HOUSEHOLDS are set to benefit from more cost of living support in the autumn statement – but there is also help you can get now.
Chancellor Jeremy Hunt is expected to announce more cash support – worth up to £1,100 – for the most hard-up households tomorrow.
Under the government’s plans, it is expected benefit claimants will get £650, poor pensioners will get £300 and there will be another £150 disability payment.
Around eight million households have already been paid the first part of the current £650 payment – with the second payment due this month.
It comes as food and energy bills rack up for millions amidst the cost of living crisis.
But thousands of households could also be entitled to additional help, or free cash, to help them through until the next round of support is confirmed.
Bellow, we list nine little-known ways you can get help to cover your essential outgoings.
Switch your bank account – up to £200
You could get up to £200 in free cash just by switching to a new bank account.
Many banks and building societies offer bonuses if you switch your accounts to them.
Nationwide is paying new customers £200 to switch current accounts and the cash should be paid out before Christmas.
To get the bonus you just have to go on Nationwide’s website, or use its app, switch from a non-Nationwide current account to a FlexDirect account and have two direct debits set up.
First Direct pays new customers £175 in free cash if they switch to its 1st Account.
You have to transfer £1,000 when you open the account but there’s no minimum amount per month you need to pay in to get the cash.
Find out more about how to get free cash when you switch banks here.
Do your washing at night – up to £100
Major energy suppliers are offering customers cash to put their washing on at different times of the day.
It comes amid warnings that households could face blackouts this winter.
Households will be paid by suppliers to use their energy at less busy times between now and March, 2023.
But you’ll need to be on a smart meter, whichever supplier you are with to take advantage of it.
OVO Energy has announced a trial where customers can save up to £100 on their bills by switching their usage to less busy times of the day.
They’re asking those who take part to cut their average consumption between the peak hours of 4pm-7pm to less than 12.5%.
Customers will be contacted to apply for the trial from mid-October.
Once signed up, the trial will run until March 31, 2023.
The £20 will then be given for each month households can achieve the below 12.5% figure – this adds up to £100 if they achieve this every month from November through to March.
Octopus Energy has also said customers will be £100 better off by using its “Saving Sessions” flexibility service.
Customers will be paid an average of £4 per kilowatt hour (kWh) of energy they save compared to their normal usage during a certain timeframe.
It will run from this month through to March next year.
Customers who sign up will get a text telling them if they use less electricity between certain hours, and they’ll be paid later that day.
You can see the full list of energy suppliers offering you the discount here.
Royal British Legion grant – up to £2,400
The charity, which supports those who have served in the armed forces, is offering emergency grants worth up to £2,400 a year to veterans and their families to help with energy bills.
The charity has not yet confirmed how many people are eligible for the help.
However, you must have served, or be serving, in the armed forces, which includes roles in the:
- Royal Navy
- British Army
- Royal Air Force
Families, dependents and carers of those who have served in the armed forces can also get the help on top of the veterans.
This includes households with children and those with long-term illness and disabilities.
We’ve contacted the RBL to find out who specifically is eligible for the grants and will update this story when we know more.
But for more information and to apply, you can head to the charity’s website.
Household Support Fund – up to £180
The Household Support Fund was first set up by the government in November 2021 to help those most in need with the cost of food, energy, water bills and other essential costs.
It’s a central pot of money that’s been portioned out to local councils who then decide how to allocate it.
That means whether you’re eligible, and how much you might get will depend on where you live.
For example, in Shropshire, the council is giving out £180 to thousands of households.
But residents in Nottinghamshire are being offered £100 in the form of vouchers to pay for energy bills, food and essentials.
In some cases, like in Shropshire, councils are contacting customers to let them know they’re eligible for help through the fund.
But, in other cases, you might have to contact your council.
Your best best is to figure out what council area you fall under by using the government’s council locator tool and then see what you might be entitled to by checking online.
Energy supplier grants – up to £1,500
A number of energy suppliers offer customers targeted support if they’re struggling to pay for their bills.
