27 freebies that millions on Universal Credit and benefits can claim this winter | The Sun

MILLIONS on Universal Credit and other benefits can claim a list of freebies to help cover extra costs – here's 27 you can claim.

Benefits are designed to help support vulnerable people struggling to work or needing extra financial help due to personal hardship.

But you might not be aware there's plenty of extra freebies you can get on top to cover extra costs too.

From reduced council tax bills, to reduced bus and train fares, here are 27 extras you can get if you're claiming Universal Credit or other benefits.

Reduced Council Tax bills

Households on low incomes or claiming benefits can claim for a reduction on their council tax bill.

The discount you'll get will vary depending on your situation.

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But in some cases, people have had their bills wiped completely.

Some people who can get a reduction include single people, retirees, low income households and second homes and empty properties.

To apply for a council tax reduction, you need to go to the government's website and apply through your local council.

Check out if you can get a council tax reduction in our guide.

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Capped water bills

You may be eligible for the WaterSure scheme which puts a cap on bills for low income customers.

It could see your bills drop by £270 as well.

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

You also need to be receiving one of a number of benefits including Universal Credit, Income Support and Housing Benefit.

If you live in England, you need to apply for the scheme directly from your water supplier.

If you live in Wales, you need to contact WaterSure Wales.

Figure out how you can get a water bill cap in one of our previous articles.

Half price bus and train fares

Universal Credit claimants can get 50% off their bus and train fares with the Jobcentre Plus travel card.

However, it's only available to people who are unemployed but looking for work who are also claiming Jobseeker's Allowance.

You'll also have needed to have claimed Universal Credit for three to nine months if you're aged between 18 and 24 years old.

For those aged 25 or older, you must have claimed the benefit for three to 12 months to be eligible for a discount.

There's no guarantee you'll get a pass though, even if you're on Universal Credit.

You'll have to ask your local Jobcentre whether you can get one as staff hand them out on a case-by-case basis.

You can find your nearest Jobcentre via Gov.uk.

See our guide here if you're eligible for discounted bus and train memberships.

Free or discounted gym membership

Some councils offer discounted gym memberships to people on benefits.

How much of a discount you'll get will depend on your local council.

To find yours, you can use the government's locator tool.

To apply, you'll need to go through your local leisure centre, but first you should check whether they offer a discount.

Some chains like YMCA, Nuffield and GLL offer concessionary memberships.

The exact application process varies depending on where you live but generally you'll be asked to fill out a form as well as provide proof you're on benefits.

Think you could be eligible for a gym membership discount? Check out our guide.

Help with job costs

The Flexible Support Fund (FSF) is available to anyone who receives help from a job centre from the moment you start a claim.

The money is issued on top of other benefits and can be used for childcare, uniforms, or even work tools, so long as they help you get a job.

There's no set amount you can get as it will vary from case to case.

If you feel that you may be able to get help from the FSF, you should contact your nearest Jobcentre.

However, not all claimants have an automatic right to receive the help and it's based on the discretion of the adviser.

We explain out the FSF here.

Warm home discount scheme

Struggling families on a low income can get up to £140 of help towards their electricity bills through the warm home discount scheme.

It is a one-off payment that goes towards your heating costs.

The money is not paid to you but is a one-off discount on your electricity bill between October and March.

If you are eligible for money through the scheme, you don't have to apply like in previous years.

Your supplier will apply the discount automatically if you are entitled to it.

To find out whether you qualify, you can call the government Warm Home Discount phone line on 0800 731 0214.

If you want to know more about the warm home discount scheme then click here.

Cold weather payments

Thousands of Brits could get a £25 discount on their energy bill over the winter through a cold weather payment.

The payment is dished out when temperatures are recorded as, or forecast to be, zero degrees or below, on average, for seven consecutive days between November 1 and March 31.

You get £25 for each seven-day period where the weather is below zero Celsius on average during this time frame.

