Seven little-known schemes that could boost your income by up to £5,600 NOW | The Sun

MILLIONS of households are feeling the squeeze – but there's help at hand for hard-up Brits struggling with rising costs.

There are dozens of schemes that can help give your bank account a much-needed boost.

From food and supermarket vouchers, to bill discounts and cash for school uniforms, we've rounded up some of the help you might not have heard about.

The exact help you can get depends on your circumstances, but isn't necessarily just for those on benefits.

If you were eligible for them all it could give you a boost of up to £5,600.

We explain how each one works, who can get it and how to apply.


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Healthy Start – £442

New or expectant parents can get up to £442 worth of free food a year through the relatively unknown Healthy Start scheme.

It's open to anyone more than 10 weeks pregnant or with a child under four years old and on benefits.

If eligible, you are issued a Healthy Start card which you can use in a number of supermarkets and retailers.

You can use the card to buy plain liquid cow's milk, fresh, frozen and tinned fruit and vegetables, fresh, dried and tinned pulses and infant formula milk.

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You can also use it to purchase vitamins and vitamin drops for your baby or young child.

The maximum amount you can get your card topped up by is £8.50 a week, which totals £442 a year.

You will also normally need to be claiming one of the following benefits:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Child Tax Credit with a family income of £16,190 or less per year
  • Pension Credit
  • Universal Credit with no earned income or total earned income of £408 or less per month for the family

However, you can also apply for the scheme if you are under 18 and not on any benefits.

Recent figures suggest over 200,000 parents across the UK are missing out on the help, so why not see if you're eligible and save yourself some money.

For more on the scheme and how to apply you can go the government website.

Alternatively you can print out a paper form from the Healthy Start website or request one from your GP or midwife.

There's also an option to request one from the healthy start helpline on 0345 607 6823.

Household Support Fund – up to £1,000

Struggling households can claim free cash via the government's Household Support Fund (HSF).

The scheme was first brought in in 2021 with the aim to  help support vulnerable households.

Currently, it's worth £842million and the pot of cash has been shared between councils in England.

Those councils then decide how to distribute their share of the fund among residents.

That means what you can get depends on where you live.

In many cases, help is offered to households on benefits or a low income, but that's not always the case.

Help includes free cash, grocery vouchers, or white goods.

The amount you are entitled to will vary depending on the area you live in too and each council will have a different application process.

To find your local council, use the council finder tool.

For example, residents living in Torridge can get between £600 and £1,000 and thousands of residents in Cornwall can get £160 in support.

Meanwhile those living in Medway in Kent, can apply for up to £210 in support and in Bracknell there's £390 of supermarket vouchers being handed out.

Bear in mind that some councils haven't opened the application process for the current round of funding as it was only renewed in April.

School Uniform grants – £300

Families struggling with the cost of living can get up to £300 free cash to help pay for school uniforms.

Local councils have the authority to provide parents with grants to help them buy skirts, trousers and more under the Education Act 1990.

But there's no legal obligation for them to offer help so what you are entitled to can be a postcode lottery, plus you might not get any help at all.

Scheme eligibility and availability can vary depending on where you live so it's worth checking what's available where you are.

While there is no exact criteria for receiving a school uniform grant, they are typically available to people on benefits such as Universal Credit, Jobseeker's allowance and Child Tax Credits.

Children who qualify for free school meals will usually also qualify for school uniform grants as well, so long as your council offers grants.

What you can get depends on where you live, as there's no statutory duty to offer grants across the whole of the UK.

The Welsh Government has extended its own Pupil Development Grant which is open until June 30, 2023.

Under it, families can get grants worth up to £300 to buy school uniform, including footwear and bags, plus laptops and tablets too.

Meanwhile, households in Scotland can get grants worth up to £120 for each primary school age child and £150 for every secondary school age child.

In England, what you can get will vary depending on what council area you fall under.

The best thing to do is contact your local council to see if you can get any help, and then find out what the application process involves.

