Help with the cost of living

Don’t miss out on income
Help with food costs
Help with energy costs and utilities
More money saving advice

Don’t miss out on income

You can check what benefits you are entitled to on an online benefit calculator. It also advised on how to claim and how much you might be better off.

In January 2021 Entitledto estimated that over £15 billion is being unclaimed by households across the UK.

You can find more information on benefits from the ‘benefits and reduced income‘ section, and:

Help with food costs

Get help to buy food and milk (Healthy Start)

If you get Universal credit, you can apply online if:

  • you’re at least 10 weeks pregnant or have at least one child under 4 years old
  • your family’s monthly ‘take-home pay for this period’ is £408 or less from employment

If you get Child Tax Credit, you can apply online if:

  • you have at least one child under 4 years old
  • your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less

Free food parcels

If you are struggling with paying for food, you can be referred to Reading’s food bank Readifood by a professional organisation or charity, like Reading Borough Council, Citizens Advice Reading or CommuniCare. Please speak to any professional you are working with for a referral, or contact one of the local advice agencies who can work with you to make a referral.

If you are struggling for food currently, please contact the Debt Advice Team. They will be able to provide you with details of where you can go to get a food handout as soon as possible.

Community Food Share

Wycliffe Church is working with a local supermarket to make un-used food available to local residents, rather than throwing it away. More information on Food Share.

Fridge for the community

Community Fridge is open Wednesday to Friday. Offer a selection of free fresh and non-perishable food. This is a drop-in service with no referral needed to attend.

Free School meals

If you are receiving an ‘income based’ benefit (not including Working Tax Credit) you could receive free school meals. Contact your child’s school for more information and to apply.

Reducing your food costs

You may be able to reduce your costs by:

  • Shopping weekly and making a meal plan using up ingredients you already have, then making a shopping list of any missing items. Going shopping daily will make you spend more.
  • Do not shop when hungry. This makes you likely to spend more, especially on less healthy foods, such as high-fat and sugary snacks.
  • Be strict about buying only what you’ll actually eat. The average family with children throws away almost £60 of good food every month.
  • Try cheaper brands, you could save money by buying cheaper brands than you usually do as well as cutting back on luxuries.
  • Look up cheap recipes. There are plenty of websites that give you recipes for cheap tasty meals including using leftover ingredients.
  • You could also reduce the cost of food by making packed lunches for work/school rather than buying food when you are out.

Help with energy costs and utilities

It can be difficult or not possible to switch to a cheaper tariff, so its more important to use the energy you pay for to get the most from it.

Useful information and advice is available from:

More money saving advice

There are many websites with simple and really useful guides and information on how to ease the squeeze caused by the rise in the cost of living, below are some useful sites:

  • Money Helper – Advice and tools from the Money & pensions Service.
  • Citizens Advice – Advice on a range of issues including reducing your regular living costs.
  • StepChange – Advice on how to cope with the rising cost of living.
  • Which – Guides on saving on energy, money and spending on essentials.
  • Ask Bill – Free and impartial information to help you save money.
  • Money Saving Expert – information on a range of money saving advice and tips.