In October, British Gas confirmed it will pay its most vulnerable customers grants worth £750.
And the British Gas Energy Trust pays hard-up households up to £1,500 if you’re under financial strain.
And you don’t even have to be a British Gas customer to be eligible for the scheme.
If you’re not with British Gas and you want to know what’s on offer, you can check on their website, or here:
- British Gas Energy Trust
- Bulb energy fund
- EDF’s energy customer support fund
- E.on’s energy fund
- Octopus Energy Octo Assist fund
- Ovo’s debt and energy assistance
- Scottish Power’s hardship fund
How much you’ll be entitled to and how to apply will depend on your energy company.
There’s also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you pay for your energy through a prepayment meter.
Greggs Foundation Hardship Fund – up to £100
The bakery chain offers families in need help through its Gregg Foundation Hardship Fund.
Unfortunately, the scheme is only available to households in North-East England, Northumberland, Tyne & Wear, Durham and Teesside.
Households can get help to buy a number of items, including appliances, flooring baby equipment and supermarket vouchers worth £100 per family.
Applications have to be made on behalf of individuals from recognised social organisations such as charities registered with the Charity Commission, housing associations and social services acting on behalf of a family or individual in need.
Check your winter fuel payment – up to £600
If you were born on or before September 26, 1956, you could get between £250 and £600 to help pay your heating bills.
This is known as the Winter Fuel Payment, and it is paid automatically to anyone who qualifies.
You will get the winter fuel payment if:
- You get a state pension
- If you get any other social security benefit (not including housing benefit, Council Tax reduction, child benefit or Universal Credit).
The amount includes a one-off pensioner cost of living payment of between £150 and £300.
You can get this benefit if:
- You were born on or before 26 September 1955
- You lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 20 to 26 September 2021 – this is called the “qualifying week”
You can find out more about who is eligible on gov.uk.
You’ll get the cash boost from November this year, the government has confirmed.
It will be added as a top-up to your annual Winter Fuel Payment, which is paid around this time.
Payments will be made directly to households – so there’s no need to do anything.
It will be paid in addition to any other cost of living support you are entitled to.
For example, eight million households on Universal Credit and other means-tested benefits will get a £650 cost of living payment.
Check your £20 notes for any rare finds – from £50
There are a number of £20 notes floating about that can score particularly high bids at online auctions, all because they have a quirky serial number.
With the current £20 notes having been in circulation for a couple of years, here’s how to spot if you get your hands on a rare note and make a mint.
Early serial numbers
When the Bank of England issues a new note it donates those with significant numbers to the people and institutions involved in the development.
For example, the first note AA01 000001 is given to the monarch.
AA notes are the most valuable, but anything with an A in it could be worth more than the value of the note itself.
An AA01 £5 note sold on eBay for over £60,000 in 2017.
Consecutive serial numbers
For instance, if you get one with AA1234567, it’s likely to be popular.
Two notes with the serial numbers AA01090561 and AA01090562 sold for more than £50 in March 2020.
Special meanings in serial numbers
The £20 notes released in 2020 feature artist JMW Turner, so serial numbers with his birth date – 1775 – could be a winner.
If you find one starting with an A that also includes his birth date that should be worth even more.
To find out more about how to spot rare £20 notes read our article.
Check if you have a ‘lost’ bank account – £2,100
Teenagers could be getting money through their Child Trust Funds (CTF).
HMRC is urging teenagers to check if they have one of these accounts, as many might not be aware they have one.
On average, each account is worth £2,100, so it’s definitely worth checking if you’re owed anything.
CTFs are a type of savings account that used to be available for children.
The government automatically opened CTF accounts for any children born between September 1, 2002, and January 2, 2011.
All of these children automatically received a £250 voucher and lower-income families got £500.
Parents could decide whether the lump sums would be invested in stock or shares or saved in cash when the accounts were opened.
These accounts are no longer available unless you already have one.
Read more about CTFs here.
Outside of energy grants and food help, millions of households should already have started receiving the £400 energy rebate from the government.
For the full list, you can read our guide.
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