Help for communities with the cost of living

Cost of living individual in supermarket looking at receipts

The cost of living crisis is really hitting hard for many people living in our communities.

How do charities, community groups and voluntary organisations help those who are struggling?

We’ve pulled together a range of information and support not just to help you support individuals and communities, but to also help you as the voluntary and community sector in North, South and West Yorkshire.

Support for households and individuals

North Yorkshire Council has information about a wide variety of support schemes and organisations in North Yorkshire which may useful for helping or advising those who are struggling to pay for essentials on their website here: Cost of living support | North Yorkshire Council

If you’re a North Yorkshire resident on a low income, you may be eligible to apply for a reduction to your council tax bill. Visit North Yorkshire Council’s website to learn more.

You may be able to apply for pension credit, which gives you extra money to help with your living costs if you’re over state pension age and on a low income. To check whether you are eligible, use the GOV.UK pension credit calculator.

Humber and North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership (HNY HCP) have put together a library of resources to help you support your communities with the cost of living crisis, including where to go for help and advice, wellbeing and mental health support and free days out. Download the presentation here.

You are not alone: Financial and wellbeing support in the former Harrogate district area.

Help for Households – Stakeholder toolkit: In response to increasing prices and the pressures around the cost of living, the Government  has launched the ‘Help for Households campaign’ to raise awareness of the support available amongst those that need it most. This stakeholder toolkit contains suggested messaging, social media assets and logos to help you share on social media, in newsletters and on websites.

The Local Government Association (LGA) has a Cost of Living support hub to help councils continue to support residents and a monthly Cost of Living bulletin, both of which highlight the latest news from the government including examples of good practice, latest reports and data and upcoming events.

North Yorkshire Home Efficiency Fund: Funding is available for energy efficiency improvements to homes in North Yorkshire at no cost to residents. YES Energy Solutions is working with North Yorkshire Council to provide residents in Hambleton, Ryedale and Scarborough borough with fully funded home improvements. The upgrades will help reduce energy bills, keep homes warmer and reduce carbon emissions. Homeowners and private renters can apply if they think they meet the eligibility criteria and their property is suitable.

The North Yorkshire Local Assistance Fund (NYLAF) provides emergency financial support if you – or someone you know – is unable to meet essential living costs, such as energy bills or food.  NYLAF can also make awards in kind, such as supplying basic necessities or household goods such as a fridge.

The Bradford District Cost Of Living booklet includes information, resources and support covering energy & bills, food & nutrition, housing support, debt & gambling, savings and scams, safeguarding, volunteering, health & well-being & NHS support.

Useful resources for what uses watt, a checklist of energy saving tips, Warm and Well North Yorkshire leaflet and a worrying about money? leaflet.

Cost of living resources: 

Energy Bills Alternative Funding: The Government application website for people who do not automatically receive the £400 payment through their electricity supplier is now live. Many of the categories of people are rural, as well as self paying residents of care homes.


Money saving advice and support for VCSE groups (and those supporting individuals through the cost of living crisis)

Energy Bills Discount Scheme: the Government’s Energy Bills Discount Scheme (EBDS) run until 31 March 2024. The scheme replaces the previous Energy Bill Relief Scheme (EBRS). It  continues to cover non-domestic customers, including charities and public sector organisations – helping to protect them from rising energy costs. Suppliers will automatically apply reductions to the bills of all eligible customers, so your organisation will not need to apply for the discount.

Are you making the most of available charity tax benefits? Find out if you are eligible for any tax relief from this NCVO blog  and Charity Excellence Tax Relief page.  We also have a helpful Gift Aid presentation to help you claim gift aid if eligible.

Cost Of Living Crisis Grants – Charitable Trust & Foundation Funding For UK Charities & Community Groups: Charity Excellence Framework provide charitable trust and foundation and other sources of cost of living crisis grant funding for UK charities, community groups and individuals, including core unrestricted grants and for energy bills and food.

National support for energy bills: Find out more about the Energy Support Scheme. The government has published details of how the scheme will work.

