Cost of Living

The cost of living is rising significantly and some households will be struggling financially and are worried about their circumstances. This page provides links to access services and organisations which can provide practical support and information to help you through this challenging time. 

Financial Support

Government Support Package

The government is providing £37 billion of support this year, targeting those most in need. The package will see millions of the most vulnerable households receive at least £1,200 of support in total this year to help with the cost of living. Domestic electricity customers will receive at least £400 to help with their bills. 

Find out more about theOverall government support for the cost of living: factsheet

Guidance on getting an extra payment to help with the cost of living if you're entitled to certain benefits or tax credits. 

Household Support Fund 

The Government has extended the Household Support Fund, giving Norfolk £6.67 million to support people struggling to pay for food, fuel, energy and water bills. This funding runs from October to March 2023.

Residents in financial hardship can self-refer to the Household Support Fund for support with food and energy vouchers, or alternative financial support. Applications should be made directly to the Norfolk Assistance Scheme.

Visit Norfolk County Council's website for details on how to apply to NAS. 

If you or someone you know requires further welfare or wellbeing support, visit our Inspiring Communities for details of how Breckland Council may be able to help.

Alternatively, you can email us (please note we cannot accept applications for the Household Support Fund).

If you are a professional working with residents of pension age or older who are in need of financial support, please e-mail us

Universal Credit 

If your circumstances have changed due to job loss or reduced hours, you may be eligible to apply for Universal Credit,find out how to claim online or call the Universal Credit helpline: 0800 3285644

If you don't have enough to live on whilst you wait for your first payment you can ask for anadvance payment after you've made a claim. You can also ask for a hardship payment if you cannot pay for rent, heating, food or hygiene needs or because you got a sanction. You need to pay it back through your Universal Credit payments - they'll be lower until you pay it back.

Change how you get your Universal Credit:

If you're having financial difficulties or you're behind on your rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement (APA).

Depending on your circumstances, you could get an APA to:

  • Get your rent paid directly to your landlord
  • Get paid more frequently than once a month
  • Receive split payments, if you're part of a couple

Speak to your work coach to apply for an APA.

Other benefits you can claim:

If you want to claim a benefit without your savings, your partner's savings or their income being taken into account, you can apply for either:

Find out what other financial support is available to Universal Credit customers.

Pension Credit

Pension Credit is available to residents of State Pension age and on a low income, to help with living costs. Pension credit is a 'passport' benefit which allows access to other support such as Warm Homes Discount and NHS dental treatment. 

 £10,000 or less in savings and investments does not affect Pension Credit entitlement.More details on eligibility, amounts and how to apply are available on the government website. 

Pension Credit claim line: 0800 99 1234

Citizens Advice

Offer free, impartial advice on debt, benefits, employment and housing issues. To make sure you're getting all of the support you're entitled to, get in touch directly via the Advice line on freephone 0800 1448848 or via theCitizens Advice website. 


Get free professional help getting out of debt, budgeting, making your money go further or help finding a job. CAP have debt centres in Dereham and Mid-Norfolk which offer face to face, video and telephone appointments. Clients are linked up with a befriender to provide practical and emotional support through the journey out of debt.

CAP works with local churches and is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. This service is suitable for low literacy and mental health needs. 

Find out more on the CAP website or call 0800 3280006

Energy, Bills and Housing

Social Tariffs

Switching provider or accessing discounted social tariffs can help households save money.  If you're struggling with energy bills it may be worth contacting your supplier to see if they have a hardship fund or are offering deferred payments. 

Anglian Water offer tariffs for low income households which can offer up to 50% discount on water and sewage charges. Residents can call the Extra Care Team on 0800 232 1963 to discuss switching tariff or discuss other ways that Anglian Water could help.Visit their website for more information.

Housing Benefit 

If you are pensionable age, or working age and living in Supported or Temporary accommodation you can apply for Housing Benefit for help with your rent. If you do not meet these conditions, you will need to apply forUniversal Credit  for help with your housing costs. How much you get depends on your household income, circumstances and housing status.

Council Tax Reduction 

You can apply for a reduction in your Council Tax bill if you're on a low income or claiming benefits.

Apply for Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction

Discretionary Payments

Discretionary Payments are short term or one off payments that are given to anyone experiencing exceptional financial hardship. You must be receiving Housing Benefit, the Housing Element of Universal Credit or Council Tax Reduction to be considered for it.

