Grants and loans
Grants and loans may be available to cover certain one-off costs or to help you if you are in emergency financial need.
Disabled Facilities Grants
If you have a disability and need to make major changes to your home, such as an extension, fixed hoist, stairlift or downstairs bathroom and shower unit, you may be able to apply for a grant from your local council. If a grant is available, your council may arrange for an occupational therapist to assess what adaptations you need.
Disabled Facilities Grants are normally means-tested, so how much you get depends on your income and savings.
To find out more about what's available in your area, check with your council or visit the gov.uk page on Disabled Facilities Grants
Cold Weather Payments
You are entitled to £25 for each qualifying week if the average temperature recorded or forecast over 7 consecutive days is 0ºC or less and you receive a qualifying means-tested benefit (including Pension Credit or income-related Employment and Support Allowance that includes an additional component).
Payments are made automatically by the Department for Work and Pensions, so you normally do not need to claim.
Winter Fuel Payments
You can get this annual tax-free payment if you have reached the qualifying age for Pension Credit (between April 2010 and April 2020 this is increasing from 60 to 66).
It is not affected by your income or savings and does not affect any other benefits you may receive. Payments vary between £100 and £300, depending on who lives with you.
If you got a Winter Fuel Payment last year, any payment for this year should be made automatically.
To claim your first Winter Fuel Payment, contact the claims line on 0800 731 0160. You should get the payment sent to you in November or December.
Sure Start Maternity Grants
A Sure Start Maternity Grant of £500, normally for your first child only, is available if you meet all of the following rules when you apply:
- you (or a member of your family) are pregnant or have given birth in the last 3 months (including stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy), or you have adopted, been appointed as a guardian or been granted a child arrangements order for a child under the age of 1, or have been granted a parental care order for a child born to a surrogate mother
- you receive a ‘qualifying benefit’ (Income Support, Pension Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, Child Tax Credit that includes a child element or disabled child element, Working Tax Credit that includes the disabled worker element or severe disability element, or Universal Credit)
- you have received health and welfare advice about having a baby
- you claim in the 11 weeks before your baby is due, or in the 3 months following the date of the birth, adoption, guardianship, child arrangements or parental order
You can claim a Sure Start Maternity Grant using the SF100 form, which must be signed by a health professional. You can also get a form from your antenatal clinic.
This might be available to help you cover the cost of a funeral. But it depends on a number of conditions, including your relationship with the person who has died.
To qualify for a Funeral Payment, you have to meet all of these rules:
- you or your partner take responsibility for the cost of a funeral that takes place in the UK (or another European Economic Area country or Switzerland, in some cases)
- you or your partner get a ‘qualifying benefit’ (these are the same as for Sure Start Maternity Grants above, but also include Housing Benefit)
- the person who died was ordinarily resident in the UK
- the person who died must have been your partner, your child, or a close relative or close friend (in the case of a close relative or friend, it must be reasonable for you to accept responsibility for the funeral costs, given the nature and extent of your contact with them)
The payment covers a number of costs, including cremation and burial fees. Miscellaneous costs of up to £700 can also be claimed (or £120 for expenses not covered by a pre-paid funeral plan).
The Funeral Payment can be taken from the estate of the person who has died if there is enough money available.
You must claim the Funeral Payment with form SF200 within 6 months of the funeral.
The form is also available from a Jobcentre Plus office or the Department for Work and Pensions Bereavement Service (0800 731 0469 or textphone 0800 731 0464). In Northern Ireland call 0800 085 246.
Short-term benefit advances
When you make, or are about to make, a new claim for benefit, you may sometimes need financial support before receiving your first payment of the benefit.
Short-term benefit advances can help you through that period by providing a loan, which will then be recovered from later benefit payments, normally over a maximum period of 12 weeks.
This may be extended to 24 weeks in exceptional circumstances.
In the case of Universal Credit, the advance is known as a ‘Universal Credit advance’ and the maximum repayment period is 12 months.
To be eligible for a short-term advance, you must be able to show that you are in ‘financial need’.
Short-term advances are also available to cover other circumstances, such as:
- where there has been a change of circumstances that will increase the amount of your benefit
- where it is impractical for benefit to be paid on time (for example, due to a technical problem in dealing with the claim or payment)
To apply for a short-term advance, call the phone number for the benefit you are claiming:
- for Income Support, Employment and Support Allowance or Jobseeker’s Allowance call 0800 169 0310 (textphone 0800 169 0314)
- for Carer’s Allowance call 0800 731 0297 (textphone 0800 731 0317)
- for Pension Credit or State Pension call 0800 731 0469 (textphone 0800 731 0464)
- for a Universal Credit advance call 0800 328 5644 (textphone 0800 328 1344)
In each case, you must tell the adviser about your circumstances and how much you think you need to borrow.
Budgeting Loans are available to cover specific one-off expenses. These include:
- furniture and household equipment
- clothing and footwear
- improvement, upkeep and security of your home
- rent in advance or removal expenses to get new accommodation
- money you have to pay out when either seeking work or starting a new job
- hire purchase and other debts related to any of the above
To qualify for a Budgeting Loan:
- you must have been getting Income Support, Pension Credit, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least 26 weeks when your application is considered
- you must not have too much capital. The amount of any loan you get will be reduced on a pound-for-pound basis by any savings you or your partner have over £1,000 (or £2,000 if you or your partner are aged 63 or over)
The decision-maker will only make an award that you are able to pay back.
The loan will normally be recovered from your benefits within a two-year period.
You need to complete form SF500 to apply for a Budgeting Loan. This is also available from your local Jobcentre Plus office.
Universal Credit has a similar system of Budgeting Advances. These will not normally be available if you are a single claimant who has earned more than £2,600 (or you are in a couple and your joint earnings were more than £3,600) in the 6 months before applying for a payment.
Local Welfare Assistance schemes
Since 2013, local councils are responsible for grants and loans to help people with independent living or in crisis situations.
In England, each council is responsible for setting up its own Local Welfare Assistance scheme.
You should contact your council for details of their scheme. Some councils do not provide any assistance.
The 'Discretionary Assistance Fund' is grant-based only and payments are made on the following basis:
- Individual Assistance Payments – these help people begin or continue to live independently in the local community
- Emergency Assistance Payments – to help in the event of an emergency or threat to health or wellbeing of you or your family, such as a fire or flood in your home
Applications can be made by calling 0800 859 5924.
The 'Scottish Welfare Fund' is a scheme intended to:
- provide a safety net in an emergency when there is an immediate threat to health and safety
- help people to live, or continue to live, independently, preventing the need for institutional care
Contact your local council for details of the scheme or to apply.
‘Discretionary Support Payments’ can be provided as grants or loans. A grant may be provided to help you, or your immediate family, remain or begin living independently in the community or where you, or your immediate family, are prevented from remaining in your home.
Applications can be made by calling 0800 587 2750.
Charitable funds are run by grant-giving charities to give help to people in financial need. Different funds have different aims and eligibility criteria, such as specific locations or particular illnesses or disabilities.
To find out more about what grants might be available for your situation or where you live, visit the Turn2us grants search tool