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11/20/2014 2:54:16 PM

'Go for a Grant' campaign: Jayne's story

Turn2us Grants Search

Earlier this week, we launched our campaign ‘Go for a Grant’ encouraging people in financial hardship to check their eligibility for grants and other support.

Almost two-thirds (65%) of our users told us that before they found help, they’d had to rely on financial help from family and friends - and over three-fifths (64%) had been forced to cut back on food and heating.

Jayne's story

One of the people we’ve helped is Jayne.

“My financial problems started when my marriage broke down," she says, "and I had to move to a new area, away from my family and friends.

"After my divorce I was living on a limited income and money was very tight. I couldn’t afford furniture for my new flat.

"Luckily my parents and a friend kindly helped me by providing some second hand furniture, but I could barely afford to cover my bills each month so things were a struggle.

"When my old sofa broke, I had no money to repair it or buy a new one. I did my best to cover it up with a cushion and carry on using it. However, after it became more damaged, I knew it needed to be replaced.

"I tried searching online for help that might be available and came across Turn2us. I used the Grants Search to see whether I might be able to get a grant to pay for a cheap second hand sofa bed I’d seen in a local charity shop.

"I managed to make a successful application to the Charity for Civil Servants as I had worked in the Civil Service previously. I was so surprised to receive a lovely letter and a grant to pay for a new sofa bed - and a bit extra to help to pay my bills - which really helped me out.

"It seems ridiculous to say it changed my life but it really did. Since receiving this help I have found a new lease of life. I can now invite my friends and family to stay with me overnight and it’s great to know I’ve got that.

"I’d recommend anyone else in a situation like mine tries using the Grants Search – it comes up with all sorts of things you would never have thought of. It’s great that there are organisations out there that are willing to help.”

More 'Go for a Grant' stories to follow

Throughout the ‘Go for a Grant’ campaign, we will be sharing more of our users’ stories. Look out for them on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

Find out more about the Turn2us 'Go for a Grant' press release

Check your eligibility for support from a charitable fund through our free Grants Search.

Date of publication: 20 November 2014

11/20/2014 10:15:28 AM

'Emergency Use Only' Report: Understanding and reducing UK food bank use

Turn2us Help with food costs news article


Issues with the benefits system, such as delays and gaps, and lack of awareness about the financial support available in a crisis are key causes of people using food banks, new research commissioned by Oxfam, Child Poverty Action Group, the Church of England and the Trussell Trust has revealed.

Dramatic rise in use of emergency food aid

Use of emergency food aid in the UK has dramatically increased over the last ten years.

The research report, 'Emergency Use Only' report examines:

  • Why people are turning to food banks
  • How food bank use fits with their wider coping strategies
  • What might be done to reduce the need that leads to food bank use.

The study is based on 40 in-depth interviews with Trussell Trust food bank users, supported by information collected from more than 900 recipients to give a moving insight into the reality of poverty and why food banks are needed. 

Key findings

  • Food banks were predominantly a last-resort, short-term measure, prompted by an ‘acute income crisis’ – something which had happened to completely stop or dramatically reduce their income
  • Income crisis could be caused by sudden loss of earnings, change in family circumstances or housing problems. However, for many people the immediate trigger for food bank use was linked to problems with benefits (including waiting for benefits to be paid, sanctions, problems with Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)) or missing tax credits
  • Many food bank users were also not made aware of the various crisis payments available in different circumstances, and even fewer were receiving them
  • 19-28% of users for whom additional data was collected had recently had household benefits stopped or reduced because of a sanction and 28-34% were waiting for a benefit claim which had not been decided
  • Many food bank users faced multiple challenges, including ill-health, relationship breakdown, mental health problems or substantial caring responsibilities.  Many were unable to work or had recently lost their job.  The frequency of bereavement among food bank users was also a striking feature.


"The frequency of bereavement among food bank users was a striking feature of this research. Death of a loved one can have a direct financial impact, through loss of income from the deceased but also job loss (because of time taken to care for the dying person or because the emotional impact on the bereaved partner means they are unable to work). Bereavement can also have an indirect effect through its impact on a range of other previously established networks and survival strategies."


