Emergency grants, loans and money help
There are options if you need help quickly for urgent things like:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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
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:
a local welfare assistance finder – search for your council scheme
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
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