Help with household costs
It’s important that you pay your rent to prevent arrears accruing.
If you have rent arrears, or are worried about paying, we would urge you to contact your landlord immediately to discuss your situation.
If you’re a Council tenant, our dedicated Rent Income Officers will deal with any concerns you have confidentially and sensitively. We understand there’s lots of reasons why you may fall behind with your rent payments, for example a change in your circumstances, or you may be struggling to manage your bills. Rent Income Officers can discuss options with you and even arrange for a Financial Inclusion Adviser to carry out a benefit health check to make sure you’re getting everything you’re entitled to - including budgeting advice if needed.
Phone our dedicated helpline 01620 827 528
It’s also worth checking you’re claiming all financial support you may be entitled to:
- pensioners on a low income may qualify for Housing Benefit (HB) to help towards rent and some service charge costs apply for Housing Benefit online
- working age people out-of-work or on a low income may be entitled to Universal Credit (UC), including some help towards your housing costs. apply for Universal Credit online
- Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) may also be available - you must be entitled to HB or the housing costs part of UC to get a DHP apply for DHP online
Protection for tenants
The Scottish Parliament has passed emergency legislation designed to protect tenants hit by the cost of living crisis, which places a temporary, limited ban on some evictions until at least 31 March 2023.
This is not a ban on your landlord taking legal action against you and there are exceptions to the eviction ban - so if you have accrued rent arrears and are worried or need help, it’s important that you get in touch with your landlord straight away.
Rent Advice Surgeries
To support our council tenants over the winter period, our Rent Income Officers will be holding outreach Rent Advice Surgeries regularly to assist tenants with any concerns they may have about keeping their rent payments up-to-date, or advice if you have fallen into rent arrears.
Musselburgh Jobcentre Plus
A Rent Income Officer will be based in the Jobcentre Plus office in Musselburgh to provide an advice surgery for anyone in need of help. You can drop-in to speak to a Rent Income Officer, or if you prefer can contact us in advance and we can make an appointment for you. You don’t need to have an appointment with a Jobcentre Plus Work Coach to attend the Rent Income surgery, anyone can come along.
Dunbar Local Office
A Rent Income Officer will provide an advice surgery at the Bleachingfield Centre, Dunbar once a fortnight.
You don’t need to have an appointment, you can just drop-in for advice. However if you prefer to make an appointment, you can do so by contacting our Rent Income team in advance and we can get this organised for you.
A Work Coach from the Jobcentre Plus will hold a separate advice surgery at the Bleachingfield Centre at the same time should you wish help or advice on any DWP related matter.
Phone 01620 827 528
It’s important that you pay your Council Tax as this helps us to pay for essential services we provide to all local residents.
If you have fallen behind with your payments or are struggling to manage your bills, get in touch with our Council Tax and Debt Management team straight away.
Officers can check that you are receiving any Council Tax discounts or exemptions you may be entitled to, or even discuss a repayment arrangement with you to spread out your payments over a longer period of time if that helps.
If you have accrued Council Tax arrears, along with other debts, Officers can provide information about the Scottish Government’s Debt Arrangement Scheme. The scheme can provide someone in debt much-needed breathing space and allow them to repay all of their debts in full through a debt payment programme, set up over an extended period of time.
Don’t ignore the problem, get in touch as soon as possible and we’ll do what we can to help.
Council Tax Reduction
You may be entitled to a Council Tax Reduction (CTR) if you have lost your job, had your hours reduced or are on a low income. You can apply if you own your home or rent. The amount you receive will vary based on your circumstances. CTR is not automatically awarded even if you are claiming UC so you need to apply separately for this.
Access to food
There is a network of organisations providing support to people who are struggling to access food. This varies from fresh or tinned ingredients to pre-prepared meals which can be reheated. Some will require a referral from Social Work or another professional, whereas others you can refer yourself to.
Managing energy bills and heating your home
It is estimated that around 13,500 households (22%) in East Lothian are living in fuel poverty with a Scottish national estimate of 619,000. For the most up to date information on the support available please keep up to date with our website.
Download our leaflet "Managing energy bills and heating your home" for helpful information for anyone struggling with their energy costs, regardless of whether you own your own home or are in rented or social accommodation. The leaflet also provides contact information for organisations outwith the council who can help and provide support.
The Community Windpower Energy Fund
The Community Windpower Energy Fund is a partnership between Community Windpower and Advice Direct Scotland, delivering a fund of £1,000,000 to people in East Lothian who are struggling with household energy costs due to the cost of living crisis.
Support is available to help with the cost of electricity usage only, not for gas, as this fits in with the green credentials of Community Windpower. In most cases, a grant will be awarded for two months’ electricity use. In the case of dual fuel it will be assumed that there is a 50/50 split between electric and gas unless higher electric use can be evidenced. The Fund can also make additional awards to help with the rising cost of living depending on the circumstances of the household/ applicant.
