THOUSANDS of households can get up to £500 in free supermarket vouchers – but you'll need to apply quickly.
The cash vouchers up for grabs are funded through the Household Support Fund worth £421million.
The scheme was first established last year, extended for the second time in the March budget and for a third time in November to help those on the lowest incomes with the rising cost of living.
Each council gets a different portion of funding depending on the size of the catchment area, population, and need.
The vouchers or grants on offer vary by location so you'll have to check to see what you can get and how your council will pay you.
You'll usually need to be on a low income to receive the help.
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For example, thousands of residents in Luton are due electronic vouchers to help pay for food, utility bills and other essentials.
And eligible households can get up to £500 in free vouchers depending on their circumstances.
What are councils offering and who is eligible?
Local authorities have had some autonomy on how they use the Fund to reach the vulnerable people in their communities.
Eligibility requirements will vary depending on where you live – so check directly with your council if you could get the cash help.
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For example, residents eligible for the scheme who live in Plymouth could get between £100 and £500.
Eligible residents can choose to receive the support through:
- Grocery vouchers
- Cash vouchers
- Utility vouchers
The application-based scheme is open to Luton residents who meet the following criteria:
- They have savings of less than £6,000 AND
- They are in receipt of certain eligible benefits OR
- Have a household income of less than £34,100
The qualifying benefits include:
- Jobseeker’s allowance (including those not on Universal Credit)
- Employment and support allowance (including those not on Universal Credit)
- Income support
- Pension Credit
- Tax credits (child and working tax credit)
- Council tax reduction
- Universal Credit
- Housing benefit only
- Carers allowance
Anyone who meets the above criteria can submit an application for support on Luton Borough Council's website.
How much support a household receives depends on their individual circumstances.
How do I apply for the Household Support Fund?
Some households will be notified that they can apply for the cash help and others will receive the cash automatically.
Again, your council will set out whether or not you need to apply for the free cash.
Those who live in Plymouth and think they're eligible for the Household Support Fund will need to apply.
Applications for the fund opened in November.
But households that think they're eligible for support must submit their application by February 28 when the online form closes.
If you do not have access to a computer or the internet, you can make an appointment to use the self-serve systems at Luton Access.
Luton Access is located on the first floor of Luton Central Library.
To book an appointment call 01582 510373 between 9am to 5pm Monday to Friday (10am to 5pm Wednesday).
What if I don't live in Luton?
Your local council will likely have its own version of the scheme going and you should get in contact with them to find out more.
But be quick – while the deadline for councils to hand out the latest tranche of HSF cash support is March 31, 2023, it's done on a first-come-first-serve basis.
For example, thousands of residents in Plymouth are due electronic vouchers to help pay for food and other essentials at supermarkets.
And eligible households can get up to £180 in free supermarket vouchers depending on their circumstances.
Thousands of residents in North Yorkshire are also due electronic supermarket vouchers worth up to £325.
What other support is available?
As part of the Autumn Statement, it was revealed millions on benefits and Universal Credit will receive an extra one-off £900.
Eight million households currently get cost-of-living payments worth up to £650, but eligibility criteria could change under any new rules.
Pensioners have also started getting a £300 one-off payment.
The current pensioner cost of living payment is being handed out to millions on a low income.
You qualify under the current rules if you normally get the winter fuel payment, but this could change under the new rules.
The £300 cost of living payment is paid on top of the other winter support.
You'll need to be:
- born on or before 25 September 1956
- have lived in the UK for at least one day during the week of 19 to 25 September 2022 in what is known as the "qualifying week"
Struggling families are eligible for the Warm House Discount to help them tackle the cost of living.
The scheme is where eligible households can get £150 off their electricity bill each winter – but you'll have to wait until the colder months to get the money off.
Households in England and Wales don't need to apply to get the cash and they'll automatically qualify if they are receiving certain benefits.
You can read more about who's eligible here.
There are also plenty of energy grants and schemes open to help you out if you're struggling:
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- 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
There's also a one-off fuel voucher from your energy supplier if you're on a prepayment meter.
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