Despite the Chancellor’s £15billion living expenses package, millions of families still face difficult spending decisions in the coming months as the cost of food and fuel continues to rise. Universal Credit beneficiaries will be hit hardest by these price shocks, but there is help for those in need.
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With the ever-increasing cost of utility bills and other essentials, the lowest-income households face constant pressure on their budgets. For those on fixed incomes, such as Universal Credit recipients, household expenditures can quickly outstrip household incomes.
Many will begin to see debt and arrears growing as their essential expenses become more expensive. However, there are many free programs and cash grants from charities and local governments that can help lower those fixed costs and bills, from massive tax and gas bill cuts to buying clothes and groceries.
Because these services and grants are provided with no expectation of repayment, they can be instrumental in helping people escape a spiral of debt or financial stress. Many of these programs and scholarships are dependent on your area, so we have included some of the best scholarship eligibility websites in our list.
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Get a huge council tax discount
Little do many people on low incomes and Universal Credit know that they can get a big discount on one of the biggest household bills – the council tax.
This reduction is administered by your local council, but can range from a quarter of your bill to nothing at all. The amount of the discount depends on your income, your savings, how many dependents you have and who you live with.
It aims to reduce the tax burden on low earners and benefit recipients, but also offers rebates for those who have caring responsibilities.
In addition to the £150 tax break offered by the government in response to the cost-of-living crisis, this could mean a greatly reduced tax burden for low-income households.
You can use the government ones zip code checker to see who your local authority is and to direct you to their website. You must reside in a property that is in the AD council tax brackets, and many local governments also have a discretionary fund for households who are not eligible.
Millions of families will receive a one-off living cost payment of £650
In a late move to help the lowest-income families amid rising food and energy costs, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that eight million households will receive an extra £650 on Universal Credit this year.
This is paid directly into people’s bank accounts in two installments of £325. The first payment comes as early as July, while the second is billed sometime in the fall.
In addition, the Chancellor announced that the previous £200 rebate on energy bills for all households would be doubled to £400 and would be a non-refundable grant rather than a loan. Rather than going straight to bank accounts, this is spread out over six months and serves as a monthly rebate for anyone on a monthly plan.
People claiming disability benefits will receive £150 of living expenses on top of these payments, bringing their total living expenses rebate to £1200.
Free cash grants and bill discounts
Despite the government’s announced cost-of-living package, many low-income households will expect higher prices at the supermarket and will have to stretch their pounds further to keep the gas meter running.
There are many local charities and organizations trying to help people struggling with the cost of living crisis by offering cash grants or bill reductions. You can search for them all with the help of Turn2Us Grant Eligibility Calculator.
In addition to helping the government with energy bills, many utilities also offer hardship funds for low-income customers and affordable payoff plans to stop the debt spiral. For example, British Gas is giving out up to £750 to some of its struggling customers while the charity water UK has a long list of cash grants and bill reductions for people struggling to pay their water tariffs.
Free community grants for food, clothing and rent
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The central government has set up a budget support fund of €500 million.
Regardless, local authorities offer grants to Housing Benefit or Universal Credit applicants that can help them cover rental costs. These scholarships are offered on a case by case basis as judged by the Council.
Some also offer assistance through the welfare fund, which helps cover the cost of basic necessities, from buying new furniture to groceries and other large weekly bills. These grants can go up to £1000 but depend entirely on where you live and how much help is on offer
Find out who your community is at gov.uk website and get in touch with them to see if help is available in your area.
Warm Home Discount continues to roll out
With gas and electricity prices ever rising, many who have already been struggling to make ends meet are wondering how they can afford further increases – with the energy price cap set to rise to £2800 in October.
The government has decided to extend its Warm Homes Discount to low-income families and those receiving pension credit. Previously, retirees receiving a pension credit received it automatically, while beneficiaries had to apply for this rebate on a first-come-first-served basis.
This year the grant has been increased from £140 to £150 to help meet households’ energy bills but has yet to be paid out for months. Eligible participants must be contacted by their utility company prior to October regarding the discount. If you think you’ve missed something, you can contact that the government emergency number.
In his urgent livelihood announcement, the chancellor said that payment will be doubled to households where at least one person is taking out the pension credit.
https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/universal-credit-free-cash-you-27070971 Universal Credit: All the free cash you can get that you never have to pay back