Local councils can be an absolute pain when they forget to fix potholes, but they do provide some rather useful things for free or at least at a discounted price.
Some of the services aren’t widely advertised so you may have to do some digging.
To help get you started, we’ve looked up a few services that might prove useful.
If you want to find out more about what is specifically available in your area, head to your local council's website.
Finding and eliminating pests
Some councils in England and Wales will be able to provide free advice and treatment for infestations, particularly of rats.
If you’re on a low income or on benefits like Jobseeker's Allowance, Income Support or Housing Benefit, you should be able to get some money off other pest control treatments as well.
Bicycle maintenance courses
Basic and intermediate bike maintenance courses are available from some local councils in England and are open to all.
Courses last all day and cover areas like brake balancing and cabling, gear indexing, bearings, punctures, all-over checks and tips on how to clean your bike.
Councils often run 'bikeability' workshops to improve your confidence and technique on the road as well. They're perfect if you aren't used to riding in the city or you haven't ridden in a while.
Some councils can even offer up a free set of wheels. Edinburgh Council can give you a renovated bike if you’re:
- a single parent;
- receiving benefits;
- older or have disabilities and/or support needs;
- a community group, school club or play scheme;
- working with a social worker or support worker.
Free access to swimming pools
Some require you to have a card like Glasgow City Council, which offers the Glasgow Young Scot Card (12-18 years) to children living in the city.
What's more, a recently-introduced Welsh Government initiative allows armed forces personnel and veterans to enjoy free swimming.
Plant a tree
Many councils will give away trees for free.
You'll need to check if your local council is among them, or alternatively have a look at the Woodland Trust to see if you could be eligible for a free tree.
Help with food & clothing for school
Free school meals available in England, Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland if you’re on certain benefits like Universal Credit or Income Support.
The Government has a postcode finder tool to show what your Council provides.
Clothing grants are available nationwide, though the criteria differ slightly for each part of the UK.
Head for the hall
For some more inspiration, head to your local community centre or village hall to see what’s on for free. Libraries also offer lots of free courses and activity sessions: try a running club, an IT course or a sewing class.