Emergency Information - Facing an unexpected cost

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

Facing an unexpected cost

Charitable Grants

You might be able to get a grant from a charity (that you don't have to pay back) to help you pay for what you need. You can use our Grants Search to find charities who may be able to help you, based on your background, circumstances and needs.

Welfare Assistance Funds

Local welfare assistance schemes help people on low incomes to maintain an independent life or relieve an immediate financial crisis. What is available depends on whether you live in England, Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland.


If you live in England, your council might operate a local welfare assistance scheme. Contact your council to ask if you can get help in your area. The schemes are discretionary so the council does not have to provide one.

If you are struggling to find any mention of a fund on your local council website, try doing an internet search typing "name of your local council and hardship or welfare fund" e.g. "Birmingham hardship fund" and it should bring up that webpage.


If you live in Scotland, you might be able to get help from the Scottish Welfare Fund.


If you live in Wales you might be able to get support from the Discretionary Assistance Fund.

Northern Ireland

If you live in Northern Ireland, you might be able to get help from the Discretionary Support Fund.

Benefits Advances

If you can’t get a grant through a charity or a discretionary support scheme, you might be able to get an advance on your benefits

Household goods

If you need household goods, you might be able to get affordable goods through the Reuse network.


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