Households have just hours to apply for up to £285 FREE cash before Christmas – can you claim?

HOUSEHOLDS have just HOURS left to apply for up to £285 in free cash to get before Christmas.

During one of the most expensive times of the year, there's a little-known way families can get extra cash to pay for food or energy bills.

Hard-up Brits can apply for the much needed help in time for Christmas in some cases if they apply to the new £500million Household Support Fund.

Councils were given the funding in October to dish out help to families most in need of it.

It came following the cut to the £20 a week Universal Credit uplift, which saw millions of families see their payments slashed.

It also aimed to help plug the gap with the end of other government help schemes like furlough, which offered a lifeline to struggling Brits, and the Covid local support grant.

The help you can get varies depending on who your local council is, as well as your personal situation.

But The Sun looked into what help is on offer from authorities up and down the country to see what thousands of families could get.

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In some cases, you have just hours left to apply if you want to get the cash in time for the festive season.

Each council will also have their own eligibility criteria you will need to meet in order to get the help – and this could vary depending on who is your local authority.

We spotted that you need to be claiming council tax support and claim or be eligible for certain benefits, like Universal Credit, to apply for the help.

You should ask your local council about what help is available in your area, and the eligibility requirements – you can find out who yours is via the gov.uk website.

What help is on offer in time for Christmas?

Families who live in the North Yorkshire County Council catchment area have just today left to claim a £125 voucher to help pay for food and other essentials over the holidays.

If you apply in time, you will get a £125 voucher and a separate voucher worth the same amount in January next year – which means you can get up to £250 cash in total.

While those living in the East Riding of Yorkshire have until Christmas Eve to apply for up to £285 to help pay for household essentials and bills.

You can get up to £150 for food, £75 for fuel costs, and up to £60 for help paying for kids’ clothes. 

Once your application is approved, you’ll get half of the total amount you’re entitled to now, with the other half paid in January or February next year.

It could mean you could get £142.50 before Christmas to help you pay your way and you can apply online via the council’s website.

If you live in Barnsley, you could get up to £200 in vouchers to spend at supermarkets and shops including Aldi, Asda, Argos and Currys.

You’ll usually receive your voucher in 10 working days – which means if you apply for it now, you could get it in time for New Year’s Eve and you can find out more and apply on Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council’s website.

Hillingdon Council is also offering £15 vouchers per child, per week over a period of one month.

It means it covers the Christmas holidays and into the new year – you can apply for the help online.

That means if you have two kids, you will get £120 in total to help with food costs – and you could also get £100 to help with your energy bills too.

What if I can’t get the help in time for Christmas?

If you miss the deadline to get the help you need in time for Christmas, you can still apply to the scheme – but you’ll most likely get it early next year.

The Household Support Scheme will run throughout winter – and The Sun has seen that most councils are closing applications at the end of February or March.

There is help you can get in the new year from councils after Christmas is over.

For example, Dorset Council is offering households vouchers worth up to £200 to help pay their energy bills.

You’ll get up to four separate vouchers worth £50 each – you can find out more and apply on the council’s website.

Shropshire Council is also giving households £115 in free cash to be put towards food, energy and water bills.

You can only apply once for the payment through the authority’s website.

In January and mid-February, Durham council will be offering eligible families £60 worth of food vouchers on each date.

While you’ll need to apply by February 28 to Hertfordshire Council’s Household Support Grant.

You can get £60 in free cash for food, energy and essential goods.

What other help can I get?

If you’re not eligible for the Household Support Grant but you’re strapped for cash, other help is available that you might be able to get.

Welfare assistance scheme

Brits can apply for much-needed cash and vouchers for food, furniture, bills and more via the welfare assistance scheme – and you can get up to £1,000 in free cash.

For example, East Riding of Yorkshire offers £1,000 in free cash for families to pay for essential bills, including food.

But an investigation by The Sun revealed that families are facing a postcode lottery when it comes to what help they can get.

Some councils are not as generous in offering help, while others don't even have a scheme in place at all.

Council tax reduction

Many people paying council tax may not be aware that they can get their bill reduced.

Reductions are available for those on low-incomes, people claiming certain benefits, those caring for others as well as other circumstances.

The amount your bill is reduced by can range from 25% off to 100% which would mean you pay nothing at all for this bill.

You should get in touch with your local authority to apply for a discount.

Discretionary housing payment

If you’re struggling to pay rent, you could apply for a discretionary housing payment.

The payment is discretionary, which means that the financial support given out is decided on a case by case basis.

How much you could get, again, depends on your personal circumstances – and you need to apply to your local council for the help.

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