Financial help if you are receiving benefits, on a low income or have a crisis

Last updated: 06/04/2022

There may be extra help, in addition to benefits, if you are on a limited income or have an unexpected expense. What you can get depends on your family circumstances including your income, any savings and what you need help with.

Help if you get Universal Credit, new style Jobseekers Allowance or new style Employment and Support Allowance

Budgeting Advance

You may be able to get a Budgeting Advance to pay for things you need to start or stay in work, essential household items or funeral costs.

A Budgeting Advance is a loan that needs to be paid back.

Before taking out a Budgeting Advance it is worthwhile checking with a Welfare Rights Officer at your local council, a Citizens Advice Bureau or other support service to find out if there are grants or benefits you can get that do not have to be paid back.

Who can get it?

You can ask for a Budgeting Advance if:-

  • you have been getting Universal Credit for at least 6 months,
  • have earned less than £2,600 in the last 6 months and
  • have paid off any previous Budgeting Advances.

How much is it?

Single parents can borrow between £100 and £812. How much you actually get depends on how much you are able to pay back and the amount of savings you have.

How the advance is repaid

The Budgeting Advance is a loan and has to be repaid over 12 months. There is no interest added to the loan so the amount you borrow is how much you will need to repay.

Repayments are taken from your monthly Universal Credit starting from the payment after you get the advance.

If you stop getting Universal Credit, before you have paid off the advance, deductions can be made from other benefits you receive. If you stop receiving benefits you will be contacted by DWP Debt Management Contact Centre to arrange how you will pay off the remainder of your advance. If you do not make arrangements to pay back  the advance, DWP can contact your employer to arrange deductions from your earnings or use a debt collecting service to collect repayments.

How do I apply?

Contact your work coach at Jobcentre Plus to apply.

Help if you get Income Support, income based Jobseekers Allowance or income related Employment and Support Allowance

Budgeting Loan

Budgeting Loans are interest-free loans to purchase items such as furniture, household equipment, clothing, maternity expenses, funeral expenses, rent deposit, removal expenses and travelling expenses. The money has to be paid back.

Before taking out a Budgeting Loan it is worthwhile checking with a Welfare Rights Officer at your local council, a Citizens Advice Bureau or other support service to find out if there are grants or benefits you can get that do not have to be paid back.

Who can get it?

To qualify you must be receiving one of the following for a period of 26 weeks:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credit

How much is it?

Single parents can borrow between £100 and £812. How much you actually get depends on how much you are able to pay back. Any savings or other loans you have will also affect how much you can borrow.

How the Budgeting Loan is repaid

Budgeting Loans have to be repaid. There is no interest added to the loan so the amount you borrow is how much you will need to repay.

It is usually be paid back over 24 months. Repayments are taken from your benefit starting from the payment after you get the loan.

If you stop receiving benefits you will be contacted by DWP Debt Management Contact Centre to arrange how you will pay off the remainder of the loan. If you do not make arrangements to pay back  the loan, DWP can contact your employer to arrange deductions from your earnings or use a debt collecting service to collect repayments.

How do I apply?

You can apply online or pick up a form at your local Jobcentre Plus

Jobcentre Plus.

Apply for Budgeting Loan online.

Help with NHS costs

If you are receiving certain benefits or have an income under a specific amount you may get help to pay for the cost of NHS services and equipment. These include things like dental treatment, glasses and travel to and from hospital.

For more information visit NHS Inform – help with health costs.

Help from The Scottish Welfare Fund

The Scottish Welfare Fund provides two grants and payments for people facing a crisis or needing essential household items.

The money comes from the Scottish Government but is given out by your local council.

Crisis Grant

Crisis grants provide help for people who need money quickly because of an emergency or disaster.

Who can get it?

You must be 16 years or over and have a low income to get a crisis grant. You do not need to be getting any benefits.

How much is it?

They are usually small amounts given to pay for food or heating costs for a few weeks at most. You can usually get up to 3 crisis grants per year but they are discretionary so how many you get and how much will be based on your individual circumstances.

They do not have to be paid back.

How to apply

Contact your local council or visit their website for more details and to apply.

Community Care Grant

This fund can pay out cash grants or give store cards for the purchase of white goods and furniture. It can also give fuel cards, food vouchers and travel permits.

Who can get it?

You must be 16 years or over and have a low income to get the grant. You do not need to be getting any benefits. You must also be leaving care or need help to allow you to stay in your home.

How much is it?

What you get will be based on your circumstances and what the council can provide. You are less likely to get the grant if you have more than £700 in savings.

It does not have to be paid back.

How to apply

Call your local council or visit their website to apply. There is a form you will need to complete. You can ask for help from a Citizens Advice Bureau or a Welfare Rights Officer at your local council to help with this.

