Help with the cost of living

We understand that many residents may be struggling to cope with the rising cost of living, particularly with food and energy costs.

This page provides information about various forms of help that may be available.

Cost of Living Hub

Visit UK Government's Cost of Living Hub to find out what support is available to help with the cost of living. This includes income and disability benefits, bills and allowances, childcare, housing and travel.

Free school meals and school holiday vouchers

Your child may qualify for free school meals if you receive certain benefits.

During the upcoming school holidays, the Council will be providing families receiving income-related free school meals with a £15 voucher for each child. The £15 voucher will be provided for each week of the school holiday.

Help with energy bills

The Citizens Advice Bureau provides lots of advice about the help that may be available with energy costs.

You can find advice about how to cut down on your energy and water use to save money here and on the Energy saving trust website.

The Better Housing Better Health team is offering support to local residents to keep warm and well at home, improve the energy efficiency of their homes and save money on their energy bills.  

Help paying your rent

If you are of working age and on a low income you may be able to receive help with the cost of rent through Universal Credit.  If you already receive Universal Credit, help with rent should already be included in your Universal Credit payment.

People who are pension-age and on a low income may be entitled to Housing Benefit.

If you are already receiving Universal Credit or Housing Benefits and this does cover the full cost of your rent, you can apply to the Council for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Help with food

If you are on a low income and have an unexpected crisis or an emergency that means you cannot afford food, the Council may be able to help by referring you to Bedford Foodbank. Please contact 01234 718033 for more information.

If you are on a low income and have an unexpected crisis or an emergency that means you cannot afford food, the Council may be able to help by referring you to Bedford Foodbank or the Ethnic Foodbank. Please contact 01234 718033 for more information. You can also contact CVS Bedfordshire for local organisations who can provide help with food.

Difficulty paying Council Tax or other Council bills or invoices

Please contact us if you cannot pay any money owed to the Council - we may be able to help. 

Residents with the lowest income do not pay any Council Tax due to our Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Unlike many Councils, Bedford Borough still offers a discount of up to 100% to households with the lowest income. This is worth over £400 of extra help a year to a household in a typical band B or band C property.

  • If your circumstances have changed and you think you may now qualify for Council Tax Support, please tell us by going to our Council Tax Support page to claim online.
  • If you are having immediate difficulty paying your Council Tax bill, please get in touch with our trained advisors who will be able to help. Telephone us on 01234 718097.

Universal Credit and other welfare benefits

If you are on a low income you may be entitled to Universal Credit, this includes people who are working or self-employed. You can apply online for Universal Credit.

See more information from the Government about other types of welfare benefits.

Pension credit

Pension Credit gives extra money to help with living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. You might get extra help if you’re a carer, severely disabled, or responsible for a child or young person. Pension Credit is separate from your State Pension, and you can get Pension Credit even if you have other income, savings or own your own home.

Free advice about money management, dealing with debts, claiming benefits and more

Bedford Citizens Advice can offer free and confidential help with managing your money, dealing with debts and a wide range of other advice. Visit Bedford Citizens Advice or phone 01234 867944.

If you are a bpha tenant, you can find further advice from its Money Advice Service.

Christians Against Poverty (CAP) offers free debt advice and support. Visit the website or phone 0800 328 0006.

Crisis or emergency grant

If you are on a low income and have an unexpected crisis or an emergency the Council may be able to help with a crisis grant.

Household support grants

Bedford Borough Council is prioritising grants to vulnerable households that have the lowest level of income as assessed through the Council Tax Support application process, which provides a high level of detail regarding the household income.

For full details about the Household Support Fund, please visit the Household Support Fund 2023-2024 page.

Help with a bank account, affordable loans and savings 

Bedford Credit Union is a not-for-profit financial co-operative owned and controlled by its members offering fair loans, savings and banking services for people in and around Bedford and Central Bedfordshire. It is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Savers’ deposits are fully protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

Email or 01234 346352 for more information.

Help for Anglian Water customers

 Anglian Water is offering tailored affordability support to its eligible customers.

Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2 (HUG2)

The Home Upgrade Grant Phase 2 (HUG2) is a new government grant scheme to fund energy-saving upgrades for residents with off-grid gas heating systems who are most likely to be impacted by the high cost of energy bills. If your home is cold, poorly insulated and you struggle to pay your energy bills, you might be eligible for free home improvements.