There are two discretionary payment funds available:

  • Discretionary Housing Payments - for those receiving Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit
  • Discretionary Exceptional Hardship Payments - for those receiving Council Tax Reduction

If you want to make a claim you must:

  • be receiving either Housing Benefit or Council Tax Reduction or the Housing Element of Universal Credit
  • explain in writing why you need extra help
  • be able to provide evidence to support your application

All applications are assessed on a case by case basis.

Visit the Anglia Revenues Partnership website for more information and eligibility criteria.

Warm Homes Fund

If you are in receipt of certain benefits, have high fuel costs, or have underlying health issues, you may be able to get help from the Warm Homes Fund.

Visit our webpage for eligibility and how to apply.

Housing Advice

For more information on housing, homelessness and other grants and loans available through our Housing Team, please visit ourHousing web page.


Free School Meals 

If you are eligible for free school meals you will receive a monthly 'cost of living' voucher. The vouchers will be £15 per month, per child. There's a larger payment of £30 for August, to coincide with the school holidays. That's £120 per child in total.

The vouchers will be paid from April 2022 (backdated) up to and including October 2022 and are provided by Edenred. You can use Edenred vouchers in all supermarkets for essentials, including clothing.

If you receive support with free school meals you will automatically receive the vouchers from your school.

Check to see if you are eligible for free school meals.

Breckland Mobile Food Store

Access affordable, nutritious food and household essentials, plus an information, advice and guidance service to support with the issues you are experiencing. 

Find your nearest stop.

Community Fridges 

Pick up surplus food and prevent food waste by visiting your nearest Community Fridge. There are four community fridges in Breckland, which anyone can access and the food is free of charge as it's nearing its sell-by date. So far Community Fridges have helped thousands connect to their communities, access nutritious food, save money and reduce waste.

Find your nearest Community Fridge.

Food Banks

Food banks in Breckland welcome and support everyone who is referred to them, always acting with respect and without judgment. Volunteers will give a minimum of three days' emergency food and offer support to resolve some of the difficulties you might be facing. 

In order to get help from a food bank you will need to be referred with a voucher, which can be obtained from Breckland Council. Call 01362 656870 or e-mail

Holiday Activity and Food Programme 

A government funded programme to provide school aged children eligible for free school meals with access to free healthy meals and activities in the school holidays. 

The Big Norfolk Holiday Fun is a Norfolk County Council scheme delivered alongside our partners Active Norfolk, to help your child move lots, eat well and have fun.

The scheme provides holiday activities for children and young people aged 5-16 in Norfolk. If your child is 4 years old but they are in school, they can take part.

Children not in receipt of free school meals can also attend but a fee is applicable. 

Find out more and book places.  

Healthy Start Scheme 

If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.

If you're eligible, you'll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. 

You can use your card to buy:

  • Plain liquid cow's milk
  • Fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
  • Fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
  • Infant formula milk based on cow's milk

Find out more about the Healthy Start Scheme.

Health and Wellbeing 

Social Prescribing 

Breckland residents have access to social prescribing services via their GP surgery, which is delivered by a range of providers. Social prescribing takes a holistic approach to supporting residents by offering people time to explore their issues and take greater control of their health, wellbeing and social welfare.

Social prescribing works for a range of people, including:

  • Those with one or more long-term conditions.
  • Those who need support with their mental wellbeing.
  • Those feeling lonely or isolated.
  • Those experiencing financial or housing issues.
  • Those who have complex social needs that impact their wellbeing.
  • Those who are carers or supporting others in some way.

Contact your GP surgery directly to request a referral into social prescribing. 

Mental Health

If you are struggling to cope with life's challenges, are feeling stressed or overwhelmed and want to access help, there are a range of services available to Breckland residents.

Norfolk and Waveney Mind 

The mental health charity that believes no one should have to face a mental health problem alone. Call 0300 330 5488

Wellbeing Service 

Wellbeing Norfolk & Waveney provide a range of support for people with common mental health and emotional issues, such as low mood, depression or stress. We work with you to help you make the necessary changes to improve your wellbeing and quality of life. Call 0300 123 1503 


Help for those involved in farming and other rural businesses affected by stress and depression. Call 0300 323 0400


Vulnerability Registration Service

The Vulnerability Registration Service (VRS) gives vulnerable people a single place to register their status, helping them avoid repeating the same difficult conversations each time they engage with organisations such as lenders and creditors. The service aims to help vulnerable consumers protect themselves against the financial, social and personal hardship suffered as a result of debt and financial problems. 

To find out more, visit their website.

Last updated: 30/09/2022 15:30:25