Most people on benefits will soon see their payments increase, as Chancellor Jeremy Hunt recently confirmed the increase in line with inflation numbers in September at 10.1 percent. This will mean families on Universal Credit could see £600 extra in their pocket a year.
The increase will see the standard allowance for those single and under 25 increase from £265.31 to £292.11, and over 25s will rise from £334.91 to £368.71. However, with the government’s energy support scheme ending, and with food prices increasing, it may still be hard to make ends meet.
The government, as well as suppliers, has multiple freebies you could claim if you are on Universal Credit, with everything from energy grants to a tax-free cost of living payment. These freebies may be available to any low income household, but who is eligible for the different support schemes may vary.
In order to make life a little bit easier during the ongoing cost of living crisis, we have created a list of 10 different support schemes that households on low incomes and benefits could be eligible for. Please note that you may not qualify for all ten of them, despite claiming Universal Credit.
10 freebies available for low income households on Universal Credit
£900 cost of living payment
A £900 cost of living payment will be paid to millions of households, with the first £301 free cash arriving on bank accounts between April 25 and May 17. If you are eligible for the cost of living payment, you will receive the money automatically, and do not need to do anything.
Those that qualify for the upcoming Cost of Living payment are those who were entitled to the following benefits between January 26 and February 25:
- Universal Credit
- Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Income Support
- Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Pension Credit
Council tax discount
Depending on where you live, you may be eligible for a discount on your council tax bill this spring. And with most bills set to increase in April, now might be the best time to look for a discount.
What discount you are entitled to varies depending on your situation and your income, but there are cases where you could be entitled for a 100 percent discount. You can find your local council’s support schemes by entering your postcode in this government tool.
Household support fund
Your local council can also help you if you’re struggling with free cash and vouchers under the Household Support Fund. What help you can get depends on where you live, but some councils may offer up to £800 in free cash.
Check with your local council to see what help you can get by using this government tool.
£1,500 energy supplier grants
Many energy suppliers have grants available to help struggling households with their bills. For example, the British Gas Energy Trust can pay you up to £1,500 if you’re struggling whether you’re a British Gas customer or not.
Contact your supplier to find out what support may be available for you, or have a look at any of the following funds and trusts:
- British Gas Energy Trust Individuals and Family Fund
- British Gas Energy Trust
- EDF Customer Support Fund
- E.ON and E.ON Next Grants
- Octopus Energy Assist Fund
- OVO Energy
- Scottish Power Hardship Fund
Free school meals
If you are on Universal Credit, or other eligible benefits, your child may be entitled to free school meals. How you get the meal differs from local authority and school, but this government tool will redirect you to where you need to go.
£500 pregnancy payment
If you are pregnant you may be eligible for a one off £500 payment under the Sure Start Maternity Grant. To qualify for this payment you must already be claiming benefits if you’re expecting your first child, or if you’re expecting twins or triplets and already have one child.
To claim the payment you must fill out the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SF100) form, as well as have a health professional such as a doctor or midwife sign the document.
Free prescriptions and dental care
If you are receiving Universal Credit, you may be eligible for help to cover your health and dental costs. To be able to claim support, you need to be able to show a copy of your Universal Credit award notice.
You can find all the information on the NHS website, including exactly what you need and what you can claim support for.
Help with water bills and water saving gadgets
Many water suppliers around the UK will supply you with free devices that will help you save on your water bill. You can check out SaveWaterSaveMoney.co.uk to find out what devices you could fit in your home to help you have pounds.
Large families on certain benefits can also apply for a cap on their yearly water bills under the WaterSure scheme. Requirements include that you have a water meter installed and can prove you use large amounts of water, and that your household includes at least three children under the age of 19.
£1,200 Help to Save bonus
Under the Help to Save scheme, families entitled to Universal Credit or Working Tax Credit can open up a savings account which will grant a 50p bonus to every £1 saved over four years. The savings account lets families save between £1 and £50 a month, but does not require a monthly saving.
You can find out if you’re eligible for the Help to Save scheme here.
£150 school uniform grant
Buying a new school uniform is not cheap, but there are ways to get help. Councils in England may offer support if you are on benefits or on low income.
Visit your local council website to find out what help is available to you.