'Emergency use only' report



The report makes several recommendations of actions that might prevent people from using food banks:

  • Improve access to short-term benefit advances: increase awareness, simplify the claim process
    and improve data collection to identify support needs.
  • Reform sanctions policy and practice: increase access to hardship payments, clarify
    communications about sanctions, mitigate the impact whilst a sanction is being reconsidered
    and address issues for Housing Benefit
  • Improve the ESA regime: ensure claimants are not left without income whilst challenging a
    decision made because of missing medical certificates or missed appointments
  • Sustain and improve access to emergency financial support through Local Welfare Assistance
    Schemes and the Scottish Welfare Fund
  • Ensure Jobcentres provide an efficient and supportive service for all clients
  • Improve Jobcentre Plus Advisers’ awareness of, and ability to respond to, mental health problems
  • Improve access to appropriate advice and support.

Comment from the Trussell Trust's Chief Executive Officer

David McAuley, the Trussell Trust's Chief Executive Officer, said: “This new evidence brings into sharp focus the uncomfortable reality of what happens when a ‘life shock’ or benefit problem hits those on low incomes: parents go hungry, stress and anxiety increase, and the issue can all too quickly escalate into crippling debt, housing problems and illness. The Trussell Trust has consistently said that too many people are falling through gaps in the social security system. The voices of food bank users heard in this report have informed the united call from four respected anti-poverty bodies to implement simple fixes to the welfare system. We welcome the opportunity to engage positively with politicians of all parties in order to work together to enable solutions for the poorest in the UK.”

Use Turn2us services to find help

Crises, bereavements and/or changes in life situations were key factors in the need for people to use food banks - as well as lack of awareness of the help available through benefits and other financial support.

Turn2us exists to help people in these situations who are struggling financially to find help. We have just launched a new Grants Awareness campaign to highlight the help that can be available from charitable funds.

You can use our Turn2us Grants Search to search for help, based on your background, needs and services.

We also have a Turn2us Benefits Calculator which helps you check your entitlement to benefits.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

See also the Turn2us Help with food costs news article

Read the Turn2us Local welfare assistance information

Find out more about the Turn2us Grants Awareness campaign


Date of publication: 20 November 2014

11/17/2014 11:08:48 AM

Attend our free Reading intermediary Turn2us workshop

Information on Turn2us regional workshops

Are you working with people in financial need in the Reading area? 

Would you like to know how you can use Turn2us tools and resources to help your clients?

Turn2us is running a free half-day intermediary workshop in Reading, this Thursday, 20 November, from 9.30 am -12.30 pm at  QV Offices, 25-27 Queen Victoria Street, Reading, Berkshire RG1 1SY. Participants must bring their own laptops/tablets.

To book a place or for more information, contact: Michelle Brookes, Turn2us Training Co-ordinator, at email:

Date of publication: 17 November 2014

11/17/2014 10:08:13 AM

Housing costs 2040: Rents will rise twice as fast as incomes

Turn2us Housing costs information


The current generation of primary school children face paying private rents that are 90% higher than the cost of renting at the start of the recession. 

Forecasts for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) show how rents will rise twice as fast as incomes and without action now, more people will be at risk of poverty due to rising housing costs.

A continuing decline in home ownership and social renting, together with a lack of new homes, will result in more people living in private rented homes.

What will the housing market look like in 2040?

'What will the housing market look like in 2040?'– a report for JRF by experts at Heriot-Watt University – analysed trends affecting the housing market, looking at factors such as economic and income growth, changes in house prices, housing supply and rent levels.

