If you don’t have enough to live on, you might be able to get help from the government or your local council to afford essentials like bills and food. This includes the Household Support Fund and Cost of Living Payments.
You should speak to the organisations you owe money to – they might let you pay smaller amounts or take a break from payments.
Don’t ignore bills or letters about money you owe.
You might be able to claim benefits or increase your current benefits if you’re:
of working age and on a low income
sick or disabled
of State Pension age and on a low income
responsible for children
You can check what benefits you can get.
Most benefits can be paid early. This is known as a 'short term benefit advance'.
A small amount will be taken off future payments to pay it back - usually for 12 weeks.
You can also ask for an advance payment of Universal Credit to help you while you’re waiting for your first payment. You can check how to get a Universal Credit advance payment.
You can’t get a benefit paid early for:
Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
Working or Child Tax credits
To ask for an advance, contact the DWP office that's dealing with your benefit claim. You can find their contact details on any letter or email you’ve had from them.
Your local council might help you pay for things like:
your energy and water bills
essential items - for example, clothes or an oven
This help is known as 'welfare assistance' or the ‘Household Support Fund’. Each council runs their own scheme. The help they offer and who can get it varies.
Ask your local council if they run a welfare assistance or Household Support Fund scheme. You can find out how to contact your local council on GOV.UK.
You don’t have to be getting benefits to get help from your local council. If you do get benefits, they won’t be affected if you start getting money from a welfare assistance or Household Support Fund scheme.
The government will give every household in Great Britain £400 off their electricity bill. This is called the Energy Bills Support Scheme.
You don’t need to do anything to get the money and you won’t have to pay it back. The £400 will be automatically added to your energy account over 6 months starting from October 2022.
If you have a prepayment meter, the £400 will be added to your meter or you’ll be given vouchers - the government will confirm how you'll get the money nearer to the time.
The government will also send you extra one-off payments if you:
get certain benefits - for example, Universal Credit, PIP or Attendance Allowance
are over State Pension age and get Winter Fuel Payments
You can get as many of these extra payments as you're eligible for. You won't have to pay tax on them and they won't count as income when calculating your benefits.
The government will give you a £326 'Cost of Living Payment'.
You'll get the Cost of Living Payment automatically if you get any of the following:
Working Tax Credit
Child Tax Credit
Income-based Jobseekers Allowance
Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
If you get Working or Child Tax Credit, you'll get your Cost of Living Payment in autumn 2022.
If you get one of the other benefits, you'll get your Cost of Living Payment on or after 14 July 2022. You'll probably get your payment by the end of July.
You’ll only get 1 Cost of Living Payment - even if you’re claiming more than 1 benefit.
To get this payment you must have either:
been getting a benefit payment on or between 26 April 2022 and 25 May 2022 - it doesn't matter if it gets paid to someone else, like your landlord
started a successful benefit claim by 25 May 2022 - or by 26 April 2022 if you're applying for Universal Credit
If you’re applying for Universal Credit, you won’t get the Cost of Living Payment until your benefits claim is successful.
The government have said they'll send a second Cost of Living Payment in 2022. If you get Working or Child Tax Credit, you'll get your second payment in winter. If you get one of the other benefits, you'll get your second payment in autumn.
If you’re not claiming any of these benefits yet, you should check if you can claim benefits. It's worth starting a claim as soon as possible if you're eligible - this means you might be able to get the second Cost of Living Payment.
The government will automatically give you £150 in September 2022. You'll get this payment if you get any of the following benefits:
Disability Living Allowance
Personal Independence Payment
Armed Forces Independence Payment
Constant Attendance Allowance
War Pension Mobility Supplement
To get this payment you must have:
been getting one of these benefits on 25 May 2022
applied for one of these benefits by 25 May 2022 - you won't get the payment until your claim is successful
You’ll automatically get an extra £300 with your usual Winter Fuel Payment in either November or December.
You're usually entitled to Winter Fuel Payments if you’re of State Pension age in the third week of September. The State Pension age is 66.
You should start getting the Winter Fuel Payment automatically once you reach State Pension age, but sometimes you might need to apply. You can find out how to apply for the Winter Fuel Payment on GOV.UK.
If you’re struggling to afford essentials like bills or food, there are things you can do.
There are things you can do if you’re struggling to pay your rent and bills.
If you're struggling to pay for food, you might be able to get a referral to a food bank.
You might be able to get a Healthy Start card to help you buy certain types of milk, infant formula, fruit and vegetables.
To get the Healthy Start card you must be at least 10 weeks pregnant or have a child under 4 years old. You must also be getting either:
Universal Credit - but only if your household earns £408 a month or less
income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
income-related Employment and Support Allowance - but only if you're pregnant
If you get Child Tax Credit, you can’t get the card if you also get Working Tax Credit - unless you get the ‘run-on’ payment. Working Tax Credit run-on is the payment you get for 4 weeks after you stop qualifying for Working Tax Credit.
With the Healthy Start card you’ll get:
£4.25 each week from week 10 of your pregnancy
£8.50 each week for children from birth to 1 year old
£4.25 each week for children between 1 and 4 years old
You might be able to get help paying for NHS charges, for example:
sight tests, glasses and contact lenses
If you can’t get help to pay for your prescriptions, you might be able to save money by buying a prepayment certificate.
You’ll pay a fixed price for either 3 or 12 months. This will cover the cost of all the prescriptions you need during that time.
You can buy a prepayment certificate for unlimited prescriptions for:
£30.25 for 3 months
£108.10 for 12 months - you can pay this in 10 instalments of £10.81
If you’re on a low income or claim certain benefits, you might be able to get help with the costs of sending your children to school.
You could get:
free school meals
free transport to school
a grant to help to buy school uniforms
Contact your local council to check if they offer free or discounted travel - for example, if you’re:
on a work placement
unemployed and looking for work
You can find your local council on GOV.UK.
If you’re over State Pension age, you can apply for an older person's bus pass on GOV.UK.
If you’re 60 or over and live in a London borough, you can get free travel on London’s transport services. You can apply for a 60+ London Oyster photocard on the TFL website.
If you’re disabled, you might be able to apply for a bus pass or railcard. You can check if you can get help with the cost of transport.
You should use our budgeting tool to help you understand:
what money you've got coming in and what you have going out
where you might be able to cut costs
You can use our budgeting tool.
You might be able to get extra money from a charity. Some of these charitable grants are open to everyone, others might be available to you based on your situation - for example, your health or your previous or current job.
You can check what help you can get from local and national charities on the Turn2us website. You’ll need to know your postcode.
You might be able to take some money from your pension savings to help pay for essential costs or to pay off your debts.
Taking money from your pension will mean you have less income when you retire. If you’re getting benefits, taking money from your pension could affect your claim.
You can get free guidance on your pension options from Pension Wise. They’ll explain the different options so you can decide which is best for you.
You should also get financial advice before taking any money from your pension savings - you’ll have to pay.
You can check how to find a financial adviser - they can tell you which option is best for you.
Your mental health is as important as your physical health. You should talk to your GP if your money problems are affecting your mental health.
You can also get help now on the Mind website.
You can also call the Samaritans at any time.
Helpline: 116 123
Welsh Language Line: 0808 164 0123 (Monday to Sunday 7pm to 11pm)
Monday to Sunday at any time.
Calls are free from mobiles and landlines.
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