Cost of Living and Welfare Support

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 169 3630 to discuss switching tariff or discuss other ways that Anglian Water could help.Visit their website for more information. (opens new window)

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 toapply for Universal Credit (opens new window) 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 (opens new window)

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. (opens new window)

Housing Grants

If you are in receipt of certain benefits, have high fuel costs, or have underlying health issues, you may be eligible for support from a housing grant.

Visit our Housing Grants 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.

Financial Support

Household Support Fund 

The Household Support Fund (funded by the UK Government) provides support to residents who are struggling with the cost of living. On 6th March 2024 the Government announced an extension to the Household Support Fund from April to September 2024, with an additional £500 million of funding which will be used by local authorities to continue providing targeted support to vulnerable households with the cost of essentials such as food and utilities.

If you are a professional working with residents who need financial support, please e-mail us at

Residents cannot apply directly to the Household Support Fund. If you or someone you know requires welfare or wellbeing support, visit ourHealth and Wellbeing orFood pages for details of how Breckland Council may be able to help.

Client Hardship Service 

The Client Hardship Service (CHS) provides support to people living in Norfolk who are struggling financially and also claiming a means tested benefit (such as Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Tax Credits).

They provide a range of support which includes supporting you with money management and budgeting support and advice, supporting grant applications, providing cost comparisons for utilities and supporting with switching to cheaper providers or tariffs. Please see their website for full details of the support they offer.

Applications should be made directly to the Client Hardship Service.  Visit Norfolk County Council's website for details on how to apply to CHS.  (opens new window)

Supporting evidence such as bank statements will be required.

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 (opens new window) 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 (opens new window) 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. (opens new window)

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. 

Having £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. (opens new window) 

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. (opens new window) 


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 those with low literacy and mental health needs. 

Find out more on theCAP website (opens new window) or call 0800 3280006

Community Banking Support

Credit unions offer an alternative to traditional banks and building societies for saving and borrowing. They can sometimes beat the rates on the high street. Take a look at local options atFind Your Credit Union (opens new window)


Nourishing Norfolk Food Hubs

There are now a number of Food Hubs located across Breckland. Please find your nearest Food Hub below:

  • The Burrell Supermarket, Charles Burrell Centre, Thetford, IP24 3LH
  • The Food Cabin, Wellspring Family Centre, 35 Neatherd Road, Dereham, NR19 2AE
  • The Pantry, next to Kenninghall Village Hall, School Close, Kenninghall, NR16 2EL
  • Watton Food Hub, Watton Community Centre, Harvey Street, Watton, IP25 6EB

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. These can be obtained from Breckland Council, call 01362 656870 or complete aWelfare Referral Form (opens new window) for yourself, a family member or friend, or as a supporting professional. 

Breckland Food banks are located at the following locations:

  • Attleborough Lighthouse
  • Dereham Wellspring Church
  • Swaffham Baptist Church 
  • Thetford The Hub
  • Watton Christian Community Centre

Visit theTrussell Trust (opens new window) website for opening times. 

Food Deliveries

Many food shops and supermarkets can deliver food to your door when ordered on their website. Morrisons also offer a telephone shopping service where orders can be made over the phone. For further details please see theMorrisons website (opens new window)

If you have been unwell, you may be able to get help with your food shop from theBritish Red Cross Help at Home service (opens new window)


If you are struggling to find transport to the shops, the Norfolk County Council website contains information onhelp with transport (opens new window)

Check if you're eligible for Norfolk County Council'sTravel Norfolk Car Scheme (opens new window) which takes people for essential journeys (including food shopping).

The South Norfolk and Breckland Flexibus timetable can be found here:South Norfolk and Breckland Flexibus (opens new window)

Use this online tool to search forlocal transport options available for your address (opens new window)

For more information on vehicles with disabled access please visit our webpage:Wheelchair Accessible Taxis

Kitchen Equipment

If you are in financial hardship and cannot pay your living costs, the Client Hardship Service may be able to support with essential kitchen appliances, such as a fridge, freezer or cooker if you are eligible.

Details about how to apply can be found on the Client Hardship Service webpage (opens new window)

Support for Children and Families

Free School Meals 

Check if you are eligible for free school meals:Check to see if you are eligible for free school meals. (opens new window)

If you are eligible for free school meals, you will also receive a monthly 'cost of living' voucher.

The vouchers will be £15 per month, per child. There is an additional payment of £15 in July and August for the summer holidays.

The vouchers will be paid up to and including September 2024.

If you receive a means-tested benefit and are entitled for Free School Meals (Pupil Premium) you will automatically receive the vouchers from your child's school.

If you haven't received your voucher or have any other issues please send an email to providing your name, your child's name and the name of your child's school.

The vouchers are provided by Edenred and can be used for food and groceries.

For more information visit:Norfolk County Council - Cost of Living Vouchers (opens new window)

Holiday Activity and Food Programme 

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.

It is 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 scheme provides holiday activities for children and young people aged 5-16 years old 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. (opens new window)  

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

You can also use your card to collect:

  • Healthy Start vitamins - these support you during pregnancy and breastfeeding
  • Vitamin drops for babies and young children - these are suitable from birth to 4 years old

Find out more about the Healthy Start Scheme. (opens new window)

Health and Wellbeing

Welfare Support 

Covering the whole of Breckland, Welfare Officers undertake a holistic assessment of needs and offer information, guidance and signposting to organisations who are well placed to provide the support someone needs. 

The type of referrals we can accept include low level financial issues; health concerns which are impacting well-being and loneliness and isolation. Officers can help with referrals into hardship funds and targeted support such as social prescribing, whose services have specific referral criteria. 

We are unable to provide emergency or high threshold support where police, ambulance, fire, GP or social care services are required. 

We accept self-referrals or referrals from family, friends or a professional - but you must obtain the person's consent. 

Referrals are made via our onlineWelfare Referral form. (opens new window)

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.

All Breckland residents can contact their GP surgery directly to request a referral into social prescribing.

If you are a registered patient at Orchard Surgery, Theatre Royal Surgery, Mattishall & Lenwade Surgery, Toftwood Surgery, Shipdham Surgery or North Elmham Surgery, you can self refer via the online form on ourSocial Prescribing web page.

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 (opens new window) 

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

Wellbeing Service (opens new window) 

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 

YANA (opens new window) 

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

Find details of other partner services which could support your mental health and wellbeing.

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 the Vulnerability Registration Service website. (opens new window)

Period Products and Toiletries

If you're struggling to afford sanitary products or toiletries, free grab and go bags containing these items are available from all Norfolk libraries.

For further details, please visit the Norfolk County Council websiteThe Tricky Period and Toiletries to Go (opens new window)

Cuppa Care Bus

The Cuppa Care Bus aims to bring people together and tackle loneliness.

Whether you just want to get out of the house, to meet new people, or chat about something that's worrying you - they have friendly people on hand who can help.

Come on your own or with a friend, you'll be more than welcome to join them for a cuppa and a chat.

For the latest timetable

For more information e-mail

Emergency Planning

We work in partnership with the emergency services, health services, voluntary sector and community groups and partner agencies within the Norfolk Resilience Forum. 

For information on winter weather emergency updates, loss of utilities, flooding and the priority services register, visit our

Or contact Emergency Planning via e-mail 

Last updated: 19/04/2024 17:24:34