Taken from the start of the recession in 2008, the report found that by 2040:

  • People who rent will be more than twice as likely to be living in poverty than homeowners.
  • Private rents are forecast to rise by 90%, twice as fast as incomes. The average private rent today is £132 per week – it will be £250 per week in 2040 in real terms.
  • One in five (10.6 million people) will be living in private rented homes, up from 7.2 million today. Half of these, 5.7 million, will be in poverty (a rise of 2.6 million).
  • One in 10 will be living in social housing, down from the current figure of 8.2 million to 5.7 million in 2040. Social rents will increase 39% to reach £92.10 per week in real terms.
  • If social rents continue to rise towards market rates, the cost of Housing Benefit could rise by 125% - adding £20 billion to the current bill.
  • Real median house prices for owners will increase to £263,000, a rise of 57%. 35.3 million people will be home owners by 2040 (a reduction of 820,000 people from 2008). Real household incomes will grow from £32,300 to £45,500.

Joseph Rowntree Foundation's call to action

In light of today’s figures, JRF today calls on the government and housing providers to work together on an action plan to solve the housing crisis and keep poverty in check. Poverty levels are likely to reach one in four by 2040 and can be contained if:

  • Housing supply doubles to more than 200,000 units a year
  • Social rents continue to go up by inflation plus 1%, rather than move towards market rents
  • Housing benefit continues to support housing costs at similar levels
  • The fall in the proportion of affordable social housing in the overall market is halted.

Comment from Joseph Rowntree Foundation's Chief Executive

Julia Unwin, Chief Executive at JRF, said:

“These stark findings are a wake-up call for political leaders. After decades of failing to build enough, those in power have a responsibility to act now to build more genuinely affordable homes. Without that we are storing up trouble for the future – a price that will be paid by children starting school life this year. These high costs are bad for families, the economy and Government.
“We need a clear strategy that builds the homes we need in the right places and avoids locking low income households out of affordable homes. This is about more than frustrated aspirations of home ownership from Generation Rent: the reality facing many people is a life below the poverty line because of the extortionate cost of keeping a roof over your head. Addressing the rising cost of housing is crucial to tackling the high levels of poverty in the UK.”

Source: Joseph Rowntree Foundation press release: Soaring rent rises to leave nearly 6 million private renters living in poverty by 2040 (link opens in a new window)

Use Turn2us resources to find help

If you are struggling to make ends meet, use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

See also the Turn2us information on Help with Housing costs

Also in the news

Benefit and tax changes



Maternity and paternity rights

Date of publication: 17 November 2014

11/14/2014 9:36:10 AM

Record level of tenant evictions in England and Wales

Turn2us Benefits Calculator


The number of tenant households evicted from their homes in England and Wales hit record levels In June-September this year, with benefits cuts among the factors leading to more than 100 evictions a day.

Figures from the Ministry of Justice show that 11,100 rented properties were repossessed by bailiffs between July and September this year - the highest quarterly figure since the records began in 2000. In contrast, just 2,805 mortgage borrowers lost their homes.

By the end of September, more than 30,000 tenant households had lost their homes and 2014's total figure is likely to be higher than 2013's total of 37,792.

Bedroom 'tax'

The Ministry of Justice figures do not show who owns the rental properties. However, many recent possession claims have been made by social landlords who have warned it is caused by the introduction of the bedroom tax.

Of the 40,859 possession claims issued between July and September, 25,955 were by social landlords, such as local councils and housing associations.5,694 were by private landlords and the rest could not be broken down. The Ministry of Justice said it expected a fifth of the claims to lead to eviction.

Source: Guardian news article: Number of tenants evicted hits record levels as benefit cuts bite (link opens in a new window)

Use Turn2us resources to find help

If you are struggling to make ends meet, use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

Also in the news


Young people

Date of publication: 14 November 2014

11/13/2014 10:02:52 AM

Maternity benefit cuts are making high poverty rates among new families worse

Turn2us information for people Expecting or Bringing up a Child


A report by the charity Maternity Action concludes that cuts to benefits and statutory payments available to pregnant women and parents of children aged up to 12 months are making the high rate of poverty among new families worse - including working people - and contributing to the rise in personal debt.

