CPRE recognises the impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on those living in the countryside. From soaring energy bills to a dearth of affordable housing, our rural communities are at the sharp end of a wider economic crisis that is having a disproportional impact on them. CPRE has joined the ‘Warm This Winter’ coalition calling for urgent action from the government, otherwise millions - particularly in rural areas - will be unable to pay their bills and heat their homes.
Government funded Cost of Living support
Here is the latest information from GOV.UK regarding the timing and amount of cost of living support payments in 2023/24. The government has allocated £842 million to local authorities in England to extend the Household Support Fund (01 April 2023 until 31 March 2024). The Household Support Fund is there to help low income households, including families, pensioners, unpaid carers, care leavers and disabled people. It provides immediate help for those who are struggling. This could include help with your energy, water, broadband and phone bills, as well as other essentials such as food, clothing and hygiene products. The fund can also assist with transport-related costs such as car repairs, buying a bicycle or paying for fuel. The Help for Households may also be helpful.
If you need help with the cost of living, these resources may be helpful.
Financial support, help with debt, grants and benefits: Your bank or building society may be able to offer support: this article explains the actions banks are taking and will be updated as more information is available. Turn2Us is a national charity providing practical help to people who are struggling financially, by helping people access benefits, charitable grants and other support. The Money Advice Trust is a national charity, helping people across the UK to tackle their debts and manage their money with confidence. StepChange Debt Charity offers free, confidential and expert debt advice and money guidance. Help with calculating benefits can be found at Age UK and Citizens Advice.
Energy saving advice and support with paying energy bills: The Energy Saving Trust offers advice on how to reduce fuel bills. The NEA Action for Warm Homes and the Centre for Sustainable Energy offer advice if you are struggling with your energy bills. Citizens Advice can advise on grants and benefits to help you pay your energy bills. The Money Saving Boiler Challengeoffers a step-by-step guide to turning down your boiler to save money and reduce carbon emissions.
Cambridgeshire Home Energy Support Service Plus (CHESS+), a project being delivered by environmental charity PECT in partnership with Cambridgeshire ACRE, is supporting residents in the districts of Fenland, Huntingdonshire, East Cambridgeshire, and Cambridge City with free energy advice and support. If you would like to find out more about the service and discuss your situation, you can freephone on 0800 8021773 or email email@example.com.
Action on Energy Cambridgeshire is a partnership between Cambridgeshire County Council, Cambridge City Council, East Cambridgeshire District Council, Fenland District Council, Huntingdonshire District Council and South Cambridgeshire District Council. They provide communities with advice on how to maximise the energy efficiency of their homes, save money on their energy bills and cut their carbon emissions. Advice includes information on the energy efficiency measures available, practical guidance, funding opportunities and support to find an installer.
Most households in England that use alternative fuels for most of their heating such as liquid petroleum gas (LPG), oil or solid fuel will be eligible for an Alternative Fuels Payment (AFP).
Food: The Trussell Trust and the Independent Food Aid Network can help you find a food bank near to you. Family Action and Love Food Hate Waste offer advice on how to reduce food waste. Fareshare gives details of organisations offering food support to individuals and families. The BHF offers advice on eating healthily on a budget, and Cooking on a Bootstrapoffers a range of low-budget recipes. FoodCycle offers free meals in Cambridge and Peterborough.
For general information and support try Citizens Advice.
Grants for individuals and families
We are collecting information about those trusts and funding organisations which can offer support to individuals and families who meet their specific criteria. Please click here for more details. This will be updated as information becomes available.
Warm Hubs are being set up across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough. A number of warm hubs are already open in East and South Cambridgeshire (please embed the link in the words “East and South Cambridgeshire” https://www.cambsacre.org.uk/what-we-do-cambridgeshire-acre/warm-hubs/). Also on Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/WarmHubsCambs. Details of hubs in Peterborough can be found at https://www.peterborough.gov.uk/council/campaigns/support-with-the-cost-of-living/winter-support-hubs
We’ll update this section as other Warm Hubs are opened.
Support where you live
District Councils in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough can also offer support. Please visit your local District Council for more information.
Cambridgeshire County Council Household Support Fund
The Household Support Fund (HSF) helps people experiencing immediate financial hardship to pay for food and household energy bills. You can access this support directly through the County Council, or there is a network of local organisations (our ‘Trusted Partners’) who can help you access the support. This is money the council has been awarded by HM Government to help those in need and most affected by the cost of living crisis to support them to resolve their financial issues. For more information go https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/council/communities-localism/support-with-the-cost-of-living/household-support-fund
Hay Peterborough https://www.haypeterborough.co.uk/support/ brings together a range of support services in Peterborough, including debt and money advice, winter support hubs and food aid.
Healthwatch Peterborough details support available in Peterborough to help residents maintain their health such as diet, mental health issues and NHS/prescription costs.
The South Cambs emergency food leaflet shows a map of different types of foodbanks or food hubs in the area with opening hours and information about how to access support.
CPRE has joined a coalition of around 20 organisations, including English Rural, the Chartered Institute of Housing and the Rural Services Network in a pioneering initiative, Rural Homelessness Counts, aimed at tackling the hidden crisis of rural homelessness.
High house prices, a shortage of affordable homes to buy and rent and rising levels of second home ownership and holiday lets, has led to an increase in rural homelessness; a problem which is largely hidden and overlooked.
The coalition aims to make a significant impact on rural homelessness and help rural communities to thrive by:
A recent groundbreaking report shows a chronic increase in rural homelessness. To read more go to https://www.cpre.org.uk/news/groundbreaking-report-shows-chronic-increase-in-rural-homelessness/, and read the full report here https://englishrural.org.uk/rural-homelessness-counts/
Want to help?
Please consider signing the Warm this Winter petition which urges the government to support those experiencing fuel poverty. You might also want to make a donation to one of the organisations listed above, or look on Facebook, Twitter or Go Fund Me for initiatives where you live that need support.