THOUSANDS of hard-up families can now get up to £250 free cash – check if you can claim.
The cash help comes as part of the £421million funding given by the government to the Household Support Fund.
Council a re handing out cash to struggling households
Councils have been given a slice of the new funding on offer, which will be given out to struggling households to help them with the rising cost of bills and food.
Each council gets a different portion of funding depending on the size of the catchment area, population, and need.
Some councils will offer cash while others will hand out vouchers.
The vouchers or grants on offer vary by location so you’ll have to check to see what you can get and how your council will pay you.
You’ll usually need to be on a low income to receive the help.
For example, West Northamptonshire Council is offering struggling households £250 in free cash.
The scheme is for those who earn less than £400 a week or for those who have not received the £650 cost of living payment.
If you qualify you’ll get the payment in two £125 instalments.
The first will be sent to your bank account straight after your application has been approved and the second will be paid 60 days later.
You won’t need to do anything else to get the second payment.
Applicants must be employed, have a valid bank account, live in the region, not been in receipt of the recent £650 government cost of living payments and be over 18.
To apply, head to the West Northamptonshire Council website and search “Household Support Fund” or call 0300 126 7000.
What if I don’t live in West Northamptonshire?
Your local council will likely have its own version of the scheme going and you should get in contact with them to find out more.
But be quick – while the deadline for councils to hand out the latest tranche of HSF cash support is March 31, 2023, it’s done on a first-come-first-serve basis.
For example, thousands of residents in Bedford Borough Council can get £85 in financial support.
While Plymouth are due electronic vouchers to help pay for food and other essentials at supermarkets.
And eligible households can get up to £180 in free supermarket vouchers depending on their circumstances.
Thousands of residents in North Yorkshire are also due electronic supermarket vouchers worth up to £325.
What are councils offering and who is eligible?
Local authorities have had some autonomy on how they use the fund to reach the vulnerable people in their communities.
Eligibility requirements will vary depending on where you live – so check directly with your council if you could get the cash help.
For example, residents eligible for the scheme who live in Haringey could get up to £500.
To be considered for the payment you must:
- Live in the London Borough of Haringey (or live in a different borough but have been housed there by Haringey Council in temporary accommodation)
- Be over 16
- Be, or about to be, in receipt of qualifying benefits or be on a low income
You cannot apply if you received a Household Support Fund payment in the last 12 months.
Qualifying benefits include:
- Universal Credit
- Income-based jobseekers’ allowance
- Income-based employment and support allowance
- Incapacity benefit
- Pension credit
- Income support
- Housing benefit
- Council tax support
- Severe disablement allowance
- Contribution-based jobseeker’s allowance (JSA) or employment and support allowance (ESA)
- Working tax credit
- Child tax credit
If your application is successful, you’ll receive either:
- A voucher
- A BACS transfer into your bank account
How much support a household receives depends on their individual circumstances.
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 Haringey and think they’re eligible for the Household Support Fund will need to apply by filling in an online form.
You need the following information to complete your application:
- National Insurance number or National Asylum Support Service (NASS) number
- Contact telephone number and email address
- Current full address and postcode
- Details of benefits you receive
- Details of your/your partner’s employment including your employer’s name, address and contact number (if applicable)
- Details of the bank account you want the payment made to
The council has also written to some residents that they’ve identified as eligible for support.
What other support is available?
As part of the Autumn Statement, it was revealed millions on benefits and Universal Credit will receive an extra one-off £900.
Eight million households currently get cost-of-living payments worth up to £650, but eligibility criteria could change under any new rules.
Pensioners have also started getting a £300 one-off payment.
The current pensioner cost of living payment is being handed out to millions on a low income.
You qualify under the current rules if you normally get the winter fuel payment, but this could change under the new rules.
The £300 cost of living payment is paid on top of the other winter support.
You’ll need to be:
- born on or before 25 September 1956
- have lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 19 to 25 September 2022 in what is known as the “qualifying week”
Struggling families are eligible for the Warm House Discount to help them tackle the cost of living.
The scheme is where eligible households can get £150 off their electricity bill each winter – but you’ll have to wait until the colder months to get the money off.
Households in England and Wales don’t need to apply to get the cash and they’ll automatically qualify if they are receiving certain benefits.
You can read more about who’s eligible here.
There are also plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you’re struggling:
- 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 also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you’re on a prepayment meter.