People struggling to cope with the cost of living are being urged to apply to a new Portsmouth City Council scheme for help.

The council’s new exceptional hardship scheme can give eligible individuals or families a boost worth hundreds of pounds – in a cash payment or a shopping voucher.

It’s aimed at helping residents who can’t afford essential daily living costs, or don’t have enough money for something essential such as a washing machine, bed or fridge.

The scheme is the latest launched by the council to help local people through the cost of living crisis, using the government’s household support fund.

To apply, residents should go to www.portsmouth.gov.uk/household-support and fill in a form.

There will be three “windows” when people can apply for an exceptional hardship payment. The first window for applications is open now, but closes on 22 December. After that, people can contact the scheme and ask to be contacted when the next window opens. The next two windows are planned for 15 January – 2 February, and 26 February – 15 March. But there is a limited pot of funding and the scheme will close when the funds have been used up.

If residents need help applying, they can contact Advice Portsmouth on 023 9279 4340 or (if they’re a council tenant) their area housing office. Or they can apply with the help of another support organisation.

If they’re unable to complete an online application they can call the council’s household support fund helpline, 023 9268 8010.

Cllr Steve Pitt, Leader of the Council, said: “This scheme is aimed at people who are struggling to meet essential costs. The money’s limited, so we have to make sure those most in need are the ones that get help. But if your income has taken a big dive, or your costs have rocketed, and you’re not able to cope, then please apply and see if you’re eligible.”

The council is also using household support funding to support local organisations that are helping people with the cost of living, including foodbanks and community pantries.

To find cost of living advice and help, residents can go to the council’s cost of living hub – a one-stop source of local advice and support. It has information on topics including food, housing, energy bills, warm spaces, saving money and wellbeing. The hub is at www.portsmouth.gov.uk/costofliving  Or if residents need to talk to someone, they can call 023 9284 1047 between 9am and 5pm, Monday to Thursday or 9am to 4.30pm Friday.