Help to Heat Fund : The Government have announced £1.5 billion of funding for a new Help to Heat scheme to improve energy efficiency and reduce bills for low-income households. Councils and social housing providers will be able to submit bids for funding to deliver upgrades to properties from early 2023 until March 2025. It is estimated that upgrades will reach 130,000 households and save around £400 to £700 a year on energy bills at current prices.

Two Ridings Community Foundation – Cost of Living (The) Crisis Fund: Grants of up to £2,000 are available for charitable organisations across North and East Yorkshire to support their communities during the current cost of living crisis. The panel will be meeting on a regular basis. The scheme will initially be focusing on funding organisations providing emergency support to local people. Eligible activities could include:

  • Providing food support – for example food parcels or purchasing stock for community fridges/pay as you feel
  • Providing fuel support – this should be used to support people that are on pre-payment meters/using oil.
  • Purchasing essential items to distribute – for example blankets, hot water bottles, slippers, clothing, flasks, slow
    cookers, carbon monoxide detectors, torches, batteries.

The panel will be meeting on a regular basis.

Sport England (with Crowdfunding) – Active Together: Grants of up to £10,000 are available for not-for-profit community sport and physical activity groups in England who can raise their initial funding through a crowdfunding campaign to support those experiencing financial difficulty due to Covid-19, the emerging energy, cost of living or other local crisis. A total of £7.5 million is being made available. Grants of up to £10,000 can be awarded. Sport England will match up to 50% of the money raised by groups through Crowdfunder, up to a maximum of £10,000. Priority will be given to projects that are in the most deprived communities to ensure that funding reaches those most in need. Update: Sport England has published new eligibility and pledge criteria and new grant conditions.

Big Issue Invest – Big Energy Saving Loans: Big Issue Invest is offering loan finance between £20,000 to £150,000 to social enterprises and charities in England, for energy efficiency and renewable energy installation. This lending programme is aimed at enabling social enterprises and charities to access loan funding to help save money on energy during the unprecedented cost of living crisis. Applications can be made at any time.

Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG): Discretionary grant available to eligible community transport operators in England to help them recover some of their fuel costs. Private sector, public sector and non-profit community transport operators in England can apply. To be eligible, organisations must:

  • First hold a section 19 permit and be able to produce evidence, such as a copy of their constitution or annual report, showing that it provides transport services in the eligible categories.
  • Be eligible services operated by non-profit making bodies on the basis of permit issued under section 19 of the Transport Act 1985.

Application deadline: 31 March 2024 (12am).

BBC Children in Need Emergency Essentials Programme: Funding for the purchase of essential items to meet the most basic needs of children and young people in the UK who are facing exceptionally difficult circumstances. Where possible, items will be provided directly rather than awarding a cash grant. Applications must be made through an organisation that is supporting the family or young person and is capable of assessing their needs, and that can also administer the grant. The programme has reopened and is operating as normal with applications processed within 10 working days.

Cash for Kids – Cost of Living Grants: Grants available to charities, community groups and professionals to help disadvantaged children across the UK during the current cost-of-living crisis. Grants are for £50 per child per household. Professionals within a governing body (e.g. social services, GP, teacher, charity, community group etc.) are eligible to apply on behalf of families in need. Costs such as food, clothing (including school uniform) and household energy are supported by the grant but any other item or cost is considered if children’s most basic needs are to be met. Applications are accepted on a first come, first served basis and applicants are advised to submit early as the scheme will close when funds are depleted.

COSARAF – Hardship Grants
Grants of up to £2,000 are available for third party social organisations (such as charities, housing associations, schools and social services who are acting on behalf of a family or individual in need) to support individuals and families across the UK who are in financial need and have exhausted all other sources of funding. COSARAF is dedicated to the following strategic priorities:

  • Promoting strong and cohesive communities.
  • Enabling young people to realise their potential.
  • Empowering women and girls.

This fund aims to support individuals and families who are struggling with everyday costs, such as basic living expenses, household items and utilities, or rent arrears. Applications can be made at any time and are assessed every six weeks.

Friends of the Elderly – Grants for Older People: A person may be eligible for a grant of up to £500 if they are of state retirement age, live in England manage on a low income with savings of less that £4,000, and do not live in a residential care home. Applications must be made through a referring agent (can be a charity or community group). Three types of grant are available: home essentials, digital connection, unexpected large bills, and essential living costs.

