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

You usually need a bank account because you do not usually get cash.

Some charities can help if you cannot open a bank account.

Council welfare assistance schemes

Some councils have grants as part of their welfare assistance schemes.

They set out:

  • who gets help in their area

  • what help is available

Some schemes have vouchers, white goods or loans instead of grants.

To find out about local schemes:

  1. Find your local council website on GOV.UK

  2. Search 'local welfare assistance' on your council website

Your local scheme could be called something like 'welfare support scheme'.

You can make a homeless application if you are facing eviction because you cannot afford the rent.

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.

You usually need a bank account to get a loan because you do not usually get cash.

Interest free loans from the council

Councils with welfare assistance schemes may offer interest free loans if you have urgent needs.

Local schemes set out:

  • who qualifies for 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:

Usually you must have received universal credit or another low income benefit for at least 6 months.

A budgeting advance or loan is 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 have advice on:

Last updated: 22 April 2022

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