MILLIONS of struggling households could be eligible for extra cash to help with the rising cost of living.
If you and your family are feeling the pinch, the extra cash and support could make a big difference to your finances.
Here we round up what you could get and how to claim.
Cost of living payment – £326
Eight million households on means-tested benefits will get a cost of living payment worth up to £650.
These are both tax-free and won’t affect your benefits, or count towards the benefit cap.
The Department for Work and Pensions will make the payment in two lump sums.
Most people received their first payment of £326 in July, but many people could be missing out if they don’t put in a fresh claim for pension credit.
The benefit is for low income pensioners and tops up their State Pension payments.
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Around 1million pensioners are missing out on the benefit – and so the extra £650 too.
While you can’t claim the cost of living cash directly, you can still make a claim for pension credit and get it backdated up to three months.
You’ll need to put in your claim to the DWP by August 18 to ensure that your claim can be backdated far enough to qualify for the first half of the payment worth £326.
If you miss the deadline, you could still be eligible for the second half of the payment worth £324 that’s expected in autumn.
You can read more about pension credit and how to claim in our guide, and the government’s online tool can help you check if you’re eligible.
Free Iceland vouchers for pensioners – £30
Vouchers can be spent in any of 269 Iceland stores in 16 areas across the country until September 16.
To claim the voucher, you first must be of pension-age people living independently, or with a carer, and relying solely on state pension and benefits.
If this is you, you can call the Summer Cheer hotline, which is 0800 098 7877 to request a voucher.
The telephone line will be open from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.
Once you have called through to the phoneline and it is decided customers are eligible for a voucher, they will be sent a leaflet in the post with the £30 voucher.
Free supermarket vouchers for parents – up to £90
Some local councils give out supermarket vouchers during the summer holidays that offer the equivalent of the meals your child would get in school.
Parents can usually claim £90 per child each week, however, this amount varies depending on your local area.
For example, Bedford Borough Council is providing each eligible child £15 per week for six weeks.
But in Cambridgeshire, parents will receive two supermarket vouchers, each valued at £37.50.
The money is given out by local authorities as part of the Household Support Fund.
If your child receives free school meals during term time then they should be entitled to vouchers during the holidays too.
However, check with your local council as this can depend on where you live..
Try and apply through the website or school – but be aware that some deadlines for applying have now gone, and some areas may not fund this at all.
Simply click here and type in your postcode to be redirected to your local council’s website and see what’s available.
Energy bill help – up to £1,500
Several suppliers offer energy bill help through hardship funds and give out grants.
These can be worth up to £1,500 and you don’t need to repay the cash.
British Gas has just opened its hardship fund – and you don’t have to be a customer to apply.
The cash can be used to pay off energy bill arrears, but you need to get debt advice first to be eligible – find out more about how to apply.
Other suppliers are also offering similar help to their own customers.
Check with yours directly to see what they offer. Eligibility and how much you get can vary between them.
Household Support Fund – up to £210
The Household Support Fund helps families with the rising cost of living.
This could include cash grants to cover essentials such as bills and food costs.
The help that is available will depend on where you live. Each area is giving out the cash in different ways.
To find out what support is available in your area, contact your local council.
There are around 8,000 charities and organisations in the UK that offer cash to help struggling families.
Turn2Us has a free grants search tool so you can find out what help is available to you.
Council tax £150 rebate
The council tax energy rebate will see all households in bands A-D get £150 payment.
Many have got the cash already if they pay by direct debit. If you don’t pay your bill this way then you may have to apply.
Plus there’s extra cash worth up to £150 you could get if you’re not eligible.
But around five million households are still waiting to receive the cash.
Councils have until the end of September to get the money to people in their area.
You can find out which band you’re in to see if you’re eligible for the automatic scheme, or need to apply to the fund by using the government’s search tool – you just need to enter your postcode.
Free milk, fruit and veg – up to £442
The Healthy Start scheme offers thousands of parents on low incomes help to feed their kids.
You get a prepaid card and payments worth up to £442 a year for those claiming certain benefits.
You can start getting the cash from ten weeks pregnant up to when the child turns four.
The card can be used at major supermarkets and shops to but the following:
- cow’s milk
- fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
- infant formula milk
- fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
Check out how to apply for the Healthy Start scheme in our guide.
Free £200 for school uniforms
You can get a grant of up top £200 to help cover the cost of school uniforms for the year ahead, depending on where you are.