To see if you're eligible, you can pop your postcode into the government's locator tool found on the Department for Work and Pensions website.

The payment is made automatically so you don't need to apply.

If you don’t receive a payment and believe you’re eligible then you can tell your pension centre or Jobcentre Plus office, or call the Universal Credit helpline on 0800 328 5644.

If you’re getting Universal Credit, you can also sign in to your account and add a note to your journal.

We previously wrote a guide on cold weather payments.

Free or cheap broadband

A number of broadband providers offer cheap deals for those on certain benefits.

TalkTalk, Virgin Media and BT are three that do.

The discount you'll get will depend on your provider of course, but TalkTalk offers jobseekers free broadband for six months.

How you can apply will vary depending on your provider, but it can usually be done online or over the phone.

We explain out all the cheap broadband deals you can get your hands on.

Cheap BT phone calls

BT also offers cheaper phone calls for those on Universal Credit and low incomes through the same package offering cheaper broadband.

The package is open to anyone on Universal Credit and other benefits including those who get the guarantee credit element of Pension Credit and anyone claiming Jobseeker's Allowance, Income SUpport and Employment and Support Allowance.

You can apply for the package online.

Free prescriptions

You could be in line for free prescriptions if you or your partner are in receipt of certain benefits or you're under 20 and dependent on someone claiming certain benefits including, among others, Income Support, Pension Credit Guarantee Credit and Universal Credit.

You can easily check if you can get free prescriptions using the government's eligibility checker.

You can also get help if you're on a low income through the NHS low income scheme.

How much you'll be entitled to depend on your income and circumstances, including outgoings and the amount of savings you have in the bank.

You can also get free wigs and fabric support through the scheme and travel to health appointments.

Want to know more? We've done an explainer.

Free dental treatment

There are a number of reasons you could be entitled to free dental care, namely if you're on benefits or Universal Credit.

If you're on Universal Credit, you can claim support by showing your dental surgery a copy of your Universal Credit award.

However, you won't be able to claim on health costs before you started receiving the benefit.

You can also get help if you're on a low income you can get help with dental treatment, again through the NHS low income scheme.

Eye tests and discounted glasses

Depending on what benefits you're on, you could be entitled to free eye tests and discounted glasses.

But you'll need to take proof of what benefit you're on along with you.

Free school transport

You could be entitled to free school transport if you're on certain benefits.

Your local council is responsible for deciding whether you'll be eligible so it's best to contact them to find out if you are.

We've listed all the help you can get with free school transport here.

Free school meals

Pupils in England can get free school meals during term time up to the end of Year Two.

Families on Universal Credit can only get free school meals if their annual income is less than £7,400, not including benefits.

The Education Authority's website has an online application process.

There is a check list to ensure your eligibility, the list of document's you'll need and anything else you may require.

You'll have to include in your application all of the children who you want to receive a meal and have parental responsibility over.

Discounted childcare costs

You could be entitled to free childcare depending if you have children aged two or below through the government.

But you may have to pay for extra costs such as meals, nappies or trips.

Eligibility applies, and you can check the full list of criteria on the government's website.

£150 towards school uniforms

You can get money towards your childrens' school uniforms through the school uniform grant.

But each council has a different policy so you'll have to check with them whether you'll be entitled to anything.

A lot of council's don't offer the support anymore as well.

We've explained how the school uniform grant works before.

£1,200 free cash through help to save scheme

Millions could be missing out on £1,200 through the government's help to save scheme.

You can apply for the scheme by setting up an account via Gov.uk but you'll need a gateway user ID and password.

If you don't have a user ID, you can create one when you apply.

For those who don’t have access to the internet, you can still get an account – just call 0300 322 7093.

We offer more information on the help to save scheme in our explainer.

Healthy start scheme

The healthy start scheme could see parents get up to £442 of free food per year.

The state-backed scheme helps low-income families with small children with the cost of milk, vegetables, fruit, pulses and vitamins by providing them with a pre-paid card.

