Help from your local council

If you need help in an emergency, ask your local council if they have a local welfare assistance scheme. These are designed to 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.

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

Short-term benefit advances

If you’re waiting to receive your first benefit payment, you could apply for a short-term advance to tide you over if you are experiencing financial difficulties. If you’re eligible, you’ll usually receive the advance by the next working day after you request it. How much you receive will depend on your circumstances. Repayments usually come out of your benefit each week in instalments. 

To arrange an advance, contact:

  • Pension Credit or State Pension (0800 731 0469)
  • State Pension (0800 731 7898)
  • Carer’s Allowance (0800 731 0297)
  • Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance, Jobseeker’s Allowance (0800 169 0310)
  • Universal Credit (0800 328 5644 if you’re in a full service area, or 0800 328 9344 if you’re in a live service area).

Budgeting Loans and Budgeting Advances

If you need help with essential one-off expenses and receive certain benefits, you might be able to apply for a Budgeting Loan or Budgeting Advance, available for things like furniture, clothes, funeral costs or the cost of moving house.

If you or your partner receive Pension Credit, Income Support or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance or income-related Employment and Support Allowance, apply for a Budgeting Loan (0800 169 0140, gov.uk/budgeting-help-benefits/how-to-apply).

If you receive Universal Credit, apply for a Budgeting Advance by contacting the office that pays your benefit.

The amount you receive will depend on your circumstances – the minimum is £100.

Funeral Payments

A funeral can be a big expense. You may be able to claim help with the cost through the Social Fund if you’re responsible for arranging a funeral and you’re receiving certain benefits, including Pension Credit.

You’ll need to be a close relative or close friend of the deceased. If there is an alternative close relative, 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, plot or cremation costs
  • Certain essential travel costs
  • Up to £700 for funeral expenses, such as a coffin, flowers or funeral director’s fees.

If there is money left from the deceased person’s estate, you’ll usually have to use this to repay the Funeral Payment.

For full details and to download application form SF200, go to gov.uk/funeral-payments or call the Bereavement Service on 0800 731 0469.

Next steps

You need to contact your local council to find out which grants and benefits are available in your area. To find your local council go to gov.uk/find-your-local-council

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