Six ways to get help NOW as half of all households cut back on food to pay for energy bills | The Sun

HALF of ALL households are cutting back on food so they can afford to pay for spiralling energy bills – here's how to get help now.

Millions of households are facing miserable price hikes as a crippling cost of living crisis causes havoc on our finances.

Inflation stands at 9.4%, the highest seen in 40 years, and it's driving the prices of bills and essentials up.

The price of food and non-alcoholic drinks has risen at the highest rate seen since March 2009.

While energy bills are expected to hit just shy of £3,000 by the end of this year, and at least six million owe their energy supplier money.

Households are having to choose between paying mounting energy costs or putting food on the table, new research shows.

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Half of all adults are struggling to fill the fridge up, a survey by the Office of National Statistics shows.

While one in five borrowed more money, indicating many are struggling to make their money stretch until payday.

A separate study from the ONS showed half of all energy customers were cutting back on their usage to try keep costs under control.

If you're struggling to pay your way, we explain how to get help NOW to pay for your essentials.

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Help for food bills

Help is on offer so households won't go hungry.

We round up the support you can apply for

Household Support Fund

You may be able to claim free food vouchers as part of the government's Household Support Fund (HSF).

Councils have their own schemes and decide what help they will give out to struggling Brits in their areas.

Many are giving out food vouchers, free school meal vouchers, and free cash.

For example, Portsmouth City Council is giving £75 in free cash to households in need this summer.

Find your local council here and visit its website directly to see what help is on offer.

Healthy Start scheme

Parents and mums-to-be can make the most of the Healthy Start scheme, which is worth as much as £442 a year.

You can claim money to put towards milk, vegetables and other fridge essentials.

To apply for the help, you need to be receiving any of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit (only if your family’s annual income is £16,190 or less)
  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Pension Credit (which includes the child addition)
  • Universal Credit (only if your family’s take-home pay is £408 or less per month from employment)
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (but only if you are over 10 weeks pregnant)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on (this is the Working Tax Credit you receive in the 4 weeks immediately after you have stopped working for 16 hours or more per week)

You are also eligible if you are under 18 and pregnant or you claim Employment and Support Allowance and are over 10 weeks pregnant.

You can apply online for the help, and you'll need a number of personal details including your National Insurance number, your baby's due date if you are pregnant, and your benefit award letter.

Each healthy start voucher is currently worth £4.25 a week, and over a year that adds up to £221.

It's worth double that if you have a child under the age of one as you'll be eligible for two vouchers each week, so it's up to £442.

Free school meals

Children who are eligible for free school meals must be parents who claim benefits. The benefits included are:

  • Income support
  • Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act in 1999
  • The guaranteed element of Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit (provided you're not entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)
  • Working Tax Credit run-on paid for 4 weeks until you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit

If your child receives free school meals during term time then they should be entitled to vouchers during the holidays also.

Usually parents can claim up to £90 per child during the summer break, however, this can change depending on the area you live in.

For example, households in Sutton can claim £90 per child during the summer holiday – equating to a payment of £15 per week.

Help for energy bills

Those worried about energy bills can apply for these support schemes.

Energy supplier grants

Energy suppliers are offering cash grants to those hardest hit by bills rises.

For instance British Gas is giving out up to £750 through its hardship fund.

But the amount can vary according to your supplier and your circumstances.

It's not just Universal Credit claimants who can get the help, but if you're on the benefit and have a low income you could qualify.

Ask your supplier what's on offer and how to apply, or check here:

  • Bulb energy fund
  • EDF's energy customer support fund
  • E.on's energy fund
  • Npower's energy fund
  • Ovo's debt and energy assistance
  • Scottish Power's hardship fund

Warm home discount scheme

You can get £150 off your energy bills with the Warm Home Discount scheme, which will open for applications later this year.

It was previously worth £140 but has been boosted by £10 for the next batch of payments.

The scheme is currently closed but you should keep an eye out for it launches again later in 2022.

Anyone on pension credit gets the bill discount automatically.

Others who are eligible because they are on a low income need to apply and this can include those on Universal Credit.

You will have to make a claim to your supplier.

Keep an eye out for when applications open from August.

Charity grants

Some charities have a pot of cash to give out to people who are struggling to get by financially.

Turn2Us has a free grants search tool so you can find out what help is available to you.

You’ll need to search for what’s available specifically in your area by entering your postcode.

Next, you’ll be asked to give details about yourself, such as your name and gender.

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You can also go into more depth by telling Turn2Us about your current health and employment situation.

Once you’ve found a grant you think you’re eligible for, you can put in an inquiry through Turn2Us.

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