Public Health news: Cost of Living Crisis and Welcoming Places

December 2022

Cost of Living Crisis and Welcoming Places

There is a wealth of help and advice available at South Tyneside Cost of Living Information.

This includes information on government help, welfare support and the Household Support Fund.

There is also help and support on the following subjects:

  • Money and debt advice
  • Benefit entitlement
  • Crisis support and food
  • Job and skills support
  • Education
  • Data tariffs

There are also practical things we can all do to help us keep track of the energy we use and become more energy efficient.

Turning down the flow temperature of your boiler

If you have a condensing boiler (anything fitted in the last 16 years will be this type), reducing the flow temperature will help it to run more efficiently and save you money.

The 'flow temperature' is the temperature your boiler heats up the water to before sending it off to your radiators. Most gas boilers are set to heat the water to 80 degrees C. When the flow temperature is 60°C or lower, the boiler will reach its higher efficiency potential. For more information visit The Heating Hub.

Some boilers have what is called a 'hot water pre-heat' function. This keeps a small amount of hot water ready inside the boiler which can be deployed quicker when you turn on the hot tap. To make this happen, the boiler will fire about every 90 minutes and will use a little gas every time, but over the year it really adds up!

These two things could save you up to 18%. To find out how to turn down the flow temperature and switch off the pre-heat, consult your boiler's manual.

British Gas have lots of other practical tips to help improve energy efficiency in your home and reduce energy costs.

Energy Use Calculator

It can also be helpful to know how to calculate how much energy your appliances use so you can save costs by using the more expensive ones less. Things that generate heat are often the most expensive to use.

The Energy Shop developed an electricity cost calculator to help you see how much each item is costing to run. You can find the price your paying for electricity on your bill or from Ofgem.

Don't forget you will also be paying a standing charge for gas and electricity - no matter how much or little you use each day.


This is the government's main energy efficiency initiative for fuel poor and vulnerable households.

Energy companies are obligated to fund energy saving measures in fuel poor, low income and vulnerable households. If the customer is found eligible and the property meets the requirements, the measures installed are often fully funded. Customers are advised in advance if any contribution from them is required.

The measures that can be carried out include:

  • Loft insulation
  • Cavity wall insulation
  • First time central heating system
  • Gas boiler replacement (please note that gas condensing combi boilers can't be replaced)
  • Renewable heating

A full assessment of both the qualifying criteria and the property must be carried out before any confirmation of funding. Assessment will be carried out by the energy supplier or their installer. Evidence will be required to confirm income and health eligibility.

For further information on ECO4 please visit Ofgem, the administrator of the scheme.

To register an interest with South Tyneside Council for referral into the scheme please call Debra Ralph on 0191 4247902 or email  or alternatively you can also email

Healthy Start Vitamins and Vouchers

Anyone who is pregnant or families with children under 4 and in receipt of qualifying benefits may be entitled to get help to buy some basic foods and milk. Find out if you're eligible for the Healthy Start scheme at and apply online.

To apply, you will need your:

  • name
  • address
  • date of birth
  • National Insurance number
  • baby's due date (if you're pregnant)
  • benefit award letter if you're over 18 (you must enter the same information that's on this letter)

You'll receive your Healthy Start prepaid card by post. It'll come with your first payment on it and instructions on how to activate and use it. Money will be automatically added to your card every 4 weeks.

The card can be used at any retailer that sells the eligible healthy start food and milk items and displays the Mastercard® acceptance mark. You must keep your card if you're still getting your benefit.

You could get £4.25 per week to help you buy healthy food and milk for your child.

You need to know your PIN before you use your card in a shop. You can find out your PIN when you call (0300 330 2090) to activate your card. You can check your balance at any cashpoint. You will need your PIN to check your balance at a cashpoint. You cannot withdraw cash.

Anyone who lives in South Tyneside and is at least 10 weeks pregnant and/or has a child under 4 years old can also claim FREE Healthy Start Vitamins every 8 weeks. To find out where you can collect vitamins from visit Healthy Start Vitamins.

Money Helper

MoneyHelper is here to help. They provide clear money and pension guidance online and over the phone. They can also point you to trusted services, if you need more support. Money help all in one place, that's free to use.

Welcoming Places

South Tyneside Council alongside the voluntary and community sector developed a network of 'Welcoming places' to help residents during the cost of living crisis.

These include libraries, community centres, church halls, sports clubs, and other places.

Welcoming places are places where people can go, free of charge, to spend time during the day or evenings to keep warm if they are struggling to heat their homes. Many venues will also offer additional facilities such as hot drinks, free wi-fi, activities and access to information and advice.