Extra help for residents
Advice and support are both available from Chelmsford City Council and a range of organisations across the city. If you need help, this page is a good place to start.
Chelmsford Citizens Advice is a great starting point for advice. You can try their website or call the Chelmsford CAB advice line and speak to an adviser between 9am and 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. If you prefer a face-to-face chat, you can also visit in person during the same hours at Burgess Well House, Coval Lane, Chelmsford CM1 1FW.
You can also find out what help you may be able to claim by using the calculator tool on entitledto.
You can contact the Chelmsford City Council customer service team for general advice and signposting on 01245 606606, during our opening hours. You can also visit the Civic Centre in person. Our offices are on Duke Street, Chelmsford, CM1 1JE.
- Help For Households – find out about the 41 different government schemes available to help with the cost of living.
- Cost of Living payment GOV.UK – guidance on getting an extra payment to help with the cost of living if you’re entitled to certain benefits or tax credits.
- Household Support Fund ECC – find out emergency funding, such as the Essex Essential Living Fund, available to Essex residents facing financial hardship.
- The Money Advice Service – free advice about how to deal with debt, tips to help you pay debt back and general money help.
- Step Change – a dedicated debt charity offering free debt advice and money management.
- MoneyHelper – a Government website with advice about living on a restricted income.
- Money Saving Expert – guidance on everything from household bills to income and budgeting. Includes a cost of living survival guide.
- Business Debtline – run by the Money Advice Trust to help those who are self-employed or have small businesses.
If you’re worried about gas and electricity bills, help is available from a number of organisations.
- Energy Bills Support Scheme Explainer – All households with a domestic electricity connection are eligible for the £400 discount. There are also schemes to provide support if you do not receive electricity or gas bills from any of the domestic suppliers (such as British Gas or Octopus Energy). You can find details about alternative support schemes and application forms
- Winter Fuel Payment – If you were born on or before 25 September 1956 you could get between £250 and £600 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a ‘Winter Fuel Payment’. If you receive the State Pension and some other social security benefits you’ll get this payment automatically.
- Boiler Upgrade Scheme – Government grants of £5,000 are available for homeowners replacing fossil fuel boilers with efficient low-carbon heat pumps.
- UK Power Networks Priority Services Register – if you rely on medical equipment, refrigerated medicines, or have children under five in your household you can register to ensure that you receive extra support when you experience a power cut.
- Energy supplier funds – some energy suppliers have their own funds to support households in energy arrears. A financial statement prepared by a debt advisor is usually needed, so it may be best to go to Chelmsford Citizens Advice for help before applying for one of these grants. Suppliers with funds include: Eon, Octopus, Ovo, Scottish Power and British Gas.
- Support paying your water bill – many water companies run hardship schemes or fund independent charitable trusts which can help you pay your bills.
- Social tariffs – social tariffs are cheaper broadband and phone packages for people claiming Universal Credit, Pension Credit and some other benefits. They’re delivered in the same way as normal packages, just at a lower price. Ofcom explains how the packages work
Support is available if you’re worried about rising housing costs or homelessness. If you’re at risk of homelessness, you need to contact us as soon as possible.
- Advice about homelessness – information on our website.
- Tell us if you are homeless or threatened with homelessness - you can refer yourself to our housing solutions team.
- Housing Benefit – this page on our website has details about how to claim and who is eligible.
- Peabody – provide free 1-2-1 support, information and advice for people who need support with housing-related issues.
- CHESS homeless – CHESS works to ensure that people who find themselves homeless in Chelmsford are supported.
- Sanctus – a charity based in Chelmsford and the only day centre serving the homeless and vulnerable in a significant part of Essex. Open 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- StreetLink – if you’re concerned about someone sleeping rough you can send an alert to StreetLink and the details will come through to us.
- Street Support – Working to connect people and organisations locally, Street Support can direct you to a warm meal, legal advice, job search assistance and medical help.
- Shelter – the national housing charity offers a web chat service to discuss your housing needs and you can also call on 0808 800 4444
Let us know if you’re having problems paying your council tax.
We can only discuss council tax accounts or payments with the account holder, or someone who has official authority to discuss your account or claims.
School holidays can be expensive, but there are free activities all year round in Chelmsford and:
- Tax-free childcare, free childcare and child benefits – visit the Government’s webpage for information about help with childcare costs.
- Childcare choices – options for Government help with childcare, including tax-free childcare all year round to spend on regulated childcare, such as childminders, nurseries and nannies, before and after-school clubs and holiday clubs.
- Essex ActivAte – is a holiday activity and food programme run by Active Essex in partnership with Chelmsford City Council. The programme takes place during the Easter, summer and winter holidays and is free for children and young people eligible for benefits based free school meals and those from low income working families.
- Free Chelmsford For You activities in the city centre – Chelmsford’s Buisness Improvement District regularly puts on free events for families during the school holidays in the city centre. Follow their accounts on Facebook and Instagram for the latest news about what’s coming up.
- Chelmsford Museum – the city’s museum is free to visit all year round, set in the grounds of Oaklands Park. There are free resources available for children to use to explore the museum and the surrounding park, and two well-equipped playgrounds.
- Explore Chelmsford bike routes – If you’re bored of your usual cycle or walking routes, or want to get more active outside, but aren’t sure where to start, you can try our family-friendly routes with I Spy challenges to complete too.
- Parks and playgrounds – Chelmsford has many parks and nature reserves, with plenty of play areas and spaces for sport and recreation.
- Get In! holiday courses and city camps – Chelmsford City Council’s leisure centres run reasonably-priced holiday courses for kids with all-day camps with early drop-off and childcare voucher payment options.
We understand that changes to your financial situation can be difficult. If you need a trusted person to speak to, these charities offer free support:
- Samaritans – if you’re struggling to cope and need a trusted person to speak to, contact the team for free on 116 123 from any phone. If you’d prefer to speak to someone locally, find out more about how to get in touch with the Samaritans of Chelmsford and Mid Essex here.
- Mid and North Essex Mind – mental health help for adults and young people, including advice about crisis support. Phone lines are open between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Friday on 01206 764600.
- Chelmsford City Sports – has a number of free and low-cost activities for people of every age available, from Heart and Sole walks to table tennis in the community.
- Warm banks – if you are struggling to heat your home and need a friendly space to warm up, Essex Wellbeing has put together a list of warm banks across the county.
You’ll need a voucher in order to use a foodbank.
You can contact:
- Citizen’s Advice on 01245 205579
- Essex Child and Family Wellbeing Service (if you have children aged up to 19) on 0300 247 0014
Social supermarkets can help low-income families who are struggling to find the money to put enough food on the table. Shoppers pay £5 for a bag of groceries and receive £20 to £30 worth of food.
There are two pop-up food stores in Chelmsford, at:
- Ford End Village Hall (Main Road, Ford End, Chelmsford, CM3 1LQ), every Tuesday from 9am to 11am
- Melbourne (St Andrews Church Hall, Chignal Road, CM1 2JB), every Tuesday from 2pm to 4pm
You can find more details about the Community Pop-Up Food Store.
We recognise that businesses are worried about rising costs.
We have produced a summary of support and services which may be able to help you during this difficult time in our support for businesses section.