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.

Help with energy bills

Council Tax payers living in homes with a Council Tax band from A to D are entitled to a £150 Energy Rebate from the Council. This will be paid automatically to anyone who pays their Council Tax by direct debit. 

Households that do not pay by direct debit will receive a letter explaining how to claim the rebate by completing a simple online form. Please visit our £150 Council Tax energy payment page for more information.

A discretionary rebate of £150 will be available for households:

  • in Council Tax Bands E, F, G and H who are receiving Council Tax Support

or

  • who moved into a property with a Council Tax band from A to D after 1 April 2022 but before 1 August 2022 and were not entitled to a Council Tax energy payment for another property

Living in Council Tax bands E-H and receiving Council Tax Support

If you live in a property in Council Tax Band E, F, G or H, you are receiving Council Tax support and you pay your Council Tax by direct debit, we will pay you automatically. If you do not pay by direct debit and have received a letter from us, please provide your bank details using the online form below:

E-H and receiving Council Tax Support 

Once the form is completed it will take approximately 2 weeks for you to receive your energy payment.

Moved into Council Tax bands A-D after 1 April 2022 but before 1 August 2022

If you moved into a property with a Council Tax band from A to D after 1 April 2022 but before 1 August 2022 and were not entitled to a Council Tax energy payment for another property, we are in the process of writing to you if we think you may be eligible for a discretionary payment. If you have received a letter from us please apply using the online form below:

A-D between 1 April and 1 August 2022 

Once the form is completed it will take approximately 2 weeks for you to receive your energy payment.

Customers without a computer

People without access to a computer are encouraged to use the computers at a library or to call the Customer Service Centre on 01234 267422.

The letters and access codes were sent automatically. If you have not received the code please contact 150discretionaryenergy@bedford.gov.uk You cannot receive your access code over the phone from Customer Services - it is a 2-step identification process to prevent fraud.

Scams

We are aware of scams, pretending to be from councils offering this payment, using emails and cold calling to ask for bank details. Bedford Borough residents should only use the Bedford Borough Council website to apply for the payment/or contact the 150discretionaryenergy@bedford.gov.ukemail address with information. We will not cold call or text about the payment.

The Citizens Advice Bureau provides lots of advice about 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.

Other questions

Please go to this page to see our frequently asked questions about the £150 energy payment.  

If false information is provided or false representation is made in order to benefit from the Council Tax payment or Discretionary Fund you may be guilty of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006.

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.

Difficulty paying Council Tax of other Council bills or invoices

Please contact us if you are unable to 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.

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 a £15 voucher for each child. The £15 voucher will be provided for each week of the school holiday.

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.

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.

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.

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

The Council has announced a new household support grant for winter 2022-2023:

  • Pensioners entitled to 100% Council Tax Support will receive £175.
  • Pensioners’ entitled to less than 100% Council Tax Support will receive £75.
  • Working-age households entitled to 100% Council Tax Support will receive £50.

Full details and how to apply visit the Household Support Grant for winter 2022-2023 page.