Help with food, money and work

If you are self-isolating and you do not have friends or family nearby who can help, get in touch with the community support hub.

As part of our COVID-19 response, the council will be providing extra support to households on low incomes with their Council Tax.

Every working age resident who gets Council Tax Support will receive a £150 discount on their Council Tax bill. This includes anyone who has claimed Council Tax Support recently because of a change in their circumstances, due to COVID-19.

Council Tax bills will be recalculated automatically and a new bill will be sent in the next few weeks. You do not need to contact the Council to apply for the £150 discount.

If you are not receiving Council Tax Support, but think you may be eligible, please visit the Council Tax Support page.

If you've lost income due to COVID-19 and need help or advice on benefits.

Benefit Entitlement Action Team Advice Line (Citizens Advice Darlington)

If you would like advice on claiming benefits, an advice line has been set up for support for people claiming benefits.

Help them to help you by having details of your family income over the last month and details of any health problems or disability you or members of your family have.

Freephone number - 0800 048 7023

Operating times: 

  • Monday        9:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Tuesday       9:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Wednesday  1:00 pm - 8:00 pm
  • Thursday      9:30 am - 4:30 pm
  • Friday           9:30 am - 1:00 pm
  • Saturday      9:30 am - 1:00 pm

Answering machine outside these times.

Citizens Advice Debt Hub

Citizens Advice Darlington have set up a debt and money advice hub.

It is open Monday - Wednesday, and Friday 10am - 2pm. 

They have set up a template letter for those who are capable and have a short term drop in income to ask for payment holidays from creditors.

Call on 01325 734994

Universal Credit

Apply for universal credit[external link] directly. 

Financial protection

The Financial Protection Team will be open to clients and their support staff for collection of Personal Allowance only. For any other queries call 01325 405456 or email [email protected]  All assessments will be carried out via telephone or e-mail only. They can be contacted on 01325 405677 or email [email protected].

Free school meals

The Department for Education have published guidance on free school meal provision following schools closing to the majority of pupils.

Schools have made provision for issuing supermarket vouchers of £15 per eligible child as an alternative to school meals. Please contact your child’s school who can provide details of the arrangements they have in place.

Community support scheme

The Community Support Scheme is a discretionary scheme from Citizens Advice Darlington, which exists to help Darlington’s most vulnerable qualifying residents. If you require urgent support to prevent the deterioration of your health within your home during this time you may be eligible for support including payment cards for utility meters. Find more information on the Citizens Advice website[external link].

Money advice

You can find advice on how to get help to manage your money on our money advice page.

If your income has been affected by Coronavirus and you are concerned about paying your rent, please contact the Income Team at [email protected] and we’ll be in touch with you as soon as possible.

We will not take possession proceedings or evict anyone as a result of the impact of Coronavirus, as long as you continue to work with us and ensure you are claiming the right help and support.

If your income has not been affected, we urge you to continue making your regular payments as this will prevent you getting into debt. 

If your employment has been affected and you need to make a claim for Universal Credit[external link], please click on the link to see what you may be entitled to. 

Age UK 

Age UK are offering a number of services to help with food. 

  • Shopping service - they have partnered with Thorpe Farm Centre to offer a shopping service with free delivery
  • Food delivery service, with a hot two course meal for £5.

Their services are available to anyone over 70, or over 50 and self isolating. Call 01325 741492

Foodbanks

Darlington's foodbanks are still operational. There are some changes to their provision, information is being updated regularly on their websites and social media:

We have published a map of community support which includes foodbanks. 

There is also a list of foodbanks, including those that have no online presence, with opening times on the citizen's advice website[external link].

Free school meals

If your child is eligible for free school meals, contact the school for a weekly £15 supermarket voucher.

This scheme is running through the school holidays.

Find advice on applying for free school meals if you think you may now be eligible due to changes in your circumstances.

Food delivery

There are a number of ways you can order food and other essentials when self isolating. In addition to local supermarkets offering home delivery and 'click and collect' we have compiled a list  of local shops and restaurants also offering home delivery services [external link].

Feeding a family on a budget

Biteable have produced a video [external link] with tips on feeding a family on a low budget.

Age UK, via their Good Friends scheme, are offering a befriending service. This provides either a weekly phone call or or a pen friend to be a friendly voice. Call 0300 30 20 100 to register.

There is support available from community organisations. A list of organisations and the support they are providing is available on the Livingwell site. 

The Housing Options team will remain accessible, anyone threatened with homelessness or fleeing domestic violence can call 01325 405333 to make an appointment at the Town Hall or for a telephone interview during office hours.

We are looking at different ways to help and support people.                                        

There are some things that you can do yourself like:                                        

Unfortunately Coronavirus linked scams and misinformation have circulated.

Scams

We urge people to be vigilant and on the look out for Coronavirus scams, which prey on genuine concerns and worries in order to make quick money. 

The National Trading Standards team has put together a full list of the scams it is seeing across the country, including doorstep criminals, online and refund scams, counterfeit goods and scams linked to donations and goodwill

Local incidents

We are currently aware of the following Coronavirus linked scam in the borough.

Trading standards has been made aware of a company putting flyers through people doors offering to deep clean the exterior of people's homes as a deterrent against the Coronavirus for £80. Based on advice from Public Health England, Trading Standards believes that the company has made unsubstantiated and misleading claims and has instructed them to immediately stop.

If you have any information about this or any other Coronavirus scam occurring in Darlington, report it to Trading Standards anonymously if you wish.

Misinformation

Misinformation can harm us all, and it is very easy to come across on social media. Whenever you read information about the Coronavirus, ensure it comes from a trusted source such as Public Health England. 

Be especially wary of claims of 'miracle cures', any advice that would undermine health officials, or anything that would promote violence. 

Public Health England is regularly updating information and advice regarding the virus, and if you believe you have symptoms of the virus please visit 111.nhs.uk.