THOUSANDS of households can get up to £150 in free cash direct into their bank accounts.

The help comes via the Discretionary Support Scheme and is designed to help households struggling with the cost of living.

The scheme is funded by the Welsh government and is available to families across the country.

Bridgend County Borough Council is offering up to £150 to residents in the area.

But you have to meet certain criteria beyond simply living there.

A household qualifies for a £150 payment if on August 1, 2022:

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  • they were liable for council tax on a property
  • they were living in the property as their main or primary residence
  • they were responsible for paying the utility and other bills for that property
  • they were receiving a council tax disabled band reduction and has not had a cost of living payment

You can also be eligible if on August 1, 2022, you were receiving a council tax exemption for the following classes:

  • a severe mental impairment
  • providing care
  • receiving care
  • a care leaver
  • aged under 18 and live alone
  • a full-time student

Plus, if you or your family was in temporary accommodation on August 1, 2022, you will be in line for a payment.

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Households in Bridgend can also get £60 discretionary support payments if they lived in a home between council tax bands E to F on August 1, 2022.

They also must have been responsible for paying utility bills on the property, lived in the property, liable for council tax and not receiving an exemption already.

Free vouchers worth £50 will be given to children who usually receive free school meals too.

How you will receive the £150 or £60 discretionary support payments varies depending on how you normally pay for your council tax.

If you pay by direct debit you will receive the payment automatically.

If you don't pay via direct debit you will receive a letter or email with a code explaining how to register.

Bridgend County Borough Council is urging households not to get in contact about the payments as it could lead to processing delays.

Final payments have to be made before March 31, so if you don't pay for your council tax via direct debit you should get in touch with the council as soon as you can.

Can I get help if I don't live in Bridgend?

You can get support if you live outside of Bridgend, however the Discretionary Support Scheme is only available in Wales.

If you do live in Wales, you can apply for help on your local council's website.

If you don't know what council area you fall under, you can use the "find my local authority" tool on the Welsh government's website.

If you live in England, you might be able to get help through the Household Support Fund (HSF).

Councils have until March 31 this year to allocate their share of the fund.

But what you can get will vary depending on your circumstances and how much money your local authority has been given.

Households in Manchester can get up to £650 in free cash – but they only have until March 31 to apply.

Meanwhile, residents in Derbyshire can call the council and apply for up to £128 in free cash for food, energy or essential living costs.

Millions of households in England, Scotland and Wales should be in the process of receiving the £400 energy rebate too.

The £400 payment has been split into six monthly instalments being made between October 2022 and March this year.

In most cases, the money is being applied as a discount to customers' bills.

But if you are on a prepayment meter you have to redeem voucher which are sent to you.

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In the Autumn Statement, chancellor Jeremy Hunt revealed millions on benefits and Universal Credit will receive an extra one-off £900 cost of living payment too.

Plus, a number of energy firms, including British Gas, Ovo Energy and Octopus offer grants to customers struggling with their bills.

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