Everyone is likely to need a bit of help this winter due to the rising cost of living. If you’re struggling to afford the essentials – including food, energy bills or housing costs – or if you’re in debt, help is available.
On this page:
- Claim benefits you’re entitled to
- Help to pay your bills
- Help with food
- Warm spaces and energy saving tips
- Managing debt
- If you’re worried about housing costs or losing your home
- Help to find a new or better paid job
- Advice bus and free and low-cost events
- Mental health support
You can also read help and advice with the cost of living crisis in an EasyRead format.
Claim benefits you’re entitled to
You might be able to claim benefits or get financial support if you’re:
- unemployed or on a low income
- sick or disabled
- of state pension age and on a low income
- a carer
- responsible for children
You can check which benefits are available to you on GOV.UK.
If you're on a low income, you may also be able to pay less by applying for Council Tax support. Some groups such as disabled people or people who live alone may be eligible for Council Tax discounts or exemptions.
If you're a Camden business owner, read about the range of support available for Camden businesses.
Help to pay your bills
On top of regular benefits, you may be able to get extra support to help with the rising cost of living.
Most households will receive £400 off energy bills
Most households have automatically received £400 off energy bills from the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme through a monthly discount on their electricity bills or, for those with pre-payment meters, via vouchers in the post or credit to your pre-payment account. If you haven’t received it, contact your electricity supplier.
£400 Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF)
If you do not have a direct relationship with a domestic electricity supplier and have not benefited from the £400 discount on electricity bills, you may be entitled to a one-off payment through the government’s new Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF). To be eligible for this scheme you cannot have already received the £400 discount and are likely to live in one of the following:
- Care home facilities/sheltered accommodation and wholly or partly pay for your accommodation including energy costs
- Park homes, houseboats and caravans and provide proof of address
- Social and private tenancies and pay for energy through a landlord on a commercial supply
- Homes on a heat network/private wire
- Off-grid homes
- Farmhouses used for wholly domestic purposes
The deadline for applications is 31 May 2023.
£200 Alternative Fuel Payment (AFP)
If you don’t have a contract for heating with a gas or electricity supplier and use alternative forms of fuel to heat your home, you may be eligible for a £200 Alternative Fuel Payment from the government. You are likely to be eligible for this payment if the main way you heat your home uses tank, bottled or liquid petroleum gas, oil, wood or solid fuel and you haven’t benefited from the £2,500 energy price guarantee.
This payment is in addition to the Energy Bills Support Schemes above which give households a £400 discount on the electricity bills.
Most eligible households will receive the payment automatically from their electricity supplier. If you do not have an electricity supplier, you will need to apply for it. Applications open on Monday 6 March.
To apply for either or both of these payments, or to find out more, search “apply for energy bill support if you do not get it automatically” at gov.uk or call the helpline on 0808 175 3287.
If you’re on a low income
- £900 Cost Of Living Payment: if you receive means-tested benefits or tax credits, you should receive this in three payments, starting in Spring 2023. Find out more at helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk
- £150 Warm Home Discount: If you're on a low income and have high energy costs, you may be eligible for a one-off discount on your electricity bill. If you think you’re eligible but haven’t received this discount, get in touch with the Warm Home Discount helpline
- water bill discount: If your total household income is below £21,749, you can get up to 50% off your water bill through Thames Water’s WaterHelp scheme
If you’re receiving a pension
- Winter Fuel Payment: You can get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. The amount you receive will include a Cost of Living Payment which depends on your circumstances. Contact the Winter Fuel Payment Centre if you did not get a letter or the money has not been paid into your account
- £150 Warm Home Discount: If you get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit, you can get a one-off discount on your electricity bill. If you think you’re eligible but haven’t received this discount, get in touch with the Warm Home Discount helpline
- £300 cost of living winter payment: you will receive this automatically during winter 2023 to 2024. Find out more at helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk
- Check if you’re eligible for pension credit at gov.uk/pension-credit-calculator or call 0800 99 12 34
- If you’re sick, disabled or have caring needs, check if you’re eligible for Attendance Allowance by calling 0800 731 0122
If you’re disabled
- £150 Disability Cost Of Living Payment: if you receive certain disability benefits, you’ll receive this payment in Summer 2023. Find out more at helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk
If you're in severe financial hardship
- Our Cost of Living Crisis Fund: If you cannot afford essentials such as food, energy bills and housing, you may be eligible for a payment of up to £500
Help with food
If you’re in urgent need of support with food, please visit Camden's Find Food website. You can use the website to find places and organisations to get food from in your local area.
