Cost-of-living crisis – Find help here

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The content on this page was last revised on 23 June 2022.

If you're struggling to pay your bills, we may be able to help

Across Hammersmith & Fulham, people are struggling with their bills as energy prices rise at their fastest rate since the 1970s. And with poverty levels already increasing significantly in the UK, the challenge facing local people today is even more stark.

To help, we've created this resource to help local residents get the support and advice they need to keep their families fed and warm, as well as to pay their bills.

We know there is an urgent problem in the borough. More than 20,000 local residents now receive Universal Credit benefits in H&F, while one in four pupils in H&F claim free school meals – the highest rate since 2018. H&F also provided more than 300,000 free food meals during the pandemic in the last academic year, in addition to vouchers and meals across holiday periods.

Meanwhile, H&F Council has also helped residents by supporting local foodbanks, offering free breakfasts in all our primary schools, expanding advice services, and abolishing charges elderly and Disabled people pay for care at home.

We hope you find this information useful. We will review this information and will add new details regularly. 


What we're doing in H&F

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Image caption: Image 2: Child eating at the Nourish Hub community kitchen on the Edward Woods Estate, Shepherds Bush

Helping residents through the cost-of-living crisis is our urgent priority at H&F.

With bills increasing and inflation at 9%, we're doing all we can to support local residents. This includes:

  • frozen H&F council tax
  • provided free breakfasts in primary schools
  • abolished home care charges for elderly and disabled residents
  • frozen or cut service charges across the council in real terms
  • supported the local foodbank and local charities
  • expanded advice services for anyone in need of extra support.

We will also want to build an alliance of support – just as we did during the pandemic – working with residents, local businesses, third sector organisations and others to find new ways to help people through these difficult times.

We will develop and implement a Financial Inclusion Strategy with strategic partners to improve access to financial information, including debt advice, better access to affordable credit and financial services, and building residents’ financial understanding and capability.

We will host a cost-of-living conference in Autumn 2022, bringing partners together to find new ways of helping residents navigate this crisis.

We will maintain our close support for charities like the Hammersmith and Fulham Foodbank, the Nourish Hub. We will work with businesses and third sector organisations to expand these schemes where they are most needed.

We will switch all council housing tenants from top-up electricity to central heating and smart meters via a green provider.

And amid rising rates of mental health problems among children and young people, exacerbated by the pandemic, we will provide access to counsellors at every school, all year round.


Help for families with children or struggling with bills

We are able to support families using the Household Support Fund. This is distributed to households with children on free school meals and via local voluntary organisations.

We are also providing additional support for households struggling to pay for fuel and housing costs.

If you need urgent support with food, loneliness or isolation, please email communityconnect@lbhf.gov.uk

Benefits and extra support

Find out about benefits you could be entitled to and how to get extra support in a crisis. 

If you are a council tenant in H&F, our Welfare Benefits Team can provide welfare rights advice including debt advice, support to identify benefit entitlement and applying for grants. Contact us about benefits.

Council tax support

Visit our help with council tax page (including advice on the £150 rebate for bands A to D) or call 020 8753 6681 if you need help and advice.

Help with childcare costs

You can get up to £500 every three months (up to £2,000 a year) for each of your children to help with the costs of childcare. This goes up to £1,000 every three months if a child is disabled (up to £4,000 a year). Find out more on the GOV.UK Tax-Free Childcare page.

If you need help with funding for two, three and four-year-olds, visit our help with childcare costs page.

Free school meals and uniforms

Free school meals, and clothing grants to help parents buy school uniforms are available for pupils whose parents or carers receive certain benefits. We are committed to building shared prosperity in the borough by providing your child with the best education and support opportunities. Apply for free school meals.

Claim a real nappy voucher

If you are pregnant or have a baby and live in H&F, you are entitled to one free real nappy voucher worth £45. This can be used to purchase any real nappies and related accessories from the Washable Nappy Company. More details here.

Help with prescriptions

Did you know, if you regularly pay prescription charges, a prescription prepayment certificate (PPC) could save you money? Or, if you have a low income you may qualify for help through the NHS Low Income Scheme.

In addition, some groups are automatically entitled to free NHS prescriptions, and others can apply for certificates that entitle them to free NHS prescriptions.


Need help with food?

