Cost of living information and support

Many of us are concerned with the rising cost of living and the links below will guide you to support and services that are available in Halton to help you.

Affordable Food

Halton’s social supermarkets are open to all, offering reduced priced food and household items:

  • Queens Pantry: Queens Avenue, Ditton, WA8 8GR (Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm)
  • The Route Café: Grenfell House, 116 Widnes Road, Widnes, WA8 6AX (Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm)
  • Community Pantry: Palacefields Community Centre, WA7 2UA (Weds, 10am-12 noon)
  • Halton Royal British Legion: British Legion, Castle Road, Runcorn, WA7 2BE (Tues, Weds & Fri, 1-2pm)

The Community Shop offers reduced price food and household items. To access the shop you must receive some form of benefit. Join for free by visiting https://www.companyshopgroup.co.uk/Profile/CommunityMember

Location & opening times: Priory House, Northway, Palacefields, Runcorn, WA7 2FS (Mon-Fri 8am-4pm, Sat 8am-3pm).

Free School Meals

All children in Reception Class, Year 1 and Year 2 are entitled to receive a free school meal under the Universal Free School Meal entitlement.

Free school meals may also be available for your child if you receive means tested benefits. Find out more and apply for free school meals here.

Christmas 2022 - FREE activities & food

School aged children from Reception to Year 11, who receive benefits-related free school meals can get free activities and food during the Christmas holidays. The Holiday Activity Fund (HAF) funds the scheme where local activity providers offer a wide range of activities, interests and sports sessions.

There are also a number of places available to other vulnerable groups of children and young people, such as SEND, Young Carers and young people who are not in employment, education or training (NEET).

If you would like to register a child or young person on to the activities, please contact the provider direct to secure a place/places – see links below.

A map of providers and activities can be found here.

More information about the Holiday Activity Fund and a list of providers and activities can be found here.

Emergency Support

Local food banks

If you are struggling to get enough food due to hardship, you can be issued a voucher for use at a local food bank. Vouchers can be issued for 3 days’ worth of food.

You need to be issued with a voucher from a referral agent to be able to use one of the food banks.

To find out more on how to use local foodbanks, visit one of the following:  

Discretionary Support In urgent need, you can also apply to the Council’s discretionary support team who may be able to help with food and emergency support. Telephone 0800 952 0016 (Freephone from landlines) or e-mail Support@halton.gov.uk. Open 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4:30pm on a Friday.  

Please find details below of a range of organisations and schemes that may be able to help to lower the cost of energy bills and provide emergency help.

Energy Projects Plus (EPP)

EPP’s Save Energy Advice Line provides free and impartial help and advice on reducing your energy bills and keeping warm at home – including managing fuel debt and help with broken heating systems. They can also help you identify and apply for suitable support schemes that you may be eligible for (e.g. replacement white goods or fuel vouchers).

Call 0800 043 0151 or visit epplus.org.uk for details

Cheshire Green Doctor (operated by Groundwork Cheshire)

Call free on 0330 1740 863 or email Greendoctor.CLM@groundwork.org.uk

If you live in privately rented accommodation or own your own home, Cheshire Green Doctor can help you with finding the best energy tariff, installing energy saving measures and more.

British Gas Energy Trust

If you’re struggling with money and energy debt, you are not alone. British Gas Energy Trust support families and individuals who are struggling to pay their bills across England no matter which energy company you are with: http://www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk/

Citizens Advice Bureau - Halton

Call 0151 257 2449 (money advice) or 08082 787 956 (general advice), email advice@cahalton.org.uk, or visit https://haltoncab.org.uk/

Visit walk-in receptions from 10-2pm on weekdays:

  • Runcorn: Unit 1-2, Orchard Walk, Runcorn Shopping City, WA7 2BS
  • Widnes: Unit 3, Victoria Building, Lugsdale Road, WA8 6DJ (N.B office closed on Wednesdays)

Free confidential advice on a range of issues, including benefits, financial/debt advice and help to pay energy bills.

Housing Associations

Local housing associations will be able to provide support on money, benefits, cost-of-living, wellbeing, or housing and tenancy related issues, including emergency support:

Private tenants

Contact your landlord if you have any concerns. Your landlord must ensure your heating system is safe and in good working order.

