THOUSANDS of families can claim £50 free supermarket vouchers to tie them over this Christmas.
The help comes via the Household Support Fund (HSF) which is worth over £400 million.
The fund was first announced by the government in September 2021, but has been extended twice.
It is a central pot of money that is shared between councils who then decide who to distribute it to.
The deadline for councils to issue their latest share of the fund is March 31, 2023.
However, lots of local authorities are offering help earlier.
Stoke-on-Trent City Council is distributing £2.68million worth of help to thousands of residents this Christmas in the form of supermarket food vouchers.
Who is eligible?
Support is being offered to families with children who ordinarily qualify for free school meals if:
- they get income-related free school meals
- they are in receipt of early years pupil premium and two-year funding
- they are care leavers up to age 25
Early years pupil premium is additional funding offered to childcare providers who can claim the money on behalf of your child.
Children who are eligible for free school meals must have 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
Most eligible households in Stoke-on-Trent should have already received their vouchers to tie them over this Christmas.
If not, you can apply for them on Stoke-on-Trent City Council’s website.
But you should note the council’s office is closed until January 2, 2023.
So if you do apply now your application won’t be processed until the new year.
Free school meals vouchers can be used at a number of high street retailers, including Aldi, Asda, Morrisons and Sansbury’s.
Can I get help if I don’t live in Stoke-on-Trent?
Yes you can. The Household Support Fund has seen councils across England given money to distribute to families in need.
But what you are entitled to will vary depending on where you live, because each authority has been given a different amount.
But, usually, the money is given to families on benefits or low incomes.
Council’s are deciding how to distribute their share of the pot differently too.
Some are handing out vouchers, while others are making direct bank transfers.
Households in Guildford, Surrey, can get up to £400 worth of help.
Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, in Shropshire, households on a low income and claiming certain benefits including Universal Credit could apply for help worth up to £180 in November.
If you live in Wales, you can get help through its government’s scheme.