Emergency Information - Benefits not enough to meet my needs

You might find yourself caught short of money and need help with essentials like food or paying your bills. Please look at the range of support options we discuss in this guide.

Last reviewed 24 August 2023

Benefits not enough to meet my needs

First, check if you are getting the right benefits using our Benefits Calculator.

If our calculator shows you should be getting more than you are, check whether you are being sanctioned or having deductions taken for debts.

If you are having deductions for other debts, speak to the organisation you owe the debt to and ask them if they could give you a break in payments. If debts are causing you stress or meaning you don't have enough money to get by, get free, independent, confidential debt advice.

If you are having money taken for a sanction, you might be able to get a Hardship Payment. You also might be able to challenge the sanction. 80% of sanctions that are challenged are found to be unfair.

If you are struggling because you are affected by the benefits cap, read our Benefits Cap guide.


If you are struggling because the help you get with your rent through the benefits system is less than your real rent, you could contact your council to apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment.

Assistance Schemes

Councils have hardship funds they can use to help people who are struggling.

There are national schemes in Wales (Welsh Discretionary Assistance Fund), in Scotland (Scottish Welfare Fund) and in Northern Ireland (Discretionary Support Fund).

As well as these, councils in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have Household Support Funds they can use to help people who are struggling.

Some councils in England also have Local Welfare Assistance schemes.

If you are struggling, contact your council to see what help they can give you.

Charitable grants

If you are struggling financially, it is possible you might be able to get support through a grant from a charity.

You can use our Grants Search to find charities that might be able to help you, based on your background, circumstances and needs.

Energy and water bills

If you are struggling with energy or water bills, contact your supplier for help and advice. 

You can find more information in our guides:


If you are struggling with debt payments, get free, confidential debt advice.

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