HOUSEHOLDS on Universal Credit struggling with bills could get free cash to help them through the cost of living crisis.
Many people are having to borrow to help them cover essentials – but there's help you could get that you don't have to repay.
Help for those on Universal Credit and other benefits ranges from council tax discounts to supermarket food vouchers.
Here we've rounded up all the help you could get and how to claim.
Check your benefit entitlement
Just because you get Universal Credit, it doesn't mean that' s all you can get.
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Millions of Brits are missing out on benefits they're entitled to adding up to billions of pounds in total unclaimed each year.
Benefit calculators can help you check what you could be entitled to.
For instance you might get extra cash if you're looking after someone else or for housing costs.
There are several benefit checker tools you can use – here's our guide.
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Get a council tax discount
Council tax is one of the biggest household bills and the most important – if you fall behind you could be asked to pay the entire yearly upfront.
Non-payment can also result in bailiffs visiting your home, court action or even imprisonment.
Paying this bill is a priority so if you're struggling with it you should seek help straight away.
And you can also find help from charities like Citizens Advice.
Brits struggling can also get council tax 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.
You can check out when you might get a council tax discount in our guide or contact your local council to check what support you can claim and apply.
Around 80% of households will get a £150 council tax rebate to help with the rising cost of living.
You'll get it if you're in council tax bands A-D, and a discretionary fund is also available for households not eligible or that need help on top and will give out payments of up to £150 too.
Here's everything you need to know about the scheme.
Low-income families may be eligible for charitable grants to cover housing costs.
As grants are typically different to loans, most do not have to be paid back.
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.
Energy suppliers are offering cash grants to those hardest hit by bills rises.
For instance British Gas is giving out up to £750 through its hardship fund.
But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances so ask directly what's on offer and how to apply.
Household Support Fund
Extra cash totalling £500m has been handed to councils to give out to struggling families.
The Household Support Fund previously included vouchers to spend in the supermarket and for buying kids clothes in one area and £100 cash in another.
The help you can get depends on you location and your circumstances.
You can find your local council using this tool and searching you postcode. to see what help is available near to you.
Cash for paying rent
There's cash help for anyone struggling that's available from your local council through the discretionary housing payment.
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.
Here's everything you need to know about who can get the cash and how to claim.
Welfare assistance scheme
Some councils also offer support through the welfare support fund, 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.
Work from home cash
If you have worked from home even for just one day since the pandemic started, you could get tax back.
It's worth up to £125 a year for the previous two years and you can make a claim for both if you haven't already.
Millions of people have still not claimed the cash back but there's still time to do it.
HMRC has a simple tool you can use to apply – here's what yo need to do.
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You might get Universal Credit paid early this Christmas and these are the dates you could get it.
You might get a bonus payment this Christmas, so check you statement.
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