Useful Info

Cost of Living Resources

The UK is currently experiencing a Cost-of-Living Crisis, which began in 2021. This means that the cost of most essentials, such as food and energy bills, has increased faster than household income. Unfortunately, the people hit hardest by this crisis are those on a low income.

Below we have complied some useful information to help you with your finances during the crisis.

• Challenge the cost of your energy direct debit payments.

Everyone has the right to a fair direct debit, based on the most accurate information available to your energy suppliers. While paying bills by direct debit can save you money, suppliers base charges on an estimate of your usage – meaning you can end up overpaying. When the energy price cap is increased providers will also increase direct debits.

Provide regular meter readings so your tariff is actually based on what you use. If you ask, your supplier must clearly explain how and why they reached the figure they have set as your direct debit.

• Contact your energy supplier for help with bills

Ofgem rules mean energy suppliers have to help you if you’re struggling to pay. This could involve setting up a payment plan that you can afford or delaying a payment deadline temporarily. Contact your energy supplier directly to discuss what help they could offer you.

• Contact an organisation offering free energy advice

Across Sussex and nationally there are organisations offering free advice on saving energy and support for paying bills – please see the relevant webpages listed below:

Brighton and Hove – Brighton & Hove Energy Services Cooperative (BHESCo)
Eastbourne and Hastings – Energise Sussex Coast
West Sussex – West Sussex Affordable Energy
National – Local Energy Advice Partnership

• You may be able to get your water bill reduced if on a low income (£21,000 a year or less) and/or on certain benefits; there are a number of hardship schemes available.

• Water companies offer various social tariffs, which lower or cap what you pay to them - contact your water company to discuss what tariffs you could be eligible for.

The Help with my Bills page of the Consumer Council for Water website provides a full list of the tariffs available from the different water suppliers, alongside other useful advice for reducing your bills and accessing financial support.

• Reduce food waste

Use food waste reduction apps on your phone such as Olio (where people offer free leftover food to others in their local community) or Too Good to Go (where cafes and supermarkets offer heavily discounted ‘magic bags’ – usually priced around £4 – that contain surplus unsold food that would otherwise be wasted).

Create a meal plan and subsequently a specific shopping list to help you stick to a budget and reduce food waste, as every item you buy has a specific use. Websites such as Cooking on a Bootstrap have excellent budget recipes and meal planning tips.

• Use a foodbank or Community Fridge if you’re struggling to afford food

It is not shameful to need to use a foodbank to support yourself or your household through this crisis. The cost of food has increased, so you may now find yourself unable to buy enough to maintain a healthy diet.

Foodbanks provide at least 3 days’ worth of in-date non-perishable food to users. You usually have to be referred to a foodbank and can get a referral from Citizens Advice or your local council. The Trussell Trust runs two thirds of all foodbanks in the UK - find your nearest foodbank here.

Consider using a Community Fridge instead of or as well as a foodbank – these initiatives are designed to use up surplus food that would otherwise go to waste, and therefore offer fresher food options than a food bank. They are also not means tested, unlike Food Banks, which often require a referral to use.

• Get advice

Depending on the type of money problem you may be able to get support from our Advice Centres in Brighton, Eastbourne or Hastings. Click here for more details of BHT Sussex’s Advice Centres. If you live in Brighton, you can get advice from our Moneyworks service.

Click here for help with debt from Citizens Advice.

National Debtline also offer free and independent debt advice over the phone and online.

• Evaluate your scheduled and regular payments

Check your direct debits, standing orders, and recurring payments on your bank statements. Go through each and decide if you want to keep paying for the goods or service. If you don’t need it, cancel it. If you can’t do without it, consider cheaper or better options.

• Check if you are being underpaid on minimum wage

Keep a record of all the hours that you actually work, and make sure your pay accurately reflects these hours. If not, flag this up with your employer. Also, consider if you are buying any items with your own funds to do your job, such as cleaning or office supplies, and claim this back from your employer.

• Create a realistic budget

Make sure you understand how much money you have coming in from various income streams such as employment, Universal Credit, other benefits etc. Look at how much money you have going out and where you may be able to cut down on costs.

If you find budgeting overwhelming, use a budgeting tool such as the Money Saving Expert's Budget Planner.

