THE poorest households are the hardest hit by the ongoing cost of living crisis, left with little to no cash to spare after paying crushing bills.
Inflation has hit a 40 year high, shooting up to 9%, but experts reckon the rate experienced by the most hard-up could actually be closer to 11%.
That means those on benefits, including Universal Credit, will feel the toughest pinch.
Most are having to fork out the majority of their income on gas and electricity, but they don't have the funds to cover rocketing prices.
When inflation goes up it means prices on everyday items and essentials, as well as these bills, also rise – so you need to make the money you do have stretch further.
There is help out there to cover costs if you are struggling though.
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It ranges from feeding hungry mouths as supermarket prices rocket with rising inflation, to covering the energy bill as suppliers up your direct debit.
And as the cost of living crisis bites harder than ever, families and more need all the aid they can get.
Here's several ways you can claim cash, that you don't need to pay back, to help curb some of the costs.
Get a council tax discount
Paying your council tax is going to take one of the biggest chunks out of your budget.
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But anyone struggling could get the debt written off using a little known rule.
Many don't know that they could get a discount on their council tax bill, or be exempt from paying it altogether.
Reductions are available for those on low-incomes, people claiming certain benefits, those caring for others as well as other circumstances.
The amount your bill is reduced by can range from 25% off to 100% which would mean you pay nothing at all for this bill.
That means that in some cases you could even get your bill reduced to zero, taking one thing off your plate, and with the average bill for a band D home at £1,898, it could save a significant sum.
You can contact your local council to check what support you can claim and apply.
Get a council tax refund
An extra cash boost could come from the council tax rebate on its way to most bank accounts this year.
Thousands of homes have already started receiving their refund of £150 on their council tax bill.
The money is part of a £9.1billion package of support from the government.
Your home has to be in council tax bands A to D to be eligible though – check which band you're in using the government's website.
If you pay your council tax by Direct Debit, you'll receive the cash automatically.
If you don't, you may have to wait longer to get it.
But the good news is that the money will not have to be paid back, which means your wallet doesn't have to be any lighter than it needs to, thanks to the extra boost.
Get an energy bill grant
You may be able to apply for a grant to help cover some of the most eye-watering costs.
Energy bills are the biggest offenders taking a whack at households' budgets right now, so it could help to get some of the fees taken care of.
British Gas customers for example, can apply for a £750 grant to help with their energy bills.
But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.
If you're on benefits or have a low income you could qualify. Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply.
Plenty of suppliers have upped their offerings amid the cost of living crisis too.
For instance Shell Energy and British Gas have increased their own hardship funds to help customers.
And Octopus Energy has increased its financial hardship fund, Octo Assist, from £2.5million to £5million.
It's not just energy bills that you maybe be able to get a grant to cover – Turn2Us has a tool that can help you check out grants available near you on its website.
You’ll need to enter some personal information like your postcode, your gender, and your age.
Cash-in on the Household Support Fund
Local councils are giving out cash to help households struggling with bills and other essential costs too.
How much you can get depends on where you live though.
For instance Runnymede council in Surrey was giving out £150 through the household support fund earlier this year.
The scheme was extended in March, as another £500 million was added to the pot – so if you missed out last time, you've got another chance to apply.
Councils have now started re-distributing funds to those who need it – Norfolk County Council for example is giving families £120 to help cover food costs and more.
To see what's available where you are, and to apply, you'll need to check with your local council.
You can search for yours using the search tool on gov.uk – just enter your postcode.
Get cash to cover the rent
The discretionary housing payment could help you meet your rent payments every month, whilst your battling other soaring bills too.
Anyone claiming Housing Benefit or the Housing Element of Universal Credit could be eligible if they are struggling with rent costs.
Each local authority dishes out the cash to those in need on a case-by-case basis and the amounts available can vary.
There is no fixed amount and what you get may cover only some of your housing costs, not all of it.
There's also no fixed way of getting the payment – you may get it paid as a one-off lump sum, or as a regular payment, for example monthly.
You can apply through your local council, which will asses your eligibility.
Get help from the welfare assistance scheme
Some councils also offer support through the welfare assistance schemes, to help cover the costs of essentials, from buying new furniture to food vouchers.
An investigation by The Sun found that hard-up Brits can apply for help worth up to £1,000.
But exactly how much you get and what for will depend on where you live – and not all councils have this help.
Grants are given on a case-by-case basis and there will be a different application process depending on where in the country you live.
You can find out who your local council is by visiting the gov.uk website and get in touch with them about whether help is available in your area.
Claim Healthy Start Vouchers
Healthy start vouchers can help you cover the cost of fresh food and drink for your kids if you're on certain benefits.
With inflation pushing up the price of everything on the supermarket shelves it could be useful to have cash help that will cover the essentials you need to buy.
If you're on a low income, the scheme could be help worth as much as £442 a year.
Each healthy start voucher is currently worth £4.25 a week, and over a year that adds up to £221.
It's worth double that if you have a child under the age of one as you'll be eligible for two vouchers each week, which is what could bring you to £442 in total.
Get money back on your broadband
Thousands of people on low incomes and benefits could save as much as £144 a year on a social tariff.
Providers will offer special deals to those struggling to cover their broadband costs.
Most people will be able to claim cheaper deals from Virgin, Sky, and more, but you have to meet their eligibility criteria to apply.
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