National Lottery Community Fund – Awards for All: Grants of between £300 and £10,000 are available for up to one year for charities, voluntary groups, schools and local authorities in England to carry out projects that will improve their local community. In addition to meeting one or more of the funding priorities NLCF are also able to fund projects that: support people, communities and organisations that are facing increased demands and challenges as a direct result of the cost-of-living crisis. Applications may be submitted at any time.


We will continue bringing you updates on funds and funders that are supporting groups with the cost of living crisis.

Advice for village halls

To help rural community buildings stay open this winter, ACRE and Utility Aid have prepared some advice to help the volunteers who manage these buildings save energy and stay on top of energy bills.

For information on how to make your community building more energy efficient, read our Energy for community buildings and village halls FAQ resource.

How to save energy in your community building: As the weather turns colder and energy prices increase this article from the Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) gives some useful information on how to save energy in your community building.


Community Action

Join the national Warm Welcome Spaces campaign which maps and supports organisations to open their doors and provide a warm welcome for those struggling to heat their homes this winter.

Two Ridings Community Foundation are encouraging those who can to donate to the North and East Yorkshire Cost of Living Crisis Fund.

Warm Spaces

Warm Welcome places interactive website: Organisations offering warm places for people as part of the community response to the cost-of-living crisis, can register their venues on the Warm Welcome website.  The site allows organisations to upload their details and people to look for places using the interactive map. It also provides a helpful toolkit to support organisations opening their doors.  You may want to share details and the Warm Welcome link with local VCSE contacts, GPs, libraries, etc.

This Warm Spaces Guide from Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert is specifically for organisations thinking about setting up a warm space in their community.

A network of warm spaces is expanding across Ryedale to provide a warm welcome to those who may be unable to heat their homes over the winter period. Community Connect partners have come together to highlight the venues that are accessible throughout the week.

Wellsprings Together, in partnership with the Diocesan Church Building Team, have released a free toolkit for churches across the Diocese including a guide to opening as a Warm Space.  Although it’s been complied for churches across the Diocese of Leeds , there’s plenty of useful advice if your church or community building is thinking of opening a warm hub – wherever you are!

Gallows Close Centre made us aware of their winter project, providing a warm space hub with a hot meal along with food parcels and emergency energy vouchers for anyone struggling this winter. The project will run on a referral basis from organisations working with people that may be struggling. Any one that is referred for a food parcel will automatically be given a voucher for a hot meal for just £1 at the warm hub. Food Parcels and energy vouchers can only be claimed once a month per household. However the warm hub will be open every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. (10-1pm Wednesday & Saturday and Fridays 11.30-2.30pm). Food Parcel Collections will be available during Wednesday’s Warm Hub Session. Here is the referral form for your organisation’s use should you feel any of your clients are in need of these services. Please pass this form on to any organisations that support residents of the Barrowcliff, Northstead, Woodlands Ward and Newby & Scalby.

Scams and fraud

Protect your charity from fraud and cybercrime  – Fraud Advisory Panel and Charity Commission for England and Wales, Understand the risks and get the tools to better protect your charity from fraud and cybercrime.

As the cost of living support has been announced and rolled out, scammers are taking advantage of people’s fear and worry about the cost of living crisis. Citizens Advice have written about the techniques scammers use and how to report them. Read their blog here.

Training & Events

Yorkshire Energy Doctor CIC training and events: Yorkshire Energy Doctor CIC work to tackle fuel poverty and to help vulnerable households be able to heat their homes at an affordable cost. They give 1-2-1 advice to local residents and also provide training to frontline staff and volunteers to be able to give support and advice to others.

Free training – Community Energy Ambassadors: This free course will equip you with up-to-date knowledge and practical resources on energy to share with clients or within local communities. We will cover energy prices, understanding and managing energy bills, ways to reduce energy use in the home, energy efficiency, smart meters, and the schemes available to help others with their energy costs.

Keeping us informed

At Community First Yorkshire, we advocate on behalf of rural communities and the VCSE sector. We want to know how the cost of living and fuel crisis are affecting you. We also want to hear about and share support you have in place to help others. Please help to keep us informed by getting in touch through


Updated 4 January 2024