Young woman looking at bills and credit card

After the UC uplift – what can I do if I can’t manage?

The Household Support Fund came in when the extra £20 ended and it’s there to help us over winter

Many of us have been left struggling after the Universal Credit uplift was removed in October.

The extra £20 a week was introduced in spring 2020 to help us manage through the pandemic, but the government has now removed it, saying it was only ever meant to help us get through the worst of Covid.

But with colder weather and higher energy bills, not to mention rising living costs, the cut could hardly have come at a worse time.

Now though there’s a new pot of cash called the Household Support Fund that might be able to help us with essentials over winter.

What is the Household Support Fund and how can I claim?

The fund is worth £500m in total and if we’re claiming we’ll have to go through our council if we live in England. The governments in other parts of the UK will receive their share and can decide how they want to distribute it.

The money is expected to last until March next year – so it’s not an unlimited pot. To give an idea of how it compares to the UC uplift, the £500m total of this fund is just a fraction of the £6bn it would have cost the government to keep the extra £20 in place.

Each council can decide how it wants to share out its share but it’s likely we’ll be given a small grant to help with specifics like food or energy bills.

But it will be up to us to ask for help and to be specific about what we need it for.

If we’re successful it’s likely we’d receive vouchers for shopping or bills – some councils suggested the vouchers might be around £20 for food or £50 for energy bills.

It really depends on how much of the cash our council has received and how it has decided to give it out – so we’re best to ask. We can find out which is our council here.

The government has also put money into a separate fund for those of us in England who rent our homes from a private landlord and who have been left in rent arrears by the pandemic.

Like the Household Support Fund, the cash will go to councils to give out. If we’re worried about losing our home then we should contact our council about getting help through this fund.

It’s likely it’ll be paid direct to our landlord and payments will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

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