Help with the cost of living

We know it is a difficult time for everyone with the rise in the cost of living.

On this page you can find useful websites, organisations and advice to help you with rising costs.

If you need help, contact us or one of the organisations on this page. There's support available both locally and nationally for a wide range of issues.

You can use the government's Help for Households service to see what cost of living support you could be eligible for.

You can check which benefits and financial support you can get.

You may also be able to get a payment to help with the cost of living if you’re getting certain benefits or tax credits.

If you are in financial difficulties or would just like some help with managing your money better, there is financial help and support available. If you are struggling to pay your council bills, please talk to us on 01279446655 as we are here to help.

Money Helper - free and impartial help with money, backed by the government.

National Debtline (0800 808 4000) - free and independent debt advice over the phone and online.

StepChange Debt Charity (0800 138 1111) - expert debt advice and fee-free debt management.

SmartAdvice Plus (01279 451234) – offers money and budgeting advice for those who live in Harlow.

Visit the Harlow Foodbank website for information on how to get food vouchers if you're eligible.

The Harlow Community Hub can refer you for a food voucher. They also offer a range of services for local residents affected by the cost of living crisis.

The Essex Essential Living Fund provides funding for people who live in Essex, which can help pay for furniture, household furnishings, white goods, clothing and footwear, including school uniforms in exceptional circumstances, general living expenses such as groceries, nappies, toiletries and money for pay-as-you-go fuel meters.

The Harlow Holiday Lunch Clubs provide food and fun for families in Harlow during school holidays.

Children’s essentials

For help feeding your children whilst at school, you can apply for free school meals.

For help outside of term time, you can book your child on to Essex ActivAte, which offers activities and a nutritious meal during school holidays.

If you have a young child and are struggling to access essentials, you may be able to get help through Bump to Five, which provides support to Harlow families by providing pre-loved clothing, cots, buggies and other essentials.

You may be able to claim Universal Credit which can include help with housing costs.

If you are struggling to make a claim online, or need help to claim, you can contact Citizens Advice on their website or phone 0344 477 0808.

If you are a pensioner, or meet certain other conditions, then you can make a claim for Housing Benefit.

If you cannot make an online claim, please contact our Revenues and Benefits team by phone 01279 446633 or email

You may also be able to receive extra short-term help with your rent by applying for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).

You can claim a DHP if you already receive the housing element of Universal Credit, or receive Housing Benefit, but need help to meet your rent.

Council tenants

If you are having problems paying your rent, call us on 01279 446655.

Supported housing tenants

If you are having problems paying your rent, please speak to your Housing Support and Telecare Officer.

Council leaseholders

If you are experiencing difficulties paying your annual service charges or major works invoice, contact the Home Ownership team on 01279 446206 or email


If you're homeless or worried about becoming homeless, visit our homeless section for information and advice.

We understand that as the cost of living increases, some of our residents and tenants may struggle to pay their Council Tax bill. Please contact us straight away if you are having genuine difficulty in paying your bill on 01279 446655.

You can apply for Council Tax Support to help you pay your Council Tax if you’re on a low income or claiming welfare benefits.

If you receive Council Tax Support, but still struggle to pay your Council Tax, you may be able to apply for an Exceptional Hardship Payment (EHP).

An EHP is usually paid for a short time to help you make steps to pay your Council Tax in the future.

The government have announced additional help for people already receiving Council Tax Support. The scheme will provide a reduction of up to £25 for individuals receiving Council Tax Support in the 2023 to 2024 financial year.. If your liability is less than £25, your bill will be reduced to zero.

We will have more information on this scheme soon.

We know that challenging times can negatively affect your health and mental wellbeing.

The Essex Wellbeing Service provides a wide range of health and wellbeing support, including mental wellbeing and community support.

Mind in West Essex supports people affected by mental ill health, to make positive changes in their lives and to improve their emotional resilience.

We have a dedicated health and wellbeing page where you can find out about free strength and balance sessions, local walking groups and eligibility for discounts at Harlow Leisurezone.

Remember that over 50s can get a free flu jab and COVID-19 booster through the NHS this winter.

The government will give every household in the country a discount of £400 off their electricity bill, via the Energy Bills Support Scheme.

This discount will be automatically applied to your energy account over 6 months:

  • £66 per month in October and November 2022
  • £67 per month from December to March 2023

You don't need to do anything to get the money and you won't have to pay it back.

If you do not have a direct relationship with an electricity supplier or are living off grid, you will receive the £400 discount on your fuel bills through the government's Energy Bills Support Scheme Alternative Funding scheme, which will launch in January 2023.

You may get a Cold Weather Payment if you're getting certain benefits. This scheme is expected to reopen in November 2022.

The Winter Fuel Payment is usually paid automatically in November or December if you're eligible.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme provides £150 off your electricity bill for the winter, if you’re eligible.

The Sustainable Warmth Grant offers energy saving home improvements, like insulation, renewable heating systems and double glazing. This could help you reduce your energy bills and make your home warmer.

You can check if you are eligible for Pension Credit. Pension Credit gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over State Pension age and on a low income. 

You're usually entitled to Winter Fuel Payments if you're of State Pension age (66) in the third week of September. You should start getting the Winter Fuel Payment automatically once you reach State Pension age, but sometimes you might need to apply.

If you’re looking for opportunities to socialise and take part in activities, you can look at The Leah Manning Centre - our specialist day care centre for older people.

If you are thinking about moving to sheltered housing, you can look our Supported Housing Schemes.

You can find details of all our parks and cultural spaces on our website, many of which are free.

This includes Pets’ Corner – our friendly farm in the Town Park with free entry.

You can also take a trip to Harlow Museum – our local museum with free entry and many activities throughout the year.

We also run free school readiness events for young children, mainly during the school holidays.

Visit the My Health Essex website for more ideas on free or low cost activities.

You can find details of places you can go to keep warm this winter on our warm spaces page.

You can find a guide to keeping your house warm this winter on the Energy Saving Trust's website.

You can also use GOV.UK's tool to find ways to save energy in your home.