16 freebies worth up to £6,939 you can get on Universal Credit or benefits in September | The Sun

PRICES are rising leaving many households struggling to cover essentials like food and bills.

Energy bills are set to rocket to £3,549 on average per year from October 1.

It means the pressure on household finances is set to continue, and those already on tight budgets will be feeling the pinch.

But those on Universal Credit and other benefits could be missing out on extra help – and it could be worth thousands of pounds.

Here we explain what you can get and how to apply if you're struggling to get by in the cost of living crisis.

£150 cost of living payment for people with disabilities

Six million people claiming certain disability-related benefits will get a £150 cost of living payment from September 20.

However, most people will get their cash in the first two weeks of October.

You can get the cash if you claim one of the following:

  • Disability Living Allowance
  • Personal Independence Payment
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Armed Forces Independence Payment
  • Constant Attendance Allowance
  • War Pension Mobility Supplement
  • Adult Disability Payment (in Scotland)
  • Child Disability Payment (in Scotland)

Claimants must have received, or begun an eventually successful claim for one of these benefits, as of May 25 this year to be eligible for the £150 payment.

The cash should be paid directly into the account where you receive your benefits payments.

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The money is also exempt from tax and won't count towards the benefit cap or impact existing benefit awards.

Extra £200 extra energy bill help

More than 400,000 households will get an extra £200 to help them pay for energy bills.

The Winter Fuel Support Scheme is open to households in Wales where at least one member is a recipient of the following working age means-tested benefits:

  • Employment and support allowance (ESA)
  • Income-based jobseeker's allowance (JSA)
  • Income support
  • Universal Credit
  • Working tax credits

You can apply for the help when the scheme opens on September 26 – you'll need personal details like your National Insurance number and bank details.

Your local authority will wire the money across to your bank account with the details you provided upon application.

Millions claiming tax credits get £650 cost of living payment

Over one million families getting tax credits will get the first half of the £650 cost of living direct payment from September 2.

The first payment is worth £326, and those claiming working tax credits or child tax credits have had to wait longer than most for the cash.

Around seven million households on benefits like Universal Credit and pension credit started getting the first payment from July 14 – so should have the payment already.

But those claiming tax credits had to wait to avoid duplicate payments where people claim this, and another qualifying benefit – so will get theirs in days.

Most people will be paid by September 7, HMRC has said.

If you're on tax credits, you don't need to apply, you should get the payment automatically.

Cost of living payments are tax-free, do not count towards the benefit cap and do not affect the amount you usually get from benefits.

Household Support Fund – up to £300

Councils have until September 30 to spend the funding dished out to them under the Household Support Fund.

 Councils across the UK have been given a portion of the £1.5billion pot to help their residents.

You can find your local council using the government website, and ask what help is available where you live and who is eligible.

Each council decides what help to provide and in what form – some provide cash grants, while others provide vouchers or free school meals.

In some areas, the help is given automatically to those who meet certain criteria, while in other parts of the country you'll need to apply.

You can get up to £300 to help with the cost of bills and essentials under the scheme.

Council tax rebate – £150

The council tax energy rebate will see all households in bands A-D get £150 payment.

Many have got the cash already if they pay by direct debit.If you don't pay your bill this way then you may have to apply.

In some areas vouchers are being sent out – but beware they may have an expiry date on. Here's how to check.

Plus there's extra cash worth £150 you could get if you're not eligible, and sometimes more in some areas.

But you'll need to apply to your local council to get a share of this £144million discretionary fund.

What you get and how you get it depends on where you are so check with your local council.

There may also be deadlines for claiming this cash so it's worth checking now.

Council have until September 30 to make all payments.

Energy bill grants – up to £1,500

Several suppliers offer energy bill help through hardship funds and give out grants.

These can be worth up to £1,500 and you don't need to repay the cash.

British Gas has just opened its hardship fund – and you don't have to be a customer to apply.

The cash can be used to pay off energy bill arrears, but you need to get debt advice first to be eligible – find out more about how to apply.

Other suppliers are also offering similar help to their own customers.

Check with yours directly to see what they offer. Eligibility and how much you get can vary between them.

Free Iceland vouchers for pensioners – £30

Tens of thousands of pensioners can get free £30 vouchers to spend in Iceland 

Vouchers can be spent in any of 269 Iceland stores in 16 areas across the country until September 16.

To claim the voucher, you first must be of pension-age people living independently, or with a carer, and relying solely on state pension and benefits.

If this is you, you can call the Summer Cheer hotline, which is 0800 098 7877 to request a voucher.

The telephone line will be open from 9am – 5pm, Monday to Friday.

Once you have called through to the phone line and it is decided customers are eligible for a voucher, they will be sent a leaflet in the post with the £30 voucher.

Free school meals – up to £500 a year

If you're claiming certain benefits including Universal Credit, JSA and Child Tax Credit then your child might be entitled to free school meals.

You will need to apply through your local authority so that they can apply for extra funding from the Government, while some councils ask you to contact the school directly.

Simply click here and type in your postcode to be redirected to your local council's website and apply.

The exact amount you'll get depends on where you are, but ranges from around £2.15 to £2.50 per day, or around £400-£500 each school year.

