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Extra help if you’re on benefits or your benefits have stopped

This advice applies to Scotland

If your benefit payments aren't giving you enough to live on, you might be able to get help from your local authority or an interest-free loan from the government.

If you're struggling while waiting for your payments to start, you might be able to get your benefit paid early.

Get help from your local authority

You might be able to get a grant from the Scottish Welfare Fund to pay for urgent expenses or to deal with an emergency.

Check if you can get help from the Scottish Welfare Fund.

Get a Discretionary Housing Payment to help with your rent

If Housing Benefit or Universal Credit doesn't cover all of your rent and you need more money, you could make a claim for a discretionary housing payment (DHP). A DHP is extra money from your local council to help pay your rent.

You need to claim Housing Benefit or the housing costs part of Universal Credit to get a DHP.

If you're already getting a DHP because your Housing Benefit was reduced by the bedroom tax, you can still apply for another one.

Your local council doesn't have to give you a DHP - it depends on your circumstances.

If the council decides to give you a DHP, they'll write to tell you:

  • how much you'll get
  • when the DHP will stop

If you still need a DHP after it stops, you can apply again.

Applying for a DHP

Contact your local council and ask how to apply for a DHP. They might want you to apply by phone or online. You can find out how to contact your local council on GOV.UK.

Be as specific as you can when you're explaining why you need a DHP. For example, you should explain:

  • why you can't afford to pay the rent
  • why you can't move somewhere cheaper
  • if it's causing problems for someone you look after, like a child or elderly relative
  • any evidence you have, like a letter from your doctor or details of debts you're paying off

You should also tell them if you're waiting for the council to decide whether you can get Housing Benefit.

If you apply on a paper form, it's a good idea to keep a copy of the form for your records.

Get an interest-free budgeting loan

You might be able to get what's called a 'budgeting loan' for essentials like clothing or a washing machine if you claim certain benefits.

It's interest-free, so you'll only have to pay back what you borrow. You'll usually need to pay back the loan within 2 years.

Check what you could get and how to apply on GOV.UK.

You can't get a budgeting loan if you get Universal Credit. You can apply for a budgeting advance instead.

Get your benefit paid early

If you're struggling while waiting for the first payment of a new benefit you might be able to get a 'short term benefit advance'. This means your benefit will be paid early, with a small amount taken off future payments to pay it back - usually for 12 weeks.

You can also get an advance if your benefit has been increased but you haven't had the new amount yet, or if you've been told you won't be paid on the usual date.
You can get a short term advance for all benefits except:

  • Housing Benefit
  • Attendance Allowance
  • Disability Living Allowance (DLA)
  • Personal Independence Payment (PIP)
  • Child Benefit
  • Guardian's Allowance

To ask for one, contact the DWP office that's dealing with your benefit claim.

Universal Credit
Telephone: 0345 600 0723
Welsh language: 0345 600 3018
Textphone: 0345 600 0743
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Income support, ESA or JSA
Telephone: 0345 608 8545
Welsh language: 0345 600 3018
Textphone: 0345 608 8551
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Carer's Allowance
Telephone: 0345 608 4321
Welsh language: 0345 608 4321
Textphone: 0345 604 5312
Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

Pension Credit or State Pension
Telephone: 0345 606 0265
Welsh language: 0345 606 0275
Textphone: 0345 606 0285
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls cost up to 12p a minute from landlines and up to 45p a minute from mobiles. It should be free if you call from your mobile and have landline calls included in your contract. 

Other help you can get

You can find details of more help and how to apply on GOV.UK.

Help for children and during pregnancy

Help with food and health costs

Help with heating costs

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