Help with the cost of living
From financial support and budgeting to debt management and help with weekly food shops, there are a wide range of services and organisations available that can assist you in relation to the cost of living.
Requests for advice and support to help with the cost of living feature regularly in my constituency surveys and form a significant number of casework enquiries to my office. My team and I are always happy to assist you as best we can however, as your MP I am unable to provide specific financial advice and it is sometimes better to speak with another advisory organisation in the first instance.
The Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) and Advice Portsmouth operate in the city and can provide advice through their trained benefits and financial advisors. Both organisations provide general and specialist advice in the field of debt, benefits, employment, housing, family and consumer law and can carry out benefits checks to ensure you are receiving everything you are entitled to.
Finding the help you need
Citizens Advice and Advice PortsmouthIncome Support and benefits / Universal CreditHousehold Bills, Utilities, Winter Fuel & Council TaxFood Banks, Pantries and other Social EnterprisesHelp with Housing CostsPensionsHelp with Childcare CostsHelp with Travel and TransportHealthcare / Disability SupportDebt Advice and SupportAdditional help and support
Citizens Advice and Advice Portsmouth
The Citizens Advice Bureau and Advice Portsmouth offer support both over the phone and in person.
To speak with an Advisor from Citizens Advice Bureau or to arrange an in-person appointment please call 02394 006 600.
To speak with an Advisor from Advice Portsmouth or to arrange an in-person appointment please call 02392 794340.
Income Support and benefits / Universal Credit
Many constituents are not always aware of their entitlement to Income Support and other benefits.
There are a range of benefits available for individuals not in work, on low incomes and or with a health or disability need. Information about benefits which can be applied for, including their eligibility criteria are available at the Gov.uk website here.
The simplest way to check eligibility is via a benefits calculator which asks for details about your financial situation to determine whether you might be eligible. Once completed, the calculator will give you an indication of what you might be entitled to apply for.
The Gov.UK website also provides information and links to the three most commonly used Benefits Calculators. These are, Gov.UK, entitled to and Turn2Us. Simply select which benefits calculator you would like to use here.
If you are still unsure whether you might be eligible and you would like to speak with someone in person you can do so by contacting either one of the advisory bodies such as Citizens Advice Bureau or Advice Portsmouth or speak to the relevant Government Department, directly. If you wish to contact the relevant Government Department, directly please use the following information and contact numbers for some of the main benefits constituents frequently contact me about.
Universal Credit is a payment to help with your living costs. You may be able to receive it if you’re on a low income, out of work or you cannot work.
For more information about Universal Credit please visit:
Universal Credit applications can now be made online using the following link:
Apply for Universal Credit
- Alternatively, you can call DWP on 0800 328 5644
- Or for textphone users please use 0800 328 1344
- Relay UK is also available if you cannot hear of speak on the phone; dial 18001 then 0800 328 5644
- A video relay service is also available for British Sign Language users. Check if you can use this service by using the following link; Universal Credit: Contact Universal Credit – GOV.UK
Help to Claim
If you struggle with understanding complex information or need some help with completing forms the Citizen’s Advice Bureau provide a Help to Claim service for Universal Credit. For more information about the Help to Claim service please visit:
To speak with the Help to Claim service please call 0800 144 8 444. For Relay calls please dial 18001; then 0800 144 8 444.
Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
You can apply for ESA if you have a disability of health condition that affects how much you can work
You may also be able to get ESA if you were unable to work whilst self-isolating because of Coronavirus.
You can apply if you are employed, self-employed or unemployed.
You could get Universal Credit at the same time or instead of ‘new style ESA’ to check if you are eligible use one of the benefits calculators and make a claim by applying online for ESA using the following link;
If you cannot make an application online or you are an appointee for someone please call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644 and select Option 3 or by Textphone by calling 0800 328 1344 also choosing option 3.
Relay UK and Video Relay are also available. For more information about these services please visit:
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Personal Independence Payments (PIP) can help with extra living costs if you have both:
- A long term physical or mental health condition or disability
- Difficulty doing certain everyday tasks or getting around because of your condition
You can get PIP if you are working, have savings, or are in receipt of other benefits.
