Thousands of households have just days left to apply for free cash worth £250 – how to claim | The Sun

THOUSANDS of households have just days left to apply for free cash worth up to £250 to pay for energy bills and food.

The help comes via the Household Support Fund (HSF) which is worth £421million.

The pot of money has come from central government and been distributed among local councils in England.

They then decide how to share out their portion and who to.

That means what you are entitled to will depend on where you live, although in most cases help is offered to households on a low income or benefits.

Hastings Borough Council is offering eligible households £250 in free cash direct into their bank accounts to help pay for energy and water bills as well as food.

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But the deadline to apply for help is March 31 – so families will have to be quick.

Applicants must be over 18 to apply, have recourse to public funds, live in the Hastings Borough area and be struggling with the cost of energy, water or food.

They also have to be receiving Housing Benefit or a Council Tax Reduction.

But they won't get help if they receive any of the following benefits at the same time:

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  • Pension Credits
  • Universal Credit 
  • Child Tax Credits
  • Working Tax Credits
  • Income Support
  • Income Related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Income Based Jobseeker's Allowance

It's worth noting that only one application per household is allowed and the money is being distributed on a first come first serve basis.

You can apply for the cash via the council's website.

You'll need to use a passcode which you should have received via a letter in the post about the scheme.

Can I get help if I don't live in Hastings?

Yes you can – but what you are entitled to will vary depending on where you live.

That's because not all councils have been given the same share of the HSF pie.

Who is eligible isn't always the same in each area either, but usually help is given to those that need it most, such as people on benefits or a low income.

The money sometimes comes in the form of vouchers and other times as free cash direct into bank accounts.

The best thing to do is check out your local council's website for further details and how to apply.

If you don't know what council area you fall under, you can use the government's council locator tool.

You just have to type in your postcode and it will tell you your local authority.

What other help can I get beyond the Household Support Fund?

If you are not eligible for the Household Support Fund you might be able to get help in different ways.

Millions of households are in the process of receiving a £400 energy rebate which is essentially a discount on bills.

How the discount is applied depends on how you pay for your energy. In most cases you won't have to do anything.

But, if you pay for your energy through a traditional prepayment meter you will have to redeem vouchers.

The vouchers should have sent to you via post, email or text and can be redeemed at your nearest top up point.

This will be a Post Office or a retailer that has a Payzone.

Remember, the vouchers expire 90 days after issue.

You can ask for the voucher to be reissued but it's better to not have to go through the process.

All vouchers that are issued have to be redeemed by June 30 this year.

The £400 rebate has been split into six monthly instalments – the last one worth £67 will be paid this month.

Beware of people pretending to be your supplier as scams are on the rise.

You can also get help through Cold Weather payments, but this depends on temperatures dropping below zero for an extended period.

The scheme finishes at the end of March too.

If you are on a prepayment meter and can't afford to top up, you might be able to get a fuel voucher to tie you over.

They are issued by local councils and can be redeemed at the usual location – a PayPoint, Post Office or shop signed up to Payzone.

You'll need to take the voucher code and instructions on redeeming with you, plus some form of ID such as a passport or bill with your name and address on it.

Beyond this, plenty of energy companies offer grants to customers who are struggling to pay for their bills.

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This includes British Gas, EDF, Scottish Power and Bulb.

You should contact your provider if you think you could be in line for help.

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