Overview

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've developed an approach that sets out how we're working together as a city to support the communities most impacted by the rise in the cost of living, particularly over the coming winter months.

See the One City cost of living approach.

Where to get help

We Are Bristol helpline

You can call the free We Are Bristol helpline to get information and advice about the cost of living crisis, including where to get help about:

  • financial benefits
  • food
  • mental health and wellbeing
  • finding your nearest Welcoming Space

Call for free on 0800 694 0184 between 8:30am to 5pm, Monday to Friday.

The Citizen Service Point

If you need more advice and support around the cost of living that you've not been able to get from this page, or the organisations listed, visit the Citizen Service Point.

Housing

We can give advice, support and guidance if you're having difficulty paying your rent or mortgage.

There are organisations in Bristol offering help and advice in Bristol related to housing:

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 visit the Citizen Service Point on Temple Street.

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.

Help with fuel bills

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. 

For easy ways to make your home more energy efficient, visit:

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.

Homelessness

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.

There are organisations in Bristol offering help and advice in Bristol related to housing:

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.

Benefits, financial help, and managing debt

Use our benefits calculator to find out if you can claim benefits. You may be eligible for some extra money.

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:

  • food
  • new or second hand household goods

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.

 There's also a useful budgeting tool on the Citizens Advice website.

There are advice agencies in Bristol that offer free legal advice on:

  • debt
  • welfare benefit entitlements
  • appealing welfare benefit decisions

For advice on debt, visit:

For advice on welfare benefit entitlements, visit:

For advice on appealing welfare benefit decisions relating to Employment Support Allowance and Personal Independence Payments, visit:

If you need help with council tax and are on a low income you could apply for Council Tax Reduction.

Before you look at borrowing any money, check is a moneylender is registered, and report an illegal moneylender, also known as a loan shark, on GOV.UK.

There are also national helplines that offer advice on debt management and welfare benefits:

If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be eligible to get help to buy healthy food and milk with the NHS Healthy Start scheme.

Food

 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 info@feedingbristol.org 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.

If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be eligible to get help to buy healthy food and milk with the NHS Healthy Start scheme.

Employment and skills

You may be thinking about getting a new job or developing your skills.

One Front Door can help you find work and training. They give priority to unemployed residents. Call them on 0117 922 3440 from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday or email onefrontdoor@bristol.gov.uk.

The Ways2Work Network is a community of employment support and training organisations sharing information about opportunities to help you find work.

The National Careers Service:

  • 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:

  • English
  • maths
  • digital skills

Thrive at Work provides free tools and resources, including free e-learning, to help create a mentally healthy workforce and mentally healthy workplaces.  

Employment and financial support

Find information about employment and financial support on GOV.UK:

Additional advice for older people
Age UK Bristol is part of a Support Hub for Older People. The hub is made up of more than 35 organisations working together to support older people by offering practical, emotional and social support.
 
To find out about any of the services of the Support Hub partners:

Financial support

If you're State Pension age and get Winter Fuel Payments, you'll automatically get an extra £300 every year with your usual Winter Fuel Payment in either November or December.  
 
You're usually entitled to Winter Fuel Payments if you're of State Pension age in the third week of September. The State Pension age is 66. You should start getting the Winter Fuel Payment automatically once you reach State Pension age, but sometimes you might need to apply.

 

Additional support for disabled people

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

Find out if you're eligible for benefits if you're a disabled person or a carer.

Get advice with all disability-related matters from WECIL Navigators:

Mental health and emotional wellbeing

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.

If you start to feel that daily life is getting too much to cope with, you can contact The Samaritans or Shout 85258.

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.

Changes Bristol provide free peer support to any adult suffering from mental distress. This includes weekly in-person and online support as well as a telephone befriending service.

 

Cost of Living payments scam

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:

Welcoming Spaces

A Welcoming Space is a place already established in the community (such as a community centre, children's centre or place of faith) where people can meet up, socialise and access support related to the cost of living.

We've been working with organisations across Bristol to set up a network of Welcoming Spaces to support residents over autumn and winter 2022 to 2023.

Find your nearest Welcoming Space.

Support the Welcoming Spaces network. We'd like more venues and organisations to become Welcoming Spaces.

You can:

  • register to be a Welcoming Space
  • find out about funding
  • find out how else you can support the Welcoming Spaces network if you haven't got a venue
Help and support for Bristol's Clean Air Zone

Bristol's Clean Air Zone launches on Monday 28 November. No vehicle is banned from driving in the zone, but the most polluting vehicles will have to pay a daily charge to travel within the area.

Find out if you will be charged to drive in the zone using the Government's online vehicle checker.

We can help you prepare for the Clean Air Zone.

Financial support to replace vehicles

We're offering grants and loans to help people and businesses that need to replace vehicles that don't meet the zone's emission standards.

Clean Air Zone exemptions

You may be able to apply for a temporary exemption from the charge, giving you some extra time to replace or upgrade your vehicle if:

  • you live within the Clean Air Zone
  • you work within the Zone and earn less than £26,000 per year
  • you meet one of the exemption criteria

Free active travel offers

We have secured over £5.9 million to help people to make their journeys more sustainable.

Active travel:

  • helps to keep our air clean
  • can help us feel good and improve our mental wellbeing

Our free active travel offer scheme offers people:

  • bike and e-bike trials for up to one month
  • adult cycle training to help build your confidence
  • VOI eScooter credit
  • train vouchers
  • taster bus tickets
  • enterprise car club credit
  • a free travel planning session to help you explore all your options for your regular journeys

If you need further support or have questions, email cazsupport@bristol.gov.uk.

Children, young people and families

Free childcare for two-year-olds

If you're a parent or carer of a two-year-old and you meet the eligibility criteria, your child could receive up to 15 hours per week of free childcare and early education. Find out if you're eligible and apply for a place.

15 and 30 hours free childcare for three- and four-year-olds

All three- and four-year-olds in England are entitled to 570 hours free early education or childcare per year.

Tax-free childcare support through the Childcare Choices website.

Find out more about tax-free childcare on the government website.

Your Holiday Hub

The Your Holiday Hub (YHH) programme runs over the winter, easter and summer holidays for children and young people aged four to 16 to access food and activities during the school holidays.

Free places are available for children and young people who are eligible and in receipt of free school meals, alongside paid for places, at a wide range of exciting venues across the city.

Bristol Children's Centres and Hubs

Children's Centres provide a welcoming place to connect with other families and to get information and advice from a range of services.

Help to buy food and milk

If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be eligible to get help to buy healthy food and milk with the NHS Healthy Start scheme.

Support your community

Donate to the Local Crisis Prevention Fund

Some people have asked if they can make a financial contribution which will go directly to support those most impacted.

Find out how to donate to the Local Crisis Prevention Fund.

Volunteer

There are lots of opportunities to help in your community. If you would like to volunteer with a local organisation, visit the Can Do Bristol website.