Applications can be made on behalf of applicants by trusted referral partners, for example East Lothian Council, housing associations and Citizens Advice Bureaus.
Households should be in receipt of a qualifying means-tested benefit to apply, however East Lothian Council, as a trusted partner will also be able to refer clients who are not on benefits but are deemed to be on a low income and in financial hardship.
This could include:
- Scottish Welfare Fund clients
- tenants in rent arrears
- people in temporary accommodation
- people seeking help from the Financial Inclusion team
- care experienced young people supported by Children’s Services
- vulnerable adults or carers supported by Adult Social Work
To apply for support directly go to www.communityadvice.scot and complete a Household Application Form.
East Lothian Energy Advice
The East Lothian Energy Advice service aims to help anyone struggling with their energy costs regardless of whether they own their home or are in rented or social housing.
The service is delivered by Changeworks on behalf of East Lothian Council. The Affordable Warmth team has over 10 years’ experience in delivering specialist energy advice services to householders across Edinburgh and the Lothians.
Advisers can help you with:
- understanding bills, resolving errors, resolving debt - understanding tariffs, switching and how to access discounts from suppliers, and much more
- understanding meter readings and how to get results from talking to suppliers
- access to grants for debt-wiping or reducing, for installation of measures such as insulation or new heating systems
- how to use your heating and hot water systems to best effect
- how to save money on your energy
To make a self-referral to the service:
Find out more at: www.changeworks.org.uk or phone 0131 555 4010
Fuel Bank Foundation
The Fuel Bank Foundation provides emergency heat and light to families when their prepayment gas and electricity meters have run out of credit, and the lights go out. Any supplier’s meter is topped up within a couple of hours.
Home Energy Scotland
Home Energy Scotland (HES) aims to help Scottish residents create warmer homes, reduce their energy bills and lower their carbon footprint. HES can refer home-owners to Warmworks for grant funding and/or loans from the Scottish Government to make energy efficiency improvements such as: wall insulation, loft insulation, draught-proofing, central heating and renewables.
Improvements are offered depending on a survey of the property which is completed by an assessor, who will recommend if and what improvements are suitable for the property. All works are completed by an approved installer. Funding is available, subject to eligibility, from the Scottish Government but please note this cannot be for works already completed or underway. For more expensive improvements, such as solid wall insulation, a contribution is required. Interest-free loans are available through the Energy Saving Trust.
Energy Bills Support Scheme
The Energy Bills Support Scheme is now underway, where eligible households will see £400 deducted from their energy bills between October 2022 and March 2023. This discount will be split into a £66 discount in October and November and then a £67 discount monthly between December and March 2023.
Individual energy suppliers will decide how to apply the discount to your energy meter, some may only apply the discount to electricity meters whilst others may split the discount equally between your gas and electricity meter.
Customers who pay their energy bill by direct debit, on receipt of a bill or through a smart prepayment meter do not need to do anything to receive the discount.
However, if you have a traditional or legacy prepayment meter which you top-up using a card or key fob, you will need to redeem the discount in the form of vouchers. These will be sent to you by your energy company via email or SMS text message. We encourage customers with a traditional/legacy prepayment meter to redeem their vouchers.
If you haven’t been contacted by your energy company, you should double check that the company who supplies your energy has the correct details for you.
Cold Weather Payment
The Cold Weather Payment is paid to individuals on low incomes and in receipt of certain benefits to help with heating costs when the temperature is recorded as, or forecast to be, colder than zero degrees celsius across seven consecutive days.
Warm Home Discount Scheme
You could get £150 off your electricity bill for winter 2022/23 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.
The money is not paid to you - it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between October 2022 and March 2023.
You may qualify if you either:
- get the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit
- are on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s scheme criteria
Eligibility for the scheme and the application process is different depending on your circumstances, so for more information contact your energy supplier as early as possible. The number of discounts suppliers can give is limited. Check with them even if you were eligible for a discount last year.
Winter Fuel Payment
If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. The amount you get includes a ‘Pensioner Cost of Living Payment’. This is between £150 and £300. You will only get this extra amount in winter 2022/23. This is in addition to any Cost of Living Payment you get with your benefit or tax credits.
You will receive your payment automatically if you’re eligible and either get a State Pension or get another social security benefit (not including Adult Disability Payment from the Scottish Government, Housing Benefit, Council Tax Reduction, Child Benefit or Universal Credit).
If you do not get either of these, or if you live abroad, you may need to make a claim. The deadline to claim for winter 2022/23 is 31 March 2023.
Priority Services Register
The Priority Services Register (PSR) is a free UK wide service which provides extra help during power cuts or when there’s an interruption to your gas, electricity or water supply.
Utility companies can provide advance warning of planned interruptions of supplies.
During a power cut, call 105. It’s free of charge and you will be put through to your local network operator who can give you help and advice.