Just days left to apply for free cash worth up to £500

HOUSEHOLDS across the UK have just days left to claim free cash from the government.

The support comes from the Household Support Fund (HSF), a central pot of money divvied out to local councils.

Households could get up to £500 free cash through the Household Support Fund

Households could get up to £500 free cash through the Household Support FundCredit: Alamy

Local authorities then decide how and who they want to allocate their portion to.

The government first announced a £500million pot in September 2021, but in March this year Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced an extension of the fund to September 30.

A second extension of the fund was announced in May this year, which will be available between October 2022 and March 2023.

But that means eligible households have just days left to claim free help in the form of vouchers, energy bill help or direct payments for the current period.

Because each council is deciding how to issue its share of the money, you might have to approach yours to find out what you might be entitled to.

If you don’t know what local council area you fall under, you can find out on the government’s locator tool.

How much help could you get through the Household Support Fund?

Each council is deciding how to allocate its portion of the HSF, but in some areas you could be in line for up to £500 worth of help, like in Bromsgrove and Redditch.

Meanwhile, Herefordshire council was given over £1million and dished out one-off £60 payments to some of its residents.

Ealing Council handed out £25 supermarket vouchers to some families in its area.

And residents of Effingham, near Guildford, could get up to £300 free cash to help them through the cost of living crisis.

How to apply for the Household Support Fund

In some cases, households eligible for the HSF could receive their payment automatically – if they’re on means-tested benefits for example.

But in other cases, you can apply directly for the payment.

It will depend on your circumstances, and also the council area you fall under.

For example, Lewisham Council is sending payments to families with children receiving free school meals, and pensioner households.

Again, it’s worth checking on your council’s website for more details, or you can contact them on the phone.

What other help is there?

With the current HSF period winding down, some households may need extra help to get them through the winter months.

The cost of living crisis, brought on partly by the war in Ukraine forcing wholesale gas and oil prices up, and the aftershock of coronavirus, prompted the government to step in.

Then Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced a giant support package for vulnerable households in May this year.

Some of the cost of living payments have already started being issued out.

The first instalment of the £650 cost of living payment should have reached around eight million people already.

The second instalment is due to hit bank accounts in the winter, although the government hasn’t announced a specific date yet.

The £400 energy rebate will start being issued from October as well.

Households will see a discount of £66 applied to their energy bills in October and November, rising to £67 each month from December to March.

Millions of people on disability benefits should have started receiving their £150 payment, and pensioners who usually receive the Winter Fuel Payment will get an additional £300 on top later this year.

For more information on the payments and when they are due, you can read our guide.