Ask for help if you have a cash crisis and need help with rent, food and household items.
Advance benefit payments
An advance benefit payment can help if you:
- haven’t received your first benefit payment
- are waiting for a decision on your claim
- have reported a change in circumstances that will increase your benefits
You can apply if you claim:
- jobseeker’s allowance, income support or employment and support allowance
- pension credit or state pension
- carer’s allowance
You'll need to phone to apply for a short term benefit advance
You usually have up to 12 weeks to pay back the money.
Universal Credit advance payments
You can apply for a universal credit advance payment if you claim universal credit.
You have up to 12 months to pay back an advance of universal credit.
Free food from food banks
Food banks provide food parcels to people in need. They are often run by church or community groups.
Some food banks offer a hot meal and an advice service. Some have a free delivery service in rural areas if you can't afford to travel to a foodbank.
You need a voucher to use a food bank. You exchange your voucher for food at the food bank.
You can get food bank vouchers from:
- Citizens Advice and other welfare advice or community centres
- your Jobcentre
- GPs surgeries, health visitors and social workers
Help to pay your rent
Find out if you can get help with your rent by applying for:
Housing benefit advance payments
You should get a payment on account if you’re a private or housing association tenant and your housing benefit claim takes more than two weeks to process.
Universal Credit advance payments for housing costs
You can apply for a universal credit advance payment to help cover your rent while you wait for your Universal Credit claim to process.
Discretionary housing payments
You can claim for a discretionary housing payment from your council for extra help with housing costs such as:
- a rent shortfall
- a tenancy deposit
- rent cover while you wait to start a new job
- moving costs
You must already claim housing benefit or Universal Credit housing costs to be eligible for a discretionary housing payment.
Help to pay your council tax
Your council may help with a council tax reduction if you receive benefits or have a low income.
Budgeting loans and budgeting advances
You can apply for an interest free DWP loan for essential items, such as:
- a cooker, fridge or washing machine
- furniture such as a bed or a sofa
- moving costs
- clothes for a job interview or so you can start work
Find out how to claim a:
- budgeting loan if you claim income support, jobseeker's allowance, employment and support allowance or pension credit
- budgeting advance if you claim universal credit
Credit union loans
Credit unions provide short term loans.
Local welfare assistance
Some councils have welfare schemes for people in extreme hardship.
They may give vouchers and referrals for essential items such as:
- gas and electricity costs
- furniture and household items such as a washing machine
- emergency travel
Most schemes don't give cash.
The Reuse Network has details of schemes which have free or cheap cookers, fridges, sofas and other household items.
Need more help
Get advice from a Shelter adviser if the council says it can't help with your housing or council tax costs.
A welfare benefits adviser may be able to persuade the council to help or direct you to other assistance.
Last updated 08 Nov 2018 | © Shelter
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