HOUSEHOLDS can claim vouchers and cash worth up to £285 – but there are just two weeks left to apply.
The money is part of the Household Support Fund which is a scheme run by the government – but it's due to end this month and some councils have already stopped taking applications.
Many households are particularly feeling the pinch as they've had to make payments and wages stretch through a cost of living crisis.
But the government scheme may be a valuable lifeline – and we reveal what you can get and everything you need to know about the support offered in your area.
What is the Household Support Fund?
Those desperately in need of financial aid can get a leg-up with the Household Support Fund.
The scheme allows for cash-strapped households to apply for help across the board under what is a £500million government programme.
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Councils were given the funding back in October to dish out help to families most in need of it.
It came following the cut to the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift, which saw millions of families see their payments slashed.
It also aimed at helping to plug the gap with the end of other government help schemes like furlough, which offered a lifeline to struggling Brits during the pandemic, as well as the Covid local support grant.
The help you can get varies depending on who your local council is, as well as your personal situation, but you may be able to get money to help pay for things like heating your home or to cover costs of your weekly grocery shop.
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How much can I get?
You can get up to £285 in cash and vouchers with the scheme depending on where you live and your personal circumstances.
Some councils offer less, and some offer nothing at all – but it's worth checking what your local area can provide.
Some councils offer vouchers, while elsewhere you claim free school meals worth a certain amount like £15 a week, too.
But in many instances you'll be able to claim between £30 and £100 in vouchers that can be specifically spent in your local supermarket, or on your prepayment meter energy bill.
Exactly how much you get may vary depending on your eligibility too.
Sometimes councils will factor in how many children you have, for example, or what other benefits you already claim.
How can I claim?
To claim you'll have to go through your local council's website.
The scheme began back in October 2021 and is scheduled to run up until March 31, which is just two weeks away.
But some councils will be closing curtains sooner than others.
Your circumstances will be checked, and other benefits you claim as well as how much you earn may be taken into account – so you'll have to declare some personal details when you apply.
Which councils are offering cash?
The Sun looked into what help is on offer from authorities up and down the country to see what thousands of families could get.
Each council will have its own eligibility criteria that you will need to meet in order to get the help – and this varies depending on who your local authority is.
In some cases you need to be claiming council tax support and claim or be eligible for certain benefits, like Universal Credit, to apply for the help.
For things like free school meals over holidays, your child needs to be already enrolled with the free school meal scheme running at your school during term time.
Families who live in the North Yorkshire County Council catchment area could claim up to £275 voucher to help pay for food and other essentials.
To claim your e-vouchers, you need to fill in the form on the council's website by March 29 when the scheme ends.
Meanwhile, families can get up to £120 in vouchers that can be put towards paying off prepayment meter energy bills if they live in North Northamptonshire.
Applications will be accepted until 31 March 2022.
Those living in Cambridgeshire could get a £30 supermarket voucher in time for the Christmas holidays too.
The county council says the scheme will run until 31 March 2022.
If yours hasn't already been mentioned, you should ask your local council about what help is available in your area, the eligibility requirements and whether it's still open for applications.
What other help can I get?
If you’re not eligible for the Household Support Grant but you’re strapped for cash, other help is available that you might be able to get.
Welfare assistance scheme
Brits can apply for much-needed cash and vouchers for food, furniture, bills and more via the welfare assistance scheme – and you can get up to £1,000 in free cash.
But an investigation by The Sun revealed that families are facing a postcode lottery when it comes to what help they can get.
Some councils are not as generous in offering help, while others don't even have a scheme in place at all.
Council tax reduction
Many people paying council tax may not be aware that they can get their bill reduced.
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 should get in touch with your local authority to apply for a discount.
Discretionary housing payment
If you’re struggling to pay rent, you could apply for a discretionary housing payment.
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The payment is discretionary, which means that the financial support given out is decided on a case by case basis.
How much you could get, again, depends on your personal circumstances – and you need to apply to your local council for the help.
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