If you need help understanding or applying for PIP you can get help from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau. For more information about the support they provide please visit the following link:
To apply for PIP you need to call DWP to start your claim using the following telephone number,
- 0800 917 2222
- For textphone please use 0800 917 7777
- Relay UK is available by dialling 18001 then 0800 917 2222
- Video Relay is also available. Check if you can use this service by using the following link:
If you need someone to help you, you can ask for a person to be added to the call (not available via textphone) or you can ask someone to call on your behalf (you will need to be present during the call)
If you are applying for PIP a carer (or someone who looks after you) might be eligible for Carer’s Allowance. For more information about Carer’s Allowance please visit:
Tax Credits have now been replaced by Universal Credit. They were provided to those on low incomes for help with living and childcare costs. You can only make a claim for Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit if you already get Tax Credits.
If you cannot apply for Tax Credits you can apply for Universal Credit instead using the previous details provided for the Universal Credit Helpline.
You cannot claim Tax Credits and Universal Credit at the same time. Your Tax Credits will stop if you or your partner apply for Universal Credit. To check how Universal Credits and Tax Credits affect each other please visit:
How tax credits and other benefits affect each other
For those in receipt of Tax Credits you can now manage your tax credit claim online using the following link:
Manage your tax credits
Household Bills, Utilities, Winter Fuel & Council Tax
Help with Household Bills: (including help for; Utility Bills, Heating and Winter Fuel and Help with paying Council Tax)
Many constituents approach my office seeking advice and support about how they can manage their household bills or reduce debts they may have incurred with their utility providers. The following information provides advice and contact details which can help reduce your household bills, and manage debts associated with these
Gas, Electricity and Water
Since 2015 Energy companies have been required to put customers onto the cheapest available tariff suitable to their needs. If you are unsure whether you are on the cheapest tariff or you would like to compare the costs of your energy bills please contact your energy provider direct or visit the Money Saving Expert website at the following link:
You can also use price comparison tools to check your usage and costs for energy providers which are readily available on the internet by searching price comparison tools.
If you are on a low income or over a certain age you might also be able to receive help.
For more information on the schemes and payments available and whether you might be eligible please use the links below:
Additionally, for those struggling to pay energy debts, grants are available to help. Contact your energy supplier directly to find out more. If your energy supplier does not provide a grant scheme you can apply to the British Gas Energy Trust for help. These grants are available to everyone whether you are a British Gas Customer or not. To check if you are eligible use the following link:
Grants Available – British Gas Energy Trust
Portsmouth Water provides drinking water in the Portsmouth area with Southern Water providing wastewater services.
You might be able to reduce your water bills by transferring to a water meter. If this is something you are considering doing please visit the following link which provides helpful information on transferring to a water meter.
Switching to a Water Meter | Portsmouth Water
Portsmouth Water also operates a WaterSure Tariff for those on a water meter, in receipt of certain benefits, who live with children or where a member of the household has a medical condition that requires the use of a significant amount of water. To check if you might be eligible please visit:
Problems Paying? | Portsmouth Water
For those on low incomes, you might also be able to access the Helping Hand Tariff operated by Portsmouth Water which caps your Water Bill. For more information and how to apply please visit the following link:
Portsmouth Water – Helping Hand Tariff | CCW (ccwater.org.uk)
Portsmouth Water also offers an Arrears Assist Scheme where you can apply for help if you have arrears of £300 or more and have been making regular payments to your account. More information is provided in the following link at the Portsmouth Water website:
Problems Paying? | Portsmouth Water
You can call the Affordability and Debt Team at Portsmouth Water on 0800 4320534 for help and advice with making an application.
