FAMILIES struggling with the cost of living can get £150 in free cash, with the first payment made within days.
The help comes via the Household Support Fund, which is worth £842million.
Families can get free vouchers to help towards living costs
The money has come from the Government which has distributed it among councils in England.
They then decide how to share their portion of the fund.
That means what you can get depends on where you live, but in most cases help is offered to those on a low income or benefits.
The type of support on offer varies as well – some local authorities are offering out food or utility bill vouchers while others are making bank transfers.
You might even get help buying white goods such as fridges and washing machines.
For example, families in Durham can get £150 free cash to help them with food and other essential costs.
Parents will qualify if their children get free school meals or you do not get any of the cost of living support payments.
Recipients will get two vouchers of £75 and the first will be made within weeks.
The first batch of vouchers will be sent out on the weeks starting June 19 and June 26 for children in primary school and above.
If your child is of nursery age (or pre school) then you’ll get it from July 3.
The second voucher will be paid later on this year with families getting it either on the weeks beginning November 20 and 27 or December 4.
You don’t need to apply for this – the money will be sent directly through your child’s school.
Can I get help if I don’t live in Durham?
Yes you can. But what you can get depends on where you live as each council has been given a unique share of the £842million pot.
For example, households in Torridge are in line for payments worth up to £1,000.
The application process varies from area to area too.
The best thing to do is contact your local council to see what help is on offer and if you have to take any action.
You can do this by using the Government’s locator tool found on its website.
But you might want to be quick as competition for the fund is fierce and once a council has depleted its share, there’s no more left.
That said, the Household Support Fund has been extended multiple times since it was first launched in October 2021 so it might be extended again when the current batch closes, in March 2024.
How do I apply for the Household Support Fund?
Some households will be notified that they can apply for cash help and others will receive the cash automatically.
Again, your council will set out whether or not you need to apply for the free cash.
Those who live in Bracknell Forest and think they’re eligible for the Household Support Fund will need to apply by filling in an online form.
You can locate the form on Bracknell Forest Council’s website.
What other help is available?
Millions are also in line to receive cost of living payments worth up to £1,350.
The first instalment of the £900 payment has been paid to millions on certain benefits, including Universal Credit and Pension Credit.
Meanwhile, a £150 payment and between £150-£300 payment will be made to millions with disabilities and pensioners in June.
You may be entitled to the £150 disability cost of living payment if you receive any of the following benefits:
- Attendance Allowance
- Constant Attendance Allowance
- Disability Living Allowance for adults
- Disability Living Allowance for children
- Personal Independence Payment
- Adult Disability Payment (in Scotland)
- Child Disability Payment (in Scotland)
- Armed Forces Independence Payment
- War Pension Mobility Supplement
Plus, pensioners who are entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023/24 will get an extra £150 or £300 paid on top of their normal payment from November this year.
You will be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment this winter if you were born before September 25, 1957.
Those eligible for the payment will receive a letter in October and November telling them how much money to expect.
Energy suppliers also offer plenty of energy grants and schemes to help you out if you’re struggling.
Here’s a list of schemes open right now:
- British Gas Energy Trust Individuals and Family Fund
- British Gas Energy Trust
- EDF Customer Support Fund
- E.ON and E.ON Next Grants
- Octopus Energy Assist Fund
- OVO Energy
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
There’s a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you’re on a prepayment meter.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]