Responding to the cost of living crisis, we are delivering courses that will help residents to reduce their household bills and gain qualifications to boost their career opportunities and earning potential.

Courses & Services We Offer

Haircuts & Beauty Treatments

Free or £5

Residents of Colchester can also benefit from low cost (£5) haircuts and free beauty treatments at the ACL Colchester centre, whilst being a model for learners on health and beauty courses.

Essential Skills Courses

Could be Free

Residents who struggle with financial wellbeing and find maths or other essential skills tricky are being offered free foundation level courses to boost skills in English, Maths & Digital skills.

Wellbeing Courses


We offer a wide range of FREE courses to help people to improve their mental health and wellbeing.

GCSE qualifications

Could be free

Gain GCSE qualifications to improve job prospects, gain support to help their family deal with the cost of living crisis, and receive help managing anxiety and stress.

Microsoft Office Courses


Microsoft Office is a range of great programmes to learn for many reasons, it can help you both in your career and also while studying and creating documents for personal use.



For employed residents who would like to progress to management or team lead roles or other roles. Or for those who are looking to start in the workplace or change careers.

Flexible Learning Qualifications

Could be free

Whatever your ambitions start fulfilling them! Take the next steps in your career with a course you can complete at a time that suits you.

Running a Business

From £13

For residents seeking an entrepreneurial path, ACL is also offering the chance to take low cost (from £13) ‘Running a Business’ courses to help them start-up on their own.

Finding the Right Support

Help for Households is offering support to help you prepare for a challenging winter. Make sure you’re ready by finding out what you’re entitled to.

Many local councils are also offering additional services and funding. You can find out more about what is available by visiting your local council’s website:

You can also get advice on money, debt and benefits on Essex County Councils website.

Energy Costs

The ‘Energy Price Guarantee’ means a typical UK household will pay no more than £2,500 a year on their energy bill. The Energy Price Guarantee will be in place from 1 October 2022 until April 2024. You can save money on your energy bills by reducing the amount of energy you use. Visit Energy Saving Trust to find out how you can save money on your energy bills

Get specialist advice

You could get help from a specialist energy advisor if you are finding it hard to pay energy bills or have debts with energy suppliers. They might be able to help you get a grant to improve your home’s energy efficiency.

Warm spaces in your local community

Essex Libraries are hosting the Warm Welcomes scheme to encourage people to use their local libraries this winter. As well as providing a safe place to keep warm libraries will be offering hot drinks, social spaces, and a range of activities such as cooking demonstrations and homework clubs.

Get extra help from your energy supplier

All energy suppliers and network operators keep a Priority Services Register. This is a free service to make sure that extra help is available for people in vulnerable situations.

You can register if you are of pension age, have a disability or medical condition, are pregnant or have young children.

Childcare Costs

You could get help with childcare costs, including:

You may be eligible for more help, including national funding and free healthy food vouchers.

School meals

Children in reception, year 1 and year 2 automatically get free school meals. This is called Universal infant free school meals (UIFSM) and you do not need to apply for it.

Children in year 3 and above may be eligible for free school meals.

Children and young people aged 2 to 19 may also be eligible for free meal vouchers during the school holidays.

School transport

Children in primary or secondary school could be eligible for free school transport.

Holiday clubs

The Essex ActivAte programme offers free clubs for eligible children and young people during the school holidays. Booking usually opens on their website a few weeks before the holidays.

Household Costs

If you need emergency money or food, you may be eligible for a budgeting loan or grants and charitable funds.

Council Tax

The government has introduced a £150 Council Tax rebate. If you live in an eligible property and you pay your council tax by direct debit, your local council will generally make the payment directly to your bank account. Payments started in April 2022. If you live in an eligible property and you do not pay your council tax by direct debit, contact your local council.

You could be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction if you’re on a low income or claim benefits. You can apply if you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working.

Funding towards household costs

If you are facing hardship, you can get help with your essential household costs. You can also get advice and support from Citizens Advice and other voluntary and community organisations.


Foodbanks give free food to people who are struggling financially. The Salvation Army also offers emergency assistance to people in need.


If you’re a low-income family receiving Universal Credit or other benefits, you could be eligible for a discounted broadband service.

Public transport

Essex Highways have put together a list of money saving tips for travelling around Essex on public transport. This includes park and ride discounts, concessionary bus passes and saver bus tickets.

Other Money Saving Tips

Turn Your Heating Down

Did you know that by turning your heating down one degree could help you save up to £80 a year? Try adding layers and blankets before turning up your heating.

Learn to Cook

Takeaways and ready meals usually cost more than making a meal yourself from scratch. We have courses to help you to learn to cook meals at a lower cost.

Swap Baths for Showers

You can save money by swapping baths to showers or by reducing the time you spend in the shower even by a minute.

Cooler Washes

You can save money by turning the temperature down on your washing machine and/or making sure your washing machine is full before switching it on rather than doing lots of smaller washes.

Free School Meals

Check if your child can get free school meals. You can find out more about about this here.

Use the Microwave

Did you know using the microwave can be a lot cheaper than the oven? Just make sure you turn it off standby when you are done.

Don't Overfill the Kettle

Only filling the kettle with the amount of water you need will save you money, if you are only making one drink try only adding enough water for that.

Turn Off Standby

Turn appliances of standby to save around £55 per year.

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