finance

Four ways to get help with your bills as millions won’t have cash for some essentials by next month


MILLIONS of households won’t be able to make their budgets stretch to cover all essential bills by April – here’s four ways to get help.

Brits are battling against a cost of living crisis that is seeing prices spiral out of control from energy to food and fuel costs.

Here's how to get help if you're feeling the cost of living crisis hit your finances

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Here’s how to get help if you’re feeling the cost of living crisis hit your financesCredit: Getty

The crunch will see over a third of all households – over 23million Brits – £8,600 short on average to pay for all essential costs, new research from the New Economics Foundation shows.

That’s because bill hikes will see people sink below the Minimum Income Standard, which measures living standards in the UK and is used to calculate the Living Wage.

Families in the North East will struggle the most, with 43% falling below the threshold and short by £8,900 on bills.

While those in the West Midlands and London will be short by an eye-watering £10,100.

Families will be left with “impossible choices” between which bills to pay – like putting food on the table or replacing clothes and shoes.

New Economics Foundation economist Sam Tims said: “The cost of living is only a crisis when people cannot afford it and government support must be able to flexibly respond to this.

“There is little time left for the chancellor to take action to avert the worst real-terms incomes squeeze in 50 years.”

How to get help with your bills

There are a number of ways to get help with your bills – we list all the schemes you need to know about below.

Welfare Assistance scheme

Many local councils will dish out free cash, food vouchers, and help for bills to struggling families under the Welfare Assistance scheme.

For example, East Riding of Yorkshire is handing out up to £1,000 in free cash for families to put towards this bill.

But a Sun investigation found that the help you can get under the scheme is a postcode lottery.

Some local councils don’t even have a scheme in place, leaving thousands of renters unable to access the help.

But for those with a scheme in place, a spike in grants happened over the Covid crisis, with councils handing out grants soaring by 210% in some places.

Household Support Fund

Another scheme you could tap into via your local council is the Household Support Fund.

It is a £500million government programme – and councils get a slice of the funding to dish out to hard-up families in their catchment area.

Some councils are offering free cash under the scheme to put towards bills like food and energy costs.

For example, Shropshire Council is offering £115 in free cash, with Birmingham Council offering up to £200 to families.

But the deadline to apply is looming – councils have just a matter of weeks left to award the funding, which means you need to apply quickly.

Discretionary Housing Payment

If you’re on Universal Credit, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with your rent.

The cash can also be used to cover housing costs like putting down a deposit, and advances you’ll need for moving house.

Help will be given out on a case-by-case basis, which means you are not guaranteed a set amount.

Check your benefit entitlement

You can find free-to-use online benefits calculators to work out what you’re entitled to.

Entitledto’s free calculator works out whether you qualify for various benefits, tax credits and Universal Credit.

If you don’t want to register, consumer group MoneySavingExpert.com and charity StepChange both have benefits tools powered by Entitledto’s data that let you save your results without logging in.

Make sure you have key financial information to hand, such as bank and savings statements, and information on pensions and existing benefits.

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If you live with a partner or family, get their basic financial information together too as this could affect your claim.

Once you’ve used the tools you can use the contact information on Gov.uk to get the ball rolling and apply for what you’re owed.

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