• Check if you are eligible for benefits or a State Pension top-up

You may be able to claim benefits if you are of working or State Pension age and on low income, sick or disabled, a carer, or responsible for children. Check what benefits you are entitled to here.

• Ensure you receive the one-off government payments you’re entitled to

In response to rising energy bills, the government is providing all households living in council tax bands A-D in England with a £150 council tax rebate. The rebate will be applied automatically to your council tax; it will be paid into your bank account if you pay by direct debit or you will be notified on how to claim it if you do not have a direct debit.

Every household in Britain with a domestic electricity connection will receive £400 off their electricity bill as part of the Energy Bills Support Scheme, starting in October 2022. You don’t need to do anything to claim the money, as it will be automatically added to your energy account over 6 months from October. For prepayment meters, the £400 will be added to your meter, or you will be supplied with vouchers.

Further one-off government payments are available for those who get certain benefits, and/or are over State Pension age and receive Winter Fuel Payments. Click here for information on further support you can get with the cost of living.

• Check on your local council’s website whether you are eligible for any council tax discounts - there are a variety of reasons that you may be eligible for a discount, which range from 25% to 100% off, depending on your circumstances.

Check your council tax band and challenge it if you think it is wrong. Over 400,000 homes are in the wrong council tax band, so it is worth checking.

• Check your tax code is correct - if it is wrong, you could be hit with a bill for underpaid tax, or alternatively you could be owed money in overpaid tax. Your current tax code can be found on payslips, a P45, a P60, a PAYE coding notice or pension advice slips.

Homelessness and Housing Issues

If you are concerned about someone living on the streets then you can use Street Link. This connects people experiencing homelessness with the support services, like BHT Sussex, local to them. It is best to contact Street Link on their website or mobile app, but if necessary you can also get in touch via phone on 0300 500 0914. Using the information you provide, outreach teams and local services will find individuals, assess their needs and move them into accommodation.

Please note, if you think the person you are worried about is under 18 years of age then you should instead call the police. Call 999 immediately in a medical emergency.

  • Contact your local council. You should be able to get help or advice from your local council (also known as your local authority) – you can find their details on the gov.uk website.
  • Search for a service near you. Homeless England is an online directory from Homeless Link which contains thousands of homelessness services across England, including accommodation, day centres and support services. You can also search this directory for your local council Housing department.
  • Ask your housing association.If you rent a home from a housing association or social landlord, they may offer advice and assistance including hardship payments.
  • Contact your local MP. You can find your MP via the search bar on the official Parliament UK page. MPs are often contacted by constituents facing housing problems. Although housing matters are dealt with by your local council, your MP can help by representing you and talking to your council about your situation.
  • Citizens Advice - free independent information and advice on housing, money and other related problems.

03444 111 444 (England)
03444 77 20 20 (Wales)
adviceguide.org.uk

  • Shelter- free, confidential advice on housing problems in England.

0808 800 4444 (Monday–Friday 8am–8pm and weekends 8am–5pm)
england.shelter.org.uk

  • Stonewall Housing - specialist housing advice for anyone identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (England only).

020 7359 5767 (Monday–Friday 11am–1pm and 2pm–5pm)
stonewallhousing.org

  • Samaritans- 24-hour emotional support for anyone who needs to talk. Calls are free from all providers.

116 123 (24 hours a day)
jo@samaritans.org
samaritans.org

To be eligible for Legal Aid you need to be in receipt of passported benefits such as Universal Credit, income related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Job Seekers Allowance or Income Support, or on a low income. If you have savings of more than £8000 you are unlikely to be eligible.

You can check whether you are eligible by using the Government’s Eligibility Checker.

There are many reasons why someone may be homeless and often these reasons may be interlinked:

  • Eviction from property or not being able to afford tenancy
  • A relationship breakdown
  • Drug or alcohol addiction
  • Cuts to benefits
  • Leaving the Armed Forces
  • Unemployment
  • Mental health problems
  • Having suffered domestic violence
  • Refugees or immigrant
  • Having been in care
  • Debt
  • Having previous experience of homelessness

You can join us in our mission to combat homelessness by donating towards our work today, or by undertaking one of our fundraising activities. You can also volunteer your time to help at one of our projects or events.

