BRITS on Universal Credit and other benefits may be able to get fresh help if they are struggling with bills worth as much as £800.
The Household Support Fund is a £500m pot of cash that's being handed out to low income families this winter as living costs rocket.
Each council has a different amount of cash to give out through the fund and if you're getting Universal Credit and other benefits you could be eligible.
The £500m pot of cash is distributed according to the size, population and needs of each area, and is then dished out to those who need it locally.
For example £12.8million has been given out in Birmingham – the largest amount of any area – followed by £11m for Kent and £9.7million in Lancashire.
Families and households can apply for a share of this cash from councils and in some case it can be worth hundreds of pounds in cash or supermarket vouchers.
But what support is available, including the amount and how you get it, depends on where you live.
Residents of Runneymede in Surrey for example can apply for help worth as much as £800 and you are eligible if you are on Universal Credit or other benefits
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The cash can help you cover the cost of food, heating, white goods and essential repairs and you need to apply to the council directly to get the support.
Anyone on Universal Credit can also get help from Rutland County Council if they are living in the East Midlands area.
There's £100 of free cash to help cover bills over the winter and you could also be eligible if you're claiming other benefits, including Employment Support Allowance (ESA) and Job Seekers Allowance (JSA).
People in Spelthorne in Surrey who need help for food, energy and water costs can get a one-off payment of between £50 to £80 if they are getting any of the following benefits:
- Universal Credit
- Working Tax Credit
- Job Seekers Allowance
- Income Support
- Employment Support Allowance (Income related)
- Pension Credit
Anyone who needs help with bills, food or other household essentials, not just those in Universal Credit or benefits, may be able to get help too.
Each area also has it's own eligibility criteria, and in some places you just have to show that you're struggling to pay bills.
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You can find your local council using this tool and searching you postcode and see what they are giving out through the fund.
It's best to do this sooner rather than later as some councils have deadlines for applications of funds, and some have already closed.
The funding generally runs until the end of March this year, but applications could close earlier or before the stated deadline if there's high demand.
If you miss out on the cash there's still other support you can get if you're on Universal Credit and struggling to pay bills or other costs.
You could help like a council tax discount, cheaper internet or extra payments during the coldest weather – check out the full help you can get in out guide.
If you money from the Household Support Fund you won't have to pay it back.
There are other ways you can get help too that means you don't have to borrow money or get into debt, like welfare assistance schemes.
If you're worried about falling behind on bills. there are plenty of organisations where you can get advice for free, including:
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- Step Change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
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