Series of cuts to maternity benefits

Since 2010, the Government has made a series of cuts to maternity benefits and statutory payments, including:

  • Freezing and means-testing Child Benefit
  • Removing the baby element and reducing the income cut-off for the family element of Child Tax Credit
  • Below inflation up-rating of Statutory Maternity Pay and Maternity Allowance
  • Removing Sure Start Maternity Grant for all but a family’s first child; and abolition of both the Child
    Trust Fund and Health in Pregnancy Grant.

The Maternity Action report says reducing maternity benefits is at odds with evidence-based strategies to address health inequalities, as outlined in the 2010 Marmot review. Poverty and poor health are inextricably linked and children born to parents living in poverty are more likely to present with developmental and social problems later in life.

Maternity Action's recommendations

  1. Implement the Marmot Review recommendation that all parents have paid parental leave during the baby’s first year of life, with a minimum income for healthy living, by:
    • Immediately increasing the flat rate of Statutory Maternity Pay, Statutory Paternity Pay, Maternity Allowance and Statutory Shared Parental Pay to compensate for below-inflation up-rating since 2013, then planning a series of annual, real-term increases to bring parity with the National Minimum Wage by the end of the next Parliament II.
    • Treating Maternity Allowance as ‘earnings from employment’, for the purposes of Universal Credit, to ensure similar treatment to Statutory Maternity Pay and other work-related payments.
  2. Assist low to medium income families with the costs of each new baby, by reinstating the Sure Start Maternity Grant for second and subsequent children.
  3. Provide support for low-income women during pregnancy to ensure a healthy diet, by increasing Healthy Start payments by 14.5% (the increase in the cost of food and non-alcoholic beverages since the benefit was last up-rated in 2010).
  4. Review access to maternity benefits for pregnant women and new mothers who do not have indefinite leave to remain and for EEA nationals, with the aim of reducing poverty amongst migrant families residing in the UK. This should take into account the impact of extending from two years to five years the period of residency in the UK required for migrants with spouse/partner/fiancé(e) visas to apply for indefinite leave to remain, and restrictions on access to benefits by EEA nationals.
  5. Take immediate steps to reduce the high rate of pregnancy discrimination to enable pregnant women and new parents to retain their jobs and have the confidence to exercise their maternity and parental rights at work.

Use Turn2us resources to find help

If you have a child and are struggling to make ends meet, use our Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and our Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, based on your personal background, circumstances and needs.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

This includes a Turn2us Childcare costs information section

The Turn2us Educational Costs information section has information about the financial help that is available for those in education, who is eligible, how much you can get and how to apply.

If you have dependent children 16 or under, see also the Turn2us Expecting or bringing up a child information section. If your children are 16-25, see also the Turn2us information section for Young people.

Source: Maternity Action report: Valuing families - the impact of cuts to maternity benefits (link opens in a new window) 

Also in the news

Payday loans


Universal Credit


Young carers

Date of publication: 13 November 2014

11/12/2014 9:50:03 AM

Older, not colder: Why older people need warm homes

Age UK press release (12 November 2014): 3.5 million older people worried about keeping warm (link opens in a new window)


1 in 3 (32%) older people are concerned about keeping their home adequately warm this coming winter, with the majority concerned about the high cost of energy (70%), according to new research from Age UK.

The research – published today to launch Age UK's Campaign for Warm Homes – clearly shows that high energy bills and fuel poverty, together with hard-to-heat, energy-inefficient homes are weighing heavily on the minds of older people. Around five million over-65 year olds say rising energy bills is one of their main concerns over the winter months.

Shocking human cost

The charity’s new 'Older, not colder' report outlines the shocking human cost and suffering the fuel poverty crisis is causing. Each winter, one older person dies every seven minutes from cold weather - and excess winter death rates and illness are highest among those living in the coldest homes.

Yet, with just under one million older people living in fuel poverty, many simply cannot afford to heat their homes to a sufficient temperature in order to keep warm and well.

Many deaths could be prevented

Many of these deaths and health problems could be prevented if everyone lived in a warm home. This is why Age UK’s Campaign for Warm Homes is calling on the Government to commit to upgrading all homes to meet higher energy efficient standards.

