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Emergency grants, loans and money help

There are options if you need help quickly for urgent things like:

  • food

  • rent or deposits

  • gas and electric bills

  • moving home or buying furniture

You can sometimes get a grant or loan in an emergency or crisis situation.

For example, if you lose your job or home and cannot meet your needs.

Before you apply, check you are getting all the benefits you are entitled to.

How to find a grant

A grant does not have to be paid back so is better than a loan.

You could try to get a grant through:

  • a charity

  • your council

  • another hardship fund

Help with money from your local council

Most councils can help with emergency expenses for food, bills, or emergency housing costs.

Councils can:

  • give money directly to residents

  • offer vouchers instead of money

  • fund local charities that help residents

Councils have received extra money to help with the cost of living crisis.

Get emergency money help from your local council

  1. Find your local council website on GOV.UK

  2. Search 'household support' or 'local welfare scheme' on your council's website

  3. Phone, email or visit their office in person if you cannot find any information online

Councils have a separate scheme for people who cannot afford rent.

Council help to stop you losing your home

 You can get help from the council if you're facing eviction or your home is unaffordable.

The council could use money from its homeless prevention fund to help you stay in your home. For example, by clearing your arrears.

Find out more about:

Other hardship funds

You can ask other organisations about hardship funds. For example, your:

  • energy supplier

  • trade union if you're a member

  • university, college or student union

Citizens Advice has more on grants to help with energy debts.

Other help you do not have to pay back

You can get extra financial help if you claim universal credit for things like rent, childcare and medical costs.

Discretionary housing payments

You can ask for a discretionary housing payment (DHP) if you cannot pay your full rent with your universal credit or housing benefit.

Contact your council's discretionary housing payments team

What is your location?

Free food from a food bank

Food banks provide at least 3 days of food for people with a food voucher.

They are run by charities and community groups.

Ask for a food voucher from a doctor, health visitor, social worker, school or advice service.

Find a food bank on the Trussell Trust website.

Energy bills

If you cannot get a grant, you can still ask your supplier to:

  • delay your bill

  • remove late payment charges

  • allow you to pay over a longer period

You could also benefit from schemes to help pay energy bills like:

  • cheaper tariffs for people with low income

  • the warm home discount

  • winter fuel payments

Council tax

There are 2 ways you could reduce your council tax bill:

  • a discount based on your situation, for example if you live alone or with someone disabled

  • council tax support if your income is low enough

Council tax support is also called council tax reduction.

Find out if you can pay less council tax.


You can get help if you struggle to pay your water bills.

You could also save money with a water meter if you have a larger home with spare bedrooms. But it might cost more if you have a large family or live in a smaller home.

Broadband and mobile packages

You can often get cheaper internet and phone packages if you claim benefits like universal credit or pension credit.

These lower tariffs do not always appear on comparison websites.

Find free furniture and white goods

End Furniture Poverty has:

How to find a loan

Loans have to be paid back.

A loan could help with an emergency expense but it:

  • usually means you have less money each month until the loan is repaid

  • can lead to longer term debt problems, especially if the interest rate is high

Look for interest free loans. Make sure you can afford the repayments.

Interest free loans from the council

Councils may offer interest free loans if you have urgent needs.

Local schemes set out:

  • who can get help

  • how much you can borrow

  • when it must be paid back

If you're facing eviction or homelessness the council might offer a loan to:

  • pay off rent or mortgage arrears

  • use as a deposit for another tenancy

Universal credit advances

You can ask for a universal credit advance during the 5 week wait for your first payment.

You might need an advance if you cannot afford food, rent or important bills while you wait.

An advance is an interest free loan from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP).

You can pay it back over 2 years but your monthly universal credit payments will be lower while you pay back the advance.

Budgeting advances or loans from the DWP

You can also apply for a:

  • budgeting advance if you get universal credit

  • budgeting loan if you get certain other benefits

You must have been getting universal credit or another low income benefit for at least 6 months to get a budgeting advance or loan.

A budgeting advance or loan can be used for:

  • household items such as cookers, fridges or beds

  • rent in advance or removal costs if moving home

  • repairs or security improvements to your home

DWP advances and loans can cause money problems because your benefits payment will be lower until the loan is repaid.

Find out what to do if deductions cause you problems.

Credit union loans

You need to be a member of a credit union to apply for a loan.

Credit union loans are usually more expensive than personal loans from a bank or building society but it may be easier to get a loan if you have a poor credit history.

Credit union loans are not interest free.

Find out more about credit unions from StepChange debt charity.

Avoid payday loans and doorstep lenders

These types of loans are expensive and often make your financial situation worse.

StepChange debt charity has advice on:

Struggling with money?

Find out where to get:

Help through Hardship helpline is run by the Trussell Trust and Citizens Advice. An adviser could help you get the support you need.

Easy read advice

There is easy read money and housing advice on the Mencap site.

Find out how to:

Last updated: 8 April 2024

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