THOUSANDS of struggling households can apply for free cash to help with bills from tomorrow.
The help is being dished out under a new round of £421million funding from the government to the Household Support Fund (HSF).
The scheme helps hard-up families pay for rising bills from energy to food and fuel.
Councils have been given a slice of the new pot of funding on offer to give to residents.
The deadline to dish out funds is March 31, 2023, but as the scheme is in high demand, it’s better to apply sooner rather than later if you’re struggling.
Barnet Council is reopening its Household Support Fund after a brief break over the Christmas break.
It will give supermarket or energy vouchers, or issue a direct payment to your bank account, if you are eligible for the help.
You won’t be able to use the help to put towards multiple debts, or your mortgage.
Residents living in the council’s catchment area will be able to apply for the help after 10am tomorrow.
As the help is decided on a case-by-case basis, Barnet Council hasn’t confirmed how much you can get, but we will update this story when we know more.
To be eligible for the help, you must be aged 18 to 54 and be on a low income.
Those over the age of 55 have been advised to apply for the Age UK Household Support Fund.
You must provide evidence to show you are on a low income, which includes a recent bank statement or demands for payments on bills you are behind on.
You may be waiting a while before you get the help – Barnet Council said it takes up to five weeks to process applications.
Apply for the bill help through the council’s website.
Can I get help if I don’t live in Barnet?
Yes you can. The Household Support Fund has been made available to councils across England.
But whether you’re entitled to a payment will depend on where you live.
That’s because each council decides who to offer payments to.
However, usually payments are made to households on benefits and low incomes as that’s an indicator of financial struggle.
Payments don’t always come as bank transfers. Sometimes residents are offered vouchers to redeem at supermarkets or the Post Office.
Thousands of residents in Stoke-on-Trent are being offered food vouchers worth £50.
Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council is offering thousands of households up to £350 in cash support.
How do I apply for the Household Support Fund?
As is the case with how the money is distributed, the application process for the Household Support Fund varies depending on where you live.
Some councils are asking residents to apply on their websites, while others are writing to households in line for payments.
In Calderdale, the council is contacting households eligible for payments from January 9 or January 16.
They will then have to register for one off £50 payments.
You may have to prove you’re in receipt of the qualifying benefits though.
So proof you get housing benefit, a Council Tax reduction or free school meals.
What other bill help can I get?
If you’re not in line for help via the Household Support Fund, there’s other help on offer.
A lot of energy companies offer struggling customers grants to help pay for their energy bills.
British Gas, EDF Energy and Scottish Power are just a few.
The British Gas Energy Trust for example can write off debts, and you don’t even have to be a customer to apply for help.
The maximum grant usually offered to households is £750, but those in “exceptional circumstances” can get as much as £1,500.
The average pay out is around £550.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]
For the full list of firms offering help, you can read our guide here.
Millions of households should be in the process of receiving the £400 energy rebate too.
The payment has been split into six instalments to be paid between October this year and March 2023.
In most cases, the payments are being applied as discounts to people’s energy bills.
But households on prepayment meters have to redeem vouchers issued to them at their nearest top up point.
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