You will be supported by a mentor who will help you find the right route for you, looking at your aspirations and current skills. Some of the skills that employers are looking for right now are:

          • Communication
          • Teamwork
          • Problem solving
          • Planning and organising
          • Digital skills
          • Resilience.

          Joining will help you to become ready for work. Join the programme for free on WBC’s adult education website.




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