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Q & A: Charitable grants for white goods

  • 22/11/2017
  • Author:bridgetmccall

As part of our #LivingWithout campaign, we answer some of your frequently asked questions

Man repairing an appliance in the kitchen

What are white goods?

‘White goods’ is a term used to describe large household items such as cookers, washing machines, dryers, fridges and freezers that use electricity, gas or some other kind of fuel. These are often made with enamel-coated materials that are white in colour – hence the name.

Are grants for white goods available from charitable funds?

Many of the charitable funds listed on our Grants Search give grants to people in financial need to help with the cost of white goods as well as other essential household items such as beds and bedding.

Who is eligible for help?

To be eligible for a grant, you have to meet a charitable fund’s qualifying rules (eligibility criteria). 

In most cases, this includes experiencing financial hardship. This may be because you are surviving on a low income with little or no savings to fall back on and/or a change in circumstances, such as bereavement or job loss, has caused you financial problems.

In addition to this, the rules might relate to:

  • Disabilities or illnesses

  • Debts or hardship in meeting priority bills

  • Working or having worked in certain jobs or industries

  • A specific faith, nationality or culture

  • Living in a particular part of the UK

  • Being of a certain age – e.g. ‘older people’ or ‘children and ‘young people aged under 18’.

Many funds also help the dependents of people they help – their partners, ex-partners or dependent children.

Why do people need a grant for white goods?

People need help with the cost of white goods for a number of reasons.

For the last decade or more, the UK has been in the grips of an economic recession, accompanied by benefits cuts, job losses and pay freezes. More people than ever before are struggling financially – even many people who are in work.

Unable to afford to replace white goods, they rely on old appliances that they have had for many years or do without them when they break down. As well as the risk of fire or gas leakage, these items can often be very energy inefficient and consequently expensive to run.

Illness and disabilities may require people to follow particular diets, keep medication refrigerated or have frequent changes of clothes - needs that can be impossible to do if you can’t afford to buy or replace the essential household items you need.

The help that charitable funds provide obviously helps people in need on a practical level. It also has positive effects on their mental health and abilities to cope with the circumstances that life has thrown at them – as the following three examples demonstrate.


Ryan* is a single father in his 50s who lives with two of his three sons (who are still in full-time education) above his corner shop, which he has been running for many years.

Unable to work following a cancer diagnosis, Ryan’s three sons took over the running of his shop as well as providing care to their father.

With money tight, the family was unable to replace their broken washing machine and fridge freezer. This put extra pressure Ryan’s sons, who were already struggling to juggle their household tasks, shop duties and school pressures.

GroceryAid, which helps people who work or have worked in the grocery industry, gave a grant to replace the household items and helped with other payments while Ryan recovered.

British Gas Energy Trust (BGET)**

A single lady's boiler had been condemned following a long period of running inefficiently, causing high energy bills. She was unable to afford a new boiler and her freezer was also not working. She was housebound as her wheelchair was broken, and she looked after her son who had a schizophrenic disorder.

As well as helping her to clear her energy bills, British Gas Energy Trust (BGET)  gave her a grant for a new boiler and freezer.

She told BGET: “Several months ago I felt in despair. The boiler had been condemned by the insurance company even though I paid a high premium for its maintenance. I was housebound and our meals were coming from tinned foods. My washing machine had broken down and I used the money for my energy bill to buy a new one – my illness had caused a severe degree of incontinence, causing a large amount of washing. I can say that you have truly given me a fresh start, something I did not think was possible.”

ABTA LifeLine

Barbara* worked for an ABTA member for 17 years.

When her husband of 34 years passed away in 2014, she discovered extensive debts which she knew nothing about. This led to Barbara becoming homeless in July 2015 and at the age of 68 she was forced to live in her car.

Luckily, in 2016, she was offered a one-bedroom bungalow from her local authority. However she had sold everything in her old property in order to survive.

ABTA LifeLine, which helps people who have worked in the travel industry, stepped in and purchased Barbara a cooker, washing machine, fridge/freezer and arranged for flooring to be laid throughout the bungalow.

How are grants for white goods given?

Each charity will have its own process for giving grants for white goods.

For example, Family Fund, which helps families with disabled children, works in partnership with a company to offer a wide range of kitchen items, which have a comprehensive warranty.  While Licensed Trade Charity, which helps people in England and Wales who work in bars, pubs and other aspects of the licensed trade industry, pays suppliers rather than giving cash grants.

How can I find a grant?

You can use our Grants Search  to look for any charitable funds that may be able to help you, based on your background, situation and needs.

Read our About Charitable Funds guide

Find out how to search for grants using our Grants Search

Discover more about making enquiries and applications to charitable funds

You may also find the following helpful:

Read our Grants for Energy Efficiency guide

Read our Energy Schemes guide

Read our Water Schemes guide

Find out more about our #LivingWithout campaign

Acknowledgements and sources

Thanks to GroceryAid, British Gas Energy Trust (PDF-file-size:-995.6kb-page-6) and ABTA LifeLine for giving us permission to use their case studies in this article.


*Names have been changed for confidentiality reasons.

**Please note there are several energy trust funds, including:

E.ON Energy Fundcan help you with the cost of energy bills as well as with household items such as cookers, fridges and boilers. The charity helps vulnerable customers of any energy company.

EDF Energy Trust - helps EDF customers who are struggling. In some circumstances, they can help you buy energy efficient white goods.

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