BRITS can claim a wide range of government discounts and benefits to make it easier to get by in life.

From discounts on energy bills and cheaper meals out to benefits, we explain what's available and how to make sure you're not missing out.

Government discount schemes

£5,000 towards making your home more energy efficient

The government will launch a new "Green Homes Grant Scheme" in September, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced this week.

Under this scheme, hundreds of thousands of homeowners will be able to access vouchers of up to £5,000.

The poorest families will also be able to access vouchers of up to £10,000.

The Government will cover at least two thirds of the cost that homeowners in England spend on green upgrades.

Those on the lowest incomes will not have to pay anything towards their improvements.

What to do if you can't pay your bills

FALLING behind on your energy bills can be extremely stressful.

If you’re struggling to pay what you owe, contact your supplier as soon as possible.

Your provider has to help you come up with a solution, and you should be able to negotiate a deal that works for you both.

One option is to agree a payment plan where you pay off your debts in affordable instalments.

You may be able to pay off your debts directly from your benefits through the Fuel Direct Scheme.

A fixed amount will automatically be taken to cover what you owe plus your usage.

To be eligible, you must be getting one of the following benefits:

  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Income support
  • income-related employment and support allowance
  • Pension credit
  • Universal Credit (but only if you’re not working)

If you cannot come to an agreement with your supplier, they may try to force you to get a prepayment meter installed.

In very rare cases, where you refuse to negotiate, your supplier might threaten you with disconnection.

The £2billlion scheme is part of a wider £3billion investment from the government in green technology.

According to Treasury figures, it could help families save up to £300 a year on energy bills.

The cash can be spent on a range of environmentally friendly additions to your home.

This includes loft, wall and floor insulation, eco-friendly boilers, heat pumps, double or triple-glazed ­windows, low-energy lighting and energy-efficient doors.

It is hoped that the policy will create jobs for local tradesmen, who will be able to offer their services to consumers through a bespoke website from September.

'Eat Out to Help Out' scheme

The government this week also pledged to slash the cost of eating out in August to help Britain's restaurants get back on their feet.

If you dine out from Monday to Wednesday in August, the government will pick up half the tab.

The discount is capped at £10 per person, and applies to food and non-alcoholic drinks.

A family of four would see an £80 restaurant bill reduced to just £40.

Meanwhile, a meal out for two that costs £20 will be reduced to £10, but a £25 meal for two will be slashed to £15 because of the £10 cap.

Businesses will need to register with the scheme on Gov.uk before offering the discount so check your local has signed up before booking a table.

£140 warm home discount if you're on benefits

You may qualify to get £140 off your electricity bill throughout winter under the warm home discount scheme.

To be eligible, you'll need to be claiming the guarantee credit element of pension credit or are on a low income and meet your energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme – known as the "broader group".

Your electricity supplier decides who can get the discount – check with your supplier to see if you’re eligible and how to apply.

The money is not paid to you, but comes as a one-off discount on your electricity bill.

The warm home discount scheme for winter 2019 to 2020 closed on March 31 this year, while the 2020/21 scheme will open on October 12 2020.

Check with your supplier as early as possible. The number of discounts suppliers can give are limited.

£300 off bills for pensioners with winter fuel payment

If you were born on or before August 5, 1954 you could get between £100 and £300 to help you pay your heating bills. This is known as a "winter fuel payment".

Those who get a state pension will usually get it automatically, otherwise you may have to claim.

The deadline for winter 2020/2021 is March 31, 2021. Most payments are made automatically by January 13, 2021.

£25 towards cold weather bills

During periods of prolonged cold weather many people can claim an extra £25 a week off their heating bills.

These payments are available to those on certain benefits, such as pension credit or Universal Credit.

Payments are triggered when the forecast temperature is zero degrees Celsius, or below, for seven consecutive days, between November 1 and March 31.

To be eligible for a cold weather payment, a person must be in receipt of one of the following benefits and you can check if you qualify online.

You can use an online postcode search to find out if your area is due to receive payment triggered by cold weather.

Discounts on properties with Right to Buy

The Right to Buy scheme was originally introduced by Margaret Thatcher through the Housing Act 1980, and allows tenants who qualify to buy their home at a discount.

The rules are different for England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

In all parts of the country, the discount is calculated according to how long you have lived there.

In England you need to have lived in the house for three years and the rules allow you to make a joint application with someone who shares your tenancy.

You get 35 per cent off a house (50 per cent off a flat) between three and five years.

After five years, the discount goes up by 1 per cent (2 per cent for a flat) for every extra year you’ve been a tenant, up to a maximum of 70 per cent or £108,000 in London and £80,900 for the rest of England.

Last year, the government was under pressure to scrap the scheme after it was revealed that London councils spend £22million a year renting back homes they've sold.

Benefits

Millions of struggling Brits may be able to get extra help by claiming benefits they didn't know they were entitled to.

People in the UK are missing out on benefits and tax credits worth thousands of pounds per person, each year.

Claimants have to apply for specific benefits, which is why it's easy for people to miss out on payments they never knew existed.

Below we round the wide range of benefits available to claim.

What benefits are available?

IT'S not just the unemployed who can claim from the welfare state. These are the benefits that are available from the Government, broken down into sections:

Universal Credit 

The six main means-tested benefits have now been merged with Universal Credit. These are:

  • Working tax credit
  • Child tax credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Emplyment and support allowance
  • Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income support.

Families

  • Family benefits
  • Child benefit
  • Child tax credits
  • Guardian's allowance
  • Statutory maternity/paternity/adoption pay
  • Marriage allowance
  • Maternity grant
  • Maternity allowance
  • Widowed parent's allowance.

Able to work

  • Working tax credit
  • Contribution-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA).

Low income 

  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance
  • Income-based employment and support allowance
  • Pension credit
  • Housing benefit
  • Council tax reduction
  • Free school meals, milk or uniforms and healthcare
  • Support for mortgage interest
  • Budgeting loans and advances
  • Funeral payment
  • Local council support schemes
  • Cold weather payments

Health and disabilities 

  • Attendance allowance
  • Personal independence payment
  • Carer's allowance
  • Contribution-based employment support allowance
  • Statutory sick pay
  • State pension
  • Bereavement allowance
  • Bereavement payment
  • Winter fuel payments

To make sure you're not losing out, you can use a benefits calculator to check what you're entitled to.

Before using the tools, make sure you have any financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.

If you're part of a family or live with a partner, get their basic financial information together too as this could affect your claim.

Entitledto's free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.

Or you can use Policy in Practice's calculator to not only find out which benefits you could receive but also to find out how much cash you'll have leftover each month after paying for housing costs.

Usefully, it also includes links to claim for benefits.

Charity Turn2Us' benefits calculator works out what means-tested benefits you might be entitled to, as well as whether you qualify for carers allowance.

It points out that it doesn't calculate non-means tested benefits and contributory benefits, but it will include these in your results if you’re already getting them.

We round up 12 discount and voucher schemes you can use BEFORE government Eat Out to Help Out and green energy ones start.

A few weeks ago, Boris Johnson also announced an affordable housing plan including 30 per cent discounts for first-time buyers.

Plus, we explain eight ways to get discounts and freebies if you’re on Universal Credit or benefits.

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