The cost of living increase has had a direct impact on the affordability of goods and services for millions of households. Many are currently feeling the pinch while others are left counting their last few pence.
Families in the UK facing poverty, and those going through a financial crisis, can often get assistance from their district council or even charities. However, many people are not aware there are different types of grants that exist and that they can apply for.
We look at the types of grants available, and who can apply.
Government grants tend to be for people facing poverty, homelessness or people who are on some sort of benefits or welfare program. There is, however, an eligibility criterion that places a limit on the individuals who are able to receive help.
The eligibility criteria ensure that the people who the grants are intended for, will qualify and receive the assistance they need.
People who can apply for grants are families, single mothers or individuals who need assistance in paying bills. You might also be able to claim or increase your current benefits if you are:
Struggling to afford the essentials such as food and housing
Disabled or sick
Currently not working
Working but on a low income
Pensioner on a low income
Someone responsible for children
Knowing the type of help you can get, when it comes to paying your bills, will make it easier when applying for assistance. It is always important to see if you can get help or support even if you are still working.
Grants are better than loans as they do not need to be paid back. The best way of getting a grant is applying through:
Another hardship fund
Usually, you won’t receive cash as you will need a bank account in order to receive assistance. Some charities will even help you set up one if you do not already have one.
If you receive one of the following benefits you will get a £650 payment:
Child or working tax credit (income related)
Support and employment allowance
Jobseekers allowance (income based)
The payment is made in two instalments - £326 paid over the summer and £324 paid in November. These payments will not affect your benefits and are tax-free.
If you are not able to pay your full rent with a housing benefit or universal credit you can ask for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) option.
Food banks are run by charities and community groups. Food vouchers can be received through a doctor, social worker, school, health visitor or advice services.
For people with a food voucher at least three days of food can be provided for.
You can still ask for assistance if you cannot get a grant. Ask your supplier if you can:
Pay over a longer period
Have late payment charges removed
Delay your bill
There are schemes that can also help pay energy bills with assistance for:
Cheaper tariffs for lower-income earners
The warm home discount
Winter fuel payments
If you are struggling to pay your water bills you can get help. You can also save money by having a water meter, but this is however dependent on the size of your home and family.
When it comes to reducing your council tax bill there are two options to consider:
A situation-based discount - if you live with someone disabled or alone
Council tax support if you earn a low enough income
Some of your bills can be paid directly from your benefits payment if you are having difficulties. This is known as a ‘third party deduction’ and sometimes Fuel Direct.
Benefits that can be used:
Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
You can apply by contacting Jobcentre Plus or Pension Service if you are on a Pension Credit. You will need the following:
Details of who you owe and how much
Your reference number (for the specific bills)
Your National Insurance number
Arrangements will be made for some of your benefits to go directly towards the company or creditor you owe money to.
Each organisation is different so it is important to find out what type of help you can get. You can contact the people or organisations that you owe money to. They could agree to help by doing the following:
Giving you more time to pay
Reducing your payments
Give you advice on your current situation
Reduce charges or fees that you have incurred
Always try to sort out problems when it comes to your energy bills, council tax or housing costs. These are more urgent and take preference over credit cards or loans.
Every household will receive £400 off their electricity bill. This is known as the Energy Bills Support Scheme and you do not need to do anything in order to get the money.
Also, this does not need to be paid back.
Most of the assistance funds are part of welfare schemes and you will need to go through an application process in order to receive a grant. If you are found to be eligible for assistance, a combination of pre-paid cards, vouchers and other sources of funding provided, can help in paying bills and other household expenses.
When seeking assistance from any organisation keep in mind that the grants, and any assistance related to helping, are limited and intended for families or individuals that are facing poverty or homelessness.