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Debt and money advice

WarningFind out more about cost of living support.

Difficulty paying your council tax

If you receive your council tax bill and are unable to pay the instalments requested, call the Revenues Section immediately on 01277 312500. If you contact us early, we can check that your liability is correct. 

Not everyone has to pay the full council tax. For more information, visit Council Tax Discount.

Even if you're not entitled to a council tax reduction or discount, we may be able to help you by spreading your instalments over a longer period. Contact the Revenues Section and ask for assistance to make a payment arrangement.

If you fail to pay any instalment, you will receive a reminder. The reminder gives you seven days to pay the outstanding amount.

If you have already had two reminders in a year and then fail to pay a further instalment, which is due in that year, you will lose the right to pay by instalments. A third reminder does not need to be issued and you will become liable to pay the remaining amount for the full financial year. The full bill will be due the day after the missed payment.

What to do if you get a reminder

If you get a reminder, you should pay the amount requested immediately. If you are unable to do so, you should call the Recovery section on 01277 312500. You may be able to make an arrangement to pay the arrears with your next instalments.

For more information on what happens if you don't pay, visit Recovery and enforcement.

Hardship cases

For some people, it may be difficult to pay Council Tax on top of other bills. Our scheme provides assistance for claimants facing hardship to ensure they are getting the right level of support. In cases where no more support is available, we have identified a hardship fund to assist with meeting the Council Tax. For more information, visit Hardship Funds.


Peabody, formerly called Family Mosaic, provides a free service for vulnerable people who need support with housing related issues such as paying rent or claiming benefits.

Appointments at the Town Hall are on Thursdays from 9:30am to 4pm and can be booked by calling 0800 288 8883.  

Drop in sessions are no longer available at the Town Hall. For information on drop in sessions in the area, call them on 0800 022 4040 (free from landlines) or 020 7021 4444.

Essential living fund

This scheme is a grant system, open for anyone to claim and run by Southend on Sea Borough Council for the whole of Essex. Brentwood Borough Council can't deal with any enquiries about the scheme.

To see if you qualify for the award you will need to answer questions about your income, earnings and savings. You also need to give proof of your financial situation.

The scheme can cover applications for:

  • furniture
  • household furnishings
  • white goods
  • clothing and footwear
  • general living expenses - these are day to day living expenses such as groceries, nappies, toiletries, money for pay as you go fuel meters.

If you are awarded the grant you won't be paid in cash or into a bank account. Instead it will be:

  • food parcel or voucher
  • AllPay cards
  • high quality recycled furniture from reputable charity
  • white goods from a reputable local dealer

How to apply for an Essential Living Fund grant

For general living expenses such as groceries, nappies, toiletries, hygiene products and fuel, you can apply by calling 0300 7900124 from 8:45am to 5:15pm.

For furniture, white goods, clothing and footwear and household equipment, use one of the following online forms:

Furniture and household furnishings will be refurbished. White goods will be reconditioned or new where appropriate.

The application form relies on pop ups. To get round it, follow the steps below:

  • select the Tools option at the top of the page
  • highlight Pop-up Blocker
  • select 'Always Allow Pop-ups from This Site. A new tab will open when you select Check Eligibility, you will then be able to continue with the form.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q) Who do I contact about the Essential Living Fund?

In all instances, Southend on Sea Borough Council's Essential Living Fund Team. Call them on 0300 7900124 (this number is charged at local rates from any number including mobiles and must be included in any minutes you have with your mobile contract).

Opening hours are 8:45am to 5:15pm. Brentwood Borough Council does not deal with queries about the Essential Living Fund.

Q) I work and receive an income, can I still apply for an Essential Living Fund?

Yes you can. You can apply if you get benefits or are working and receive a low income. All applications are considered and all financial information and personal circumstances will be looked at to see if you're eligible. This decision will be made by the Essential Living Fund Team of Southend on Sea Borough Council. 

Q) How many times can I use the fund?

In order to protect the fund from persistent claimers, Southend on Sea Borough Council have limited the number of applications. This will ensure the fund is not abused and is available for those in true need.

For help with furniture, furnishings, household equipment, clothing, footwear it will not normally be appropriate to make an award for the same expense if it has been less than 12 months since the last application, unless there has been a relevant change in circumstances that require a reapplication for the same expense - for example an application is made and agreed for a bed, the bed is destroyed in a house fire and the applicant applies for another bed.

For help with general living expenses, no more than three awards should be given in any 12 month rolling period.

For each application within the 12 month period the ELF team may offer additional advice or direct you to those who have more advance expertise in helping you overcome financial issues and budgeting problems.

Q) I have lost my award letter or forgotten my reference number what shall I do?

If you lose your award letter or forget your reference number contact the ELF team on the Hotline number 0300 7900124. You shouldn't contact Brentwood Borough Council.

Q) I have been granted items or furniture, how do I go about getting them?

The Essential Living Fund Team will explain how you get the items in a decision letter.

Q) I have been awarded an AllPay card. What is it and how does it work?

An AllPay card will be awarded mainly for:

  • clothing and footwear
  • gas and electric emergency top ups

An AllPay card is similar to a Visa debit card. The card can be used in any store that accepts Visa and is only to be used for the purchase of the items applied for in the application form.

An amount of credit will be loaded onto a card. The Essential Living Fund Team will tell you the specific allocation point you need to pick the card up from and what you will need to bring in order to receive the card.

Your card will arrive with a letter with an activation code. You will need to contact Allpay using the phone number on the letter to activate the card. Once activated you will be able to use the card in the relevant shops to purchase your goods or to top up your gas and electric. The letter will also detail the terms and conditions for using the card, such as what shops the card won't work in and that the card can not be used in a cash machine.