Those on income support, Universal Credit, JSA, child tax credit, ESA, and pension tax credit are entitled to support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
You may also be eligible if your annual income is less than £16,190.
To apply, enter your postcode on the Gov.uk website.
You will then be direct to your council’s website where you should search for “uniform grant” to find out what help is available in your area.
Free £500 if you’re pregnant
If you’re expecting a baby, knowing you could be entitled to some extra cash could offer you peace of mind.
You may be able to get a one off payment worth £500 to help towards the costs of having a child through the Sure Start Maternity Grant.
You don’t have to pay it back and you can find out who’s eligible in this handy guide.
If you’re already claiming benefits and you’re expecting your first child, or expecting twins or triplets and have children already, you should qualify.
New parents must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby’s due date or within six months after the baby is born.
To claim, you’ll need to print out and fill in the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SF100) claim form.
A health professional such as a doctor or midwife must also sign it before you post it to Freepost DWP SSMG.
If you claim Universal Credit, you might be able to get a refund on most of your childcare costs.
You will have to pay your childcare costs yourself up front and then claim the money back through Universal Credit.
You can claim back 85% of childcare costs each month up to £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more up to August 31 following the child’s 16th birthday.
Parents may also be able to take advantage of other childcare support, whether you’re claiming Universal Credit or not, including up to 30 hours free childcare
Free travel and childcare when looking for work
The Restart Scheme was created to help those who’ve been on Universal Credit for more than a year and launched last year.
It can help cover the costs associated with finding a job, including travel, childcare and other expenses.
If you’re on the scheme, ask the provider or your work coach about how to claim.
The Flexible Support Fund is a pot of money that has been put aside by the government to help you with the costs of getting a job.
The fund is managed by local job centres and can be used to cover the following costs of job hunting:
- Training for a job, up to £150
- Travel to interviews
- Tools for work
- Cost of medical evidence required by a disabled person
- Clothing and uniforms to start work
- Support for single parents in financial emergencies in the first 26 weeks of starting a job.
The Jobcentre Plus travel card is available for free and cuts the cost of travelling on public transport, including buses and trains, by 50%.
In London, they’re accepted by Transport For London (TfL), and here, users can save money by purchasing a seven-day or monthly travel card at a child’s rate.
But the discount card is only available to those who are unemployed and looking for work, and those who claim JSA.
You’re also entitled to one if you’ve been claiming Universal Credit for three to nine months and are aged between 18 and 24.
You’ll need to have been claiming benefits for three to 12 months before getting the card if you’re 25 and older.
All train operators in England, Scotland and Wales accept the discount and cards, which are valid for up to three months.
But just because you’re on benefits, it doesn’t mean you’ll automatically get one – they’re handed out by Jobcentre staff on a case-by-case basis.
To find out if you qualify for the boost, speak to your work coach at your nearest Jobcentre, which you can find via Gov.uk.
Up to £1,200 bonus for saving
Not everyone is in a position to save, but of you are it’s worth getting a specific account that offers a generous bonus.
With the Help to Save account, anyone on Universal Credit can put away between £1 and £50 every month and you get a 50% bonus on top.
If you save the maximum amount over four years you can get a sum of £1,200 from the government, topping up your own savings of £2,400.
But you can still get some of the bonus even by saving a small amount – check out how it works.
Water saving devices and bill help
Many water companies offer free water-saving devices that shave pounds off your bills.
Freebies include shower timers and buffalo bags, which can help to save water every time you flush.
You can check out savewatersavemoney.co.uk to find out more.
Large families on Universal Credit or other benefits may be eligible for a cap on their bills under the WaterSure scheme.
To qualify for the scheme you need to already have a water meter installed, and prove you need to use a lot of water.
You also need to have three or more children under the age of 19 living in the house, and receive child benefit for them.
You can find out more about the scheme in our guide.
Free prescriptions and dental treatment
Covering healthcare costs such as paying for your prescriptions and dental treatment can be costly.
But you can get help to cover these expenses.
To claim, you’ll need to show a copy of your Universal Credit award notice.
You won’t be able to claim on health costs before you were deemed eligible for the Universal Credit.
If you’re entitled to claim, you could get free NHS prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests, wigs and fabric supports.
NHS prescriptions currently cost £9.35 in the UK.
You could also get help with the cost of glasses and contact lenses and money for travel costs for treatment.
The NHS has outlined more information on how to go about claiming here.
The Sun has also summed up all the big money changes coming this month and how you can prepare for them.