If you’ve been struck by disaster or have run out of money and can’t afford essentials like food or heating, there are emergency funds to help you.
If you’ve run out of money, you might be wondering what emergency support is available to you. You can no longer apply for crisis loans, and the system for emergency support and emergency cash loans is being tightened. But there are various other funds that cover a fair amount of what crisis loans covered.
Emergency money from your local council
Local councils are now responsible for helping you if you’ve been hit by a disaster like a fire or flood and you’re suddenly homeless or can’t afford food or necessities.
The type of help varies from council to council, there are no set rules about emergency support. Some will direct you to food banks and churches, some will give you a card loaded with cash that lets you buy food (but not alcohol or cigarettes), and some will give you a short-term loan. You don’t have to be on benefits to get this help.
Money from the government if you’re on benefits
If you’re on benefits there’s emergency support available, depending on your situation. The Jobcentre won’t necessarily tell you about this, so arm yourself with knowledge:
1) Hardship payments
A hardship payment is a reduced amount of benefit payable if you have no other way of covering essentials such as food, heating or medical supplies. You might be able to get one if your benefit has been stopped because you’ve been sanctioned, or you’re being investigated for fraud, or have applied for a benefit and are waiting for a decision.
You need to be claiming Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), or Universal Credit. You’ll also have to show that you, your partner, or child would have to go without essentials if you don’t get the money.
If you or your family are considered vulnerable (e.g. you’re pregnant, sick or looking after children) you should be able to get a hardship payment in place of your next benefit payment. Otherwise you’ll have to wait for two weeks.
Talk to your JSA advisor and ask for the JSA 10 ‘Jobseeker’s allowance hardship application’ form (you can find a sample here), or call the DWP contact centre on 0345 608 8545. You can either complete the form at the Jobcentre or with an advisor over the phone, but we strongly advise speaking to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB) first, as getting hardship payments can be tricky and they’ll help you.
Not if you’re on JSA or ESA. But you will have to pay it back if you’re on Universal Credit.
2) Short-term benefits advances
Short-term benefits advances are available if you’re waiting for a benefit claim to be processed, haven’t been paid your benefit on the due date, or are waiting for your benefit to go up because of a change of circumstances.
Short-term benefits advances can be claimed against any benefit. You’ll need to be able to show that without the payment you, your partner, or children will have to go without essentials such as food, heating or medicine.
Talk to someone at your local Jobcentre Plus, or call the DWP contact centre on 0345 608 8545. Do I have to pay back a short-term benefits advance? You’ll normally have to pay the advance back in three months.
3) DWP Emergency loans
DWP emergency budgeting loans help you with one-off payments, like rent in advance or removal costs for a new home, maternity or funeral expenses and furniture. They can also help with travel and clothing costs for a new job. There’s a full list of things they can pay for here. Budgeting advances are similar, but for those on Universal Credit.