THOUSANDS of parents can get a free £70 voucher to spend on food and other essentials.

The support comes via the Household Support Fund (HSF) which is worth £421million.

The pot of money from the Government has been shared between local councils.

But each local authority decides how to allocate their portion of the fund so what you will get depends on where you live.

In most cases, the help is given to households on benefits or a low income.

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.

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You'll usually need to be on a low income to receive the help.

For some districts, you'll need to act now as the deadline to apply or redeem your cash is this month.

For example, Portsmouth council is offering residents cash or vouchers as part of three new schemes under the Household Support Fund.

And one of those is £70 vouchers for struggling parents.

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They can get one voucher per child to spend on food and household essentials.

To be eligible, families must:

  • Have missed out on earlier vouchers distributed by schools or nurseries
  • Live in the Portsmouth area
  • Be responsible for a child born on or after September 1 2006, or be at least 10 weeks pregnant
  • Be eligible for the Healthy Start scheme or have total household earned and unearned income of below £935 per month (or £863 per 4 weeks if paid weekly)

If you think you may be eligible, you can apply online on the council's website.

But applicants only have until March 31 to apply, or they'll miss out.

However, don't worry if you don't have children, there is still support you can access, including a £120 cost of living payment.

You could be entitled to the cash if:

  • You receive housing benefit and no other means-tested income benefit.
  • You get universal credit or pension credit from a claim that started on September 26 2022 or later. 

For people under pension age, who get disability living allowance or personal independence payments, there is £150 up for grabs.

Applications for these payments aren't open yet, but make sure to keep an eye out on the council's website for more information.

Can I get help if I don't live in Portsmouth?

Yes, even if you don't live in Portsmouth you should still be able to get help.

But what you can get and who is eligible is a bit of a postcode lottery as each council is deciding how to distribute their portion of the HSF.

In some areas, councils have run out of money to give to eligible households too.

How the help is being distributed depends on where you live.

Some councils are handing out vouchers to be used to help people pay for energy bills, food and other everyday essentials.

Whereas in other areas, local authorities are transferring money directly into bank accounts.

You might have a deadline to apply for any help in your area – you should check with your council if you're not sure.

Right now, Runnymede Council is paying hard-up households up to £800.

While those in Middlesborough, households can get a supermarket voucher or energy voucher worth up to £100 – but they only have until March 31 to apply.

Bromley Council is offering thousands of struggling households £200 energy bill vouchers.

Plus, thousands of residents in North Yorkshire are also due electronic supermarket vouchers worth up to £325.

How else can I cut my grocery costs?

Research what you need before you go. Prices always vary by supermarket and it can pay to change up your shop.

One shopper ditched going to supermarkets altogether in favour of their local wholesaler, that way they could stock up in bulk, at lower prices.

You can also cash in on reduced foods like yellow sticker bargains – these will be items reduced because they're about to meet their best-before date.

They'll still be safe to eat or freeze to make them last longer, but it means you can pick up the same products at an even cheaper price.

Sometimes even timing your shop to stock up just as items are discounted on the shelves can help you get the best bargains – lots of shoppers have said this is in the evening typically.

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But being smart about how you shop isn't the only way to slash spending.

Especially as prices continue to rise, there are schemes in place to help the most hard-up buy essentials.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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