MILLIONS of households across England have received hundreds of pounds in support to help with the cost of living crisis – here’s how you can too.
The money comes from local authorities through the Household Support Fund.
In April, local councils in England were given funding to the tune of £400 million to help families who are most in need.
The scheme was first established last year and extended again in the March budget to help those on the lowest incomes with the rising cost of living.
The vouchers or grants on offer vary by location and you’ll have to check to see how your council will pay you.
You can do that using the government’s local council checker tool by inputting your postcode.
Depending on your circumstances, households could receive a shopping vouchers worth up to £160.
In light of the success of the scheme – the Department for Work and Pensions today reports that during the first stage of the scheme (October-March) 8.9 million grants have been given to families across the country.
Department for Work and Pensions Minister for welfare delivery, David Rutley said: “The Household Support Fund has been an important intervention to provide Help for Households facing challenges with the cost of living.
“Local Authorities know what support works best in their areas. It has been good to see the different ways they have used the Fund to enrich the lives of people in their communities.
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“With the extensions announced, Local Authorities can now provide that vital support through Christmas and beyond.”
What are councils offering?
Local authorities have had some autonomy on how they use the Fund to reach the vulnerable people in their communities.
For example, residents eligible for the scheme who live in Hampshire have been provided with cookbooks, cookery lessons, and slow cookers to help families cook cheaply over the long-term.
Darlington Council worked with a local third party organisation to secure end-of-day supermarket goods to be sold to families. These goods were sold at a significantly reduced price compared to their usual value, with families able to pay £7.50 to get three bags of shopping.
Rochdale Council set up a community warehouse in the local area designed to distribute over 700 winter packs to families during the coldest months. They managed to distribute over 700 between October 2021 and March 2022.
Check what your local authority is offering.
How do I apply for the Household Support Fund?
Eligibility for the fund can differ from council to council.
For example, residents living under the remit of North Yorkshire County Council who receive council tax reduction will receive a letter containing a code to activate an electronic supermarket voucher worth up yo £150.
While Manchester City Council is paying recipients of council tax support up to £160 in cash.
Again, exactly what the council’s will be dishing out will also differ from place to place.
If you are in doubt try calling your council and asking whether they are currently doing anything for the scheme.
Do I need to apply or will I be paid automatically?
Again, how you’ll be paid will depend on where you live. Each council will set it’s own policies.
In some cases, payments are made automatically to residents who receive means-tested benefits, so there’s no need to do anything.
But others need to make applications for the support directly to their relevant council.
So it is always worth checking your council’s website.
If your payment doesn’t come automatically and you don’t apply for example, there is a chance you won’t get the money you are due.
Also make sure you keep a look out for letters sent from your local authority, as they might contain important information on how to claim.
Some councils have requested that other organisations refer people before they are given cash.
Is there other support available?
Even if you’re not eligible for help under the Household Support Fund you may be eligible for cash elsewhere to help with the cost of living.