Over the school holidays many councils are giving out cash to help parents during the break – check out our guide.

Free milk, fruit and veg – up to £442

The Healthy Start scheme offers thousands of parents on low incomes help to feed their kids.

You get a prepaid card and payments worth up to £442 a year for those claiming certain benefits.

You can start getting the cash from 10 weeks pregnant up to when the child turns four.

The card can be used at major supermarkets and shops to but the following:

  • cow’s milk
  • fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
  • infant formula milk
  • fresh, dried, and tinned pulses

Check out how to apply for the Healthy Start scheme in our guide.

Free £200 for school uniforms

It's not just food costs that can add up quickly if you have kids.

You can get a grant of up top £200 to help cover the cost of school uniforms for the year ahead, depending on where you are.

As a general rule, those on income support, Universal Credit, JSA, child tax credit, ESA, and pension tax credit are entitled to support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.

You may also be eligible if your annual income is less than £16,190.

To apply enter your postcode on the Gov.uk website, which will direct you to your council's website where you should search for “uniform grant” to find out what help is available in your area.

Free £500 if you're pregnant

If you're expecting a baby, knowing you could be entitled to some extra cash could offer you peace of mind.

You may be able to get a one off payment worth £500 to help towards the costs of having a child through the Sure Start Maternity Grant.

You don't have to pay it back and you can find out who's eligible in this handy guide.

If you're already claiming benefits and you're expecting your first child, or expecting twins or triplets and have children already, you should qualify.

New parents must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby's due date or within six months after the baby is born.

To claim, you'll need to print out and fill in the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SF100) claim form.

A health professional such as a doctor or midwife must also sign it before you post it to Freepost DWP SSMG.

Free childcare

If you claim Universal Credit, you might be able to get a refund on most of your childcare costs.

You will have to pay your childcare costs yourself up front and then claim the money back through Universal Credit.

You can claim back 85% of childcare costs each month up to £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more up to August 31 following the child’s 16th birthday.

Parents may also be able to take advantage of other childcare support, whether you're claiming Universal Credit or not, including up to 30 hours free childcare

Free travel and childcare when looking for work

The Restart Scheme was created to help those who've been on Universal Credit for more than a year and launched last year.

It can help cover the costs associated with finding a job, including travel, childcare and other expenses.

If you're on the scheme, ask the provider or your work coach about how to claim.

The Flexible Support Fund is a pot of money that has been put aside by the government to help you with the costs of getting a job.

The fund is managed by local job centres and can be used to cover the following costs of job hunting:

  • Training for a job, up to £150
  • Travel to interviews
  • Childcare
  • Tools for work
  • Cost of medical evidence required by a disabled person
  • Clothing and uniforms to start work
  • Support for single parents in financial emergencies in the first 26 weeks of starting a job.

You can find out more about how to apply here.

The Jobcentre Plus travel card is available for free and cuts the cost of travelling on public transport, including buses and trains, by 50%.

In London, they're accepted by Transport For London (TfL), and here, users can save money by purchasing a seven-day or monthly travel card at a child's rate.

But the discount card is only available to those who are unemployed and looking for work, and those who claim JSA.

You're also entitled to one if you've been claiming Universal Credit for three to nine months and are aged between 18 and 24.

You'll need to have been claiming benefits for three to 12 months before getting the card if you're 25 and older.

All train operators in England, Scotland and Wales accept the discount and cards, which are valid for up to three months.

But just because you're on benefits, it doesn't mean you'll automatically get one – they’re handed out by Jobcentre staff on a case-by-case basis.

To find out if you qualify for the boost, speak to your work coach at your nearest Jobcentre, which you can find via Gov.uk.

Up to £1,200 bonus for saving

Not everyone is in a position to save, but of you are it's worth getting a specific account that offers a generous bonus.

With the Help to Save account, anyone on Universal Credit can put away between £1 and £50 every month and you get a 50% bonus on top.

If you save the maximum amount over four years you can get a sum of £1,200 from the government, topping up your own savings of £2,400.

But you can still get some of the bonus even by saving a small amount – check out how it works.

Water saving devices and bill help

Many water companies offer free water-saving devices that shave pounds off your bills.

Freebies include shower timers and buffalo bags, which can help to save water every time you flush.

You can check out savewatersavemoney.co.uk to find out more.

Large families on Universal Credit or other benefits may be eligible for a cap on their bills under the WaterSure scheme.

To qualify for the scheme you need to already have a water meter installed, and prove you need to use a lot of water.

You also need to have three or more children under the age of 19 living in the house, and receive child benefit for them.

You can find out more about the scheme in our guide.

Free prescriptions and dental treatment

Covering healthcare costs such as paying for your prescriptions and dental treatment can be costly.

But you can get help to cover these expenses.

To claim, you’ll need to show a copy of your Universal Credit award notice. 

You won’t be able to claim on health costs before you were deemed eligible for the Universal Credit.

If you’re entitled to claim, you could get free NHS prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests, wigs and fabric supports.

NHS prescriptions currently cost £9.35 in the UK.

You could also get help with the cost of glasses and contact lenses and money for travel costs for treatment.

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You also need to have three or more children under the age of 19 living in the house, and receive child benefit for them.

You can find out more about the scheme in our guide.

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