Help with urgent or one-off expenses

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If you’re faced with an unexpected cost that you’re unable to meet, and you’re on a low income or without money altogether, you may be able to get help.

There are various different types of financial support that you may be able to get.

Budgeting Loans help spread the cost of expensive essential items such as furniture, clothing and footwear, removal costs and maintenance measures. Loans are interest-free and range from between £100 and £1,500. You'll have to repay the loan out of your weekly benefits.

Budgeting Advances. This kind of loan will eventually replace Budgeting Loans for eligible Universal Credit claimants. Like Budgeting Loans, they are interest-free loans to cover emergency and unforeseen expenses. 

Short Term Advances are for if you need help in the period between making a new benefit claim and receiving the benefit. You'll usually have to repay the money within 3 months, out of your weekly benefits.

Funeral Payments can help towards burial or cremation costs, and up to £700 for other expenses. Find out more in our guide opens link in new window When someone dies (PDF 895 KB) and our factsheet opens link in new window Planning for a funeral (PDF 516 KB).

Cold Weather Payments help with extra heating costs during periods of very cold weather, if you get certain means-tested benefits.

Winter Fuel Payments are paid to most pensioner households to help with the cost of fuel.

To find out more about help with heating costs see our Winter Fuel Payment page.

Assistance from your local council may be available if you’ve faced an emergency or a disaster, such as a fire or a flood, or you have essential expenses to cover. The help may not necessarily be financial, and the schemes vary from one area to another.

Can I claim it?

You usually need to be receiving certain benefits such as Pension Credit, Housing Benefit, Income Support, Employment Support Allowance, Jobseeker's Allowance or Universal Credit.

To be eligible for a Short Term Advance, you will need to show you are in financial need.

Savings of over £2,000 affect your eligibility for Budgeting Loans. Your savings are also likely to be taken into account if you apply for help from your local council. There are no savings limits for Funeral Payments.

How do I claim?

To apply for Funeral Payments, Budgeting Loans and Short Term Advances, contact your local Jobcentre Plus office. Contact your local council or check their website to find out what other support is available.

Charities and benevolent funds

Charities and benevolent funds may be able to help you out if you’re unable to get help from elsewhere. Grants from charities range from small amounts for food vouchers, to large amounts for buying domestic goods like washing machines and cookers.

Others may provide help towards the cost of a wheelchair or housing adaptations. Some may target particular groups, and others will consider helping anyone. For more information, contact Charity Search or Turn2us. You could also visit your local library and refer to The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need.

For more information, including who is eligible and how to apply, opens link in new window download The Social Fund, Advances of Benefit and Local Welfare Provision factsheet (PDF 161 KB).

Check that you’re getting any benefits you’re entitled to before applying to any of the sources above.

Download our guide opens link in new window More money in your pocket: a guide to claiming benefits for people over pension age (PDF 3 MB)

Download our factsheet  Guide to benefits for people under State Pension age (PDF 167 KB) 

We are grateful for the generous support of Dr Naim Dangoor CBE
and The Exilarch's Foundation

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Useful information to download

  • A factsheet with further information on the Social Fund and Local Welfare Provision.
    A factsheet about Pension Credit.
    An information guide on the practicalities of what to do when someone dies.
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