How to get extra help on Universal Credit as half of claimants say they’ll run out of cash after £20-a-week cut

HALF of Brits on Universal Credit fear they will run out of cash after a £20-a-week cut to the benefit.

Almost 3million claimants are set to struggle with the cost of food, essential bills and clothes when a temporary boost to the benefit ends next month.

The Universal Credit uplift will stop at the end of September, despite calls for the cash help to continue after the pandemic.

Research by Save the Children found that 47% of claimants don't think they will be able to live on £20 less a week.

That rises to 52% among single parents, the charity found, and nearly two in five parents said they would find it harder to pay for books and toys for their kids.

It comes as new government figures reveal that 3.4million children will be hit by the cut.

Three quarters of the 1.9million households claiming Universal Credit have a child of primary school age.

Just a third of claimants surveyed by the charity are confident they will be able to make ends meet.

The charity is calling on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to keep the "lifeline" and is highlighting that two in five claiming the benefits are in work.

Dan Paskins of Save The Children said: "The £20 increase is a lifeline for families. People we work with tell us that they’re relying on it to buy essentials like food and clothing for themselves and their children.

"Without it, hundreds of thousands more people will be pushed into poverty.  

"Across political divides, a growing number of voices agree that our social security net has got to be strong enough to catch people when they need it most."

Anyone claiming Universal Credit worried about the cut to their cash can find further help.

Here we round up what extra support you could find on offer, including help with bills.

Council tax help

If you’re on Universal Credit or a low income then you may be able to get help paying for your council tax.

You’ll need to apply for this from your local council in England and Wales, which you can find on Gov.uk.

The amount of discount you get depends on your circumstances, your income and who you live with as well as your local council, as they each run different schemes.

The help can range from a reduction of your bill to a total exemption where you pay no council tax at all.

You’ll need to provide details of your household income, the number of children you have (if any), and the number of adults and children that you live with.

You will also need to detail which benefits you get and list information on how long you've lived in the UK for, so it's important to have this information to hand when you apply.

Energy bill support

Cold Weather Payment are intended to help you with the cost of heating your home during winter.

With bills set to rise this could help cover extra the cost.

Cold Weather Payments are given out when the average temperature in your area is recorded as or is forecast to be, zero degrees Celsius or below over seven consecutive days.

You'll receive £25 for each period of very cold weather between November 1 and March 31.

You do not need to apply for this benefit, if you are on Universal Credit you will get it automatically.

Brits can also apply for extra help with their energy bills worth £140 from their energy company.

Anyone on a low income struggling with electricity costs can apply for the help now ahead of winter.

You can find out how to apply for the £140 reduction on your energy bill through the Warm Home Discount scheme here.

Don't forget to that most people can find a cheaper deal by switching to a better deal than a standard energy tariff.

Use a comparison site like EnergyHelpline.com or uSwitch.com to find the best deal.

Cheaper internet

People on Universal Credit can get low cost connections from providers.

BT Home Essentials can save customers who are on Universal Credit and other benefits £240 per year on their bills, the telecoms firm says.

You can get online and make calls for just £15 per month, or £20 a month if you want speedier internet.

There's also call-only tariff which costs £10 per month.

Equivalent tariffs for those not claiming benefits cost £27.99 for the internet connections and £7 for calls.

Virgin Media also offers a deal for those on Universal Credit called Essential.

It's priced at £15 per month and offers 15mbps, but does not come with calls and is for existing Virgin customers only.

Other options out there right now are similarly priced, but are not as widely available, including local provider Hyperoptic and KCOM.

Cash for school uniforms

School uniforms can be expensive – and that's why some local authorities offer struggling parents a grant to cover some of the cost.

You could get up to £150 to put towards your child's school uniform, but the amount varies depending on which council area you live in.

Families in London boroughs such as Islington and Hackney can get £150 and £100 respectively.

At the bottom of the scale are those in the West Midlands, with Sandwell council giving out £20 for a child in primary school or £25 for secondary year pupils in years 7 to 11.

You can use this government website to work out which local authority you fall under.

You just have to put your postcode into the search bar to find out.

Reducing your grocery bills

If you’re pregnant or have a child under the age of four then you may qualify for Healthy Start vouchers to help pay for basic foods such as milk or fruit.

They can be used in shops across the UK and can also be used to buy pregnancy and breastfeeding vitamins, and vitamins for children aged six months to five years old.

You can apply for free school meals for your child if you're claiming certain benefits including Universal Credit.

Some will need to apply through their local authority so that it can ask for extra funding from the government, while other councils will ask you to contact the school directly.

Type in your postcode on the government website and you'll be redirected to your local council's website to apply.

Debt advisers shared their eight money saving secrets with us – including cutting grocery bills.

Using food waste apps could cut hundreds off your bill.

If you're really hard up and struggling to buy food and toiletries, you can find your local foodbank who will provide you with help for free.

You can find your nearest one on the Trussell Trust website.

Help with rent

If your Universal Credit payment is not enough to cover your rent, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP).

This will give you extra money if your council decides you need help to meet your housing costs. You don't need to repay a DHP.

You can use it to cover a rent shortfall, rent deposits, or rent in advance if you need to move house.

You can’t get a payment to help pay your Council Tax, but we’ve outlined ways you could get help on that above.

You’ll have to apply through your local council by downloading an application form from their website or phoning them.

Check out how to find your local council here.

If you're falling behind on rent, you or your landlord may be able to apply for an Alternative Payment Arrangement which will get your payment sent directly to your landlord.

You might also be able to change your payments to get them more frequently, or you can split the payments if you're part of a couple.

Support looking for work

The Flexible Support Fund is designed to help people claiming unemployment benefits to find a job.

It is offered by local jobcentres by Jobcentre Plus advisers.

The scheme is discretionary and you do not have an automatic right to it if you qualify.

The payment will cover travel expenses to attend an interview and tools and clothing or uniforms required to start work.

If you are claiming Universal Credit, you may also be able to get help with the first month of childcare costs from the Flexible Support Fund.

There is no set amount you claim as the payment will depend on individual circumstances.

You could get a one-off payment worth up to £812 – but you'll need to pay it back.

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