Tens of thousands of households in the UK are set to receive free money to help with the cost of living this Christmas. The government has allocated £842 million to the Household Support Fund (HSF), which is being distributed by local councils to residents in need. Eligibility for the payments varies depending on where you live, with assistance mainly targeted at low-income households and those receiving benefits such as Universal Credit.
More than 30,000 households in Nottinghamshire are eligible to receive an extra £130 in cost of living cash before Christmas. The council is providing payments to low-income households, including those with children eligible for free school meals. Individuals receiving Pension Credit and others identified by social workers and professionals also qualify. Check the county council's website to see if you are eligible and to apply for the cash.
Residents in Torbay, Devon, can receive financial support from the council's £2.4 million funding. The amount you can get depends on your individual circumstances. Those on benefits can receive up to £150, while those not receiving benefits may be eligible for up to £500, depending on the size of their home. To apply for help, visit the Torbay Council website.
Households in West Northamptonshire can apply for £300 in support from the HSF. To qualify, your household income must be £400 or less per week after tax, including government benefits. You must also meet additional criteria, such as having less than £5,000 in household money, savings, and investments, being over 18 years old, and having a valid UK bank account. Apply for funding through the council's website.
In Dorset, residents can claim supermarket vouchers worth £150 starting from December 5. The vouchers are allocated by Citizens Advice on behalf of the council and will be issued within six to eight weeks to eligible residents. To qualify, you must have an annual household net income of less than £30,000 and savings of less than £16,000. You must also not have applied for help from the HSF in the last six months. Contact your nearest Citizens Advice branch or visit their website to apply.
Thousands of households in Reading can receive direct cash payments to cover the cost of living. Eligible residents include those with children qualifying for free school meals or care leavers, who can receive two £125 vouchers this year. If you fall into this category, you don't need to apply and can redeem the voucher at your nearest Post Office. If you don't meet these criteria but are considered vulnerable, you can apply for a £125 cash grant paid directly to your bank account. Priority will be given to households with disabilities, those living alone, individuals with unsecure employment, large households, residents with energy-inefficient homes, and others. Apply for help on the Reading Borough Council website.
Who else can get help?
Even if you don't live in the areas mentioned above, you may still be eligible for assistance. In most cases, individuals receiving benefits like Universal Credit or Income Support can receive help through the HSF. Contact your local council to find out what support is available. Use the government's locator tool on their website if you're unsure which local authority area you fall under.
Other forms of assistance
In addition to the Household Support Fund, there are other financial aid programs in place. Pensioners can receive a Winter Fuel Payment over the colder months, with distribution starting on November 1 and concluding by the end of December. Prepayment meter users may be eligible for a top-up voucher through the Fuel Bank Foundation charity. Households can also receive a £150 discount on their electricity bill for the winter season through the Warm Home Discount scheme. Eligible individuals usually receive the discount automatically if they receive benefits such as Income Support, Universal Credit, or Pension Credit. In Scotland, some customers may need to apply separately for cash assistance.