The rising cost of living is affecting everybody in the city in different ways. We want to support those most impacted, including those who have not faced financial challenge before.
In this guide you can find useful websites, community organisations, advice and guidance to help you through the rising cost of living. If you need help, contact us or one of the organisations in this guide. There's advice, support and information available across Bristol.
Some organisations are very busy. It may take a while to get a response to a query.
Cost of living pressures can affect our mental health and wellbeing, making us feel stressed, anxious or low. Talk to friends and family about how you're feeling. There are local organisations that can also help, and it's important to look after your own wellbeing.
We can give advice, support and guidance if you're having difficulty paying your rent or mortgage.
Paying your rent
You may be able to get help with your rent if you:
- are on a low income
- don't already get help with housing costs
Most people on a low income who are renting privately, from the council, or a housing association need to make a Universal Credit claim. If you need help claiming Universal Credit you can:
Some people might need to claim Housing Benefit rather than Universal Credit for help with housing costs, for example:
- people placed in temporary accommodation by the council
- people living in a hostel or supported housing
Our Housing Benefit section gives support with claiming and changing your circumstances.
If your rent is more than you get for your Universal Credit or Housing Benefit, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment. There are limited funds available. Applications will be prioritised and may only be made for 3 months.
Find out what to do if you're a council tenant and having problems paying your rent or you're in rent arrears.
Paying your mortgage
Get advice if you're struggling to pay your mortgage and are in arrears.
Energy bills support scheme
The government will give every household in the country a discount of £400 off their electricity bill, via the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
This discount will be automatically applied to your energy account over 6 months:
- £66 per month in October and November 2022
- £67 per month from December to March 2023
You don't need to do anything to get the money and you won't have to pay it back.
If you pay for energy in your rent, your landlord should pass on the discount to you.
Cold Weather Payment
You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you're getting certain benefits. This scheme is expected to reopen in November 2022.
The Winter Fuel Payment is usually paid automatically in November or December if you're eligible.
Energy efficiency at home
You can reduce your energy bills by making your home more energy efficient. This will be particularly important as winter approaches. Visit the Centre for Sustainable Energy website for home energy advice.
The Cold Homes Energy Efficiency Survey Experts Project is a Bristol-based not-for-profit Community Interest Company (CIC) that carries out surveys to see where your home is losing heat. Surveys start at £135 but are free to people who:
- live in buildings that lose a lot of heat, or
- can't afford to heat their homes
Bright Green Homes project
The Bright Green Homes project can support eligible Bristol residents to install energy saving measures to their home, including cavity wall insulation.
If your property does not use gas central heating, find out if you're eligible for funding.
If you're homeless or worried about becoming homeless, visit our Citizen Service Point for advice and support on weekdays.
There are night shelters and advice for people currently rough sleeping.
Move in, Move on, Move up is a service from One Front Door for anyone with a history of rough sleeping or living in temporary or unsettled accommodation. They give one-to-one support to help people get a job and earn more money.
You may get a payment to help with the cost of living if you're getting certain benefits or tax credits.
- If you're eligible, the government will give you:
a £326 Cost of Living Payment on or after 14 July 2022
a second payment of £324 in the autumn
There are advice agencies in Bristol that offer free legal advice on debt.
Check if a moneylender is registered, and report an illegal moneylender, also known as a loan shark, on GOV.UK.
If you're struggling to manage your money or have debt problems, visit our money advice page for information on funds, benefits and support available.
Use our benefits calculator to find out if you can claim benefits.
If you're going through a one-off crisis and need emergency help, you can apply for support from our Local crisis prevention fund. It includes small emergency payments for:
- new or second hand household goods
There's support available with school uniforms to low income families, from 11 July to 9 October 2022.
If you owe the council money and are struggling to make repayments, we can help make an arrangement to pay your council debt.
If you need help with council tax and are on a low income you could apply for council tax reduction.
There are organisations and schemes across the city that can help you get food.
If your child gets free school meals, you can find your local Holiday and Food (HAF) where your child can take part in activities and get free food from Your Holiday Hub. Find out how to access free school meals.
Visit the Family Action FOOD Club website to find your local club and access food at a low cost (a bag worth £10 to £15 for £3.50). Or email Bristolfoodclubs@family-action.org.uk for more information.
Visit your local food bank websites for information on how to get food parcels if you're eligible:
Local crisis and prevention fund can make food bank referrals.
Find simple recipes for cheap and healthy meals that you and your kids can cook together on the Feeding Bristol website, available in 16 different languages.
Email email@example.com to find out about what community services are available in your area.
Visit your local community centre to ask about food services in your neighbourhood.
Visit the Too Good to Go website to find out how you can buy food from cafes, restaurants and shops at a reduced price, when it hasn't sold in time.
On the Olio website you can find people giving away free food to their community.
You may be thinking about getting a new job or developing your skills.
The Ways2Work Network is a community of employment support and training organisations sharing information about opportunities to help you find work.
- gives advice and guidance on learning, training and work at all stages in your career
- helps you match your skills to potential new careers
Future Bright offers free, one-to-one coaching and support to help you take your next step at work.
Bristol Community Learning offers free courses to improve your confidence and skills for life and work, including:
- digital skills
Employment and financial support
Find information about employment and financial support on GOV.UK:
- call the Age UK Bristol helpline on 0117 929 7537
- visit the Age UK Bristol website
Disability Cost of Living Payment
If you're getting a disability benefit, for example Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, the government will give you £150 in September 2022.
If you're not getting benefits:
- use a benefits calculator to check if you can claim
- call 0808 278 7957 to speak to a trained adviser
You should start a claim as soon as possible if you're eligible.
Council tax disabled band relief
If you live in a property where changes have been made to help a disabled child or adult who still lives there, you can apply for disabled band relief.
Disabled people's and carers' benefits and support
Get advice with all disability-related matters from WECIL Navigators:
Applications for the £150 council tax rebate are now closed.
A discretionary fund has been opened for those Bristol residents who are not eligible for the £150 payment.
Every Mind Matters give expert advice and practical tips to help you look after your mental health.
If you're struggling most days, it's important you ask for support. Community Access Support Service can signpost to organisations across Bristol for all groups of people and communities.
The Samaritans offer support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on:
- 0330 094 5717
- freephone 116 123
Shout 85258 offers confidential text support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When you need immediate help, text SHOUT to 85258.
Bristol Mind also has online resources to support older people's mental health and emotional wellbeing.
VitaMinds is a free and confidential NHS service which offers a range of short-term talking therapies to people aged 16 and over who live in and are registered with a GP in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.
Second Step provide mental health and wellbeing services to help people take the next steps in their recovery. They provide practical help and emotional support tailored to each individual.
There are people attempting to get personal information from customers by sending out texts suggesting that customers are eligible for Cost of Living payments.
If you've had a message asking you to apply or contact someone about the payment, this might be a scam.
If you're eligible for Cost of Living payments:
- you'll be paid automatically
- you do not need to apply for payment
- you do not need to call or speak to anyone
The payment is automatic. DWP will never ask for personal details by text or email.
Visit the government website:
To help us gather information on the impact of the cost of living crisis on businesses in Bristol, we've launched a short survey.
This will help inform future business support we might develop, either as a council, or with partner organisations, to work alongside what may be offered by the government.
All responses to the survey will be treated as confidential. A summary will be used to inform any future support.
The survey closes on Sunday 23 October.