Thousands of households set to get free cash or vouchers to help with bills – how to apply

THOUSANDS of families can get free cash or vouchers to help with bills through the Household Support Fund.

The government has published more information on the grants, which are available through local councils.

In March, the Chancellor announced the Household Support Fund deadline would be delayed from March 31, 2022 to September 30.

The fund was doubled, with an extra £500million added to the pot, as the cost of living crisis continued.

Struggling families can apply to their local council for the emergency grants, which are to help cover energy, food, and water costs.

The support can be given as cash grants or vouchers.

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The government hasrecently published its advice to councils, including who is eligible for help and what the money can be spent on.

Who can apply for the Household Support Fund?

According to the Department for Work and Pensions, the fund is for a "wide range of low income households in need".

That includes families with children or all ages and pensioners, as well as those who can't boost their income through work.  

But, the support is not restricted to vulnerable households who get benefits and other families may be able to access the funding.

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At least a third of the total funding is for households with children, with another third set aside for pensioners.

The rest of the cash can be given to other households genuinely in need of support, which can include those who aren't on benefits.

The Sun has reported on the different kinds of help that local councils up and down the country were offering in the last batch of payments.

For example, North Yorkshire residents were able to claim a £125 voucher to help pay for food and other essentials.

While in Barnsley, households could get up to £200 in vouchers to spend at supermarkets and shops including Aldi, Asda, Argos and Currys.

What can the Household Support Fund help with?

The extension to the Household Support Fund is to help families with the soaring cost of living.

Local councils are responsible for deciding the eligibility and handing out the grants, so the type of support available varies across the country.

However the government guidance includes some rules for local authorities on what the scheme can cover.

It is supposed to help struggling residents cover energy and water bills and to buy food.

Essentials linked to energy and water including sanitary products, warm clothing, boiler repairs and white goods are also covered.

Other wider costs may include broadband and phone bills and essential transport expenses like repairing a car, buying a bike and paying for fuel.

The fund isn't designed to be spent on housing costs but it can be in genuine emergencies, the government advice says.

However, other schemes need to be accessed first including Universal Credit's housing element and Housing Benefit.

The funding can not be spent on debt advice services or mortgage costs.

How can I apply for the Household Support Fund?

As the funding is being given out by local authorities, the application method is different depending on where you live.

Last time the scheme was running, some councils like Leicestershire County Council did not accept direct applications for the funding.

Instead it required referrals from professional support workers or agencies like Citizens Advice.

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But others like Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council claims through a simple form on its website.

You should contact your council to find out what help is available in your area and how to apply.

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