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Image caption: Image 3: Daphine Aikens, founder of the H&F Foodbank, at work with her volunteers

Local foodbanks

For those who are able to use them, we want to make sure that our foodbanks are operating well and that they have food supplies and volunteers to support them. Find out about foodbanks in Hammersmith & Fulham.

If you need urgent support with food, loneliness or isolation, our Community Connect team may be able to help. Please email communityconnect@lbhf.gov.uk

Cooking on a budget

There are lots of ways to save money and make your food go further. Try Full Time Meals with Marcus Rashford and Tom Kerridge for pocket-friendly, easy recipes for 'hearty home cooked grub'.

Or Jack Monroe (aka Bootstrap Cook) is a former foodbank user and food poverty campaigner who’s carved a career out of sharing budget recipes designed with the simplest, cheapest ingredients. Check out the Cooking on a Bootstrap website or social media channels.

Rose vouchers

Funded by H&F Council, the Rose Vouchers Project helps residents living in poverty with children under the age of five get fresh fruit and vegetables from local market stalls. 


    Paying for your gas, electricity or water

    You can get a one-off payment of £150 as part of a government package to help with rising energy bills. You do not need to pay this back. 

    If you have not received the £150 into your bank account, you will need to apply online. Find out more about the council tax energy rebate payment.

    We are also providing additional support for households struggling to pay for fuel and housing costs.

    Thames Water can provide a 50% discount on your water bill if your household income is below £20,111. Find out more about their WaterHelp scheme

    Energy Bills Support Scheme

    Households will get £400 of support with their energy bills through an expansion of the Energy Bills Support Scheme.

    As well as doubling the £200 of support announced earlier this year, the full £400 payment will now be made as a grant, which will not be recovered through higher bills in future years.

    Energy suppliers will deliver this support to households with a domestic electricity meter over six months from October 2022. Direct debit and credit customers will have the money credited to their account, while customers with pre-payment meters will have the money applied to their meter or paid via a voucher.

    This support is in addition to the £150 council tax energy rebate.

    Pensioner Cost of Living Payment

    Pensioner households will receive an extra £300 this year to help them cover the rising cost of energy this winter. The Winter Fuel Payment (including the extra Pensioner Cost of Living Payment) is not taxable and does not affect eligibility for other benefits.

    Your energy supplier can help

    Your energy supplier can work with you to agree a payment plan so do contact your supplier as soon as you can if you are worried about paying your energy bills. More information about how to do this can be found on the Ofgem website, links below. 

    Drop in at a virtual Energy Cafe

    Get advice on energy efficiency or if you’re struggling with bills. Sessions are open to all H&F residents.

    Morgan Sindall Property Services (MSPS) – one of H&F’s official repairs and maintenance contractors – hold regular advice sessions for residents about energy issues, including if you’re struggling to pay your bills or need extra support.

    These sessions can be delivered over the phone, virtually, or face to face and occur on the first Wednesday of each month from 11am to 12.30pm.

    Those running the sessions have passed a Level 3 qualification in Energy Awareness with National Energy Action, enabling them to advise residents on the following:

    • what to do if you’re struggling to pay your energy bills
    • making sure your home is energy efficient
    • keeping your home free from condensation and mould growth
    • the best boiler controls for heating your home efficiently
    • grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills
    • signposting for extra support to other agencies.

    If you would like to sign up to a session, please contact CSRbox@morgansindall.com

    Help with fuel bills

    Warm Home Discount Scheme (GOV.UK) – You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2021 to 2022 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme. The scheme opened in October 2021.

    Cold Weather Payment (GOV.UK) – You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you’re getting certain benefits.

    Winter Fuel Payment (GOV.UK) – The Winter Fuel Payment is usually paid automatically if you’re eligible. 

    Pre-payment meters - new help through household support fund

    Customers with prepayment meters who are struggling to top up their meter should contact their supplier immediately to discuss options.

    If your supplier can’t help, you may be eligible for a one-off voucher through our new scheme. You can receive up to three £30 vouchers in a 6-month period.

    If you're struggling financially and are close to being disconnected or have little or no credit on your pre-payment meter please contact the following numbers and one of our advisors will discuss your situation with you.

