Emergency grants, loans and money help

You have a few options if you need money quickly for urgent things like:

  • food

  • gas or electric bills

  • pre-payment meters

  • rent payments or deposits

  • 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 your home and cannot meet your needs from income or savings.

You often need a bank account to get a grant or loan. You won't usually get cash.

Some councils and charities offer pre-payment cards or vouchers. For example, if you need to buy food or top up a gas or electric meter.

Charities can sometimes help if you cannot open a bank account or claim benefits because of your immigration status.

Make sure you're claiming any benefits you qualify for.

Use the entitledto benefits calculator to see what you could get

How to find a grant

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

You could try to get a grant through:

  • a charity

  • your council

  • another type of hardship fund

Council welfare assistance schemes

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

Councils have their own rules about:

  • who gets help

  • the type of help available

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

Some councils do not offer welfare assistance.

To find out about your local scheme:

  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 else, for example, 'welfare support scheme'.

If you are facing eviction because you cannot afford the rent, make a homeless application.

Other types of hardship fund

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

  • a gas or electric supplier

  • a trade union if you're a member

  • your university, college or student union

Citizens Advice have more information on grants to help with energy debts.

Other help you do not have to pay back

You can ask for discretionary housing payments (DHPs) if you have a shortfall between the rent you have to pay and 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

Find free furniture and white goods

End Furniture Poverty website has:

Many council schemes will only help with essential items such as cookers, fridges and beds.

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 with welfare assistance schemes may offer interest free loans if you have urgent needs. Local schemes have their own rules about:

  • who qualifies for help

  • how much you can borrow

  • when it must be paid back by

If you're facing eviction or homelessness the council might offer a grant or 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 can't afford food, rent or important bills during this time.

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

You can pay it back over 2 years but this means 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:

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

A budgeting advance or loan can only be used to pay 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 universal credit deductions are causing you problems

Credit union loans

Credit union loans are not interest free.

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.

Find out more about credit unions from Step Change debt charity

Avoid payday loans and doorstep lenders

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

Step Change debt charity have advice:

Last updated: 18 January 2022

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