What help is available to struggling Britons who can’t pay bills?

Cost of living: Energy boss on ‘mechanism’ to help consumers

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While Liz Truss announced energy bills won’t increase above £2,500 for a household with typical usage for the next two years, bills are still around three times higher than last winter. And it’s not just energy bills – food costs have risen by 10.1 percent according to the Consumer Price Index. At the same time, the price of petrol is also 32 pence higher than this time last year – putting a huge strain on the nation’s finances.

The cost of living crisis is placing huge pressure on Britons with pensioners and people who rely on benefits suffering the most.

Meanwhile, £15billion worth of benefits go unclaimed every year in the UK as people don’t always know what they are eligible to claim.

Cash strapped Britons can use the benefits calculator at GOV.UK to work out if they could claim money from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

People who are already receiving benefits may be able to claim Advance Payments, Hardship Payments and a Budgeting Advance.

Local councils also have funding to help families in need of financial assistance during the cost of living crisis.

Former Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced the introduction of the Household Support Fund in Autumn 2021 – but some Britons still haven’t heard of it. 

Because it’s down to the local council how they distribute it, it’s impossible to say how much people will get.

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Families may also qualify for free school meals if parents are on certain benefits and under the threshold.

Meanwhile, anyone can visit a local food club – no matter what their income – and they could potentially save a substantial amount each month.

Elaine Wishart from Bristol told Express.co.uk how she saves a fortune by going to a food club every week. 

People on benefits could also also apply for things like reduced travel, free broadband and Healthy Start Vouchers. 

Healthy Start Vouchers are available to people on Universal Credit and Tax Credits who have responsibility for young children.

It’s not just people on Universal Credit, PIP and Pension Credit claimants who could be eligible for extra help and people should speak to the DWP if they think they aren’t receiving everything they are entitled to.

The DWP could provide extra financial help in the form of:

  • Advance payments
  • Hardship payments
  • Budgeting advance
  • Other state benefits
  • Cheap broadband
  • Reduced council tax bills
  • Capped water bills
  • Half price bus
  • Discounted rail fares
  • Free or discounted gym membership
  • Help with new job costs
  • Warm Home Discount Scheme of £140 off fuel bills
  • £25 in Cold Weather Payments
  • Cheap BT phone calls
  • Free prescriptions for people with zero income or those on a low income
  • Free dental treatment
  • Eye tests and discounted glasses
  • Free school transport
  • Free school meals
  • Discounted childcare costs
  • £150 towards school uniforms – dependent on the local authority
  • £1,200 free cash as part of the Government’s Help to Save scheme
  • Food vouchers for kids as part of the Healthy Start scheme
  • Maternity grant up to £1,000
  • Disabled Facilities Grant (up to £30,000) to make changes to a home
  • Homeowners can apply for up to £10,000 to pay for a boiler
  • Homeowners can get help to pay for double glazing as part of the Green Homes Scheme
  • Up to £300 in Winter Fuel Payments
  • Free wigs or fabric support provided by the NHS
  • Free health travel costs
  • Help with housing costs
  • Help with funeral costs
  • Bereavement support payments
  • Reduced court fees.

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