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Emergency assistance

Find out what emergency assistance may be available to you from benefits, grants and other sources of help.

Woman wading through flood water

Benefits

If you need help until a benefit claim is processed or paid you could make a claim for a Short Term Benefit Advance.

There is also a Government scheme called the Social Fund made up of different types of payments and loans to help people with emergency expenses that are difficult to meet on a low income.

There are several different types of Social Fund benefits. For some, you can claim them as long as you meet the criteria, for others, payment is not guaranteed even if you are eligible to make a claim. With most, you have to be receiving certain other benefits to qualify.

Local Welfare Assistance

If you are on a low income or in receipt of certain benefits, help in an emergency may be available through Local Welfare Assistance which is administered by local authorities in England and the devolved governments in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales.

England

Some local authorities have set up their own local welfare assistance schemes.

The Children's Society and Child Poverty Action Group have created postcode look up services to take you to the relevant information about the local welfare assistance scheme in your area if one exists.

Use the Children's Society's map tool to find your local scheme (link opens in a new window)

Use Child Poverty Action Group's 'Find your Local Scheme' tool (link opens in a new window)

Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland still has Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans because the Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland is yet to become law.

See the NI Direct website for further details about emergency assistance for Northern Ireland (link opens in a new window) .

Scotland

Scotland has set up the Scottish Welfare Fund

Wales

Wales has set up The Discretionary Assistance Fund.

Grants

Many charitable funds do provide help in an emergency or crisis. What is defined as an emergency will vary, but might include:

  • Homelessness because of fire, flood or family breakdown

  • Help with respite care costs for someone who is aged, ill or has disabilities, because their carer has to go into hospital

  • Repair or replacement of household goods, such as a washing machine, if the person who needs it would be at risk without it

  • Vital living costs that can't be paid because of a sudden bereavement, illness or job loss.

The assistance available depends on the charity's eligibility rules and what emergency help they give.

If you need emergency help, please use the Turn2us Grants Search to find charitable funds that you could apply for. You can then contact them to find out what emergency assistance they can offer you.

Advice and Support

Council services

Contact your local council (link opens in a new window) to find out what support they can offer you. This might include help for local crises such as flooding or fire; domestic violence; carers' or social care emergencies and homelessness.

Domestic or sexual violence

Homelessness

Crisis: National Charity for Single Homeless (link opens in a new window)

Gov.uk Emergency housing if you're homeless information (link opens in a new window)

Shelter England (link opens in a new window) Helpline 0808 800 4444

Shelter Scotland (link opens in a new window) Helpline: 0808 800 4444

Shelter Cymru (link opens in a new window) Helpline: 0845 075 5005

Housing Rights Service Northern Ireland (NI) (link opens in a new window) Telephone 028 9024 5640

Mental health

UK emergencies