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

This advice applies to Wales

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If your benefit payments aren't giving you enough to live on, you might be able to get help from your local council 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 council

Your local council might give you vouchers to help pay for day-to-day essentials like:

  • a hot meal
  • second-hand furniture
  • household appliances, for example a cooker

This help is known as 'welfare assistance' and each council runs their own scheme. The help on offer and eligibility varies, so contact your local council and ask if they run a welfare assistance scheme that could help you.

You can usually get help from your local council even if you're not claiming benefits, so it's a good option if your benefits have stopped.

The Discretionary Assistance Fund

You can get discretionary assistance to pay for urgent expenses or to deal with an emergency, including:

  • living expenses, for example food or clothing
  • household items, for example an oven or fridge
  • adaptations to your home so you or a relative can keep living there

You don't need to be on benefits, but will need to show you're in urgent financial need - to the point that if you don't get help it will have a serious impact on you or your family.

Find out more about how to apply on the Money Made Clear website. 

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.

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 an advance, contact the DWP office that's dealing with your benefit claim.

Income support, ESA or JSA
Telephone: 0800 169 0310
Welsh language: 0800 328 1744
Textphone: 0800 169 0314
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Carer's Allowance
Telephone: 0800 731 0297
Welsh language: 0800 731 0297
Textphone: 0800 731 0317
Monday to Thursday, 8:30am to 5pm Friday, 8:30am to 4:30pm

Pension Credit or State Pension
Telephone: 0800 731 0469
Welsh language: 0800 731 0453
Textphone: 0800 731 0464
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

If you've applied for Universal Credit, the number you need to call depends on whether you're in a live service area or full service area.

Universal Credit full service helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 5644
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 012 1888
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to this number are free. 

Universal Credit live service helpline
Telephone: 0800 328 9344
Textphone: 0800 328 1344
Telephone (Welsh language): 0800 328 1744
Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm

Calls to these numbers are free.

Other help you can get

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

Help for children and during pregnancy

Help with food and health costs

Help with heating costs

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