Universal Credit and DWP claimants can get freebies worth £9,871 in May

Women at ATMs [file image]
Women at ATMs [file image] -Credit:Shared Content Unit

Good news - this month, 12 freebies and discounts worth £9,871 are available for Universal Credit and Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) benefit claimants. Amid the ongoing Cost of Living crisis, households on benefits could be eligible for these freebies and discounts, potentially totalling up to £9,871 this year.

Tools on websites like Turn2us can help determine eligibility for Universal Credit or Pension Credit. The Government website also offers a test to check what benefits one may qualify for.

Below is information that could see you save money on broadband, council tax and energy bills. You could also get help with child care, water bills and travel.

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Free or cheap broadband - you can save £300

Broadband providers offer social tariffs, which provide internet access at a significantly reduced monthly cost. This could result in savings of £300.

In light of the cost of living crisis and increasing broadband prices, Citizens Advice reported that up to a million people cancelled their broadband between May 2022-23. Uswitch found that two-thirds of financially vulnerable households are unaware of these low-income broadband tariffs. Approximately ten million homes could save up to £234 annually, or nearly £20 per month, with a cheaper broadband contract, reports Birmingham Live.

Council tax - you can save £2,171

If you're on a low income or claim benefits, you could be eligible for assistance. Your bill could be reduced by up to 100%.

Whether you own your home, rent, are unemployed or working, you can apply. The support you receive depends on where you live - each council runs its own scheme and your circumstances (for example income, number of children, benefits, residency status) as well as your household income - this includes savings, pensions and your partner's income and if your children live with you and if other adults live with you.

Help with energy bills - you can save up to £750

If your supplier is aware of your situation, it can put measures in place to assist you - under Ofgem rules, all suppliers have to do this. Your supplier can offer you a range of options which could help, which include:

  • Affordable debt repayment plans

  • Payment breaks (though this won't be right for everyone)

  • A full payment plan review

  • More time to pay

  • Payment reductions

Another way energy companies are helping customers is by providing cash through a Hardship payment.

Pregnancy grant - you can save £500

You could receive a one-off payment of £500 to help towards the costs of having a child. This is known as a Sure Start Maternity Grant.

You usually qualify for the grant if both of the following apply:

  • you are expecting your first child, or you are expecting a multiple birth (such as twins) and have children already

  • you or your partner already claim certain benefits

You must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby's due date or within 6 months after the baby's birth. You do not have to repay the grant and it will not affect your other benefits or tax credits.

Free childcare - you can save £1,739

In the UK, you can receive assistance with childcare costs through Tax Free Childcare or free childcare if you're employed in England. Both Tax-Free Childcare and free childcare for working individuals can aid in covering the costs of childcare provided by a registered childminder, nanny, playscheme, nursery or club.

Additionally, it can be beneficial if the childcare is provided by a childminder or nanny associated with a registered childminder agency or childcare agency, a registered school or a home care worker affiliated with a registered home care agency. This type of service is referred to as 'approved childcare'.

Water bill help - you can get up to £1,000 in help

WaterSure is a scheme designed to assist certain individuals with their water bills, potentially offering up to £1,000 in help. To qualify for the scheme, you must be receiving benefits and need to use a significant amount of water either for medical reasons or because your household has a specific number of school-age children.

You also need to have a water meter installed or be in the process of getting one. If you are eligible for assistance through the WaterSure scheme, your water bill will be capped, meaning you won't pay more than the average metered bill for the area your water company covers.

Money for health costs - get up to £119

You could also receive money for health costs, up to £119. If you're referred to a hospital or other NHS premises for specialist NHS treatment or diagnostic tests by a doctor, dentist or another primary care health professional, you may be able to claim a refund of reasonable travel costs under the Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme (HTCS).

Cheap travel - save up to £150

Furthermore, there's potential for cheap travel, saving you up to £150. The Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card is offered to those unemployed and claiming Jobseekers Allowance or Universal Credit for 3-9 months (18-24 year olds) or 3-12 months (over 25s).

Other benefit recipients may be eligible for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card from 3 months of their claim if they are actively engaged with a Jobcentre Plus adviser. The card entitles holders to a 50% discount on selected rail tickets.

The flexible support fund can be utilised at the discretion of Jobcentre Plus staff to assist with travel costs related to an interview, training or for the initial months of commuting to work.

Free school meals - save up to £500

Your child could be eligible for free school meals if you receive any of the following benefits:

  • Child Tax Credit (provided you’re not also entitled to Working Tax Credit and have an annual gross income of no more than £16,190)

  • Income Support

  • support under Part VI of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999

  • the guaranteed element of Pension Credit

  • Working Tax Credit run-on - paid for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit

  • Universal Credit - if you apply on or after 1 April 2018 your household income must be less than £7,400 a year (after tax and not including any benefits you get)

  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance

  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance

Children who receive these benefits directly, rather than through a parent or guardian, are also entitled to free school meals.

Help to Save - you can save £1,200

You have the opportunity to earn 2 tax-free bonuses over a period of 4 years. You'll receive any earned bonuses even if you withdraw money.

After your first 2 years, you'll receive a first bonus if you've been using your account to save. This bonus will be 50% of the highest balance you've saved.

After 4 years, you'll receive a final bonus if you continue to save. This bonus will be 50% of the difference between 2 amounts:

  • the highest balance saved in the first 2 years (years 1 and 2)

  • the highest balance saved in the last 2 years (years 3 and 4)

If your highest balance does not increase, you will not earn a final bonus. The most you can pay into your account each calendar month is £50, which is £2,400 over 4 years.

The most you can earn from your savings in 4 years is £1,200 in bonus money. Your bonus is paid into your bank account, not your Help to Save account.

Healthy start - you could get £442

The DWP says: "If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk. If you're eligible, you'll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. We'll add your benefit onto this card every 4 weeks."

If you're more than 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4, you may be entitled to get help to buy healthy food and milk. If you're eligible, you'll be sent a Healthy Start card with money on it that you can use in some UK shops. They'll add your benefit onto this card every 4 weeks.

Help paying for funerals - get up to £1,000 of help

You could get a Funeral Expenses Payment (also called a Funeral Payment) if you get certain benefits and need help to pay for a funeral you're arranging. Your Funeral Expenses Payment will be deducted from any money you get from the estate of the person who has died.

The estate includes any money or property they had but not a house or personal things left to a widow, widower or surviving civil partner. You can also get up to £1,000 for any other funeral expenses, such as funeral director's fees, flowers or the coffin.

The payment typically doesn't cover the entire cost of the funeral. The amount you receive is dependent on your circumstances, including any other funds available to cover the costs, such as from an insurance policy or the deceased person's estate.

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