Can I get help from a credit union?
Credit unions are local cooperatives designed to provide facilities for savings and loans. They're owned and run to provide help for their members. They have three main aims:
- To provide loans at low rates
- To encourage all members to save regularly
- To help members in need of financial advice and help
You'll need to be a member of a credit union before you can get a loan from them, and some will require you to build up some savings first.
To find out whether your local credit union might be able to help you financially, first find a credit union in your area, and get in touch with them.
What financial help is available from the government?
What is a hardship payment?
Hardship payments are available to people on Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA), Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), or Universal Credit (UC), whose benefits have been stopped and who need money for essentials such as food or utilities. They are also available for people who are vulnerable or who look after people who are at risk.
You should enquire about hardship payments at your local Jobcentre Plus. Alternatively, you can call the Department of Work and Pensions on 0345 608 8545 to find out more.
Help from your local council
In some situations you can apply to your council’s local welfare assistance scheme. These schemes are usually available to people on a low income who are facing financial difficulty. Each local authority runs their own scheme with different qualifying criteria. Some offer help including small cash loans or grants, food vouchers and free used furniture.
Different emergency funding is available depending on where you live in the UK.
Social fund budgeting loans
If you’ve been on one of the following benefits for at least 26 weeks and have an unexpected expense you need to cover, you may be eligible for a budgeting loan to cover the costs:
- Income Support
- Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
- Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
- Pension Credits
The amount you can apply for depends on your situation. The smallest amount you can apply for is £100. Repayments to a budgeting loan are deducted from your benefits.
You can use budgeting loans to help pay for things like:
- Moving costs
- Maternity expenses
- Travel costs
Short-term benefit advance
You can apply for a short-term benefit advance from many benefits. This is an amount that’s given to you early, which will then be taken from your future benefit payments, usually over 12 weeks. You can get a short term benefit advance if:
- You’ve made a benefit claim, but you’ll need money before your first payment
- Your benefits payment is increasing, but you’ll need money urgently before the increase takes effect
- Your benefit will not be paid on its due date, for example because of technical problems processing it
To apply for a benefit advance, you should contact the DWP office who is handling your benefit claim. You can find this on any letter or email you have received from them. Most benefits can be applied for through your local Jobcentre Plus.
It’s really important to be sure you’re applying for all of the benefits you’re eligible for. Use our quick, simple calculator to check.