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Are you eligible for a housing grant?
There are many different types of housing grants available from the government, energy companies or local authorities to help those on low incomes as well as the elderly and disabled. Currently many grants and millions of pounds are going unclaimed so it is worth checking whether you would be eligible for a grant for your house or to help with the cost of your bills.
What is a housing grant?
Typically a grant is money or a voucher which can be used to buy something for your home which will be of benefit to you and your household. The grant may cover the entire cost or be a significant contribution towards the full cost so you may have to pay out some of your own money towards the item or improvement for your home.
Grants from the government or a local authority can only be used with a specific company and/or contractor and therefore it is worth keeping in mind that the person who will be doing the job may not always be the cheapest or best provider on the market.
What are the different types of grants available?
With many different types of grants available, it can be difficult for you to know what to apply for, what you are eligible for and what each different grant is actually for. Below is a list of some of the grants available, what they can be used for and who will be eligible to apply for them.
Free boilers and insulation
The best ways to keep your house warm and the cost of your energy bills down is to have an energy efficient boiler and good insulation in your loft and cavity walls. These jobs can be expensive which is why there are grants available for these energy efficiency savings.
You will be eligible if: you receive tax credits or income based benefits such as income support.
Winter fuel payment
This is a tax free payment of between £100 and £300 from the government, usually received before Christmas every year. It does not affect other benefits but how much you will receive depends entirely on your circumstances.
You will be eligible if: you receive the state pension or any other social security benefit e.g. jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance etc.
Cold weather payment
This is a grant paid by the government to help cover the cost of energy bills when the temperature hits low levels in your area. If the average temperature is, or is forecast to be, zero or below for seven days in a row anytime between November and March then you will receive the payment.
You will be eligible if: you receive pension credit, any income based benefit or you have a child who is disabled or under five living with you.
Warm home discount
By law, the big energy suppliers are required to help vulnerable customers to pay their energy bills.
You will be eligible if: you get pension credit or you are on a credit meter. If you have prepay or pay-as-you-go electricity meter you will not automatically get this benefit but you can apply.
Energy fund scheme
This includes both grants to covers energy arrears and Further Assistance Payments (FAP). The fund can help you clear arrears which have built up due to illness or redundancy while a FAP grant can contribute towards the purchase of white goods, boiler repairs and the cost of a funeral.
You will be eligible if: you can prove the current hardship you are in. Five energy providers, Npower, Eon, EDF, British Gas and Scottish Power, have these funds in place which are particularly useful for those needing to clear debts.
There are schemes available such as referrals to hardship funds or applying for direct payment from benefit payments. The WaterSure scheme will help households with a water meter to cap your bills at the average household bill cost for that particular provider.
You will be eligible if: you have a water meter, you are on certain benefits, you have three or more children under 19 living with you or someone in the household has a medical condition where they need a lot of water.
Most fire stations offer a free fire risk assessment for your home where they will check for potential risks and give advice. They will help you put into place a plan to deal with a fire in your home and provide you with a free smoke alarm if you don’t already have one.
You will be eligible if: the scheme is for everyone but it is mainly aimed towards the elderly, those with young children or homes which carry a high risk of fire.
Disabled facilities grant
These are available from local councils to help with the cost of adapting your home if you or someone you live with is disabled. You can receive up to £30,000 in England, £36,000 in Wales and £25,000 in Northern Ireland. The grant will be given straight to the contractors, via payment of invoice, who have carried out the work on your property. The work should be considered essential to the disabled person residing at the property to live independently.
You will be eligible if: you, or someone in your property, is disabled. You must also own or be a tenant of the property and plan to live in the property during the 5 year grant period.
There are other grants available to UK households to help with the maintaining of your house or dealing with utilities and bills at the property. To find out more about these types of grants, have a look at this in depth guide on Money Saving Expert [http://www.moneysavingexpert.com/family/grant-grabbing]