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Keep well & warm

Page last updated Tuesday 28 November 2023

Rising living costs mean that for households everywhere, it is harder to make ends meet.

In these difficult times, we are providing advice and information to save money, keep our homes warm and stay safe this winter.

You will find a round-up of help available from the government and other central sources on this page, which we will be keeping up to date when new advice and information becomes available.

You can also find news on our .

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Your money

Social tariff for broadband

If you or anyone in your household claims Universal Credit, you could save around 拢180 a year on broadband by switching to a social tariff. All you need to do is check your provider offers a social tariff, if they don鈥檛 you can switch to one that does.

If you think you are eligible, please visit the website.

Cost of living payments

If you get benefits such as Income Support, Pension Credit, Universal Credit or Child Tax Credit you could be eligible to receive up to three cost of living payments totalling 拢900 from the government.听

Find out more on the website.

The Warm 黄色播放器 Discount Scheme

You could get 拢150 off your electricity bill for winter 2023 to 2024 under the Warm 黄色播放器 Discount Scheme.

The money is not paid to you – it鈥檚 a one-off discount applied to your electricity bill between early October 2023 and 31 March 2024.

Find out more on the website.

The Winter Fuel payment

If you were born before 25 September 1957 you could get between 拢250 and 拢600 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a 鈥榃inter Fuel Payment鈥.

If you think you are鈥痚ligible鈥痯lease visit鈥痶he 鈥痺ebsite鈥痜or information.鈥

Cold weather payments

A Cold Weather payment helps people on鈥痩ow incomes to heat their homes when it is鈥痯articularly cold.鈥

You鈥痬ay鈥痓e eligible for a Cold Weather Payment鈥痠f you鈥檙e getting:鈥

  • Pension Credit鈥
  • Income Support鈥
  • Income-based Jobseeker鈥檚 Allowance鈥
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance鈥
  • Universal Credit鈥
  • Support for Mortgage Interest鈥

Find out more on the website.

The Healthy Start scheme

If you鈥檙e more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk.

If you鈥檙e eligible, you鈥檒l be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops.

You can use your card to buy:

  • plain liquid cow鈥檚 milk
  • fresh, frozen, and tinned fruit and vegetables
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
  • infant formula milk based on cow鈥檚 milk

To find out more and apply, visit the . This scheme is available all year round.

Energy saving tips

Our Plus services team have shared some top tips to help you save energy in your home.

Local food banks

Other help and support

  • offers free advice, discounts and offers
  • offer advice on further grants and benefits available
  • You may be eligible for the government’s cost of living payments. If you haven’t received these, please visit the website to check if you’re eligible.
  • Shropshire Council –
  • Staffordshire Council – .
  • Shropshire Council – .
  • Households in council tax bands A-D are entitled to a 拢150 rebate from their local authority. Find out more on the website.
  • Shropshire – .
  • Shropshire – .

Talk to Plus

There鈥檚 a reason for the听plus听in 黄色播放器.

As well as being a trusted provider of affordable homes and care services, we鈥檙e here to do more for our customers, offering听free and confidential听Plus听services听like employment and money advice as well as support and investment for听our neighbourhoods.

If you are struggling with your bills or finding it hard to manage your household budget, please talk to us. Our expert advisors are here to help and are all ready to support you if you need to boost your job prospects.

Find out more

 

Your home

What can you do to make sure you’re ready for winter?

Before the colder months arrive, there are a couple of checks you can do to ensure that your home is winter-ready.

Heating

Due to rising fuel bills, many people put off switching their heating on until the weather takes a turn for the worse.

We recommend that you test your heating to ensure any problems with your central heating system or boiler can be identified and fixed before you really need it.

We suggest you:

  • Pick a day in September or early October to test your heating is working.
  • Switch on the heating on a low setting.
  • Test thermostats and radiator controls by turning them up and down.
  • Test radiators by checking they are hot from top to bottom.

If you find any problems with your heating system please call us on 0800 048 8955.

Frozen pipes

Frozen pipes can also be a very common problem during the winter months and can be a serious issue. It does not have to snow or sleet for pipes to freeze, which can happen when temperatures reach 0掳C. In these temperatures the water in a pipe may freeze, causing the pipe to expand and potentially burst, resulting in extensive damage to your home.

You can take a few preventative measures, to avoid this happening:

  • Before the start of winter, make sure all hoses are disconnected and outside taps are turned
    off.
  • Run water through your taps regularly 鈥 frequent use of the cold water supply will reduce the chances of water freezing.
  • Regularly inspect your plumbing (inside and outside) for signs of freezing. The first sign of a frozen pipe is usually when no water comes out of the tap, but you can also see it. Frozen pipes may have frost on the outside, be covered in ice, or be bulging.

