How to get help with urgent or one-off expenses
Sometimes you just can't afford an unexpected bill. If that happens, you may be able to get your benefit paid in advance, or apply for help from your local council or a charity.
Can I get my benefit paid in advance?
- You may be able to get an advance payment of your benefit called a Budgeting Loan (or Budgeting Advance if you receive Universal Credit).
- Alternatively, if you’re waiting for a decision on your benefit claim, you may be able to get a short-term advance.
Budgeting Loans can help you pay for essential items such as furniture, clothing and removal costs.
The minimum loan is £100. The maximum amount you can borrow is:
- £348 if you’re single
- £464 if you’re part of a couple
- £812 if you have children
To be able to claim a Budgeting Loan, you or your partner must be receiving a one of the following benefits:
- Pension Credit
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
- Income-based Employment and Support Allowance).
You may have different options for repaying your loan, but you’ll need to repay it within 104 weeks. What you owe is usually taken out of your benefit payments until the loan is paid off.
Budgeting Advances (only available if you’re receiving Universal Credit)
Budgeting Advances can help to pay for a range of different expenses such as a one-off item, home repairs, moving costs, or clothes.
The minimum advance payment is £100. The maximum amount is:
- £348 (if you’re single with no children)
- £464 (if you’re part of a couple with no children)
- £812 (if you have children).
This is a type of loan and you’ll need to repay it within 12-18 months. Repayments will be taken from your Universal Credit payments until the advance is paid back. You’ll be told how much your payments will be reduced by.
Short term advances
If you’re waiting for a decision on your benefit claim, you may be able to get a short-term advance payment to tide you over while you’re waiting for your first benefit payment. You can apply for an advance if you’ve recently applied for:
- State Pension,
- Pension Credit,
- Jobseeker’s Allowance,
- Income Support,
- Employment and Support Allowance, or
- Carer’s Allowance.
A short term advance is a type of loan and repayments will be taken from your benefit payments until the advance amount is completely paid back. You’ll be told how much your payments will be reduced by.
To apply for a short term advance contact the organisation responsible for the benefit you’re claiming.
Can I get financial help from my local council?
Assistance from your local council may be available if you’re in financial crisis. Schemes vary from one area to another. Some local councils may not offer a cash grant but provide goods, services or vouchers instead.
Can I get financial help from other charities?
Charities and benevolent funds may be able to help you if you’re unable to get support from elsewhere. You may need to show proof that you weren’t able to get a loan or advance for your benefit or help from the local council.
Grants from charities can range from small amounts for food vouchers to large amounts for buying domestic goods, such as a washing machine or cooker. Others may provide help towards the cost of a wheelchair or housing adaptations.
There are many charities and trusts in the UK. Some may only support particular groups, while others will consider helping anyone. Each charity will have their own eligibility criteria and application process.
The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need guidebook may be available from your local library
Can I get help to pay funeral expenses?
Funeral Payments can help towards burial or cremation costs and up to £700 for other expenses, such as the funeral director’s fees. You usually need to pay the amount back from the estate of the person who's died.
The eligibility criteria can be complicated. Read our factsheet The Social Fund, Advances of Benefit and Local Welfare Provision to find out the eligibility criteria.
Visit gov.uk to download a claim form SF200 or phone the Bereavement Service helpline on 0800 731 0469 to make a claim. You must make a claim within 3 months of the funeral.
What should I do next?
What extra money are you entitled to?
Do you know what benefits you are entitled to? Our Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out what you could be claiming.