Southern Water also offers a range of help in meeting the costs of your water bill. These include:
- Caps to your bill if you have a water meter through WaterSure
- Ways of paying your bills directly through your benefits through Water Direct
- Help with paying off your debt through Newstart
- Help with a discount on future bills through Essentials
You might be eligible for a discount on your bill if:
- Your household income is low
- Someone in your household receives a means-tested benefit
- You have three or more children under 19 in your house
- Someone in your house requires more water due to a medical condition
- You haven’t made a payment for a while
You can email Southern Water at
. Alternatively, you can call Southern Water for free on 0800 027 0363.
Help with paying Council Tax
The Council Tax Support Scheme helps some people with paying Council Tax. The amount of support you can get will depend on your income and personal circumstances.
To check your eligibility and make a claim contact Portsmouth City Council at
. Alternatively you can call the team on 02392 834556.
You can also apply online using the apply for benefits tab at the following webpage from the Portsmouth City Council website:
Council Tax Support Scheme – Portsmouth City Council
In addition to the Council Tax Support Scheme some people and properties might be eligible for a discount or exemption from Council Tax. To check if this might apply to you; please visit the Portsmouth City Council website at the following link:
Council Tax discounts and exemptions – Portsmouth City Council
Broadband and TV
For those on low incomes or in receipt of certain benefits there are low income broadband packages available which provide a basic broadband connection with some packages offering to waive connection fees. For more information about the packages available and to check eligibility please visit Uswitch at
Broadband deals for low income families
Further advice and information on how to reduce broadband and TV costs is also provided at the Money Saving Expert website at the following link
Broadband & TV Guides
Most advisory organisations recommend contacting your provider directly for help if your struggling with your mobile phone bill. Your provider may be able to help by sorting a payment plan, reducing your bill, giving you more time to pay, increasing your data or download limit or moving you to a contract which suits your needs better.
Detailed advice is provided by the Citizens Advice Bureau in relation to options that might be available if you are struggling to pay your mobile phone bill on their website at
If you’re struggling to pay your mobile, phone, internet or TV bill – Citizens Advice
Alternatively, you can call the Citizen’s Advice Consumer helpline Line directly for help on 0808 223 1133.
Food Banks, Pantries and other Social Enterprises
A range of social enterprises across the city offer help and support to those in crisis, or with an interest in reducing their food budgets by reducing waste. For more information about the organisations operating in the city please see the following information.
The Trussel Trust operates the Portsmouth Foodbank at three areas in the city which is organised by the King’s Church. These are located at Central (Southsea), Portsea and Paulsgrove.
Food Banks provide three days of emergency food on a referral basis through a voucher scheme. Referrals can be made via the Citizen’s Advice Bureau or through a healthcare professional such as a Doctor, Health Visitor or Social Worker.
My office can also issue a voucher to you or someone in need. Please call my office on 02392 375377 who can arrange for a referral voucher to be sent to you.
Further information about the Portsmouth Foodbank including their contact details and opening times can be found at the following link:
Portsmouth Foodbank – The Trussell Trust
Food pantries are a scheme that requires a membership (anyone can join) and for a small fee (about £4) allows members of the public to carry out a weekly shop with dignity. The scheme uses food that would otherwise be going to waste.
North End Pantry Portsmouth
c/o North End Baptist Church
195 Powerscourt Road
Hants PO2 7JH
Cosham community larder
Penny has provided some funding for Cosham and North End Pantries and is now funding two new pantries for Baffins and Paulsgrove wards. If you would like to help support or volunteer for these pantries please get in touch.
Other social enterprises – The Trash Café Real Junk Food Project
The Trash Café Real Junk Food Project works with food businesses to reduce waste by redistributing food items which would otherwise go to waste. Pay as you feel for meals and groceries means everyone chooses what they pay, which could be in volunteering time, cash or skills.
For more information about the Trash Café Real Junk Food Project please visit their website at
. Alternatively you can call the team on 07717 357416 or email at
Food Hampers are available for delivery to PO post codes on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays for a small fee which could help with significantly reducing food bills.
