Cost of Living Support

With the cost of living on the rise, there will be people in Cumbria who are struggling, whether that's emotionally, financially or just because they need practical help to get in touch and seek support.

It can be daunting to search through what is on offer and to find what you need. The information below provides local information for Cumbrian residents on a range of helpful topics.

You might feel worried or find yourself in a position you have never experienced before, but please don't wait for problems to get worse, there are many local organisations that can help.

FREE Energy Saving Advice from Cold to Cosy Homes Cumbria

You or someone you know could benefit from a FREE advice phone call from a qualified assessor, who will advise you on the services you could benefit from.

These could include:

  • Energy-efficient equipment such as FREE LED light bulbs, sent to you in the post
  • Professionally installed draughtproofing
  • Help with your energy bills and advice on switching energy tariff
  • Referral to support agencies or for other grants

Visit Cold to Cosy Homes Cumbria to find out more. 

Also see: How to save money on your energy bills

If you are worried about money, you can contact Citizens Advice. They can give you free advice on debt, benefits, employment, and housing problems, and make sure you're getting all the support you're entitled to.

Go online at Citizens Advice or call your local office:

  • Allerdale 01900 604735.
  • Barrow 0808 278 7817.
  • Carlisle and Eden - (for debt and ongoing enquiries) 03300 563037.
    - (for new enquiries) 0808 278 7844.
  • Copeland and Whitehaven 01946 693321.
  • Millom 01229 772395.
  • South Lakes - (for debt and ongoing enquiries) 03444 111444.
    - (for new enquiries) 01539 446464.

Cumbria Law Centre can offer free legal advice on housing, debt, employment, and welfare benefits to those on low incomes.


Lost your job?

If you've lost your job or had your hours reduced, then you might be able to claim benefits. Many people miss out because they don't know what they're entitled to.

The Citizens Advice Help to Claim service can talk you through the early stages of making a claim and make sure you're claiming the right benefits; call 0800 144 8444 to find out more.

Or you can find out more about Universal Credit (and make your claim) online.


Getting back into work?

Cumbria Opportunities has information about local jobs, training courses and apprenticeships.

Cumbria Jobs Fuse helps to connect people looking for work to local employers looking for staff. If you're looking for work, call 0800 100 900; if you're an employer looking for staff, call 0808 196 3596.


Business support

Cumbria Local Enterprise Partnership (CLEP) offer a business advisory service - bringing together and simplifying access to national and local business support. They ensure that you can access business support, no matter the size, sector, or maturity of your business.

Contact their dedicated business advisors today on Freephone 0800 069 6444 or email info@thecumbrialep.co.uk


Help with housing

If you are having difficulties paying for housing, you should contact your landlord, housing association or mortgage company.

If you face losing your home, speak to your local district council who may be able to help.

If you are struggling to pay your council tax, get in touch with your local district council; if you are on a low income, you may be eligible for a grant towards the cost. Your district council can also help if you are at risk of eviction or homelessness. You can find information on their website, or contact them on the numbers below:

Allerdale Borough Council 0303 123 1702.

Barrow Borough Council 01229 876543.

Carlisle City Council 01228 817200.

Copeland Borough Council 01946 598300.

Eden District Council 01768 817817.

South Lakeland District Council 01539 733333.


Credit Unions

Credit Unions help people save money and can also provide loans at low interest rates. They are an alternative to payday lenders and 'loan sharks' and can help you avoid getting into problem debt.There are four Credit Unions in Cumbria:


Ways to Welfare

Cumbria County Council's Ways to Welfare helpline offers help and emergency support with basics and essentials for people struggling to cope with their current situation. Call 0800 783 1966 or Ways to Welfare.


NHS prescriptions and health costs

You might be able to get free NHS prescriptions, dental treatment, eye tests and help with other NHS costs: gov.uk/help-nhs-costs


Broadband Social Tariffs

Could changing your provider save you money? Cheaper broadband and phone packages.

