AS millions battle a cost of living crisis, low income households should check they're not missing out extra help.
If you claim Universal Credit, you are typically eligible for extra support including some bill discounts, cheaper travel and free food.
But thousands of people don't realise that they are entitled to this support.
It means they can miss out on extra help worth hundreds of pounds.
It will come in handy as household bills from energy to food and fuel are spiralling, leaving many people struggling to get by.
That's why it's important to get clued up on what you can get, said Stepchange debt expert Jonathan Chesterman.
Read more on Money
Major change planned to Universal Credit and PIP that could speed up claims
How to get free cash on Universal Credit you don’t have to pay back
He has nearly 30 years of experience helping households with their money troubles and is part of The Sun's Squeeze Team panel of experts.
We're on board to help you with the worst cost of living crisis seen in decades.
If you’re worried about how to make ends meet, are struggling to pay off your debts or don’t know how best to manage your cash, get in touch by emailing [email protected]
Here's four schemes you can apply for if you claim Universal Credit.
Most read in Money
What to do if you HAVEN’T received Winter Fuel Payment as deadline strikes
Brits could qualify for PIP if they have one of 24conditions- are you one?
Shoppers rush to buy Tesco gadget that keeps you warm and won't add to bills
We'll retire when we're 40 & our kids will NEVER have to work – here's how
Help to Save scheme
Struggling households can use government schemes set up to help those on low incomes boost their savings.
The Help To Save scheme for sees the government give you 50p for every £1 you set aside.
You can save a maximum of £2,400 a year — or £50 a month — and if you max out the allowance you’d earn an extra £1,200 in FREE cash.
"If you’re claiming Working Tax Credit or Universal Credit, you could be eligible to open a Help to Save account," Jonathan said.
"And because it's a government scheme, all your money is secure."
Healthy Start scheme
Families struggling to put food on the table can apply for Healthy Start vouchers.
You can get the help if you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under the age of four – and claim certain benefits, which includes Universal Credit.
"The Healthy Start scheme provides vouchers for milk (and instant formula milk), fresh and frozen fruit and vegetables, and vitamins for low-income families," Jonathan said.
"If you’re eligible, you’ll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops."
NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) told The Sun up to 153,371 families are not claiming these vouchers even though they're eligible.
The scheme came under fire last year when shoppers' vouchers were declined at the till – leaving them unable to pay for groceries.
You can apply for Healthy Start vouchers via the NHS online application form on their website.
Energy bill help
Energy bills are spiralling, leaving households struggling to pay – especially those on low incomes.
Bills are set to jump to £3,000 a year for the typical household.
But there are ways that those on Universal Credit can get extra help to pay for eye-watering price hikes.
"Many people are struggling to pay their gas and electricity bills right now – but if you’re on a low income or receiving benefits, energy suppliers, local authorities and charities have grants you can apply for," Jonathan said.
For example, Jonathan said the Household Support Fund is available to those struggling.
The eligibility criteria varies across the country but many local authorities will offer help to people on Universal Credit.
Suppliers also award grants to those hardest hit.
For instance British Gas is giving out up to £750 through its hardship fund – and you don't even have to be a customer.
If you're on Universal Credit and have a low income you could qualify.
School uniform grants
Parents might be worried about how to afford school uniform for the new term after the summer holidays end.
But you could get help to lower costs, Jonathan said.
"Some local councils offer grants to those on low incomes to help with school uniform and PE kit costs – but the amount given varies, and eligibility criteria varies by council."
The Sun found last year that councils were offering up to £200 to hard-pressed families.
For example, in Essex you'll just get £62 – but in Wales, you can get £200.
Apply for a grant through your local council – use the government's finder tool to see who yours is.
Source: Read Full Article