Help to pay for a funeral

Funeral Support Payment

Funeral Support Payment is money to help pay for the costs of a funeral or cremation. It can help pay for the cost of the funeral of an adult, a child or a still born baby born after 24 weeks of pregnancy.

Who can get Funeral Support Payment?

To get Funeral Support Payment the person who died must have lived in the UK and the funeral must take, or have taken, place in the UK. In some circumstances you can get a payment if the funeral takes, or has taken, place in the EU, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

You need to be living in Scotland and responsible for paying for the funeral of the person who has died so they will usually be a close relative. If you are not related to the person who has died you will have to show why you are responsible for the costs.

You must also be receiving one of the following benefits:-

  • Child Tax Credit
  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Income Support
  • Pension Credit
  • Working Tax Credit (disability or severe disability element)
  • Housing Benefit
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), not contribution-based JSA
  • income-related Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), not contribution-based ESA

How much is it?

The Funeral Support Payment can help with the costs of the funeral or cremation, some travel costs and the cost of any documents needed. The amount you get will depend on you circumstances.

Any insurance policies, money or assets the person who died left, will affect the payment you get. Costs met by the NHS or council will also reduce the payment. It does not affect any other benefits you are getting and is not counted for the Benefit Cap.

The average payment is around £1700 which could be much less than the actual cost of the funeral.

How it is paid

The payment can be made to you or directly to the funeral director.

How to apply

You can apply for Funeral Support Payment after the death has been registered and for up to 6 months after the person has died. You can apply even if you have already paid for the funeral.

Apply online or by phone.

To apply online visit: https://www.mygov.scot/funeral-support-payment

To apply by phone call Social Security Scotland: 0800 182 2222

Further help and information

For help applying see https://opfs.org.uk/support-and-advice/support-for-you/funeral-support-payment/.

For more details visit https://www.mygov.scot/browse/benefits/funeral-support.

Help during pregnancy and when you have a baby

Best Start Grant

The Scottish Government introduced the Best Start Grant to help with the costs of a new baby and children starting nursery and school. This has replaced the Sure Start Maternity Grant that is no longer available in Scotland.

The Best Start Grant includes 3 different payments:

  • The Pregnancy and Baby Payment – to help with the costs of pregnancy or having a new baby. Families will receive £642.35 from 25th week of pregnancy to 6 months after the birth of their first child and £321.20 on the birth of any following children.
  • The Early Learning Payment – a payment of £267.65 when your child starts nursery. If you did not get the pregnancy and baby payment you can still apply for this part.
  • The School Age Payment – a further payment of £267.65 to help with the additional costs when your child start school.

You may also get help to buy food for you and your baby.

Baby Box

All new-born babies in Scotland are entitled to a Baby Box. The box contains useful items and can also be used as a safe place for your baby to sleep.

Your midwife will fill in a Baby Box registration card with you between your 18 – 20 or 28 week antinatal appointment. The box will be delivered to you 4 weeks before your baby’s due date.

 

For more information see: Best Start Grant and the Baby Box

Help if you are a carer or you, or your children, have a disability

Carers Scotland

This organization offers support if you are caring for someone. They may provide or know of services or funds that can help.

Visit the Carers Scotland website for more information and the contact details of your nearest branch.

https://www.carersuk.org/scotland

The Family Fund

This is an organization that gives support to families of disabled children. They provide grants and services.

For more information visit their website for more information.

https://www.familyfund.org.uk/scotland

Support and grants for people with a medical condition

If you or your children have a medical condition or disability there may be a charity or support group that can offer advice, information and grants.

You can search for these groups online or ask your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Turn2us to help you search.

Help for students

Discretionary and Covid funds

If you are a student and in financial difficulty you can ask for help from the college or university’s Discretionary Funds. How these funds are used is decided by the college or university. They can be given for anything considered necessary to help you to continue your studies.

Colleges and universities also have Covid Funds to help you with the extra costs of studying from home.

How much is it?

How much you get depends on your circumstances and how the college or university have decided to use these funds. They do not have to be paid back.

How to apply

Talk to your Student Financial Adviser at the college or university to apply.

Other sources of help

Citizens Advice Bureaux (CAB)

Your local CAB may be able to help you find local support and help as well as tell you of any grants you can apply for. They can also help you deal with any debt you have.

To find details of your nearest CAB visit the Citizens Advice website.

https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/about-us/contact-us/contact-us/search-for-your-local-citizens-advice/

Turn2us

There is a tool on the Turn2us website that allows you to search for grants. They also have a tool to check you are getting the benefits you are entitled to.

https://www.turn2us.org.uk/