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Where to get advice about benefits and grants

People can check their entitlement to benefits and grants, get help to claim benefits, and challenge DWP decisions with help from a benefits adviser.  

This content applies to England

Benefits and grants advice for the public

A benefits advice agency can help someone to:

  • find out what they could be entitled to claim

  • complete a claim for benefits and grants

  • work out how they would be affected by a change in circumstances

  • access emergency food and fuel vouchers

  • challenge a DWP or local authority benefits decision

Some benefits advice covers complex casework, appeals, and benefits tribunals.

Help to check benefit entitlement

An advice agency can usually give advice and information about benefits, including how much the person could be entitled to. 

Turn2us has a benefits entitlement checker and a financial support finder on its website. 

Entitled to has an online benefits checker and information about cost of living support.  

Help to claim universal credit

People who need to claim universal credit can get help from Citizens Advice to: 

  • set up an online claim 

  • gather evidence for the application 

  • prepare for a work coach appointment 

  • check the first payment is correct 

Help to claim is available by phone and online. 

Face to face benefits advice

Local advice agencies including Citizens Advice and Law Centres usually offer advice to the public about what benefits and grants they can claim.

A local advice service is a good option for people who cannot access digital or telephone services easily. For example, because they have a language barrier or a disability.

How to find a local service

Turn2Us has an advice finder tool on its website where people can filter their search by location and type of advice.

People can search for their local Citizens Advice service on its website.

The Law Centres Network has a list of local law centres.

AdviceLocal has an online tool to find a local advice agency by postcode.

How local services operate

Some advice organisations have a drop in service. Others only offer appointments in advance.

There are different types of advice services for benefits advice. Some local agencies can offer income maximisation or help to claim benefits. People might get this type of help from a trained volunteer adviser.

Other agencies also employ benefits specialists to provide a casework service. They can help to challenge benefits decisions like recovery of overpayments, deductions, and sanctions.

People seeking benefits advice should contact the organisation or check its website to find out what sort of service it offers and how to get help. 

Specialist benefits advice services

Some charities provide benefits advice to people who need a specialist service.

People with a mental health condition

Mental health and money advice has information about claiming disability benefits for a mental health condition, including how to claim universal credit and personal independence payment (PIP).

Mind has information about claiming benefits for people with a mental health condition. Its website has a list of local services for local Mind services. Some services have requirements for a GP referral. Contact the local Mind partnership to find out if they have rules about who they can accept as a client.

Single parents

Gingerbread supports single parents with benefits and child maintenance. It has online information and can give advice by phone and webchat.

Older adults

The Age UK advice line is open 365 days a year. It gives advice to older adults about benefits, retirement, hospital stays, and care homes. The website has information about cost of living support for older people.

People experiencing financial abuse

Surviving Economic Abuse can support people if their current or former partner has interfered with their money or financial situation. Its financial support line can discuss welfare benefits issues and signpost or refer people to apply for grants.

People subject to immigration control

The Aire Centre provides free legal advice and representation to people subject to immigration control, especially to EEA nationals and their families. It can represent people in social security tribunals on issues like right to reside and access to benefits, healthcare, and housing.

Occupational charities

The Royal British Legion can give benefits and money advice to members of the armed forces, veterans, and their families.

Charity choice is a directory of occupational charities, trade unions, and benevolent funds linked to trades and professions.

Benefits casework and appeals

Benefits casework includes help to:

  • ask for reconsideration or revision of a decision

  • challenge an overpayment, sanction, or deduction

  • appeal a decision in the benefits tribunals

Some local advice agencies, including Citizens Advice, Law Centres, and Shelter Hubs, have specialist advisers who can take on benefits casework.

A local authority or voluntary action organisation might have details of which local services can provide benefits casework.

Legal aid for benefits cases

Most benefits casework is not in scope for legal aid. This includes appeals to the First-tier Tribunal. Appeals to the Upper Tribunal are in scope.

Some firms of legal aid solicitors can take on Upper Tribunal appeals under legal aid.

The Public Law Project has information about how to get Exceptional Cases Funding in welfare benefits cases.

Legal test cases

Child Poverty Action Group takes on a small number of test cases each year. It focusses on cases that have the potential to improve the lives of children in poverty.

When to get debt advice

A debt adviser can help someone who is having money recovered from their benefit entitlement for an overpayment or another debt. They can look at options to reduce or write off the amount the person pays off.

A debt adviser cannot help to claim benefits, or to challenge a decision that an overpayment has occurred.

Find out more about where to get debt and money advice.

Benefits advice for professionals

Professionals can get advice and find resources for dealing with welfare benefits cases.

Child Poverty Action Group has an advice line for professionals who give benefits advice on behalf of not-for-profit advice agencies.

Shelter's Specialist Debt Advice Service can deal with enquiries about benefit overpayments and recovery from professionals dealing with debt problems for a client, including debt remedies that can stop deductions from benefits.

Last updated: 8 December 2022