The Charity believes this is the only viable long-term solution to fuel poverty, rising energy prices and the resulting winter health problems. Age UK research also shows that two fifths (41%) of older people believe that the Government should do more to ensure UK homes are made more energy efficient, closely followed by energy companies (36%).

£1.36bn cost of cold homes

Clearly there is a significant cost to a project of this scale. Yet in addition to the high number of lives claimed by the fuel poverty crisis, there is also a financial price to pay in terms of increased pressure on local authorities, the NHS and the social care system.

In fact, Age UK estimates that the cost of cold homes to the NHS is around £1.36bn every year. An ambitious energy efficiency programme would not only save lives, it would also:

  • Reduce associated hospital and care costs
  • Lift millions out of fuel poverty
  • Cut carbon dioxide emissions
  • Stimulate the economy and create thousands of jobs across the UK.

Age UK's Charity Director's comments

Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: ‘The spectre of struggling to afford to heat their homes this winter is looming large in the minds of millions of older people.  Increasing energy costs coupled with poorly insulated homes means the UK is fighting a losing battle against cold weather and it is very difficult for increasing numbers of people to properly protect themselves.

‘The only long-term solution to this problem is an ambitious programme to bring all our housing up to a high energy efficiency standard. We realise a national infrastructure project of this scale would require major investment; but not only would it reduce illness and deaths among older people, it would also cut associated costs to the NHS, create jobs and growth and help future generations. 

‘No older person should worry that they could die from the cold in their own home. Fuel poverty is a national scandal which has claimed the lives of too many people – both old and young – for far too long and left many more suffering from preventable illness. We want a permanent solution and we believe it is within our grasp, if there is the necessary imagination and political will.’

Huge numbers of older people are missing out on benefits

Each year huge numbers of older people are missing out on as much as £5.5billion of crucial financial support through benefits. Some simply do not know that they could be entitled to extra income.

Others are acutely aware of the benefits available but feel too proud or embarrassed to put in a claim. Some have unsuccessfully tried before or have been put off by the claiming process which they feel is too complicated or intrusive.

If those eligible for Pension Credit made a claim, on average it could boost their budget by over £1,700 a year – that’s an extra £33 a week to spend on essentials such as decent food, clothing, transport or heating.

Older people are not just missing out on income related benefits; many are also entitled to benefits linked to illness and disability. The increased spending pressures that disability brings, such as needing to take taxis and using more heating, can leave even those on decent incomes at risk of poverty and financial hardship.

Positive impact of claiming benefits

There can be no doubt that the positive impact of claiming benefits is huge. In a recent survey of those helped to claim their benefits by Age UK, two thirds (65%) said they are now better able to pay their bills as a result of claiming; well over half (53%) felt they now have enough money to live on; a third felt more prepared for the upcoming winter (30%); and almost one-fifth (16%) said they use the health service less than they did before.

The impact of the extra support on general wellbeing is also considerable with 70% reporting they feel less stressed and anxious; two-fifths (39%) feeling more independent and self-confident; and more than a quarter (28%) feeling less lonely and isolated and generally treated with more respect and dignity.

Use Turn2us resources to find out what help may be available to you

If you are an older person, you can use Turn2us tools and services to find out what money might be available to you.

Check your benefits

You can check your benefit entitlement using the Turn2us Benefits Calculator

Are you eligible for a charitable grant?

If you are on a low income, you may also be eligible for help from a charitable fund. Use the Turn2us Grants Search to find support based on your circumstances, background and needs.

Further information

You may also find the following information useful:

Sources: Age UK press release (12 November 2014): 3.5 million older people worried about keeping warm (link opens in a new window) and Turn2us news story (17 October 2014): 3.5 million older people worried about keeping warm (link opens in a new window)

Date of publication: 12 November 2014

11/11/2014 11:25:56 AM

Help for Armed Forces personnel (serving and veteran) and their families

Read the Turn2us Armed Forces information

Photograph: A Scottish Armed Forces family. Copyright: Poppyscotland and used with kind permission.