Help with Housing Costs
You can get help with your housing costs if you are eligible for Universal Credit. Your housing payment can help with the payment of:
Rent to a private landlord
- Your rent and some service charges if you rent from a housing association or local authority
- Interest payments on your mortgage and some service charges.
- If your housing payment does not cover all your housing costs you might be eligible to apply to the Local Authority for a Discretionary Housing Payment. For more information on Discretionary Housing Payment’s please visit the Portsmouth City Council website at Discretionary housing payments – Portsmouth City Council where you can apply online.
In addition to the above you might also be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction or other financial help through Universal Credit. You can claim for housing costs if you already have a Universal Credit claim by using the online tool on your account.
Help with a deposit or guarantee when moving into the private sector
The Local Authority may be able to help you with its own rent deposit, bond, or guarantee scheme. These are usually provided to individuals at risk of homelessness who have an urgent need to move and would find it difficult to afford the costs associated with such a move. Schemes vary but they can provide:
- Cash to help with a deposit and rent in advance
- A written guarantee that the scheme will cover unpaid rent to a certain amount
- A checking service to see whether you might be eligible
For complex pension issues, or for lost private pensions my team may be able to find you an organisation that can help resolve your enquiry.
If you or your partner is over pension age, and the other is working age, check now to see if you are entitled to Pension Credit or Housing Benefit, before the rules change on 15 May.
Check your benefit entitlement online.
From 15 May, mixed age couples who are not already claiming Pension Credit or Housing Benefit will only be able to make a claim for Universal Credit.
Check if you are entitled to claim Pension Credit and Housing Benefit before 15 May, using an
online benefit calculator, or by contacting one of the local advice services listed below.
You could be up to £7,000 per year better off on Pension Credit compared to Universal Credit. Find out more here.
Where to find help
If you are a Portsmouth City Council tenant, contact your local housing office, where you can get specialist benefits advice.
Anyone else can visit Advice Portsmouth for free and confidential advice on benefits.
- 116 Kingston Crescent, North End, PO2 8AL
- Mondays to Wednesdays 9am – 5pm,
- Thursdays 1pm – 7.30pm
- Fridays 9am – 4.30pm
- Phone 023 9279 4340
If you are over 50, Age UK Portsmouth can give you advice on benefits.
- Bradbury Centre, 16-18 Kingston Road, Portsmouth, PO1 5RZ
- Monday to Thursday 9am – 5pm,
- Friday 9am – 4.30pm
- Phone 023 9288 3500
Hampshire Pension Services
Help with Childcare Costs
There is a range of support available from Government to either help with the cost of child care or to reduce your existing child care costs. The schemes available vary and depend on your personal circumstances and family income but broadly fall into the following:
Tax Free Childcare
- Free Childcare provision amounting to either 15 or 30 hours per week (dependant upon circumstances)
- Tax Credits to help with childcare
- Universal Credit to help with childcare
To check what help and support you might be able to receive please visit Child Care Choices at
Childcare Choices | 30 Hours Free Childcare, Tax-Free Childcare and More | Help with Costs | GOV.UK
The website details the eligibility criteria for each scheme and also explains how to apply.
Help with Travel and Transport
There are several schemes available in Portsmouth; and across England which can help to reduce the cost of travel on rail and buses.
For rail travel and the range of rail cards on offer which can reduce costs by up to a third following a small payment for the card; please visit the National Rail website at
Railcards | Digital Railcard and Prices | National Rail
For those eligible, there is also a Disabled Persons Rail Card. More information on this rail card, and how to apply are included at the following link:
Benefits – Disabled Persons Railcard (disabledpersons-railcard.co.uk)
The schemes for bus passes are administered by the Local Authority. For more information about the available schemes please see the information below.
