THOUSANDS of hard-up households could get a free £200 payment paid straight into their bank accounts before Christmas.
The help is being dished out under a new round of £421million funding given by the government to the Household Support Fund (HSF).
Councils have been given a slice of the new pot of funding on offer, which will be given out to struggling residents to help pay for rising energy bills.
Redcar and Cleveland Council has revealed that thousands of households can get up to £200 direct into their accounts.
If you receive Council Tax support you will be entitled to a payment.
But, you might also be entitled to discretionary assistance if you are on a low income and are in a credit deficit.
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A credit deficit means that your essential outgoings (bills and living expenses etc.) are more than your income.
If you don't have any children in your household and you receive Council Tax support you'll get a one-off payment of £50.
Households that have a dependent child living at home will get £100.
If you're entitled to discretionary assistance you'll get between £50 to £200 – depending on your financial circumstances.
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Families must have applied for the help before December 12 to get the cash by tomorrow (Friday, December 16).
Eligible claims made after December 12 will be paid on March 25, 2023.
People who get Council Tax support and have had help from the HSF before don't need to reapply.
But if you haven't had support from the fund you can make a claim on the council website.
If you're not entitled to Council Tax support and you're a low income household that can't afford to pay your bills or pay for food apply you can also apply on the site.
Make sure to keep an eye on the council's website for updates about the scheme.
Can I get help if I don't live in Redcar and Cleveland?
Yes – you can still get help under the Household Support Fund.
What support you can get will vary, because each council is in charge of how to spend the funding available.
Some decide to dish the help out automatically, while you'll need to apply in other cases.
Some councils choose to distribute funding in the form of vouchers, while others give out cash payments.
To get more information on what support is available, and how to get it, you'll need to contact your local council.
You can find yours using the gov.uk council checker tool.
What can I get?
Councils decide how to distribute their funding.
But in the last round of funding, you could get up to £500 in free cash support from some councils – like Bromsgrove and Redditch.
Residents of Effingham, near Guildford, could get up to £300 free cash to help them through the cost of living crisis.
Middlesbrough Council has issued 9,000 £60 vouchers to parents whose children qualify for free school meals last week.
Bradford council is also issuing a £65 payment to some residents this winter.
What other help can I get?
Millions of households started receiving a £400 energy bill discount from October 1.
Households will have already received a £66 energy bill discount in October and November's will be coming soon if you haven't had it already.
There will also be a payment worth £67 in December, January, February and March.
Households on pension credit or low incomes may qualify for the warm home discount scheme worth £150.
If you’re pregnant or have a child under the age of four, then you may qualify for Healthy Start vouchers to help pay for basic foods such as milk or fruit.
You can apply for free school meals for your child if you're claiming certain benefits including Universal Credit.
British Gas has confirmed it'll pay its most vulnerable customers grants worth £750 to help with sky-high bills.
For the full list of help available this winter see our guide.
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