    • If you need urgent support with food, medicine, loneliness or isolation and or fuel payments please call Community Connect on 0800 145 6095.
    • Council tenants please call the Housing Income Team on 020 8753 5566.
    • If you are in temporary accommodation or are a private tenant please call H&F Link on 020 8753 1587.
    • If you are in receipt of Council Tax Support and or housing benefit please call the contact centre on 020 8753 6681.

    Advice to help you improve energy efficiency and save money

    Green Doctors is a charity who helps residents save money, stay warm, and improve energy efficiency in their homes. You can find out about their services online and on the phone. See energy efficiency and warm homes for more information.


    Employment

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    Image caption: Image 4: Malik Luben-Scott enjoying an apprenticeship with CCTV security firm Chroma Vision

    Free employment support available from H&F WorkZone

    Our H&F WorkZone service is here to support residents into work.

    If you have recently lost your job or at risk of being made redundant, please contact us at info@workzoneonline.co.uk or call 020 8753 6773.

    The free employment service provides:

    • access to job and apprenticeship opportunities
    • CV and interview technique support
    • dedicated advisor for one-to-one advice and guidance
    • training support.

    For more information please visit the WorkZone website.

    Looking for work?

    H&F is a beacon for high growth businesses from a range of sectors which will provide good quality jobs and opportunities for all our residents.

    You can find a complete list of vacancies at Hammersmith & Fulham Council here.

    Want to earn while you learn? Find out more about apprenticeship schemes in H&F.

    If you'd like to work for the NHS, please visit the NHS Jobs website.

    Or looking across London for a job? Look at these helpful recruitment sites:

    Need skills or training?

    We offer more than 500 part-time courses for adults at venues and community groups across the borough. We can help you develop new skills, gain a qualification, further your career, find employment, share an interest or attend for health and well being.

    Courses are taught by skilled and qualified staff, who specialise in teaching adults. Many qualification courses are free for those on benefits. We pride ourselves on being a friendly and welcoming service and value feedback from our learners and the community.

    The service offers a broad range of courses at different levels from beginner's ESOL, to proficiency/mastery conversational language courses (entry level 1 to level 3).

    The course guide is on the Hammersmith & Fulham Adult Learning website.

    Employment and financial support 


    Paying your rent or mortgage

    Council tenants

    We can provide advice, support and guidance if you’re having difficulty in paying the rent.

    This may include setting up a payment plan, or supporting you to claim benefits such as Universal Credit or Employment Support Allowance.

    Please contact the rental income team on 020 8753 6032 or email rentincome@lbhf.gov.uk. Our phone line is open 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

    Private renters

    If you are struggling to pay your rent you can apply for Universal Credit. If you are already receiving Universal Credit or housing benefit you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

    If you are a private tenant or landlord struggling to maintain their tenancy due to affordability issues or lapses in rent payments resulting in arrears, please contact the tenancy sustainment officer at H&F Link on 020 8753 1587 or send an email for the attention of Shelly Musa, to hf.link@lbhf.gov.uk

    Temporary accommodation tenants

    Tenants who are living in council temporary accommodation but are struggling to pay rent, amenity charges or utility bills, please contact Rajdeep Sidhu at H&F Link on 020 8753 1587 or send an email for the attention of Rajdeep Sidhu to hf.link@lbhf.gov.uk

    Homeowners

    If you’re a homeowner, please call your mortgage provider to explain your change in financial circumstances. You may be able to pause mortgage payments for up to three months.

    H&F is delivering energy efficiency measures for households through the Energy Company Obligation and Green Homes Grant: Local Authority Delivery scheme. This includes insulation, heating controls and electric heating. Find out more on our energy initiatives page.

    Disabled Facilities Grants

    These mandatory grants are available to residents who need to make changes to their accommodation to enable them to continue to live independently. The grants up to a maximum of £30,000 (subject to a means test) are available to owner/occupiers and tenants for adaptations and/or facilities. Find out more on our private housing grants page.


    Helpful advice and support

    Need help with your household bills? Get tips from the MoneySavingExpert.

    Want some free and impartial money advice? Try the Money Advice Service.

    Or want to learn more about how to build your own budget, how to balance it and how to set money aside for regular bills? Try Crosslight Advice's online budgeting course.

    If you need help to reduce your regular living costs, try these ideas from Citizens Advice.

    More contact details for advice