HARD-UP Brits struggling to get by could get get help with energy bills while they are claiming Universal Credit.
Those getting the benefit are among those facing higher costs to heat their home because of the soaring costs of gas end electric.
Energy bills have risen this winter and are set to rise further in April when price cap will rise by nearly £700.
If you're struggling there's extra help out there which could ease the bill pain, and it could be worth as much as £2,815 in total, depending on your circumstances.
Here we explain what you could get if you're on Universal Credit and how to apply to help you get by.
Warm home discount scheme – £140
Suppliers offer the warm home discount scheme which is £140 discount on your bill over winter.
The scheme has already closed at several suppliers this year, but you still have the chance to apply for the cash at four:
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- So Energy
Anyone getting pension credit gets the bill discount automatically.
Other who are eligible because they are on a low income need to apply and this can include those on Universal Credit.
You can find more about how to get the help in our guide, but be quick – the cash is given out on a first come first serve basis and can close at any time before March 31 when the scheme ends for this winter
Cold weather payment – up to £75 so far
When temperatures plummet those in low incomehouseholds can get a £25 payment.
These cold weather payments have already been made in several locations where residents have experienced below zero weather.
The payment is made automatically, including to those on Universal Credit, for each seven day period of low temps.
In the coldest areas three £25 payments have been made so far this winter, adding up to £75 in total.
See if your postcode has qualified for a payment.
New bill discount scheme – £200
The government has announced the every single household will get a £200 discount on their energy bill this year.
This is part of a package of support designed to help Brits struggling as costs rise and will be applied automatically, but not until October.
The money does have to be paid back, but it will be in the form of £40 added to annual bills over five years from next year.
Martin Lewis has explained how the scheme will work and that it's more like a levy than a loan – here's what he said.
Household support fund – up to £150
Local councils are giving out cash top help households struggling with bills and other essential costs.
How much you can get depends on where you live and in many areas getting Universal Credit means you qualify for the help.
For instance Runnymede council in Surrey is giving out £150 through the household support fund and you don't have to pay the cash back.
To see what's available where you are, and to apply, you'll need to check your local council.
You can search for yours using the search tool on gov.uk – just enter your postcode.
Local councils also offer welfare assistance schemes all year round that can help you with bills.
Energy supplier grant – up to £750
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 new new hardship fund.
But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.
It's not just Universal Credit claimants who can get the help, but if you're on the benefit and have a low income you could qualify.
Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:
- Bulb energy fund
- EDF's energy customer support fund
- E.on's energy fund
- Npower's energy fund
- Ovo's debt and energy assistance
- Scottish Power's hardship fund
Grant for debt arrears – up to £1,500
You can apply for a grant to pay off arrears if you've fallen behind from the British Gas Energy Trust.
Anyone can apply, it's not just for British Gas customers, or only those on Universal Credit – but if you're claiming the benefit and are struggling you could be eligible.
It's for those living in England, Scotland or Wales, who have less than £1,000 in savings and are facing fuel poverty.
You also need to have sought help from a money advice agency, like Citizens Advice (see below).
The amount you can get will depend on your need and grants of over £1,500 are for exceptional circumstances.
Check other benefits and help you can get
Just because you get Universal Credit, it doesn't mean that' s all you can get.
Millions of Brits are missing out on benefits they're entitled to adding up to billions of pounds in total.
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.
You could help like a council tax discount, cheaper internet or extra payments during the coldest weather – check out the full help you can get in out guide.
There's cash help for anyone struggling with rent that's available from your local council through the discretionary housing payment.
If you're worried about falling behind on bills. there are plenty of organisations where you can get advice for free, including:
- National Debtline – 0808 808 4000
- Step Change – 0800 138 1111
- Citizens Advice – 0808 800 9060
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