UNIVERSAL Credit can top up your income whether you're in or out of work.
On top of the monthly benefit, you could get other support too, ranging from cheaper essential bills to free food and travel.
With a range of living costs on the rise in April it's more important than ever to check the help you're entitled to now.
Here are the freebies and discounts you could be getting on Universal Credit and how to apply for them.
Some households on low incomes could be eligible for a discount on their council tax bill.
As one of the biggest bills for households and the worst consequences if you get behind, finding out if you can get a reduction could help you get by.
In some cases you could even get your bill reduced to zero and with the average bill for a band D home at £1,898, that could save a a significant sum.
To find out if you're eligible and apply you'll need to contact your local council – you can find yours using the gov.uk tool, just enter your postcode.
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Additional help available includes a £150 council tax rebate in April to help cover the cost of rising energy bills.
Free school meals
If you're claiming certain benefits including Universal Credit, JSA and Child Tax Credit then your child might be entitled to free school meals.
You will need to apply through your local authority so that they can apply for extra funding from the Government, while some councils ask you to contact the school directly.
Simply click here and type in your postcode to be redirected to your local council's website and apply.
The exact amount you'll get depends on where you are, but ranges from around £2.15 to £2.50 per day, or around £400-£500 each school year.
Free £150 for school uniforms
How much you can get in England to help pay for school uniforms varies depending on where you live, but you can get up to £150 in some local authorities.
As a general rule, those on income support, Universal Credit, JSA, child tax credit, ESA, and pension tax credit are entitled to support under Part IV of the Immigration and Asylum Act 1999.
You may also be eligible if your annual income is less than £16,190.
To apply, you need to put in your postcode on the Gov.uk website, which will direct you to your council's website where you should search for “uniform grant” in the “Education” section to find out what help is available in your area.
Free £500 if you're pregnant
You may be able to get a one off payment worth £500 to help towards the costs of having a child through the Sure Start Maternity Grant.
You don't have to pay it back.
You'll qualify for the grant if you're already claiming benefits and you're expecting your first child, or expecting twins or triplets and have children already.
New parents must claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby's due date or within six months after the baby is born.
To claim, you'll need to print out and fill in the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SF100) claim form.
A health professional such as a doctor or midwife must also sign it before you post it to Freepost DWP SSMG.
Free milk, fruit and veg
The Healthy Start scheme offers thousands of parents on low incomes help to feed their kids.
You get a prepaid card and payments worth up to £442 a year for those claiming certain benefits.
You can start getting the cash from 10 weeks pregnant up to when the child turns four.
The card can be used at major supermarkets and shops to but the following:
- cow’s milk
- fresh, frozen or tinned fruit and vegetables
- infant formula milk
- fresh, dried, and tinned pulses
Check out how to apply for the Healthy Start scheme in our guide.
Free travel and childcare when looking for work
The Restart Scheme is designed to help those who've been on Universal Credit for more than a year and launched last year.
It can help cover the costs associated with finding a job, including travel, childcare and other expenses.
If you're on the scheme ask the provider or your work coach about how to claim.
The Flexible Support Fund is a pot of money that has been put aside by the government to help you with the costs of getting a job.
The fund is managed by local job centres and can be used to cover the following costs of job hunting:
- Training for a job, up to £150
- Travel to interviews
- Tools for work
- Cost of medical evidence required by a disabled person
- Clothing and uniforms to start work
- Support for single parents in financial emergencies in the first 26 weeks of starting a job.
You can find out more about how to apply here.
The Jobcentre Plus travel card is available for free and cuts the cost of travelling on public transport, including buses and trains, by 50%.
In London, they're accepted by Transport For London (TfL), and here, users can save money by purchasing a seven-day or monthly travel card at a child's rate.
But the discount card is only available to those who are unemployed and looking for work, and those who claim JSA.
You're also entitled to one if you've been claiming Universal Credit for three to nine months and are aged between 18 and 24.
You'll need to have been claiming benefits for three to 12 months before getting the card if you're 25 and older.
All train operators in England, Scotland and Wales accept the discount and cards are valid for up to three months.
But just because you're on benefits, it doesn't mean you'll automatically get one – they’re handed out by Jobcentre staff on a case-by-case basis at the discretion of the work coaches.
To find out if you qualify for the boost, speak to your work coach at your nearest Jobcentre, which you can find via Gov.uk.
If you claim Universal Credit, you might be able to get a refund on most of your childcare costs.
You can claim back 85% of childcare costs up to £646 for one child or £1,108 for two or more up to August 31 following the child’s 16th birthday.
You will have to pay your childcare costs yourself up front and then claim the money back through Universal Credit.
The Sun has been calling on the government to change rules and pay parents up-front for childcare costs, as part of our Make Universal Credit Work campaign.
Parents may also be able to take advantage of other childcare support, whether you're claiming Universal Credit or not, including up to 30 hours free childcare
Up to £1,200 bonus for saving
Not everyone is in a position to save, but of you are it's worth getting a specific account that offers a generous bonus.
With the Help to Save account, anyone on Universal Credit can put away between £1 and £50 every month and you get a 50% bonus on top.
If you save the maximum amount over four years you can get a sum of £1,200 from the government, topping up your own savings of £2,400.
But you can still get some of the bonus even by saving a small amount – check out how it works.
Water saving devices and bill help
Many water companies offer free water-saving devices that shave pounds off your bills.
Contact your supplier. Freebies include shower timers and buffalo bags, which save water with every flush.
Check out savewatersavemoney.co.uk.
Large families on Universal Credit or other benefits may be eligible for a cap on their bills under the WaterSure scheme.
To qualify for the scheme you need to already have a water meter installed, and prove you need to use a lot of water.
You also need to have three or more children under the age of 19 living in the house, and receive child benefit for them.
You can find out more about the scheme in our guide.
Free prescriptions and dental treatment
You could also get help with covering health costs, such as paying for your prescriptions and dental treatment.
To claim, you’ll need to show a copy of your Universal Credit award notice.
You won’t be able to claim on health costs before you were deemed eligible for the Universal Credit.
If you’re entitled to claim, you could get free NHS prescriptions, dental treatment, sight tests, wigs and fabric supports.
NHS prescriptions currently cost £9.15 in the UK.
You could also get help with the cost of glasses and contact lenses and money for travel costs for treatment.
The NHS has outlined more information on how to go about claiming here.
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