MILLIONS of households could be eligible for free cash and grants worth up to £6,000 – a crucial lifeline as the cost of living crisis worsens.

It comes as latest forecasts show energy bills could hit £4,000 next year, pushing half of all homeowners into fuel poverty.

The soaring price of energy is linked to wholesale gas prices, which hit a record high of 530p per therm on Wednesday after Russia reduced supplies through the Nord Stream 1 pipeline to Germany. 

While millions of households will get £400 knocked off their bills to help with the cost increase, many people are still struggling to make ends meet.

But there is other help you might be eligible to claim – and some of it is worth up to £6,000.

We've rounded up all the grants that can help you with your bills:

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Household Support Fund

The Household Support Fund was launched in October last year to help Brits pay their way through winter.

It was only due to run until March, but has since been extended until September. 

As part of the scheme, councils up and down the country have been given a slice of £1.5 billion worth of funding.

But it's up to individual councils how they dish it out.

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That means some give out free cash and others will send residents discount codes or supermarket vouchers – it very much depends where you live.

For example, Herefordshire council was allocated over £1million for its HSF and dished out one-off £60 payments to residents in the area.

To be eligible you needed to be living in Herefordshire, be on a low income and in receipt of Universal Credit.

Ealing Council gave out £25 supermarket vouchers to some families in its area – so you can also see eligibility changes depending on where you live.

You should go to your council’s website to find out whether you are eligible for its HSF. 

In some cases, payments are made automatically to residents who receive means-tested benefits, so there’s no need to do anything. 

But others need to make applications for the support directly to their relevant council. 

So it is always worth checking your council’s website. 

Home upgrade grant

Households with poor insulation and out-dated heating systems could save up to £200 thanks to a government scheme.

Hundreds of thousands of people overpay by as much as £246 on heating bills due to poor insulation alone.

Meanwhile, families in homes with lower energy efficiency ratings are thought to be suffering the most from global gas price increases.

The government announced in February that a new £67 million Home Upgrade grant will help as many as 4,300 households become more energy efficient.

But only the worst performing low-income, off gas grid homes, ranging from Energy Performance Certificate Bands D to G, will be eligible for the new upgrades.

If they are eligible, they will have measures like wall and roof insulation put in place, as well as new low-carbon heating systems, thermostats and room heating controls installed.

Households are expected to receive the upgrades by the end of March next year.

The funding itself will be delegated to local councils though, so you'll have to get in touch with yours to claim the energy efficient help.

Energy hardship funds

Hard-up households can get extra cash to help cover the rising cost of gas and electric – a number of providers, including British Gas, are offering hardship grants.

Each scheme varies and we've rounded up some of them before.

For British Gas's scheme, for example, you don't need to be a customer to get grants of up to £1,500, which are being dished out to those most in need.

You can apply for the help through the British Gas Energy Trust website.

To be eligible you must have an energy debt you're looking to clear off and have sought help from a money service, like Citizen's Advice or Stepchange.

You also can't have received a grant from the British Gas Energy Trust within the last two years.

And remember it can take time to assess your application – you won't get the cash immediately.

Boiler upgrade scheme

Households looking to upgrade their home can apply for a free cash grant worth up to £6,000.

The scheme will help people replace old gas heating with newer, greener technology.

Gas boilers could soon be banned in a bid to reduce carbon emissions.

To encourage people to go for greener options the government is offering grants for installing heat pumps to help cover the cost.

Heat pumps are a greener way to heat your home and can lower your energy bills too.

To help with the cost you can apply for a grant through the boiler upgrade scheme, which is open for applications now.

You can get up to £6,000 to help cover the cost of a ground-source heat pump or £5,000 for an air source one.

According to Energy Helpline, air sourced pumps tend to be cheaper, with purchase and installation costs anywhere between £8,000 and £14,000.

Ground source heat pumps are far pricier at £15,000 to £25,000, though the price for either depend on the size of your home.

You can save money with up to £5,000 for a biomass boiler, which uses natural materials like wood pellets to power heating and hot water, if you live in a rural area.

All the grants can go towards the cost of the appliance itself and installation costs – you don't have to pay the money back.

If the heat pump or boiler costs more than this you'll have to cover the rest of the cost yourself.

The scheme is available in England and Wales until 2025 and you'll need to own the home you're in to be eligible.

You won't get the cash directly, you'll need to find a heat pump installer registered with the scheme who will apply for the grant on your behalf.

The amount will then be discounted from your bill for the work.

Cold weather payment

The cold weather payment scheme is only open between November 1 and March 31 each year to cover the winter months.

If temperatures hit zero degrees Celsius or below for at least seven days, some households are eligible for a £25 payment to help with essential costs.

However, this grant is only available for pensioners.

To be eligible, you need to be claiming one of the following:

  • Pension credit
  • Income support
  • Income-based jobseeker’s allowance
  • Income-related employment and support allowance
  • Universal Credit
  • Support for mortgage interest

You will be able to check whether your area is due a payment by using the government's online tool.

Winter fuel discount

All low-income pensioners are eligible for an extra £300 winter payment to land in accounts between November and December.

It arrives on top of the existing Winter Fuel Payment worth between £100 and £300 that those over state pension age get already.

Those on the lowest incomes who get Pension Credit will be eligible for the £650 one-off payment for those on benefits.

Along with the £300 payment, that would add up to £950.

And those with disabilities are being given £150 one-off payment too.

That means the most vulnerable could get as much £1,100 in older age.

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If you're eligible for the £650 cost of living payment, you'll automatically have received the first instalment worth £326.

The second half will be arriving later in the year, although we don't have an exact date yet.

Cost of living payments: what you need to know

  • All the key dates for cost of living payments revealed
  • Every household will get a £400 cost of living payment to help with energy bills
  • See the full list of benefits eligible for £650 cost of living cash
  • Here's free cash you can get if you DON’T qualify for the £650 cost of living payment
  • Millions of pensioners will get a £300 cost of living payment this winter
  • Disabled Brits will get £150 this September
  • Parents can get up to £200 towards school uniform costs

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