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.

Warm Spaces

Bedford Borough Council is working with local partners to develop a Warm Spaces network. Warm Spaces will offer free, non-judgemental spaces where people can go to stay warm and maybe enjoy some company and a hot drink, or simply spend time reading a magazine or book.

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.

£150 Council Tax energy payment

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. 

If you are eligible for a payment and have not received the £150 payment, your Council Tax account will be credited with £150 by 30 November 2022. Please visit our £150 Council Tax energy payment page for more information.

Discretionary energy rebate - applications for the below schemes have closed

A discretionary rebate of £150 was available for households were:

  • 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

If you made an application before the deadline and are eligible for the scheme and have not received the £150 payment, your Council Tax account will be credited with £150 by 30 November 2022.

Please visit our £150 Council Tax energy payment page for more information.

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 to benefit from the Council Tax payment or Discretionary Fund you may be guilty of fraud under the Fraud Act 2006.

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.

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.

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 Household Support Grant is now closed for applications. The deadline was 31 August 2022. 

For full details about the household support grant, please visit the Household Support Grant for winter 2022-2023 page.

Help for Anglian Water customers

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

Warm Homes Bedford Borough Service

If you have a health condition that could be made worse by living in a cold or damp home, you may be eligible for support through the Warm Homes Bedford Borough Service.

Sustainable Warmth

Sustainable Warmth is a new government grant scheme designed to fund energy-efficiency upgrades for residents who are most likely to be impacted by the high cost of rising bills. These improvements will help residents to use less energy and spend less on their energy bills by: 

  • using energy-saving technology and upgrades installed by approved installers

  • creating warmer, healthier homes

  • helping to cut carbon emissions

  • providing funding for homes on and off the gas grid

The energy-efficiency grants will cover a range of energy-saving home improvements designed to balance the needs of residents with carbon reduction and grant availability.