The Household Support Fund is available to people who are struggling to afford energy, food, water bills and other essentials - and will be available until 30 September 2022.

The criteria to access the fund are:

  • Anyone of state pension age can access the fund as normal and are advised to contact the County Council's welfare team if they're in need.
  • All other working age people may be provided with a one-off payment to help with energy and/or water costs (this is issued per household, not on an individual basis).
  • Additional referrals to the fund can only be made through a food bank or approved agency and can only be made once every 4 weeks.

If someone is struggling to cover their household expenses and would like to find out if they could access the Household Support Fund, they should call Cumbria County Council's Welfare Team on 0800 783 1966.

If you are struggling to feed yourself or your family, there are organisations that can help. They are used by hundreds of people every week in Cumbria and from all walks of life.

There are food banks and other food projects located across the county, find your nearest at Ways to Welfare or call the county council's support line on 0800 783 1966.


Free school meals

If you are on a low income, your children may be entitled to free school meals and clothing grants. You can check your eligibility and apply online or call 01228 606060.


Healthy Start Vouchers

For milk, fruit and vegetables if you're on a low income and pregnant or have a child under 4. Apply online.


Free activities and food during the school holidays

Cumbria's Holiday Activity and Food Programme offers hundreds of activities (including a meal) for young people aged 5 to 16 during the school holidays. Activities are free for families whose children receive benefits-related free school meals, with additional free places also available for young people in particular circumstances.

Visit the holiday activity website to find activities on offer during the Easter holidays.


Healthy Start scheme

Eligible families in Cumbria can apply for free vitamins and help with the cost of food and milk as part of the Healthy Start scheme. 

The Healthy Start scheme has two elements to it: 

The first element is a prepaid card worth up to £8.50 per week to spend on fresh produce such as cow's milk, fresh, frozen, or tinned fruit and vegetables, infant formula milk and fresh, dried, and tinned pulses. 

The second element offers free vitamins to eligible pregnant women and mothers for up to six months after birth (if breastfeeding or dual feeding) as well as vitamins for children up until the age of four. The vitamins will initially be distributed by Midwives and Health Visitors during their early visits and then families will be able to collect them from one of many different Community Venues (PDF 484KB) in Cumbria using their Healthy Start pre-paid card. 

To apply for the healthy start prepaid card, visit the NHS website. You can find out more about the Healthy Start scheme on the Healthy Start website.

There are many kinds of domestic abuse; it might involve physical violence, controlling behaviour, financial control, and/or isolating people from friends and family.

The levels of domestic abuse have risen during the Coronavirus pandemic, but it is often a hidden problem. There are many organisations that can help, but if people are in danger, they should call 999.

There's more information, including links to organisation that can help, on the Cumbria Police website.

There are many things that can affect your mental health, particularly if you are dealing with financial problems. It's normal and there is help available.

If someone is in a mental health crisis and needs urgent help, they can call their local Crisis Team 24 hours a day, 7 days a week:

  • People in North Cumbria can call 0800 6522 865. (Those who are Deaf/hard of hearing can text 0779 565 6226.)
  • People in South Cumbria can call 0800 953 0110.

The Samaritans are also available 24/7 on 116 123 for people who need to talk to someone urgently.

NHS psychological therapies services in Cumbria can provide treatments for a range of common mental health problems including depression, anxiety disorders and panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder. You can refer yourself for support or ask your GP to make a referral for you.


Additional mental health support

Kooth is an online service for young people aged 11-18.

Mindline Cumbria offers support and guidance about mental health over the phone, via text or email. They will listen to your concerns and help to empower you to feel more in control of your mental health or support someone else.

A cost of living leaflet with all the information on this page can be downloaded in PDF format to allow for printing or sharing. Cost of living leaflet (PDF 1MB)

If you need this document in another format (for example: CD, audio cassette, Braille or large type) or in another language, please telephone: 0300 303 2992.