Older Persons Bus Pass
Bus Passes are available for individuals who have reached state pension age and provide the holder with ability to travel on local buses anywhere in England in accordance with the Local Authority’s Scheme. If you think you might be eligible you can contact Portsmouth City Council on 02392 688575. Alternatively you can email the concessionary fares team at
For more information about the above scheme please visit the Portsmouth City Council website at
Older persons bus pass – Portsmouth City Council
Disabled Person’s Bus Pass
A Disabled Persons Bus Pass entitles the bearer to travel for free throughout England at any time of day with a valid pass. For more information on the eligibility criteria and how to apply please visit Portsmouth City Council’s website at:
Disabled persons bus pass – Portsmouth City Council
Alternatively, you can call the concessionary fares team using the details above.
Companion passes are now provided by Portsmouth City Council to enable those with a disability to travel with a companion if they would struggle to do so alone. The companion bus pass enables the companion to travel free of charge in the Portsmouth area when supporting a disabled person on public transport.
For more information about the rules for companion passes and eligibility criteria please visit the Portsmouth City Council website at
Companion bus passes – Portsmouth City Council
Healthcare and Disability Support
Patients will often need to pay towards healthcare costs; however, some patients do not have to pay these costs either because they are in receipt of certain benefits or because they are on a low income.
For more information about the schemes available please visit:
If you are eligible you may be entitled to help with costs for:
- Dental care
- Wigs and fabric supports
NHS Solent: Integrated Learning Disability Healthcare Services
NHS Solent Integrated Learning Disability Healthcare Services is a specialist team of clinicians delivering specialist services to people with a learning disability within the Portsmouth area.
Find out more using the link here
Portsmouth Disability Forum
The Portsmouth Disability Forum (PDF) is a user led local non-political lobbying and campaigning group recognised by Portsmouth City Council and the Clinical Commissioning Group among many others as a consultative user led disability group within Portsmouth.
This service is open Mon – Fri: 10:00 – 16:00
Tel: 023 9261 6709
Portsmouth Disability Forum
Lower Ground Floor, Central Library
Debt Advice and Support
There are a number of charities and organisations both nationally and locally who are able to provide Debt Advice and Support. Trained advisors can review your income and expenditure and help with arranging repayment plans to your creditors.
I know from speaking with many constituents how difficult it can be to make the first step and speak with someone about their money worries but I would always encourage everyone to seek the specialist help they need. The advice available from the charities and organisations listed below is free and is always treated with the utmost confidence.
Some organisations can also provide further specialist advice and assess eligibility for debts to either be written off usually through a variety of different debt solutions for example a Debt Relief Order.
- Money Helper
Free and impartial help with money, backed by the government | MoneyHelper
- Debt Advice Foundation
Debt Advice Foundation
– Call Debt Advisers free on 0800 043 40 50
- Step Change at
StepChange Debt Charity – Free Expert Debt Advice
- Citizens Advice Bureau
Debt and money – Citizens Advice
- Advice Portsmouth
Home – Advice Portsmouth
If you have problems with money – get advice as soon as possible.
This directory can be used by those struggling to afford household essentials, like furniture and food. It can be used by anyone in Portsmouth, and by any advice and support services working with people in need.
If you need support, please seek help as soon as you think you may be at risk of losing your home. This will the City Council more time to help prevent you becoming homeless or to help you to find somewhere else to live.
Get help and advice if you’re rough sleeping from Portsmouth City Council
If you are homeless you should contact Housing Needs, Advice & Support for help. You can do this by phoning 023 9283 4989. The service is open Monday to Thursday 8.30am-5pm, and Friday 8.30 am-4pm.
The team will talk to you to assess your circumstances, offer advice and work with you to develop your own housing plan.
They may also help you with accommodation in
Portsmouth’s Rough Sleeping Accommodation Pathway
. This Pathway offers housing and support to individuals and couples from Portsmouth who are rough sleeping or at risk of rough sleeping.
Additional help and support
The Roberts Centre
The centre provides support for children, families, young people and vulnerable adults from across Portsmouth and the surrounding area. It provides a day nursery, managed and supported housing and a range of advice and support services, life skills training and a holiday play scheme.
Moving On Project
The Moving On Project is a charity working with service providers to ensure residents taking on a new tenancy, or who are experiencing financial difficulties have access to good clean serviceable second-hand furniture and household items.