Information for residents in Devon who are struggling to afford to pay for their energy, water, food or other essential items, including details of how to access the Household Support Fund.
Help and advice
If you are struggling with bills or worried about debt you don’t need to struggle alone. You can get advice from Citizens Advice online, over the phone, or by contacting your local Citizens Advice office.
You may also find these resources useful:
- The government MoneyHelper website has guidance and advice on managing your money in uncertain times, along with everything you need to know about the cost of living support package as well as advisors who can support you.
- National Debtline is a debt advice charity run by the Money Advice Trust with a free and confidential debt advice service.
- MoneySavingExpert.com is a consumer website that provides lots of advice on how to cut costs and save money, including a cost of living crisis survival guide.
- Turn2us is a national charity that helps people in financial need gain access to welfare benefits, charitable grants and other financial help.
Household Support Fund
Devon has been allocated around £5 million to support low-income families, called the Household Support Fund. This is a government initiative, administered by Devon County Council and delivered by Team Devon (district/city councils and other partners). The scheme runs until September 2022. More detail about the scheme and the approach in Devon is available here.
Supporting vulnerable pensioners
People of pensionable age are less likely to seek help and support. Working with district councils (Team Devon), and being funded by the Household Support Fund, we are offering a one-off support payment to all pensioners in Devon who are in receipt of a Council Tax Reduction.
If eligible, you will receive direct contact from your local district council with further details. Those eligible may contact the respective district/city council to decline the offer if they so wish.
If you have received a letter from your local district or city council, and you are of pensionable age and receive a Council Tax Reduction, this can be trusted, and is not fraudulent! Follow the correct link for your local council listed below to find out more (links will be populated once scheme is live):
Help for those on pre-payment meters
Citizens Advice Devon is managing an Energy Relief Scheme for those using pre-payment meters and who are struggling to meet their energy needs. This is being funded by the Household Support Fund.
To check eligibility and receive support, contact your local Citizens Advice office
Help with food costs
Free school meals
All children in reception, year 1 and year 2 at state schools in England automatically get free school meals. However, if eligible, parents and guardians should apply for free school meals when they enrol or once their child is in school, as this can help their child’s school attract additional funding to support their child’s learning. You can apply at any stage.
From year 3 onwards, you may continue to qualify for free school meals for your child.
You can check eligibility and apply on our free school meals page.
The free school meals scheme is a national programme and is not part of the Household Support Fund.
Holiday food vouchers
Families of children that are eligible and who receive benefits-related free school meals will receive a voucher to the value of £15 per child per week for six weeks of the school holidays for Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Morrisons, Asda, Aldi, Iceland, M&S Food or Waitrose to help pay for groceries over the break. Children in reception, year 1 and year 2 receive free school meals as standard, but to qualify for holiday food vouchers you must be eligible and you must apply for free school meals, as described above.
The vouchers were distributed to families before the May half-term (1 week) and will be distributed before the summer holidays (6 weeks). This is being funded by the Household Support Fund and run by Devon County Council.
Holiday Activities and Food programme
The Holiday Activity and Food (HAF) programme aims to support children to eat more healthily and be more active over the school holidays.
Healthy Start – get help to buy food and milk
If you’re more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.
Food banks provide stocks of food, typically basic provisions and non-perishable items, free of charge to people in need.
Help with childcare costs
There is a range of schemes available to help support families with child care costs. These include Tax-Free Childcare – where eligible families can receive 20% of childcare costs from the government by topping up the money paid into a Tax-Free Childcare account. The government is reminding families that Tax-Free Childcare can be used to help pay for childcare costs over school holidays.
Free national bus pass
Bus passes for free travel are available to older people or those with certain disabilities. A pass entitles the holder to free off-peak travel on registered local buses anywhere in England. This is a national scheme and is not part of the Household Support Fund.
Community transport is provided by a network of voluntary organisations that help people get to the shops, services, medical appointments or leisure activities where no alternative or suitable transport is available.
If you have a household income of less than £30,000 a year you may be eligible for free energy efficiency improvements to your home worth thousands of pounds. The scheme offers eligible householders the chance to improve the warmth and energy efficiency of their homes by ‘retrofitting’ them.