Everyone is likely to need a bit of help 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
- Grants and loans
- 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 easy read format.
Claim benefits you’re entitled to
You may be able to claim benefits or receive financial support or discounts if you are:
- unemployed or receive a low income
- sick or disabled
- a pensioner and on a low income
- a carer
- responsible for children
- live alone
You can check which benefits are available to you on GOV.UK, by using a free benefits calculator or by getting free advice from a local organisation.
If you're on a low income, you're a carer or you're disabled, you may be eligible for a council tax discount by applying for Council Tax Support. Some people - including disabled people, people who live alone and students, 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 have received £400 off energy bills
Most households automatically received this via monthly discounts on electricity bills, which ended in March 2023 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. The deadline to cash in the vouchers is 30 June 2023. Find out more about the government’s Energy Bills Support Scheme.
£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 Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding (EBSS AF). To find out more and apply, search “apply for energy bill support if you do not get it automatically” at gov.uk or call the helpline on 0808 175 3287.
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 - e.g. tank, bottled or liquid petroleum gas, oil, wood or solid fuel - you may be eligible for the government's £200 Alternative Fuel Payment. This payment is in addition to the £400 discount on 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. To find out more and apply, 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 - £301 by early May 2023, £300 in Autumn 2023 and £299 in Spring 2024. Find out more at 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
- Cost of living payment: If you’re entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023 to 2024, you will get an extra £150 or £300 'cost of living' payment from the government. If eligible, you will receive a letter in October or November explaining how much you will receive. Find out more at helpforhouseholds.campaign.gov.uk
- £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
- 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
- Refer yourself for money advice and support: If you need help with money and bills or if you're in debt, we can give you advice and support you to access any help with money you may be eligible for.
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 Healthy Start scheme (for children under 4 or if you're pregnant)
Grants and loans
- 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
- 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 if you're eligible and apply for a childcare grant
- There are a number of charitable grants available that may not need to be repaid. Check what you might be eligible for using the Turn2us grants search
- Budgeting Loans are available from the government for people who receive certain benefits. Check if you’re eligible and apply for a Budgeting Loan
- A £500 Sure Start Maternity Grant is available from the government for people who receive certain benefits. Check if you’re eligible and apply for a Sure Start Maternity Grant
Warm spaces and energy saving tips
'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 SHINE on 0800 801 738, or email Green Camden for:
- tips to make your home warmer and save money
- 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 protected].
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 and advice events provide support on a range of issues. There are also a wide range of free and low-cost events and activities in Camden throughout the year.
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