THE government's Household Support Fund (HSF) has helped thousands of families with rising energy and food costs over winter, but the current tranche of funding is set to end next week.
Households have until March 31 to access the help, and many local councils have already shut their schemes – here's what you need to know.
The HSF was launched in October to help struggling families pay their way through winter amid a cost of living crisis.
The total pot was worth £500million and councils received different amounts depending on their size and need..
It was up to local authorities to decide on the support they provided and who was eligible, but it ranged from energy bill support to supermarket vouchers and even free cash.
Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced during his Spring Statement this week that funding for this support will be doubled to £1billion.
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That means an extra £500million will be available from next month – but the details are not yet clear on how the next funding round will work.
Your council may still have money left to distribute from the original pot and many households will only have until Thursday March 31 to make a claim.
It is worth getting support if you are eligible, as there is no confirmation of how much each council will get and what they will offer under the new round.
A Treasury spokesperson said: "Guidance is clear that local authorities must have spent or committed their funding for the original scheme by March 31.
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"However, individuals will be able to make new applications from April for the new extension to the fund."
Further guidance on the new scheme will be published by the department for work and pensions in early April.
How to access the Household Support Fund
The support you get will depend on where you live and the eligibility criteria.
The fund is distributed by local councils.
You can find your local authority on the Gov.uk website and then search for what they offer under the HSF.
Some support schemes have already closed while other deadlines are imminent.
Runnymede Borough Council, for example, has been awarding households up to £800 each from its portion of the HSF pot.
However, residents of Runnymede only have until the end of today to apply for the help.
The council's website includes an extensive table outlining what the cash can be used for, and the budget for each cost.
For example, struggling households can apply for £800 towards rent arrears or council tax arrears or can get money towards the replacing white goods.
Applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and you may get more if you have kids.
Struggling residents who live in the Sutton Council area have until March 27 to access support.
Some households have been automatically identified but you can still apply for £150 of support to help with rising bills.
You'll first need to register your interest and then complete an eligibility and needs assessment.
Leicester County Council is offering supermarket vouchers and support with energy bills until March 29.
Local residents can't apply directly though and you need to be referred by a professional support worker or agency before the deadline.
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According to this benefits expert, you could be missing out on £1,000s in free cash support.
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