Thousands of Brits could get £158 in free vouchers if they’re vulnerable this winter – here’s how to claim

HARD-UP households can claim up to £158 in free cash and vouchers to help with climbing energy, fuel and food costs.

The government’s Household Support Fund has been running since October 2021 and aims to help thousands of struggling Brits with winter costs.

The scheme runs for six months and ends in March 2022 when the winter period is over.

It comes as household costs soar, such as energy and food bills, causing serious financial strains for low income households.

Many Brits are facing tough choices as a result of the energy crisis, with some having to choose between heating and eating, or heating and clothing their children.

Soaring wholesale gas prices are said to be to blame for these struggles, with bills expected to hit £2,000 this year.  

To offer some much-needed relief, the government has set aside a £500million pot to dish out to councils all over the UK.

Each council has been handed a different budget.

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For instance, Cheshire East has been given more than £2million to dish out to its residents.

Other areas have been assigned more or less, like Birmingham Council which has been given a whopping £13million for its residents, or Halton which has received just over £1million.

And with their different budgets, comes different distributions.

Each council has been left to decide how to dish out the financial support, with many opting for food vouchers and one-off cash payments.

To find out what help is on offer in your area, you should contact your local council, as all money is being dealt with on a case-by-case basis.

You can check who your local council is by using the government’s handy checker tool.

Cheshire East is due to reopen its applications to residents tomorrow, January 4, 2022. 

But in order to apply, you have to live in the area and be eligible.

If you do meet requirements, Cheshire East is offering food vouchers of £20 per child, £40 per single adult or £60 per couple.

Also up for grabs is a utilities voucher of £98 per property.

Other potential support includes boiler repairs, help with housing costs for renters, and help towards purchasing or repairing white goods – but this is not guaranteed. 

Who is eligible for the cash?

Households with or without children can fill out an inquiry form to apply for the cash.

Families with kids who meet the below criteria should be automatically enrolled to the scheme:

  • Are in receipt of income related free school meals;
  • Are in receipt of early years pupil premium and two-year funding;
  • Are care leavers up to age 25;
  • Are not in education, employment or training aged 16-18;
  • Are young carers for their parents/carers;
  • Are known to domestic abuse services;
  • Are known to children’s social care and early help services;
  • Are parents/carers who are experiencing financial hardship due to being unable to work as their children are self-isolating;
  • Are vulnerable due to financial hardship and can be referred by a partner agency (for example GP, Teacher, Support Worker)

If you believe you are eligible and have not been contacted by Cheshire East authorities, you can contact the local council directly from tomorrow, January 4, to inquire.

For adults without children, you could be eligible if you are referred by trusted practitioners or professionals.

You cannot apply without the referral.

The practitioners and professionals must agree you are in a situation of "genuine need".

For example, if you are fleeing domestic abuse or are financially vulnerable. 

Referrers must detail the individuals’ circumstances in line with grant eligibility.

It’s best to apply as soon as applications reopen in January as money is given out on a first-come first-served basis, and could run out before the end of March deadline.

As temperatures drop, it is understandable to worry about the cost of keeping the family warm. You can check if there is help available from energy companies or other charities here.

You may be able to claim other types of help, such as support with rent payments if you are on benefits- check how.

Or if you're wondering whether you can cut the everyday costs of living with some simple money advice, you can find out how to here.

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