Money is tight, life is worrying and many of us haven’t asked for help before. It’s important to act early to prevent smaller problems turning into bigger ones.  

We're working with Dorset Citizen’s Advice to offer advice and support on: 

  • money, debt and benefits 
  • access to food 
  • housing 
  • support for children 
  • mental health and wellbeing 
  • energy, water, phone and broadband costs 
  • employment  
  • general help 

Contact your local Citizens Advice office to find out more about their outreach services. 

You can read about the overall government support for the cost of living on GOV.UK

Money, debt and benefits

Benefits information

Maximise your income and double check your right to benefits.

Help to Claim is a national helpline run by Citizens Advice. For Universal Credit claims telephone 0800 144 8444.

Extra money for living costs with Pension Credit

Pension credit is extra money for living costs and unlocks helps with:

  • heating costs
  • NHS treatment
  • housing benefit
  • support for mortgage interest
  • council tax discount
  • free TV licence (over 75s)

This is for people over the state pension age and on a low income. Find out more about Pension Credit.

Problems paying your council tax  

If you're having problems paying your Council Tax, contact us and we'll do all we can to help.

See our Council Tax pages for further advice about what to do if you have problems paying your Council Tax.

Money advice including debts and bills

Visit the Citizens Advice Dorset website for free, independent and confidential advice.

Charitable grants

Help may be available through a charitable grant and other support, depending on your circumstances and needs. Search for charitable grants.

Get help with savings if you’re on a low income (Help to Save)

Help to Save is a savings account. It allows those who are entitled to Working Tax Credit or receiving Universal Credit to get an additional 50p for every £1 they save.

Help to Save is backed by the government so all savings in the scheme are secure. Find out more about the Help to Save scheme.

Carers allowance

You could get £69.70 a week if you care for someone at least 35 hours a week and they get certain benefits. You do not have to be related to or live with the person you care for. Find out more about Carers Allowance

Carers Card providing discounts for unpaid carers

Sign up to the Carers Information Service to receive your Carers Card for discounts across Dorset including opticians, insurance, holistic treatments and eating out. 

Get help to quit smoking and save money 

Stopping smoking will save a lot of money and is beneficial to your health at any age. Visit Public Health Dorset for advice and information about stopping smoking.

Access to food

Find foodbanks, community fridges and affordable food

Don’t skip meals to pay bills. Visit the Help and Kindness website for information on local foodbanks, community fridges and affordable food.

Foodbanks

Food banks are run by the community for the community. Donated food is distributed to those in need or in an emergency.

Each foodbank has its own system for supporting those in need. Many use a referral system, this is when an organisation helps you with other needs and also gives you a referral number for the foodbank. You will usually be issued a voucher for three days' worth of food. They may also provide other items such as toiletries.

Community shops (social supermarkets)

A community shop or pantry will provide cheaper, good quality and nutritious food to people who have limited disposable income. Food may include fresh fruit and veg, store cupboard favourites, bread, dairy products and frozen items.

You sign up to become a member and can then choose a set number of items for an agreed price each week. Community shops also work to reduce food waste by linking with supermarkets and making fresh food accessible for a low cost or free.

Community fridges

A community fridge can be accessed by anyone in the community, and anyone can give to or take food from the fridge. Community fridges:

  • help share fresh food within a community
  • reduce food waste
  • gives people facing hardship easy access to fresh, nutritious food

There are some rules on what you can and cannot put in the fridge (for health and safety reasons), so do check this when you visit. 

Housing

We recognise that some households may be struggling to meet their housing costs due to the current cost of living crisis. Energy costs, petrol and food have all increased in price and are still rising and this is putting a squeeze on everyone’s household budgets.

Help is available to support you and we would encourage you not to wait until it is too late as early intervention can make a lot of difference. 

We have Tenancy Sustainment Officers whose role is to work with struggling households to support them. We can:

  • help you talk to your landlord or lender about the issues and negotiate solutions
  • signpost you for additional help with debts 
  • help you make benefit claims to maximise your income
  • help you prepare a household budget plan
  • signpost you and help you get help from other places such as through grants, discretionary housing payments and the household support grant scheme
  • help you get access to a foodbank or other emergency help

Healthy Homes Dorset

Healthy Homes Dorset can offer all Dorset residents free, impartial energy advice over the phone, and eligible residents free loft and wall insulation. Free heating improvements may also be available.

Contact us

If you are worried you may lose your home, or are struggling to pay your rent or mortgage please contact us, we will do all we can to support and help you. 

You can also get cost of living advice and tips from Which? and StepChange on coping with the cost of living.

Support for children

Free school meals

Find out if your child is eligible for free school meals by completing our checker. If they are, they can also enjoy free holiday clubs and their school or childcare setting will receive extra funding (called the Pupil Premium).

Healthy Start vouchers

See how to access vouchers to buy basic food items. This is for pregnant women and families on a low income with a child under 4.

Childcare funding

See the options available to help childcare costs from age 0 to 15.

Support for older people

Household Support Fund for pensioners

If you are struggling with money and are on a low income, you may be able to apply for the Household Support Fund.

Apply now

Help with your application 

You can get help with your application form at your local Citizens Advice office. You could also ask a trusted friend or family member to complete the form for you.

Extra money for living costs with Pension Credit

Pension credit is extra money for living costs and unlocks helps with:

  • heating costs
  • NHS treatment
  • housing benefit
  • support for mortgage interest
  • council tax discount
  • free TV licence (over 75s)

This is for people over the state pension age and on a low income. Find out more about Pension Credit.

Information and support from Age UK

Age UK provides free and confidential support to older people, their families and carers. This includes information on:

  • housing
  • money
  • benefits
  • health and wellbeing
  • relieving loneliness

For further information contact:

Mental health and wellbeing

Mental health - Public Health Dorset

Visit the Public Health Dorset website for simple steps to taking care of our wellbeing and links to organisations that can help.

Help for people experiencing domestic abuse

Money worries can make life at home difficult, don’t suffer in silence. See details of the help available to those experiencing domestic abuse.

Reach Drug & Alcohol Services

Visit the Reach website If you’re worried about your use of drugs and alcohol.

Energy, water, phone and broadband

Energy bills rebate from Dorset Council

On 3 February 2022 the Government announced a package of support which aims to help households with rising energy bills.

Part of this provides funding for councils to give all households in England, whose main residence is listed in council tax bands A – D, a one-off non repayable payment of £150 from April 2022 to assist with the rise in energy costs.  

Getting help if you can't afford your energy bills

Visit the Ofgem website for advice and support with high energy bills.

Energy grants checker

Check your eligibility for energy company grants.

Energy advice from Green Dorset

See our quick fixes and longer term ideas to save energy.

Energy advice from Citizens Advice

Call the Citizens Advice Energy Unit on 01929 775500 or email energy@edpcitizensadvice.org.uk for free and impartial advice on energy.

Difficulty paying your water bill

Your water provider can offer support if you are struggling to pay your water bills:

Cheaper broadband and phone packages

Visit the Ofcom website for Information on cheaper tariffs for eligible households. 

Healthy Homes Dorset

Healthy Homes Dorset can offer all Dorset residents free, impartial energy advice over the phone, and eligible residents free loft and wall insulation. Free heating improvements may also be available.

Employment

Rights at work from Citizens Advice

Visit Citizens Advice for free, independent and confidential advice if you are worried about your job.

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