Help from your local council

If you need help in an emergency, ask your council if they have a Local Welfare Assistance Scheme in England (Scottish Welfare Fund in Scotland). These provide help with emergency expenses to people on a low income. To find out what help is available in your area, contact your local council.

In Wales, there's a separate scheme called the Discretionary Assistance Fund which you can apply to directly.

Schemes vary from area to area and not all councils run them. Some councils fund local schemes - such as food banks and credit unions - instead. In some areas, you can apply directly to the council for help if you qualify. You won’t usually be able to get cash, but you might get vouchers, furniture or white goods, for example.

Your council will also be able to tell you about other local help that may be available, such as community food hubs, vouchers for fuel or places to get second-hand furniture.

Short-term benefit advances

If you’re waiting to receive your first benefit payment and you’re in financial difficulty, you could apply for a short-term advance to tide you over. If you qualify, you’ll usually receive the advance the same day or the next working day. How much you receive will depend on your circumstances. Repayments usually come out of your benefit in weekly instalments. 

Depending on the benefit you’ve applied for, contact:

  • Pension Credit or State Pension - 0800 731 0469
  • Carer’s Allowance - 0800 731 0297
  • Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, or Jobseeker’s Allowance - 0800 169 0310
  • Universal Credit - 0800 328 5644 or apply through your online account or by contacting your local Jobcentre Plus.

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 furniture, clothes, funeral costs or the cost of moving home.

You can apply for a Budgeting Loan if you or your partner have been getting one or more of these benefits for the last 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. Contact your local Jobcentre Plus work coach to apply.

The amount you receive will depend on your circumstances – the minimum 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 come from your benefits.

Funeral Expenses Payments

A funeral can be a big expense. You may be able to get a Funeral Expenses Payment (Funeral Support Payment in Scotland) to help with the cost. You must be:

  • responsible for arranging the funeral
  • receiving certain benefits, including Pension Credit
  • the partner, a close relative or close friend of the person who died.

If there is another close relative who could pay instead, you may not be able to claim this benefit. You’ll need to 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 (£1,010 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, but any money left from the estate of the person who died may have to be put towards it.

To find out more or to make a claim, 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.

Next steps

To find out which grants are available in your area, contact your local council at gov.uk/find-local-council.

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