As we commemorate Armistice Day - particularly poignant this year because of the anniversary of the start of Britain's involvement in the First World War - it is important also to remember serving personnel and veterans of the Armed Forces today and their families - many of whom may be in financial need.

If your clients have a connection to the Armed Forces - still serving, veteran or family member - and are in financial need, Turn2us resources can help you to find help for them through benefits, charitable funds and other financial help. 


Use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check your clients' general entitlement to benefits.

To read more about the benefits available for people who are serving member of the armed forces or a veteran select from the list below:   


If your clients are or have been members of the Armed Forces community and are experiencing financial hardship, the Turn2us Grants Search can help you find the support you need through Armed Forces-focused and other charitable funds.

Armed Forces charities

There are a number of military charities that provide assistance to people with an Armed Forces background, each with their own set of eligibility requirements.

These include:

  • UK-wide and national Armed Forces charities, such as the Royal British Legion, SSAFA (the Soldiers, Sailors, Air Force Association), The Officers’ Association and Poppyscotland
  • Charities helping people who have served in particular branches of the Armed Forces, for example: ABF The Soldiers’ Charity; The Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund; and the Royal Navy and Royal Marines Charity
  • Regimental associations/charities, for example: The Royal Engineers Association, Royal Artillery Charity, The Royal Signals Benevolent Fund
  • Charities concerned with specific aspects of service, such as: The Burma Star Association, AJEX Charitable Foundation (formerly known as The Association of Jewish Ex-Servicemen & Women)
  • Charities that help people from Armed Forces who have a particular medical condition: for example: Blind Veterans UK, British Limbless Ex-Service Men's Association, Combat Stress.     

Help may be available to them from one of these charities, for people who:

  • Are still serving
  • Are veterans
  • Served as a regular or reserve, because of the Second World War or National Service
  • Had a long or short period of service
  • Are the partner, spouse, widow, widower or dependent child of someone who served.

Other charitable funds

Help may be available to your clients from other charitable funds listed on the Turn2us Grants Search, based on their personal circumstances, background and needs.

Read our recent Charity of the Month feature on Poppyscotland to find out how this Armed Forces charity supports the Armed Forces community in Scotland

Use the Turn2us Grants Search to find help for your clients


The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains information on benefits, grants and managing money subjects, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help Turn2us users find national and local sources of further help. This includes a Turn2us Armed Forces information section.

Date of publication: 11 November 2014

11/10/2014 10:02:25 AM

The rise of food poverty and where to find help

 Turn2us Benefits Calculator

Food poverty is a serious and growing issue in the UK today, as recent research studies by Turn2us and other charities demonstrate:

  • On average, low income working households are forced to spend half their monthly income on utility bills and food. Over two-fifths (43%) have had no choice but to cut back on food and other essentials as a result of their financial situation - Turn2us 'Benefits Awareness Month survey of low income households who are in work
  • Two-fifths (40%) of low income households and nearly half (47%) of people with disabilities who are on low incomes have had to cut back on food or skip meals, because of difficulties with paying energy bills  - Turn2us' Fuel Poverty campaign 2014 survey of low income households
  • An estimated 880,000 working parents in England have skipped meals in the past year to cover their mortgage or rent - Shelter. 
  • More people are suffering from malnutrition as a result of worsening food poverty - Faculty of Public Health
  • In 2013-14, food banks fed 913,138 people nationwide. Of those helped, 330,205 were children - Trussell Trust  (the largest operator of food banks in the UK) figures
  • In 2013 there was a dramatic increase in demand for food banks and charitable help in the UK with more than 20 million meals provided in 2013: a 54% increase on the previous year - a joint report from Oxfam, Church Action on Poverty and the Trussell Trust.
  • 75% of local authorities that provided information to the Government's recent review of Local Welfare Provision in England mentioned  the importance of food support in some form or another. Much of this was by partnering with food banks, whether through direct grants or vouchers.  All of these local authorities appeared to see food banks as an important alternative source of assistance for those in need.

