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In our previous ‘What you could be entitled to’ blogs, we’ve referred to specific benefits you could be receiving, but there are other costs you could get help with too.
We’ve put together a summary of the support you could receive for food, household, healthcare, funeral and legal expenses.
Help with food costs
If you’re struggling to afford the food you need, you can contact your local Citizen’s Advice service, a charity, a school or a children’s centre. Your local council can help you with this.
On being referred, you’ll receive a voucher and information on where your nearest foodbank is located.
Healthy Start vouchers
This is a voucher scheme for people with a parental responsibility for young children (under the age of four) or who are at least 10 weeks pregnant and receiving benefits, to help you buy basic food like milk or fruit. You’ll be eligible for the scheme if you’re pregnant and under 18, even if you’re not receiving any benefits. If you’re in Scotland, you can apply for Best Start Foods instead.
You can receive vouchers worth £4.25 each week of your pregnancy (from the 10th week of your pregnancy), £8.50 each week for children from birth to age one and £4.25 each week for children between the ages of one and four.
Apply for the scheme here.
Help with household costs
This is a non-profit organisation which helps people in need of furniture reuse perfectly good items which might otherwise have ended up in landfill. It’s free to be a member and you can sign up here.
Vodafone Together scheme
The Trussell Trust, which is the UK’s biggest foodbank network, has teamed up with Vodafone to provide phones and SIMs to people in need.You’ll have to be referred to a Trussell Trust foodbank to benefit from the scheme. If you’re in debt and need further support, we can refer you through to the Trussell Trust for extra support whilst helping you to tackle your debts at the same time.
TalkTalk works with Jobcentre Plus and the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to offer six months of free broadband to jobseekers across the UK. Speak to your Jobcentre Plus work coach to find out more.If you’re not eligible for this but are on Universal Credit, there are still ways you can make your broadband bill easier to manage. Some providers offer discounted broadband so it’s important to do some research into what’s available.
Discounted gym membership fees
If you’re looking to join a gym but can’t afford the membership fees, it’s worth speaking to the gym to see if they offer a concessionary membership for people on certain benefits. You can also have a look on your local council website to find your nearest free outdoor gym.
Discounted travel costs
Travel can be expensive but the good news is there’s plenty of support out there to help.
If you’re unemployed and claiming JSA or Universal Credit for 3-9 months (18-24 year olds) or 3-12 months (over 25s), you can apply for a Jobcentre Plus Travel Discount Card which provides a 50% discount on selected rail tickets.
For more information about discounted travel costs, click here.
Help with medical costsThe NHS Low Income scheme is there to support you if you’re on a low income and need help paying for NHS costs such as prescriptions, dental treatments, opticians, travel costs to get to/from NHS appointments and NHS wigs/fabric supports. You must be a pensioner, a student, earning a wage, receiving state benefits or living in a care home to apply for this.
The amount you can receive depends on your weekly income and your essential outgoings – plus any assets like savings or investments you might have at the time of applying.
If you’ve already paid for something, it’s worth looking into whether you can apply for a refund at the same time as you apply for the scheme.
Help with legal expenses
This can help you to meet the costs of legal advice, family mediation and representation in a court or tribunal.
You’ll need to demonstrate you’re eligible and that you can’t afford legal costs.
You’ll usually need to evidence this and you may have to pay some money towards the costs – or pay them back later.
There are a few instances where you can get legal aid, including if you or your family are at risk of serious harm, if you’re at risk of being made homeless, if you’ve been accused of a crime and are facing prison/detention, if you’re being discriminated against, if you need family mediation or if you’re adding legal arguments or bringing a case under the Human Rights Act.
If you’re in an emergency situation and need urgent representation in court, your legal adviser will apply for Emergency Legal Representation to cover any immediate action – but you’ll still need to apply for legal aid in the normal way for any ongoing work.
You need to bring the following documentation to your legal adviser (for your partner too where applicable):
- Benefits statements
- Evidence of income, savings and spending (for example payslips and bank statements)
- National Insurance number
- Court documents
- Marriage and birth certificates (for family cases)
- Relevant letters
You can use the Government’s website to check if you can get legal aid here.
If you can’t get legal aid, you may be able to get free advice from the Law Centres Network, Citizens Advice or AdviceNow.
To apply for legal aid in Scotland, you’ll need to find a solicitor that does legal aid work who will talk you through your options, let you know if you’re likely to get legal aid and help you with the application process. Find out more here.
Help with prison visiting expenses
If you need to visit a member of your family, your partner or someone who doesn’t get other visitors, you may be able to get help to pay for travel, overnight accommodation and meals.
You can apply for this to cover visits you may have made in the last 28 days or visits you intend to make in the next 28 days, but you must be in receipt of certain benefits or have a health certificate.
You can apply for help with these costs here, but you’ll need to have a prisoner number, visit date, your National Insurance number, any receipts and a stamped prison visit form to hand.
Help with funeral expenses
If you need help paying for funeral costs, and are in receipt of certain benefits, you could get what’s known as a Funeral Expenses or Funeral Payment.
In Scotland, you’d need to apply for a Funeral Support Payment.
To receive a Funeral Expenses Payment, you or your partner must receive one or more of the following benefits:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)
- Pension Credit
- Housing Benefit
- The disability or severe disability element of Working Tax Credit
- Child Tax Credit
- Universal Credit
You may also be eligible if you’re receiving a Support for Mortgage Interest loan, and you can still claim a Funeral Expenses Payment if you’ve applied for these benefits and are waiting to hear the outcome of your claim.
Read the full eligibility criteria here.
To make a claim, note that you must apply within six months of the funeral.
If you’re struggling after the loss of a loved one, the National Bereavement Service is available to help support you. You can call their helpline on 0800 0246 121 or visit their website.
We can also help if you’re struggling with debts following the loss of a loved one. Get help now here.
For more support and advice
If you’re interested in learning more about making the most out of your budget and maximising your income, our Financial Wellbeing Hub is here to help.
If you’re struggling with debt repayments and want to get on top of your finances, remember you can contact us over freephone, email or via our Live Chat service.