UNIVERSAL Credit claimants can get extra help to go towards their bills.
The support for people on Universal Credit and other benefits ranges from council tax discounts to supermarket food vouchers.
We've rounded up all the help you can get that is completely free and you don't have to pay back.
Check your benefit entitlement
Just because you receive Universal Credit, it doesn't mean that's all you can get.
Millions of Brits are missing out on benefits they're entitled to.
Benefit calculators can help you check what you could get.
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For instance, you might get extra cash if you're looking after someone else or for housing costs.
There are several benefit checker tools you can use – here's our guide.
Get a council tax discount
Council tax is one of the biggest household bills and the most important – if you fall behind you could be asked to pay the entire year upfront.
Non-payment can also result in bailiffs visiting your home, court action or even imprisonment.
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So if you're struggling to pay you should seek help straight away.
And you can also find support from charities like Citizens Advice.
Brits struggling can also get council tax debt written off using a little-known rule.
Many don't know that they could get a discount on their council tax bill, or be exempt from paying it altogether.
Reductions are available for those on low incomes, people claiming certain benefits, those caring for others as well as other circumstances.
The amount your bill is reduced by can range from 25% off to 100% which would mean you pay nothing at all for this bill.
You can check out when you might get a council tax discount in our guide or contact your local council to check what support you can claim and apply.
For more information on the various discounts available, see our handy guide here.
Low-income families may be eligible for charitable grants to cover housing costs.
As grants are typically different to loans, most do not have to be paid back.
Turn2Us has a tool that can help you check out grants available near you on its website.
You’ll need to enter some personal information like your postcode, your gender, and your age.
Energy suppliers are offering cash grants to those hardest hit by bill rises.
For instance, British Gas is giving out up to £1,500 to struggling debt payers – check if you're eligible here.
But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances so ask directly what's on offer and how to apply.
We've rounded up the different grants companies are offering energy customers.
Household Support Fund
The £421million Household Support Fund has been extended until March 2023 to help the country's most vulnerable households.
The HSF is divvied out by individual councils but can include up to £325 in supermarket vouchers or £400 in cash.
The help you can get depends on your location and your circumstances.
You can find your local council using this tool and searching for your postcode to see what help is available near you.
Cash for paying rent
There's cash help for anyone struggling from your local council through the Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).
Anyone claiming Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit could be eligible if they are struggling with rent costs.
Each local authority dishes out the cash to those in need on a case-by-case basis and the amounts available can vary.
The Sun found last year that the average DHP was £965, based on freedom of information requests sent to 30 of the biggest councils.
The difference in the maximum amount given out ranged from £32,000 in Brent to £145 in Wakefield, based on the 17 councils that responded.
We've rounded up everything you need to know about who can get the cash and how to claim.
Welfare assistance scheme
Some councils also offer support through the welfare support fund, to help cover the costs of essentials, from buying new furniture to food vouchers.
An investigation by The Sun found that hard-up Brits can apply for help worth up to £1,000.
But exactly how much you get and what for will depend on where you live – and not all councils have this help.
Grants are given on a case-by-case basis and there will be a different application process depending on where in the country you live.
You can find out who your local council is by visiting the gov.uk website and getting in touch with them about whether help is available in your area.
Cost of living payment
Millions of households on certain benefits will get a £900 cost of living payment later this year.
The free cash will be paid out in three instalments and is there to help households with rising food and energy bills.
The first payment of £301 will be made in the spring, with a second of £300 in the autumn and a final £299 instalment in the spring of 2024.
More than eight million people will have the cash paid directly into their bank accounts.
We've rounded up the full list of benefits that will be entitled to the payment, as well as those that are not.
Free school meals
If you're claiming certain benefits including Universal Credit, JSA and Child Tax Credit then your child might be entitled to free school meals.
You will need to apply through your local authority so that they can apply for extra funding from the Government, while some councils ask you to contact the school directly.
Simply click here and type in your postcode to be redirected to your local council's website and apply.
Over the school holidays, many councils are giving out cash to help parents during the break – check out our guide.
Free milk, fruit and veg
The Healthy Start scheme offers thousands of parents on low incomes help to feed their kids.
You get a prepaid card and payments worth up to £442 a year for those claiming certain benefits.
You can start getting the cash from 10 weeks pregnant up to when the child turns four.
The card can be used at major supermarkets and shops to buy the following:
- cow’s milk
- fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
- infant formula milk
- fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
Check out how to apply for the Healthy Start scheme in our guide.
Free £200 for school uniforms
It's not just food costs that can add up quickly if you have kids.
You can get a grant of up to £200 to help cover the cost of school uniforms for the year ahead, depending on where you are.
As a general rule, those on income support, Universal Credit, JSA, child tax credit, ESA, and pension tax credit are entitled to support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
You may also be eligible if your annual income is less than £16,190.
To apply, enter your postcode on the Gov.uk website, which will direct you to your council's website, where you should search for “uniform grant” to find out what help is available in your area.
Water bill help
Families on Universal Credit or other benefits could reduce their water bill by hundreds of pounds on average if they're struggling.
You may be eligible for help through the WaterSure scheme, which puts a cap on bills for low-income customers regardless of how much water they’re using.
The Consumer Council for Water (CCW) estimates that bills are reduced by £270 on average through the scheme.
But the amount you could save does vary in reality from as little as £10 to as much as £400 a year.
To qualify for the scheme, you need to already have a water meter installed, and prove you need to use a lot of water.
Also, some water companies are offering further to particular households, and some can get nearly 90% off their bills if they qualify.
All you need to do is switch social tariff.
The amount varies depending on the water provider and then your own financial situation.
You can find out more here.
Work from home cash
If you worked from home even for just one day since the pandemic started, you could get tax back.
It's worth up to £125 a year for the previous two years and you can make a claim for both if you haven't already.
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Millions of people have still not claimed the cash back but there's still time to do it.
HMRC has a simple tool you can use to apply – here's what you need to do.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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