Our First Base Day Centre, which provides food, showers, clothes and advice to homeless people in Brighton and Hove, is often looking for donations of useful items such as towels and underwear. Items can either be purchased from our Amazon Wish List, or dropped off at First Base itself at:

St Stephens Hall, Montpelier Place, Brighton, BN1 3BF

or at our head office:

144 London Road, Brighton, BN1 4PH.

Staying Safe

BHT Sussex views abuse, neglect, self-neglect, hate crime, extremism and terrorism as extremely serious and is committed to exposing, investigating and addressing these problems.

If you or another person is in immediate danger, contact the police on 999. If you think a crime has taken place, but it is not an emergency, phone Sussex Police on 101. If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can use the textphone service 18000 or text 999 if you have pre-registered with the emergency SMS service.

Telling someone about abuse, neglect or self-neglect is known as “Raising a Safeguarding Concern”.

Safeguarding is the term used to describe protecting someone’s right to live in safety, and free from abuse and neglect.

Adult Abuse occurs when someone misuses their power or control over another person aged 18 or over, causing harm or distress.  The abuser could be in a close relationship with the adult at risk. They could be someone the adult at risk depends on and trusts.  Adult abuse includes physical abuse, domestic violence or abuse, sexual abuse, psychological or emotional abuse, financial or material abuse, modern slavery, discriminatory abuse, organisational abuse, neglect or acts of omission, and self-neglect.

Child Abuse is when a child is harmed by an adult or a child either in person or online. Child abuse can take the form of physical abuse, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, domestic abuse, female genital mutilation (FGM), child criminal exploitation (CCE), child sexual exploitation (CSE), child trafficking & modern slavery, or bullying and can be a one-off action or can continue over a longer period of time.

If you are a client or tenant and experiencing abuse or neglect, or you are worried about someone else, you can tell your support worker or housing officer about this or contact us at 01273 645400 or safeguarding@bht.org.uk. 

If you don’t want to tell anyone at BHT Sussex about this, or if you are not a client or tenant of BHT Sussex, you can raise a concern with the following organisations who will be able to help:

Brighton and Hove  - Adults

Report a concern online.

01273 29 55 55

Brighton and Hove  - Children

Report a concern online

01273 29040

01273 335905 or 01273 335906 (Out of Hours)

East Sussex – Adults

Report a concern online

0345 60 80 191

East Sussex – Children

Report a concern online

01323 464222 (Mon-Thurs 8.30am-5pm and Fri 8.30am-4.30pm)

01273 335905 or 01273 335906 (Out of Hours)

West Sussex  - Adults

Report a concern online

01243 642121

033 022 27007 (Out of Hours)

West SussexChildren

Report a concern online

01403 229900 (Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm)

033 022 26664 (Out of hours)

A hate crime is any incident/crime perceived, by the victim or any other person, to be motivated by prejudice or hate because of disability, gender identity, race, sexual orientation, religion, or any other perceived difference.

Someone using offensive language, someone posting abusive or offensive messages online or someone harassing you or someone else because of who you or they are, or who they think you or they are, is a crime.

You can report hate crimes here

Modern slavery is the illegal exploitation of people for personal or commercial gain. It covers a wide range of abuse and exploitation including sexual exploitation, domestic servitude, forced labour, criminal exploitation and organ harvesting.

Victims of modern slavery can be any age, gender, nationality and ethnicity. They are tricked or threatened into work and may feel unable to leave or report the crime through fear or intimidation. They may not recognise themselves as a victim.

You can report Modern Slavery as a Safeguarding Concern or by contacting The Modern Slavery Helpline confidentially on 0800 0121 700. This is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

101 Non-emergency Sussex Police

999 Emergency call

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can use Sussex Police textphone service 18000 or text 999 if you have pre-registered with the emergency SMS service.

Should you wish to remain anonymous you can contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

If you are concerned that an individual or a group of people may be vulnerable to being drawn into extremist or terrorist related activity, such as thinking or preparing to travel to join a conflict or a proscribed group ,or getting involved with extremist groups, you can report your concerns to:

0800 789 321 Anti-Terrorist Hotline

101 Non-emergency Sussex Police

999 Emergency call

If you are deaf or hard of hearing, you can use Sussex Police textphone service 18000 or text 999 if you have pre-registered with the emergency SMS service.

0800 555 111 Crime Stoppers (Anonymous):

If you want to report illegal or harmful information, pictures or videos you’ve found on the internet, you can make your report anonymously here.

You can find more information from Sussex Police here.

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