THOUSANDS of households can get a £100 utility bill voucher in the post this month.
The cash vouchers up for grabs are funded through the Household Support Fund worth £421million.
The scheme was first established last year, extended for the second time in the March budget and for a third time in November to help those on the lowest incomes with the rising cost of living.
Each council gets a different portion of funding depending on the size of the catchment area, population, and need.
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.
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For example, thousands of eligible pensioners in the catchment area of Cheshire East Council could get a £100 utility voucher.
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.
Households in Cheshire East who qualify will be issued a £100 utility voucher this month.
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If you are of state pension age, and receive Council Tax support, you will be issued the voucher automatically.
There is also support available for children and families.
Eligible households could get help in the form of:
- Food vouchers
- Help with boiler repair or replacements for home owners
- Help with Housing costs for those in rented accommodation
Children and families will qualify for the Household Support Fund if they:
- are in receipt of income related free school meals
- are in receipt of early years pupil premium and two-year funding
- are care leavers up to age 25
- are not in education, employment or training aged 16-18
- are young carers for their parents/carers
- are known to children’s social care and early help services
- are known to domestic abuse services
- are foster carers
- are vulnerable due to financial hardship and can be referred by a partner agency (e.g. education/school professional, support Worker, family support worker, Citizens Advice, health professional, registered housing provider, domestic abuse services)
If you think you may be eligible, you can apply through the Cheshire East Council website.
But the authority is warning that funding is limited, and not everyone will be successful in their application.
Once you have applied, you will receive an email confirming your application has been made.
You will receive an email with the council's decision around a month later.
If your application is successful, the email will include any vouchers you are awarded.
What if I don't live in Cheshire?
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 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 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:
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- 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.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
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