If you’re on a low income, it can be hard to budget for unexpected expenses and the rising cost of living. You may be able to get help through grants, loans or other types of support.
Cost of Living Payments
From spring 2023 to spring 2024, you may be able to get up to five payments to help with the cost of living. You must be entitled to certain benefits on the qualifying dates. You do not have to apply for these Cost of Living Payments - you'll receive them automatically if you qualify.
Low income benefits Cost of Living Payment
You may be entitled to up to three Cost of Living Payments if you’re getting certain benefits, including Pension Credit. Most people who qualify will get:
- £301 between 25 April and 17 May 2023
- £300 during autumn 2023
- £299 during spring 2024.
Disability Cost of Living Payment
You may be entitled to a Disability Cost of Living Payment of £150 if you’re getting benefits such as Attendance Allowance or Personal Independence Payment. Most people who qualify will get the payment during summer 2023.
Pensioner Cost of Living Payment
If you’re entitled to a Winter Fuel Payment for winter 2023 to 2024, you’ll get an extra £150 or £300, depending on your circumstances.
These payments are tax-free and do not affect your benefits. You can read more about the Cost of Living Payments, and who qualifies, on the government website.
Even if you have not already applied for benefits, you may still qualify for a Cost of Living Payment if you later make a successful backdated claim.
Call our Helpline if you want to find out whether you qualify for benefits, or use our benefits calculator.
Ask your local council if they have a Local Welfare Assistance Scheme. These provide help with unexpected or emergency expenses to people on a low income.
Schemes vary from area to area and not all councils run them. Some councils use the money allocated for this to support local projects, such as food banks, credit unions and homelessness prevention schemes.
In some areas, you may be able to apply directly to the council for help, which is usually in the form of:
- food parcels
- pre-payment cards
- white goods.
You can’t usually get cash.
You’re not automatically entitled to help. Contact your local council to find out what’s available and whether you qualify.
Your council should be able to tell you what other local help is available, such as:
- food banks
- community hubs that provide hot food
- community fridges
- vouchers for fuel
- places to get second-hand furniture or recycled clothes.
Household Support Fund
The government has provided extra money to local councils until 31 March 2024, to help with the cost of living. In England, this is called the Household Support Fund. It’s meant for people who are struggling to pay for food, energy or water bills, for example.
You do not have to be getting benefits to apply and your benefits will not be affected if you get support through this fund.
Your local council decides how to spend the money. Contact your council to find out what support is available.
In Scotland, contact your local council if you need urgent help with food, money or fuel costs, for example. You may qualify for a Crisis Grant or a Community Care Grant.
You may be able to get a Crisis Grant to cover the costs of an emergency or an unexpected crisis – for example, if:
- you need help to get food or to pay for heating
- you have a fire or flood at home
- you've lost money.
To qualify, you need to be on a low income, but you do not have to be getting benefits.
Community Care Grant
A Community Care Grant is to help you or someone you care for to live independently in the community. It can help with expenses, such as:
- cookers and fridges
- travel costs
- removal costs if you need to move to a more suitable place to live
- minor alterations to your home.
You need to be on a low income, but you do not have to be getting benefits. You may not qualify if you have savings of over £700, or £1,200 if you get a pension, but check with your council.
Contact your local council to find out more or to apply. For more information, visit mygov.scot/scottish-welfare-fund.
In Wales, you can apply to the Discretionary Assistance Fund if you need support. This provides two types of grant:
Individual Assistance Payment
This is a grant to help you or someone you care for to live independently. You can use it to pay for:
- white goods, such as a fridge, cooker or washing machine
- furniture, such as beds, sofas and chairs.
You must be getting certain benefits, such as Guarantee Pension Credit or Universal Credit, to qualify.
Emergency Assistance Payment
You may be able to get a one-off payment if you don’t have any other way of paying for essential costs, such as food, gas, electricity, clothing or emergency travel.
To qualify, you must be in extreme financial hardship and in a crisis. For example, if you’ve applied for benefits and you’re waiting for your first payment or you have no money to pay for food, gas and electricity.
Contact the Discretionary Assistance Fund to find out more and to apply.
Short-term benefit advances
If you’re waiting to receive your first benefit payment and you’re in financial difficulty, you may be able to apply for a short-term advance. If you qualify, you’ll usually receive the advance the same day or the next working day. How much you get will depend on your circumstances.
You’ll have to repay the advance. Some money will usually be taken from your benefit each week until you’ve paid it back.
Depending on the benefit you’ve applied for, contact:
- Pension Credit or State Pension – 0800 731 0469
- Carer’s Allowance – 0800 731 0297
- Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseeker’s Allowance – 0800 169 0310
- Universal Credit – you can apply through your online account or by contacting your work coach or Jobcentre Plus. If you need help to apply, call the helpline on 0800 328 5644.
Budgeting Loans and Budgeting Advances
If you need help with essential one-off expenses and you’re getting certain benefits, you might be able to apply for a Budgeting Loan or Budgeting Advance. These are available for things like:
- household equipment, such as a cooker or washing machine
- clothes and footwear
- rent in advance
- moving costs
- essential travel expenses within the UK
- home improvements, maintenance or security
- funeral costs.
You can apply for a Budgeting Loan if you or your partner have been getting one or more of these benefits for the past six months:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- income-related Employment and Support Allowance.
If you receive Universal Credit, you’ll have to apply for a Budgeting Advance. You can apply through your online account, call the helpline on 0800 328 5644 or contact your nearest Jobcentre Plus.
The amount you receive will depend on your circumstances – the minimum you can apply for is £100.
You don’t have to pay interest on Budgeting Loans or Budgeting Advances, but you will have to repay them. The repayments will be taken from your benefits.
Help with funeral costs
A funeral can be a big expense. You may be able to get a Funeral Expenses Payment – or a Funeral Support Payment in Scotland – to help with the cost. To qualify, you must be:
- responsible for arranging the funeral
- receiving certain benefits, including Pension Credit, or waiting for a decision
- the partner, a close relative or a close friend of the person who died.
If there is another close relative who could pay for the funeral instead, you may not be able to claim this benefit. You must make a claim within six months of the funeral.
The payment can cover:
- burial or cremation costs
- certain essential travel costs
- death certificates and other documents.
You can also get up to £1000 – £1070.60 in Scotland – for any other funeral expenses, such as a coffin, flowers or funeral director’s fees.
You don’t have to repay a Funeral Expenses Payment/Funeral Support Payment, but any money left from the estate of the person who died may be used to pay for the funeral.
To find out more or to claim in England and Wales, contact the Bereavement Service. In Scotland, visit mygov.scot.
Read our factsheet What to do after a death for more advice on how to pay for a funeral.
Also of interest
Also in this section
To find out about support and grants in your area, contact your local council at gov.uk/find-local-council.
In Wales, contact the Discretionary Assistance Fund.
The government’s Help for Households website has more information about support with the cost of living.
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