You will have heard and read about the cost of living crisis as prices increase for gas, electricity, food and petrol.

We recognise that this is a difficult time for our customers trying to manage the demands of increasing costs whilst trying to balance their household budgets.

We are here to support you if you are struggling to make ends meet and signpost you to the agencies who can give you the right advice and assistance in a timely way.



Benefits advice

Did you know there is £12.4 billion of benefits that go unclaimed each year? This includes unclaimed council tax support, Universal Credit and Pension Credit. Help and advice around benefits is available:

  • Take things into your own hands - Aster's Money Advice Tool can help you check that you’re claiming everything you’re entitled to.
  • Contact us for support - Our Housing team can work with you to help maximise your income by checking that you are receiving all the benefits that you should, so please contact us.

Alternatively, you can contact Test Valley Citizens Advice on 08082 787862 or use the link below to find out what you might be entitled to so that you can then make a claim via the appropriate agency.

Visit the Test Valley Citizens Advice website



Cost of living payments

The Government has announced a number of initiatives to help people in managing the rising cost of living, which include:

  • £150 energy rebate
  • Help cost of living payment of £650 for people on certain low-income benefits or tax credits

Please follow the link to the Government website to find out more information about the help and advice available.

Click here



Get the most out of your money

  • Create a budget you’re going to stick to - If you’ve had problems budgeting in the past, now is the time to plan. Be clear about what money you have coming in, what needs to be paid and what you have left. The Money Advice Service offers a free online budgeting tool to help you get started.
  • Start saving - The Money Advice Service can help you plan how much you need to save to reach your goal.
  • Pick up the phone if you need support - Although we can make great plans, life can have other ideas for us. Please call us if you have any concerns and we’ll try and help.


Check out these top tips for looking after your home:

  • Switch off unused appliances
  • Adjust your thermostat – Research shows that turning your thermostat down by 1°C could cut your heating bill by up to 10%. 18-20 degrees Celsius is the recognised comfortable environment for family homes.
  • Turn off lights when not in use
  • Switch to Energy Saving Lightbulbs – Replace old-style incandescent globes with compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDs) to save energy.
  • Reduce your hot water setting – Hot water accounts for about a 25% of household energy use. The recommended setting for thermostats is above 60°C on storage hot water systems; or 50°C on instantaneous systems.
  • If you’re away for more than a few days, turn off your storage hot water system – When you return, allow plenty of time for the water to heat back up to above 60°C and remain at that temperature for a minimum of 35 minutes to kill any bacteria that may have grown. It could take several hours for the water to heat before you can safely use it. Don’t overheat the water as this wastes energy.
  • Use your washing machine on a 30-degree cycle instead of higher temperatures
  • Spend less time in the shower – Keeping your shower time to 4 minutes could save a typical household £90 per year.
  • Adjust your fridge – The ideal temperature for your fridge is between 3-5 degrees Celsius; the ideal temperature is between -15 and -18 degrees Celsius for your freezer.
  • Avoid overfilling the kettle – Many of us will admit that we at occasionally boil the kettle with more water than we’re going to use. By not overfilling your kettle, you could save yourself £13 a year on your electricity bill.
  • Reduce dishwasher use – Only run your dishwasher when it is full to reduce the amount of water you use. Reducing your dishwasher use by one run per week for a year could save you £17.
  • Use timers on your central heating – The Centre for Sustainable Energy tells us that programming your boiler to turn the heating on a little earlier – such as 30 minutes before you get up in the morning – but at a lower temperature, is cheaper than turning it on just as it's needed at a higher temperature.
  • Rearrange things - Arranging furniture such as sofas, chairs and dining tables away from chilly walls and windows will make things feel warmer. Also, keep furniture from blocking radiators as this will absorb the heat that could be warming your home. Moving furniture away from the radiator allows hot air to circulate freely.
  • Use your curtains – Open your curtains to let the sunlight in during the day. If you close them before sunset, they will act as another layer of insulation, keeping warmth in and night-time chill out.


girl cooking stirfry



Contact your energy supplier

If you’re worried about paying your energy bills this winter, speak to your energy provider as soon as possible, so they can provide advice and guidance about how to manage your bills.

Some suppliers are offering grants to help this winter if you’re concerned about costs.

The British Gas Individuals and Families Fund opened on 1 July offering grants of up to £1,500. This is open to both British Gas and non-British Gas customers. To be able to apply you must have had help from a money advice agency in the past three months; be in £250+ of energy debt and have less than £1,000 in savings.

Other energy suppliers are also offering grants to their own customers, including British Gas, EDF, E-ON, Octopus, OVO, Bulb, Scottish Power and Shell Energy. Most applicants will also need to have spoken to a debt adviser before applying, complete an income and expenditure budgeting form, provide proof of income, give details of how arrears have built up, and detail how the grant will help them.



Agency support

Detailed below are some of the agencies that can help you in the local area:

British Gas Energy Trust

An independent charitable trust set up to support families and individuals facing financial hardship and energy debt. They have produced a checklist, working in partnership with the social enterprise, IncomeMax, that details benefits, grants and organisations that may be able to help, taking account of your circumstances.

Please visit their website for more information.

 Test Valley Citizens Advice

The CAB website is and the contact number is 0808 178 6882. CAB offer a range of advice including benefits, money management and employment, with access to the Andover foodbank.


A charity which provides welfare, health and support services for the UK military’s serving personnel, veterans and their families. They can be contacted by calling 0800 260 6767, or via their website.


Andover Foodbank

If you can’t afford food, you can call 01264 723641 to speak to Test Valley Citizens Advice, a referral agency partner of Andover Foodbank, about getting a voucher.


The Food Pantry

A food pantry is a scheme to enable people to “get more for less”. It is to help and encourage families which need a little bit of support to manage and budget through these tough times. It aims to help many local residents on a weekly basis. You will find a range of fresh, frozen and general foods. This will change on a weekly basis, based on what the Pantry receive in from their suppliers.

You pay a £5 membership fee and can then buy goods valued at £15 plus (limited to one shop per week).

The Pantry’s opening hours are Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 9.30am to 12pm and Wednesday 4pm to 6pm. The Food Pantry is at the Longmeadow Centre, Cricketer’s Way, Andover, SP10 5DE.

If you have any questions, then please feel free to call the Head Office at Romsey on 01794 522106, or the Longmeadow Centre on 01264 359223.