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This guide covers England and Wales
To view all guides that cover Scotland, please click here.

Help from benefits

Make sure you’re getting all the benefits you should be. It’s estimated that at least seven million people aren’t claiming the benefits they should be, and any extra income will help you pay for essential items.

There are lots of different types of benefits. Each benefit has its own set of rules. What you are entitled to will depend on your personal circumstances. It can be affected by things such as your age, household income, savings, National Insurance contribution (NIC) record and whether you are able to work.

We have listed some of the main benefits below. If you click on the relevant benefit you’ll find more information about the benefit, the eligibility criteria and how to apply.

You can do a free personalised benefits check with Turn2us in less than 10 minutes. Millions of people already have, so don’t miss out: go to Turn2us and see what you could get.

Out of work and low income

  • Universal Credit is now the main benefit for people who are out of work or are on a low income. Depending on your situation, Universal Credit can also help with housing costs, the costs of raising a child and childcare costs.
  • If you are looking for work, you may be able to claim New Style Jobseekers’ Allowance.
  • If you have a low income or receive benefits, you may be eligible for a Council Tax Reduction.

Children

If you have children from a former relationship, check you are getting the correct amount of child maintenance. You can find advice and arrange child maintenance on the GOV.UK website. If you are unable to use the website, you can speak to a Child Maintenance Service case worker on 0800 171 2345.

  • If eligible, Universal Credit can help with the costs of raising a child and childcare.
  • Most people with children can also claim Child Benefit.
  • You may be able to claim Maternity Allowance if you need to take time off work to have a baby.
  • A sure start Maternity Grant is £500 that can help with the costs of having a child if you receive certain benefits.

Ill or disabled

  • Personal Independence Payments can help people aged over 16 with the costs of a long-term health condition or disability.
  • If you are employed but too ill to work, you may be entitled to Statutory Sick Pay.
  • New Style Employment and Support Allowance can help people who do not receive Statutory Sick Pay but have limited capability to work due to illness or disability. It can be claimed alongside Universal Credit.
  • If you look after someone who is ill or disabled for at least 35 hours per week, you may be able to claim Carer’s Allowance.

People over pension age

  • You may be able to claim Pension Credit if you are over state pension age and are on a low income.
  • If you are eligible for Pension Credit you will also receive a free TV Licence.

Housing costs

Help from charitable grants

Lots of organisations have set up charitable funds that give grants if you are in financial difficulty. This is money that could help make your situation easier to manage and you do not need to pay it back.

Each organisation has its own rules for who it will help. These vary and could, for example, be based on:

  • where you live;
  • you, or your partner’s, current or previous job;
  • whether you have any medical needs; or
  • your financial situation.

Turn2us can search over 1,600 charitable grants for you. Use the Turn2us Grants Search tool to find charitable organisations that might be able to help you. Go to https://grants-search.turn2us.org.uk. It takes less than five minutes on average.

See our Help from charitable organisations fact sheet for more information along with tips on applying for a grant.

Energy and water grants

Several energy and water providers have charitable grants that can help people to pay their bills if they are in financial difficulty. Details of any grants will be on your energy supplier’s website. You can also find water and energy grants through the Turn2us grants search.

Help from government support schemes

The government has announced a range of support to help households with rising energy bills and living costs.

Cost of Living Payment

2023 Cost of Living Payment

The government has announced a further £900 Cost of Living Payment for 2023. It will be paid in three instalments.

  • £301 first instalment to be paid from 25 April 2023.
  • £300 second instalment to be paid from 30 October 2023.
  • £299 third instalment to be paid from 6 February 2024 .

To be eligible for the first instalment you must have been entitled, or later be found to be entitled to payment of:

  • Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit for any day in the period 26 January 2023 to 25 February 2023;
  • Universal Credit for an assessment period that ended in the period 26 January 2023 to 25 February 2023; or
  • either income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit on any day during the period 26 January 2023 to 25 February 2023 .

To be eligible for the second instalment you must have been entitled, or later be found to be entitled to payment of:

  • Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit for any day in the period 18 August 2023 to 17 September 2023.
  • Universal Credit for an assessment period that ended in the period 18 August 2023 to 17 September 2023; or
  • either income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit on any day during the period 18 August 2023 to 17 September 2023.

To be eligible for the third instalment you must have been entitled, or later be found to be entitled to payment of:

  • Child Tax Credit or Working Tax Credit for any day in the period 13 November 2023 to 12 December 2023.
  • Universal Credit for an assessment period that ended in the period 13 November 2023 to 12 December 2023.; or
  • either income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, Income Support or Pension Credit on any day during the period 13 November 2023 to 12 December 2023.

Disability Cost of Living Payment

2023 Disability Cost of Living Payment

The government announced a further £150 Disability Cost of Living Payment for 2023. This was paid in Summer 2023.

To be eligible, you will needed to have received (or later receive) a payment of a qualifying benefit for 1 April 2023.

For more information, see GOV.UK.

Pensioner Cost of Living Payment.

2023 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment

The government announced a further £300 Pensioner Cost of Living Payment for 2023. This will be paid in from November 2023.

For more information, see GOV.UK.

Other government support

There are other support schemes which were already in place that may help you with paying for some of your essential items. We’ve detailed these below. If you find yourself struggling to pay your bills, buy food or need to purchase an essential item you should speak to your local council to see what help they can provide.

Household support fund (England only)

The Household Support Fund allows councils to give small grants to help vulnerable households meet essential costs, including paying for food and energy bills. Contact your local council to check if you may be eligible for support from the fund.

Welfare assistance schemes

In England, some councils have a welfare assistance scheme which can help if you are in an emergency situation. Individual councils decide on the rules for their scheme. Contact your local council to see whether they run a welfare assistance scheme and what it offers.

The government in Wales has made £25 million available to local authorities to provide support to households struggling with the rising costs of living. This discretionary fund may be able to help you with heating costs. Contact your local council for details of their scheme and how to apply.

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