Reasons for the rise in food poverty

The problem is so acute, that an All Political Parliamentary Group on Hunger and Food Poverty has been set up and is running an inquiry - chaired by Frank Field MP and Tim Thornton, Bishop of Truro - to  investigate the reasons behind the rise in hunger, food poverty and food bank use and make recommendations.

This has already highlighted the link between rising housing, food and fuel costs and food poverty. Other factors include unemployment, static incomes and welfare reform.

Help is available for people on low incomes struggling to pay food bills

One aspect of food poverty that is often overlooked is that help is often available to people on low incomes through benefits and grants.

Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs figures show, that over £19billion in benefits and tax credits go unclaimed each year  while £362 million is available in grants from charitable funds.

Yet Turn2us fuel poverty research showed that of people who couldn't pay their energy bills, 31% of low income households would cut back on food, yet only 27% would check their entitlements to welfare benefits, and only 13% would check their entitlements to grants.

Turn2us resources

If you are on a low income and struggling to pay food bills, you could use the Turn2us Benefits Calculator to check your entitlement to benefits and the Turn2us Grants Search database to see if you are eligible for help from a charitable fund, depending on your personal circumstances, background and needs.

The Turn2us Information and Resources section contains resources on benefits, grants and managing money, including useful links sheets and a Find an Adviser tool to help you find national and local sources of further help.

Other sources of help

Local Welfare Provision (England, Scotland, Wales)

Local welfare assistance schemes, which replaced Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants in April 2013, are designed to help people who are in urgent need following an emergency or unforeseen event. They are administered by local councils in England (local schemes) and Scotland (national scheme) and through the national Discretionary Assistance Fund in Wales.

The purpose is to provide advice and support to people who are in either a crisis situation or need help to move back into or stay in the community. In many places, help is not provided through cash but through goods, services, vouchers and/or referral to other agencies such as food banks.

Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants (Northern Ireland)

Northern Ireland still has Crisis Loans and Community Care Grants. You apply through your local Social Security or Jobs and Benefits office. If the Welfare Reform Bill for Northern Ireland is passed, a new Discretionary Support scheme will be replace these benefits.

Read the Turn2us Local Welfare Provision information for more information and how to apply

Food banks

A food bank provides food to people who are experiencing a crisis or are so poor they are unable to buy enough food to avoid hunger. The food is usually donated and the food bank run by charities, churches or other non-profit community organisations.

You usually have to be referred to a food bank by an organisation such as Citizens Advice, social services, churches or by an intermediary of some kind, such as a social worker, health or care professional.

Clients receive three days of nutritionally balanced, non-perishable food in exchange for their food voucher. Food bank staff and volunteers also make time to chat and to signpost clients to other helpful services.

For more information on food banks in the UK, see The Trussell Trust website (link opens in a new window)


FoodCycle is a UK charity that uses a network of volunteers, surplus food and spare kitchen spaces to create tasty, nutritious meals for people at risk of food poverty and social isolation.

There are 17 FoodCycle Hubs across the UK - local projects where volunteers are trained up, supported and empowered to collect surplus food and cook it in spare kitchen spaces. Working with community partners, the volunteers then provide healthy, communal meals to local people at risk from food poverty and social isolation.

People using the hubs include: older people, mental health service users, homeless people, low-income families, asylum seekers and refugees, and the long-term unemployed.

FoodCycle also run a 'Pie in the Sky Community Café 'in Bromley-by-Bow, in London. There the staff promote healthy eating in the community and support volunteers to gain the skills and confidence needed to gain employment. 

Find out more about FoodCycle and whether there is a FoodCycle Hub in your area (link opens in a new window)

Turn2us resources for intermediaries working with people in food poverty

If you are working for a food bank or other organisation that helps people on low incomes and food poverty, you may be interested in our services for intermediaries.

Find out more about Turn2us intermediary services

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Date of publication: 10 November 2014

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