Extra help for pensioners

Cost of living help

We have been helping Essex County Council (ECC) distribute payments of £80 to eligible pensioners to help with the cost of living.

For those whose bank details we already have, payments will start arriving in bank accounts from 26 September 2022. Where we don’t have your bank account details, if eligible, you will get a supermarket voucher from Essex County Council in the post.

The payment reference on your bank statement will be: Brentwood Borough Council

We won’t be contacting every eligible household individually about this payment.


To be eligible you must:

  • already be getting Council Tax support or Housing Benefit
  • have reached state pension age between 1 April 2022 and by 30 September 2022

To find out more, visit Essex County Council.

Pension Credit

If you’re 60 or over you can apply for Pension Credit to top up your income to a weekly minimum.

Help with fuel bills

If you’re on a low income you may be able to claim up to £1,500 for energy efficiency and heating improvements for your home.

If you're disabled

You can get Attendance Allowance if you’re state pension age or over and need help with personal care because of an illness or disability.

If you look after someone who's severely disabled, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

Help with health costs

You may be entitled to help with various health costs, including prescriptions, eye tests and dental treatment.

War widow(er) pension

You can claim a tax-free War widow(er) pension if your husband or wife died because of war service or received a War Pension or related allowance.

To find out more about pension credit, you should contact the Pension Service directly.

Anglian Water

Anglian Water’s specially trained Extra Care support team can create personalised payment plans to help customers budget, provide some breathing space if they need some extra time to pay, as well as guide them towards other help and benefits available.

With different tariff options, customers could be eligible for a discount of up to 50% on their water charges, depending on their situation.

Anglian Water also provide a range of free practical support services through their Priority Services Register, in place to help lots of people with different needs and is completely free. By signing up, they are made aware of a customer’s circumstance, such as living with a disability or going through a life change, and can tailor their services to better support the customer's needs. Anglian Water can: 

  • prioritise the customer's needs if there’s an interruption to their water supply
  • help protect customers against bogus callers 
  • communicate in different languages, including British Sign Language
  • send bills in alternative formats, including large print, audio and braille
  • knock and wait, giving customers longer to get to the door

Household Support Fund

Since 30 September 2021, the Household Support Fund has been administered by Essex County Council and not Brentwood Revenues and Benefits. For more information, view the press release.

Other help available

If you're in debt and finding it hard to cope, it is important to deal with the problem immediately. You can get free and independent advice from organisations like Citizens Advice and Money Advice.

Making every penny count

Citizens Advice Brentwood has developed a digital tool Making Every Penny Count, to improve the financial wellbeing of our local residents.

This digital brochure is full of helpful ways to maximise household income, save money and prevent financial problems, designed specifically to help anyone living in the south of Essex.

Budgeting tool

The first vital step in taking control of your finances is to create your own personal budget plan. Our user friendly budget planner is free to use and should only take minutes to complete if you have all your financial information to hand. provides useful information on where to get free help and advice.

Discretionary housing payments

If the Council considers that you need more financial assistance, you may be awarded a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Income support

If you qualify for the maximum amount of Housing Benefit or Council Tax Support payable, or you would do if not for the amount of any non-dependant deductions made from your entitlement, you may qualify for Income Support. If you are a lone parent working less than 16 hours per week, a pensioner or are unable to work through illness and think you may qualify for Income Support, you should contact the Benefits Agency.

Child tax credit

Child Tax Credit is administered by the HM Revenue and Customs. For information, visit child tax credits.

Working tax credit

Working Tax Credit is administered by the HM Revenue and Customs. For information, visit working-tax-credit.

State benefits

If you are on a low income, are disabled or a pensioner, there may be additional help available to you. For information and details of the amount of various state benefits available, visit benefits.

Contact the Citizens Advice Bureau for independent advice on 01277 222888 or:

Citizens Advice Bureau
Town Hall
Ingrave Road

Useful numbers

  • Age UK Essex - Formerly Age Concern, Age UK is an independent local charity working with and for senior citizens in Essex. 01245 34610
  • Business Debt Line - A business helpline providing free, confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. 0800 197 6026
  • Concessionary Transport Fares - Brentwood residents who are concessionary bus pass holders can now travel on buses from 9am for free on journeys that start in Essex. However, this does not include travel on long distance, express coach services or special services such as tours or excursions. For more information, call 0845 200 0388 or apply for a bus pass online.
  • Citizens Advice Bureau - An independent voluntary organisation offering a comprehensive, confidential and free information, advice and advocacy service. 0808 2787877
  • Civil Legal Advice - Free and confidential legal advice. 0345 345 4345 
  • Stepchange - formerly the Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS), Stepchange offer a structured programme on how to manage your money. They offer a debt remedy plan, an anonymous service that will give you sound advice and budget planning 24/7. 0800 138 1111 (freephone)
  • Energy Saving Trust Advice Centre - Provides free impartial advice on ways to save money on fuel bills and on grant schemes for insulation and heating works. 0300 123 1234
  • Job Centre Plus - Jobs and benefits advice. 0345 604 3719
  • National Debt Line - Free confidential and independent advice on how to deal with debt problems. 0808 808 4000
  • Payplan - Free confidential advice on debt problems. 0800 280 2816 or 0207 760 8980
  • Shelter - A homelessness charity that runs a homelessness helpline, has a network of housing aid centres and works with the local Citizens Advice Bureau. 0808 800 4444 calls are free from UK landlines and most mobile providers.
  • Stop Loan Sharks - If you're the victim of a loan shark, help and support is available -don't suffer in silence.
  • Brentwood Borough Council - 01277 312500 for general enquiries or email

The Financial Ombudsman Service is a free and easy to use service that settles complaints between consumers and businesses.