We are sending supermarket vouchers to families living in Camden with children aged up to 18, who are receiving Housing Benefit, Council Tax support or free school meals. Read more about these vouchers and other help to access food in Camden, including food co-ops.
If you have children:
- check if they can get free school meals - it could save you £500 a year
- if you child is eligible for free school meals, ask your child’s school if they have a breakfast club
- get help to buy food and milk from the NHS HealthyStart scheme (for children under 4 or if you're pregnant)
Warm spaces and energy saving tips
To help everyone stay warm this winter, 'warm welcome' spaces are available across Camden. These community spaces are free for you to relax, meet up with others or get support with the cost of living crisis.
If you're worried about the cost of heating your home, you can contact our Green Camden Helpline on 0800 801 738, or email Green Camden for:
- tips to make your home warmer and save money
- guidance on efficiency grants and discounts
- advice on fuel tariffs and switching supplier
- home visits to help make your home warmer and reduce energy bills
We also have free and low cost tips to help you keep warm and save money on your energy bills.
If you owe money and you’re struggling to pay your bills:
- get in touch with an organisation like Debtline for free and confidential advice
- speak to the organisation you owe money to – for Council Tax arrears, call 020 7974 6414
- ask your energy supplier for temporary credit if you cannot top-up a pre-payment meter
- use Citizens Advice's budgeting tool to set out your income and expenditure
- do not ignore letters or bills about money you owe. Contact a local organisation in the Camden Advice Network or call a national advice organisation such as StepChange
Energy suppliers might be able to let you pay in smaller amounts or take a break from payments. You might also be able to apply for a grant to pay off energy debts.
If you need to take out a loan, do not approach a loan shark or take out a payday loan. Consider credit unions or other ethical loan providers. Find out more at credit-union.coop, call 020 7561 1786 or email email@example.com.
If you owe a loan shark money, or if you’re being threatened, get confidential help from Stop Loan Sharks.
If you don’t know where to turn, call us on 020 7974 4444 (option 9) or contact Citizens Advice Camden.
If you’re worried about housing costs or losing your home
If you’re having problems paying your rent or service charges and you're a:
- private renter: Speak to your landlord immediately, as they could be sympathetic to your situation. More advice is available at our Camden Private Renters website.
- council tenant: Call us on 020 7974 4444 for rent arrears (option 5, then option 2) or for service charge arrears (option 3, then option 6). You can also speak to your neighbourhood housing officer about both things. Find more information on our council tenants page.
If you’re at risk of becoming homeless within the next 8 weeks, please contact us for support. You may be able to get help through a Discretionary Housing Payment, especially if you are affected by the benefit cap.
If you have nowhere to sleep tonight or are currently sleeping rough, call the Homelessness Prevention service on 0207 974 4444.
If you’re a homeowner and having problems paying your mortgage, contact StepChange for free advice.
Before you speak to your private landlord or mortgage provider though, consider seeking free legal advice to help you understand your rights from one of the legal experts in Camden Advice Network
Help to find a new or better paid job
Good Work Camden provides free support to find a new or better paid job, or training opportunities, for any Camden resident who needs it. Register for our job hub to find out more.
If you’re aged 13 to 19, or up to age 25 with a learning difficulty or disability, contact Camden Connexions.
If you have a job already, you should also:
- check you are being paid the National Minimum Wage
- claim any benefits you're entitled to. If you're on a zero-hours contract, you can claim Universal Credit and the new Employment Support Allowance. Money you receive will vary depending on how much you work and earn
If you're a lone parent and looking to re-enter employment or start a training or education course, you might be able to get up to £1,500 to cover childcare costs. Check to see if you're eligible and apply for our childcare grant.
Advice bus and free and low-cost events
Our advice bus is available to support with a range of issues. You can also join free and low-cost events and activities in Camden throughout the year – including over the winter.
Find out about our advice bus and what's on at local community venues.
Mental health support
If you’re feeling down, anxious or worried, help is available:
- speak to your GP about how you are feeling
- refer yourself to iCope. This is a free NHS service in Camden and Islington giving confidential support and therapies. iCope also offers intercultural therapy in different languages
- read about more mental health services in Camden
For help in a crisis:
- call our 24-hour mental health crisis line on 020 3317 6333 to access specialist support
- in an emergency, always call 999
If you need to talk to someone, we’re here to help
For support with the cost of living crisis, you can:
- contact one of the local organisations in our Camden Advice Network
- call us on 020 7974 4444 (option 9)
- call Citizens Advice Camden on 0808 278 7835