To apply, you just need to download an application form from the Healthy Start website, print it off, fill it in and send it to: 

Freepost RRTR-SYAE-JKCR, Healthy Start Issuing Unit, PO Box 1067, Warrington, WA55 1EG.

If you don’t have a printer, you can call the Healthy Start helpline on 0345 607 6823 and get a form sent to you.

See how you can get more help with the healthy start scheme in our guide.

Maternity grant – up to £500

Thousands of new parents on Universal Credit can get a £500 grant to help with childcare costs through the Sure Start grant.

The one-off payment doesn't need to be paid back and it won't reduce your monthly Universal Credit payment or tax credits.

The cash can be used to pay for anything that will ease the immediate financial strain on families when caring for a new baby.

New parents must have claimed the grant within 11 weeks in advance of their baby's due date or within six months after their child is born.

You'll need to print out and fill in a claim form, providing personal details such as your name, address and partner's details if applicable.

To get a Sure Start Maternity Grant you must have no other children under 16. 

Disabled Facilities Grant

You could get up to £30,000 a year if you're on a means-tested grant because you have a permanent disability of any sort.

The money can be used to pay for works such as installing a walk-in shower, stairlift or converting a downstairs room into an accessible toilet or bathroom.

To apply, you'll have to go through your local council.

Grant for new boiler – worth £1,000s

Some energy firms have previously offered grants to people claiming benefits if they need a new boiler.

For example, energy giant E.on offered boiler replacements worth up to £2,500.

While you can apply for an energy-efficient boiler under the government's £400million Boiler Upgrade Scheme.

Grants are worth up to £5,000. You can't apply directly – you'll need an MSC-certified installer to claim the grant on your behalf.

Home efficiency grants – worth up to £10,000

Households on low incomes may be able to apply for a home efficiency grant through their local council.

Grants are worth up to £10,000 – and you can get your home fitted with insulation, double glazing, solar panels and energy efficient doors.

The measures can save you hundreds of pounds a year on your energy bills.

The help you can get varies depending on where you live and your personal circumstances.

In most areas, homeowners must have a total income of less than £30,000 to get a full £10,000 grant.

Winter fuel payments

The winter fuel payment is made once a year to elderly people with a limited income to help with heating bills.

You'll be eligible for the payment if you were born on or before September 25, 1956, and you could get between £250 and £600.

You can claim the payment by phone or post. For more details, you can visit the government's website.

Thousands could see their winter fuel payments increased this year. Find out how in our explainer.

Help with housing costs

If you're on certain benefits or Universal Credit you can get help with your housing costs.

You can do this by applying for a discretionary housing payment.

Each local authority hands out the money on a case-by-case basis though, so it's best to check in with yours to see if you're eligible.

Learn more about the discretionary housing payment in our guide.

Help with funeral costs

You can get a funeral expenses payment if you meet certain criteria, including being on certain benefits or tax credits.

You also have to meet certain rules on the relationship you had with the deceased person and the funeral must be held in the UK, European Economic Area or Switzerland.

You must apply within six months of the funeral and meet other criteria.

To make a claim by calling the Bereavement Service helpline on 0800 151 2012.

Bereavement support payments

Grieving parties can claim as much as £10,000 in backdated benefits under bereavement support benefits.

It comes following a legal change to a government policy.

You could be eligible if your partner either:

  • paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks in one tax year since 6 April 1975
  • died because of an accident at work or a disease caused by work

When they died you must have been:

  • under State Pension age
  • living in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits

You may be able to get the payment if your husband, wife or civil partner died in the last 21 months.

However, you must claim within three months of your partner's death to get the full amount.

To make a claim, you can the Bereavement Service Helpline as above on 0800 151 2012.

Reduced court fees

You could get help paying court and tribunal fees if you're receiving certain benefits or have a low income.

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Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

Whether you’re eligible depends on what savings you have, what benefits you’re on and your income.

You can apply on the government's website.

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