New summer cost of living payments for Universal Credit and benefit claimants

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The Department for Work and Pensions has issued details on who will be eligible for a new round of financial support this summer. While the direct cost of living payments from the DWP have ended, thousands may be eligible for extra cash between now and the end of September from the six-month extension of the Household Support Fund.

Amounts that are on offer depend on how each local authority decides to use its allocation. This includes £200 payments from the £12.8 million awarded to Birmingham City Council, with the cash to be distributed via the Birmingham Voluntary Service Council to help with food costs and energy bills.

The DWP says it is providing data and information to authorities to help them identify those in need in their area. These include Universal Credit claims with limited capability for work or earnings below the free school meals and free prescription thresholds.

It also includes recipients of the Guarantee Credit and/or Savings Credit elements of Pension Credit, those on income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), and people who only get Housing Benefit.

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However, the DWP says support is not restricted only to vulnerable households in receipt of benefits. It is asking local authorities to use other sources of information to identify people who are eligible for additional help, including advice or referrals from professionals such as social workers, key workers delivering early help and family support, health visitors and housing support officers.

The Department stresses that the Household Support Fund is intended to cover a wide range of low-income households in need, including families with children of all ages, pensioners, unpaid carers, care leavers and disabled people, larger families, single-person households, and those struggling with "one-off financial shocks or unforeseen events."

It urges local authorities to consider the needs of disabled people who may be facing challenges to manage their conditions, remain independent and avoid becoming socially isolated. Some are struggling with high gas and electricity bills because of the energy needed to power equipment they need for their medical issues. Others have higher water or transport costs.

Authorities are being "strongly encouraged" to explore ways this group may be supported and are required to record the total value of financial awards granted to the disabled so the DWP can see how the cash has been spent.

It adds that care leavers and carers should also be considered when deciding who gets help from the new round of support. The DWP explained: "Care leavers can face particular barriers as they leave the care system and begin to live independently. For example, care leavers may not have access to the same familial networks as others and will not have the same financial, emotional or social support systems that enable them to live independently, respond to crisis or avoid becoming socially isolated.

"Authorities should also consider supporting people with caring responsibilities in their area. They may have additional heating, water or transport costs."

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