Universal Credit claimants could be eligible for extra benefits

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Millions of people claiming benefits such as Universal Credit, Pensions Credit, and Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) could be entitled to a number of additional ‘freebies’, which could make a significant difference to the monthly budget. From free or discounted broadband to half-price travel, Britons are being urged to check what other support they’re entitled to as living costs continue to rise.

With inflationary figures forecast to reach double digits again when energy bills take another jump in October, households are feeling the financial squeeze.

Around 5.8 million Britons depend on state benefits to help with living costs, but many are still struggling to get by. However, there are a number of ways to receive extra financial help, that many may not be aware of.

The additional help is offered by the DWP and those already claiming certain benefits are eligible for the support.

Although some are location-dependent, here are 30 ‘freebies’ certain benefit claimants are entitled to receive.

Reduced council tax bills

Those on a low income or claiming benefits could be entitled to a reduction on their council tax bill.

The discount varies depending on the individual’s situation but in some cases, it could reduce the bill by up to 100 percent.

To apply for the council tax reduction, people can visit the Government’s website and apply through their local council.

Capped water bills

Struggling households may be eligible for the WaterSure scheme, which caps water bills for low-income customers on a meter.

This means eligible households will not pay any more than the average metered bill for the area their water company deals with – which could knock a few hundred pounds off the bill.

Claimants must be receiving one of a number of benefits including Universal Credit, Income Support and Housing Benefit, have a water meter installed (or be waiting for one), and prove they already use a lot of water, in order to qualify.

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Claimants in England can apply for the scheme directly from their water supplier, while claimants in Wales must contact WaterSure Wales.

Half-price bus and train

Universal Credit claimants can be eligible for a 50 percent discount off their bus and train fares with a Jobcentre Plus travel card.

This scheme is only available to people who are unemployed but looking for work and claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance.

In order to qualify, claimants aged between 18 and 24 years old must have claimed Universal Credit for three to nine months, while those aged 25 or older must have claimed the benefit for three to 12 months to be eligible for a discount.

Claimants are advised to contact their local Jobcentre for more information about this.

Free or discounted gym membership

Some councils also offer discounted gym memberships to people who claim benefits, but how much discount the claimant receives depends on their local council.

To apply, claimants must go through their local leisure centre – if they offer it – to find out. People can check where their local council might be using the Government’s locator tool, here.

Help with job costs

The Flexible Support Fund (FSF) is available to Britons who receive help from a job centre to help with the costs of getting a job.

The money is issued on top of other benefits and can be used for things like childcare, travel, and work tools, so long as they help the person to get a job.

Amounts distributed vary from case to case and whether the person qualifies is based on the discretion of the advisor, but claimants can contact their local Jobcentre for more information.

Warm Home Discount scheme

This is a one-off discount of £140 off electricity bills for the winter months between October and March, and there are two ways to qualify.

According to the Government website, people can be eligible if they receive the Guaranteed Credit element of Pension Credit. They may also be eligible if they’re on a low income and meet their energy supplier’s criteria for the scheme.

People can find out if they qualify by contacting their energy supplier as soon as possible. Those eligible via Guarantee Credit should contact the Warm Home Discount helpline on 0800 731 0214 if they don’t receive a letter.

Cold Weather Payment

Thousands of Britons could be entitled to the Cold Weather Payment, which is paid out automatically based on a person’s benefits and the temperature in their area.

The payment is made if the average temperature in the person’s area is recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below for seven consecutive days.

The scheme runs from November 1, 2022 to March 31, 2023 and people get paid £25 for each seven-day period of cold weather.

To be eligible, people may be receiving Pension Credit, Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance, Employment and Support Allowance, Universal Credit, or Support for Mortgage Interest (SMI) loan.

Free or cheap broadband

Several broadband providers, including Virgin Media, BT, and TalkTalk, offer cheap deals for people on certain benefits.

The discount provided depends on the provider of course, but some, like TalkTalk, offer free broadband to jobseekers for six months.

Disabled Facilities Grant

Disabled claimants in England could receive up to £30,000 a year if they need to make changes to their home, while claimants in Wales and Northern Ireland could eligible for grants up to £36,000 and £25,000, respectively.

The money can be used to pay for improvements such as installing a walk-in shower or a stairlift or adapting heating or lighting control systems for greater ease.

To apply, claimants have to go through their local council.

There are 20 additional DWP benefits and freebies that come with claiming certain benefits, including:

  • Cheap BT phone calls
  • Free prescriptions for people with zero income or those on a low income
  • Free dental treatment
  • Eye tests and discounted glasses
  • Free school transport
  • Free school meals
  • Discounted childcare costs
  • £150 towards school uniforms – dependent on the local authority
  • £1,200 free cash as part of the Government’s Help to Save scheme
  • Food vouchers for kids as part of the Healthy Start scheme
  • Maternity grant up to £1,000
  • Homeowners can apply for up to £10,000 to pay for a boiler
  • Homeowners can get help to pay for double glazing as part of the Green Homes Scheme
  • Up to £300 in Winter Fuel Payments
  • Free wigs or fabric support provided by the NHS
  • Free health travel costs
  • Help with housing costs
  • Help with funeral costs
  • Bereavement support payments
  • Reduced court fees.

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