Help is out there

A whole group of agencies from across Bath and North East Somerset have come together to pledge help and support for local people battling with the rising cost of living.

A wide range of agencies, third sector organisations and community groups – working under the umbrella of the Community Wellbeing Hub – have joined forces with Bath & North East Somerset Council and HCRG Care Group to help residents with money matters, bills, benefits, energy costs, food, housing, mental health support, jobs and skills, support for carers and other services.

The move follows the announcement today that the energy price cap is rising from £1,971 to £3,549 a year from October.

The Community Wellbeing Hub provides a single telephone number 0300 247 0050 to access help from key local agencies, including Citizens Advice, Age UK and Bath Mind. The Hub has provided support – particularly to the most vulnerable – during the pandemic and provides links to a wide range of community groups and information about what services are available.

The Hub can be contacted Monday to Friday, 9am-5pm.

Councillor Kevin Guy, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, said: “The unprecedented announcement of an 80% increase in the energy cap made earlier today is extremely worrying. Many people are feeling the financial squeeze for the first time and simply don’t know where to turn. Our partners have come together with a simple message for people concerned about how they’ll make ends meet as the cost of living continues to rocket: ‘Help is out there’.”

Councillor Dine Romero, cabinet member for Children, Young People and Communities said: “The Community Wellbeing Hub has done a fantastic job of supporting the most vulnerable during the pandemic and has built invaluable knowledge of our communities and the services that can help. Please pass on the Hub’s ‘Help is out there’ message to friends, relatives, work colleagues and neighbours.”

Val Scrase, Regional Director for HCRG Care Group, said: “The Community Wellbeing Hub provides a really useful first point of contact for anyone looking for support with any of the issues associated with the rising cost of living. Our staff are skilled in making sure that people get the right kind of help with whatever they may be facing, whether it’s difficulties paying bills, accessing benefits or needing some support for their mental health. I’d encourage anyone who is struggling and looking for support to contact the hub.”

Becky Brooks, Director of 3SG, added “We are proud of our wide range of fantastic voluntary and community organisations who stand ready to provide help where needed. The Community Wellbeing Hub provides us with an “umbrella” that we can work through, ensuring that people get the services that they need without going from “pillar to post”.

Avon and Somerset Police are also key Hub partners, through their work providing support for vulnerable people at risk, for example from financial exploitation or domestic abuse.

Partners are also urging residents to seek help at an early stage if they are struggling, and Bath & North East Somerset Council has launched dedicated “Cost of Living Crisis” web pages which have information on:

The Livewell “Money Matters” web pages also has contact details for a host of organisations and services providing support to help people manage their money.

Some residents who are eligible for the Council Tax Energy Rebate still haven’t applied for their one-off £150 payment to help with fuel bills.  You can find our more and apply on our website. If you don’t qualify for the Council Tax Energy Rebate Scheme but are struggling to pay your energy bills you may be able to apply for a Discretionary grant. There’s more information on our website and if you qualify you can apply online. Paper application forms are also available from our One Stop Shops or, alternatively, you can call our Benefits Team on 01225 477777 and select option 4.

In exceptional circumstances the council may be able to offer a Discretionary payment to residents who have already received their Council Tax Energy Rebate. To apply contact welfare_support@bathnes.gov.uk or call 01225 477277

Partners involved in the Community Wellbeing Hub include:

3SG

Age UK

Avon and Somerset Police

Bath Mind

Bath & North East Somerset CAB

Bath & North East Somerset Council

Curo

DHI

Royal United Hospital Bath

St John’s Foundation