Sure Start grant – £500

Some new parents can get £500 in free cash through a pretty unknown scheme.

The Sure Start Maternity Grant is a payment that comes from the Government and issued to new or expectant parents.

The money is designed to help you cover the costs of having a child.

You usually qualify if you're pregnant with your first child or are expecting a multiple birth (such as twins) and have children already.

Either you or your partner must also be receiving any of the below benefits:

  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit
  • Child Tax Credit
  • Working Tax Credit that includes a disability or severe disability element
  • Universal Credit

You may also qualify if you are receiving Support for a Mortgage Interest loan.

Your income or the amount you get of any of these payments or benefits doesn't matter but there are also exceptions to these rules.

For example, you can usually only get one of the grants if you have no other children under 16.

But you might be able to get the £500 if you are expecting twins, the child you're caring for is someone else's or you're claiming for a family member who is under 16.

You can make a claim for the grant by filling in the Sure Start Maternity Grant (SF100) claim form.

You have to claim the grant within 11 weeks of the baby's due date or within six months of its birth.

For more information head over to the government website.

Welfare Assistance scheme – up to £1,000

Some councils also offer support through the welfare support fund, to help cover the costs of essentials, from buying new furniture to food vouchers.

An investigation by The Sun found that hard-up Brits can apply for help worth up to £1,000.

But exactly how much you get and what for will depend on where you live – and not all councils have this help.

Grants are given on a case-by-case basis and there will be a different application process depending on where in the country you live.

You can find out who your local council is by visiting the website and get in touch with them about whether help is available in your area.

Social tariffs – £256

Another scheme you could take advantage of is social tariffs for broadband.

Around one million people cut off their broadband in the last year due to rising costs, recent research has found.

Those on certain benefits can save up to £256 a year on average, though the exact amount will depend on how much you pay now and the discount you get.

The average broadband bill costs £33.35 or £400 a year, according to the price comparison website MoneySuperMarket – so it's worth checking if you can save with one of these cheaper contracts.

Some of the benefits that qualify you for a social tariff include: Universal Credit, Employment and support allowance and Jobseeker's Allowance.

In August, The Sun called on the government, regulator Ofcom and suppliers to do more to support struggling customers.

We launched a tool with cost of living champions Nous to help highlight how much customers can save with social broadband tariffs. 

Among the providers currently offering social tariffs are: BT, Now, Sky, Virgin Media and Vodafone.

Ofcom has a list on its website of all the providers that offer the tariffs too.

Providers offer different packages, so it's worth shopping around for the best deals.

Be aware that some suppliers may charge you a penalty if you leave a tariff mid-contract.

Always remember that the exact amount you'll save by switching will depend on how much you were paying for your broadband before.

Child Trust Funds – £2,100

Teenagers or parents of teenagers could also boost their income by more than £2,100 through Child Trust Funds.

These bank accounts were automatically set up for all children born between between September 1, 2002 and January 2, 2011, with the government putting £250 into every account.

Children from low-income families received another £250 from the government, so £500 in total.

Parents were then allowed to save up to £9,000 a year in their child's account.

But almost nine out of 10 of these accounts were never registered by the parents, a report from the National Audit Office shows.

More than half of those were accounts for children from low-income families or families in receipt of child tax credit.

An estimated 6.3 million CTFs were set up during the nine-year scheme, containing about £9billion in total.

This money was invested by the government, meaning the accounts are now worth thousands of pounds.

Tens of thousands of teenagers turning 18 since September 1 last year have an average of £2,100 sitting in their accounts, according to HMRC.

Parents who registered their child's trust fund and know which provider it is held with can contact them directly.

Teenagers turning 18 since the start of September last year can track down their child trust fund themselves.

Because the accounts were only set up for children born in the specific time period, it means that not just anyone can apply for this particular scheme.

Do you have a money problem that needs sorting? Get in touch by emailing [email protected]

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