HARD-up households on Universal Credit can claim X freebies and extra help while they wait for the £650 cost of living payment.
Last month saw Chancellor Rishi Sunak unleash a mega cost of living support package to help households pay for spiralling energy bills.
You can get help NOW if you are on Universal Credit while waiting for your cost of living payments[/caption]
Households are facing eye-watering winter energy bill hikes, when the price cap is expected to hit £2,800 in October.
It means £830 will be added onto bills in a bitter blow to households’ budgets.
Among the help revealed, Mr Sunak said eight million on means-tested benefits will get a £650 cash boost from July.
While a £400 energy bill grant will be given to every household to pay for rising bills from October.
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But it means you could be waiting up to months for your cash – which is bad news for those struggling right now to pay for their bills.
However, if you are on Universal Credit, you can get extra help right NOW to help pay for spiralling costs while you wait – we explain what you could get.
Universal Credit claimants have a five week wait from their claim being accepted to actually getting the cash.
If you don’t have enough to live on during this period you can ask for an advance payment to get some money straight away.
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This covers essential expenses such as food and rent.
You can also get an advance payment if you are already on Universal Credit and your circumstances change, meaning you’re entitled to more money.
However, both kinds of advances will have to be repaid in instalments from your future payments – it’s not free cash.
To apply, you can speak to your Jobcentre Plus work coach, apply through your online account or call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.
Another kind of advance payment can help you with budgeting, and you could get a maximum of £812.
The payment will pay for your emergency household needs such as replacing broken white goods.
You can also use it for costs associated with work, such as uniform for a new job or travel to an interview.
Again, this is a loan so you will have to repay it through your Universal Credit payments in the future.
The minimum amount you can borrow is £100.
Single claimants can get £348, couples can claim up to £464 and if you have children you could get £812 in total.
Many broadband providers offer cheaper packages for households on benefits including Universal Credit.
It’s estimated that up to 4.2million households could be eligible for these deals.
You could save up to £144 a year by switching to one of these social tariffs.
But regulator Ofcom says only around 55,000 homes have taken advantage of the offers.
BT and Virgin Media are among the firms offering cheaper deals – check whether you could benefit from reduced broadband rates.
Water bills are rising – but you can apply for help to lower them if you are on Universal Credit.
Lower income families can apply to the WarerSure scheme to save hundreds of pounds on their bill each year.
If you claim Universal Credit or a number of other benefits, you may be able to cap your water bill.
To qualify for the scheme you need to already have a water meter installed, and prove you need to use a lot of water.
You also need to have three or more children under the age of 19 living in the house, and receive child benefit for them.
Or, you need to prove you have a medical condition that you need additional water for.
Suppliers cap the cost of water bills under this scheme at the average household bill your water company charges.
Ask your own supplier what schemes it has or check CCW’s round-up of the different help available.
Many water companies offer help to customers who cannot afford to pay their bills – find yours here.
Exactly what help you can get and who is eligible will depend on who your supplier is.
Some suppliers might agree to reduce or wipe your debt if you’re struggling to pay your water bills.
If you’re eligible for Universal Credit, there might be other benefits you’re entitled to.
For example, if you have a long-term physical or mental health condition you could get a Personal Independence Payment.
This is worth up to £7,500 a year if you get the maximum amount,
Use a benefits calculator to check that you’re getting all of the financial support you’re eligible for.
You might be able to claim free NHS prescriptions if you’re getting Universal Credit.
One of the following must also apply:
- You had no income or net earnings of £435 or less in your last Universal Credit assessment period.
- You had no income or net earnings of £935 or less in your last Universal Credit assessment period, and had a child element included in your award or had limited capability for work or work-related activity.
If you’re in a couple, the net earnings applies to your combined income.
To prove you qualify for free prescriptions, you must bring a copy of your Universal Credit notice when going to get your prescription.
Check the NHS website for more information on how to apply.
Families on Universal Credit can get help with the cost of raising their kids.
You could get up to £442 through the Healthy Start Scheme to pay for food if you’re pregnant or have a young child.
Pregnant mothers can get a £500 Surestart Maternity Grant if they claim certain benefits including Universal Credit.
Once your child is at school, families on Universal Credit might be able to get free lunches.
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That’s if your household income is less than £7,400 a year.
You can contact your child’s school for more information.
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