Halton's Environmental Protection Team can advise if your landlord is unable/unwilling to fulfil their obligations. Call 0303 333 4300 or email environmental.protection@halton.gov.uk

Home heating and energy efficiency support

You may be eligible to apply for various support schemes which help to heat homes more efficiently and reduce energy bills.

  • Sustainable Warmth Fund: home energy improvement installations, including insulation, double-glazing or alternative heating systems.
  • Solar panel group-buying scheme to help households to cut their energy costs and reduce their carbon emissions. Halton residents can register their interest, without any obligation.
  • ECO4 Flexible Eligibility scheme: this is a referral scheme which provides energy efficiency improvements for private tenure households on low incomes, who are living in energy inefficient homes. Contact Energy Projects Plus or Citizens Advice Bureau (details above) or your energy provider or GP may also refer you.

Affordable Warmth

Affordable warmth is the ability to heat your home to a satisfactory level without having to economise on other essential outgoings and bills. Having a warm home is important for health. If you find you have to switch off your heating to save money or are struggling with fuel debt, unreliable heating systems and a cold home, there is help available.

You may also be entitled to money to help you heat your home or make it more energy efficient.

For more information on eligibility or support to apply, contact us on 0303 333 4300 or complete our Affordable Warmth referral form.

Helpful tips

The websites below have some useful tips on everyday things you can do to save money on energy bills or improve the energy efficiency of your home.

(N.B. These links take you to external sites. Halton Borough Council is not responsible for the content on these pages)

The United Utilities website also has helpful advice on ways to save water and money and what to do if you are having difficulty paying your water bill. It also provides information on water meters, which might also help you reduce your water bills.

WaterSure is a scheme which helps some people with their water bills. To apply for the scheme, you must be on benefits and need to use a lot of water either for medical reasons or because your household has a certain number of school-age children. You also need to be on a water meter or be waiting to have one installed.

Citizens Advice also has more information about WaterSure.

The ​Get Water Fit website helps you to compare your water usage, suggests ways you could save water and has free water saving products available for you to order.


For help with housing issues e.g. problems with your home or landlord, such as disrepair, problems with damp and mould, difficulties with rent/mortgage payments or if you are looking for a home, concerned about losing your home or are homeless, see our Housing solutions advice page.

For urgent need you can apply to the Council’s discretionary support team who may be able to help with emergency vouchers for food/energy and other items.

The team can issue awards for two types of need, to people who require short term emergency support and to people who require community support to establish or maintain a home independently in the community.

To apply for emergency support or community support call the Discretionary Support Team from 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4:30pm on a Friday on 0800 952 0016 which is a Freephone number from landlines. Alternatively - email Discretionary.Support@halton.gov.uk.

Need Help Now?

Money and mental health are often linked. Having poor mental health can make managing money more difficult and problems with debt and money can impact your mental health. To find out more visit:

Helplines and online support

  • Citizens Advice Halton Freephone Advice line 08082 787 956 or 0151 257 2449 (this is a call back service)
  • Money Advice Service 0800 138 7777
  • StepChange Debt Charity 0800 138 1111
  • Money Navigator Tool: if you are in financial difficulty you can access money and debt guidance for free from Money Helper UK. There is information on: what issues individuals need to deal with first; ways of staying on top of bills; how to find extra support; where to get extra help

Need to speak to someone in person?

  • Visit your local Citizens Advice for help with debt and money citizens advice

Support if you live in Halton

Please visit the Halton Mental Health Infopoint for further information on local services.

Over the winter all households with a domestic electricity connection were entitled to a £400 discount to help with energy bills from the Energy Bills Support Scheme (EBSS). These payments were paid monthly between October 2022 and March 2023.

For many households, this amount was simply deducted from their direct debits.

Those with a traditional prepayment meter will have automatically received the discount each month as either:

  • redeemable vouchers, sent by text, email or post
  • an automatic credit when you topped up at your usual top-up point, for example at a Post Office or

PayPoint shop (Payzone outlets do not accept the vouchers)

The vouchers expire after 90 days. However, if your voucher has expired, you can ask for it to be reissued.

If you still need to redeem your vouchers, please note all vouchers must be redeemed by 30 June 2023.

Your supplier should contact you if you do not redeem your voucher.

Some suppliers may allow you to transfer EBSS payments from your electricity meter to your gas meter.

For more information visit: Getting the £400 Energy Bill Support Scheme discount if you're on a traditional pre-payment meter - Energy Saving Trust

Or contact your energy supplier.