Damp and mould

See it 鈥 Report it!

If you spot signs of damp and mould in your home or have any questions or concerns, please call our customer services team on听0800 048 8955,听send us a private message on听听or by completing our听online form.

Find out more

Frequently asked questions

What should I do if I have a frozen pipe?

  • Open all of your taps fully.
  • Check for leaking joints or burst pipes.
  • Apply a hot water bottle, or thick towels soaked in hot water to pipes to help them defrost. Start at the end of the pipe nearest the taps and work your way along the pipe.
  • Use electric fan heaters, only if it is safe to do so, to warm the room where the frozen pipe is.
  • Do not use electrical items if there is a chance the pipe has already burst.
    NEVER use a naked flame to defrost pipes.
  • Do not try to thaw the pipe too quickly as there may be splits in the pipe which are not immediately noticeable.

Warning!

  • Do not rush thawing the pipe by using water that is too hot.
  • Always make sure that you are standing at ground level when pouring water onto it – do not climb to a higher level to reach frozen pipes.
  • Never disconnect the pipe.
  • Always use suitable protection for your hands when handling hot water.

How do I know if I have a frozen condensate pipe, and what should I do?

Frozen condensate waste pipes are a common problem in the winter months. The majority of modern boilers have condensate pipes taking water vapour away from your boiler, making it more energy efficient. The condensate pipe is usually plastic, running
from your boiler and discharging internally into a waste pipe or externally into a gully.

In cold weather the condensate pipe (particularly those running externally) can freeze, even if insulated. If this happens then your boiler will automatically shut down and leave you without central heating and hot water.

There are a couple of ways to tell if your condensate pipe is frozen.

  • You may hear some bubbling sounds coming from the boiler or the pipe itself.
  • There may also be a warning light on your boiler indicating that the pipe is frozen.

If you want to try thawing an external condensate pipe yourself you can:

  1. Warm some water in the kettle – do not use boiling water as this could crack the pipe or scald you.
  2. Stand away from the wall and gently pour the warm water onto the frozen pipe.
  3. Repeat until the pipe has thawed.
  4. Once the condensate pipe has fully thawed, the boiler will need to be reset using the reset switch. Once reset, the boiler should fire up and run as normal.
  5. If you are unable to reset your boiler please contact our customer services centre to arrange an appointment for an engineer to attend.

If you are still having problems, please call us on 0800 048 8955.

Warning!

  • Do not rush thawing the pipe by using water that is too hot.
  • Always make sure that you are standing at ground level when pouring water onto it – do not climb to a higher level to reach frozen pipes.
  • Never disconnect the pipe.
  • Always use suitable protection for your hands when handling hot water.

How can I avoid cold weather problems around the house?

  • Set your heating at the right temperature, ideally between 18掳C 鈥 21掳C and try to heat
    your bedroom overnight. If this isn鈥檛 possible, warm your bedroom at night before you go to bed.
  • If you have storage heaters, make sure they are set to fully charge at night, when electricity is cheapest.
  • Make sure that your windows and curtains are closed, to keep the warmth in.
  • Use an electric blanket or hot water bottle to warm your bed, but NEVER both together.听Only leave an electric blanket switched on all night if it has thermostatic controls for safe all-night use. Otherwise switch it off and disconnect it before you get into bed. Electric blankets should only be used in accordance with manufacturer鈥檚 instructions and fire service safety advice: .

 

Your wellbeing

Free advice and activities in your community

ReConnected is a new service for people aged 55+ providing advice about the things that matter most to you, as well as activities and social events in your community.

It鈥檚 completely free for residents of Stafford Borough and South Staffordshire.

ReConnected is supported by the National Lottery Community Fund National Lottery Community Fund logo

Remember to check on your neighbours

Cold weather can make some health problems worse, especially for those who are more vulnerable. Remember to check on your neighbours to make sure they are well and warm. Visit the NHS website for guidance.

Don鈥檛 brush off the 鈥榳inter blues鈥

Many people experience feelings of loneliness and isolation at this time of year. For mental health information and support, visit the NHS website.

 

You can also visit our useful contacts page for signposts to mental health support and other help available.

Useful contacts page

Speak up about safeguarding

While it can鈥痮ften鈥痓e鈥痟ard to identify abuse or neglect,鈥痠f you have any concerns,鈥痯lease speak up. Find out how to contact your local safeguarding team on our safeguarding page.听

Safeguarding page

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