We understand many of you may be struggling with utilities and food price rises.

Our benefits advisers are hosting monthly pop-in sessions for any residents who would like to raise questions or concerns about benefits or benefit letters they may have received. Sessions take place between 10am and 1pm in our Hammersmith office every third Thursday of the month.

In the meantime, here is a simple guide on ensuring you are accessing all support available.

Step 1: Check any welfare benefits issues are resolved

Our in-house welfare benefits team supports tenants to challenge benefits decisions and resolve issues with claims.  If you have a gap in your claim or your benefits have stopped it's important you first find out why. The issue may be easily resolved by providing some information to support your claim. 

If you’ve received a benefits decision you do not agree with, please speak to your housing officer to be referred to the welfare benefits team*.  It's important you seek help early to avoid missing important timescales, deadlines or falling into arrears. 

Do you have children who are due to be in sixth form, college or university this autumn? Or are you a resident who is considering returning to full-time education? If so – here are a few tips to ensure any changes to educational status in your home do not affect any support you may receive from Housing Benefits, Universal Credit or Child Benefit.

*please note our welfare benefits service is available to general needs, temporary housing, and care and support tenants only.

Step 2: Are you claiming everything you are entitled to?

Use the benefits calculator to check you’re claiming everything you are entitled to.

Universal Credit

You may be able to claim Universal Credit for help with your living and housing costs. You can claim Universal Credit online or call 0800 328 5644 (Mon-Fri 8 am-6 pm). Universal Credit is paid directly into your bank account monthly, which means you're responsible for paying your full rent to us.  The easiest way to pay is to set up a Direct Debit so that, when your rent's due, it will be taken out of your bank account without you having to do anything. If you don’t already have one, open a bank account. Make sure you can use it to set up direct debits or standing orders to pay your bills. Create a monthly household budget to keep track of your spending across the month.

Get full support on making a UC claim with Citizens Advice Bureau’s “Help To Claim” team - 0800 144 8 444.

Please note: when you submit a new claim for universal credit and you're already receiving legacy benefits such as tax credits, your entitlement to those benefits would end.

If you have savings

Combined savings of between £6,000 and £16,000 can cause a reduction in the amount of benefits to which you could be entitled, depending on your age and situation. If you and your partner (if you have one) have combined savings of more than £16,000, and one of you is under state pension age, you will not have any entitlement to universal credit or housing benefit. If you (and your partner) are over the state pension age then you should check your entitlement as the savings limits are different for people over the state pension age. 

Please use the benefits calculator to check entitlement, especially before submitting any claim to UC. If you have any concerns contact your housing officer or PMO via My Account.

Step 3: Check for any other financial support

Council Assistance funds

Every borough has a discretionary, Household Support Fund to help with costs such as food and utilities. To find out more and apply contact your local council - find your local council

Government help with gas and electricity bills

The government has announced several schemes to help with the rising costs of utilities. Please see updates here Help for households. Much of the support available is paid automatically to those who are eligible with active claims however, residents need to apply for;

  • Warm Home discount scheme
    You could get £140 off your electricity bill or towards your prepayment meter if you are on a low income or inreceipt of guarantee credit element of pension credit.  The scheme is available between September and March. Warm Home Discount Scheme: Overview - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
  • Winter fuel payment
    You may be able to get a Winter Fuel Payment of between £100-£300 towards winter heating bills. To check if you are eligible Winter Fuel Payment: Overview
  • Utilities and water companies
    Many offer extra support to vulnerable people and/or those on low incomes, we’ve put together this helpful guide with details of extra support offered by utilities and water companies.

Discretionary help with arrears

Get help from your local council. You may be able to claim a Discretionary Housing Payment or get help from the Local Welfare Assistance Scheme. Each council runs its own scheme with different qualifying criteria but some may be able to help with food vouchers, energy top-ups, or grants to deal with emergencies.  It's worth having a look at your council’s website to see if you can apply.

Employment and training support

If someone in your household is looking for work, training, or an apprenticeship you can search our database for Support services. Our partners such as Ingeus support people in central London boroughs into work (please check the eligibility criteria).

Smart works provide coaching, pre-employment support, and clothing to women trying to get back into work Smart Works | Notting Hill Genesis.

Step 4: Are you paying debts?

A debt adviser can support you to re-organise your finances so that you meet priority payments such as utilities, food and rent. An adviser can also talk you through other options available to help deal with problem debt. See our Budget and manage debt page.

Step 5: Other ways to reduce pressure on your budget

A new government page Help for Households provides useful advice on all support available.

Warm Spaces

You can search through the directory at www.warmwelcome.uk to find warm spaces locally. Each warm space offers a safe, warm place to have a hot drink at a minimum but many offer other activities and support such as food, befriending, board games, homework clubs and more

Support with energy costs

For advice on switching and support to apply for energy grants:

  • If you live in Barnet, Brent, Ealing, Hammersmith and Fulham, Harrow, Hounslow, Hillingdon, RBKC or Westminster, you can self-refer to Green Doctors*. For more info, watch this video about Green Doctors operating in London and how they can offer advice and support to residents at the risk of fuel poverty.
  • If you live in Camden, you can self-refer to Wish Plus*
  • If you live in Lambeth, Lewisham or Southwark, you can self-refer to South London Healthy Homes*
  • If you live in Essex you can self-refer to Green Doctors Essex*

*Please note eligibility criteria apply

Help with food

  • Foodbanks: You can locate your nearest foodbank via the Trussell Trust website. Please speak to your housing officer or PMO if you need a referral.
  • StepChange have put together information to help search for help with food or finances.
  • Healthy Start: if you are pregnant or have children under the age of 4 and are in receipt of certain benefits,  you may be able to get payments for fresh food, milk and vitamins under NHS Healthy Start. Please see here for more information How to apply – Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

Help with other bills

  • Pocket Power help NHG residents on lower incomes to switch to cheaper providers for their household bills like energy, broadband, phone and water and apply for discounts such as warm home discounts.  Residents referred to the service will be booked in for a 1-2-1 phone appointment.
  • We have links with baby banks in RBKC, Hammersmith and Fulham and Brent. SPACE baby bank will arrange an appointment with expectant mothers or families with under-five year olds to attend the centre and collect items and toys to help with the costs of a new baby. You can search Little Village’s network of baby banks UK baby banks - Little Village
  • You may be able to switch to a social tariff for cheaper broadband and phone bills if you or someone in your household claims Universal Credit. Some providers also include people on other benefits such as Pension Credit, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance and Income Support. To find out if you qualify and how to apply, please see cheaper broadband and phone packages from Ofcom.

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