If you’re struggling with living costs
06 October 2021 09:40
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If you don’t have enough to live on, you might be able to get help with paying for daily essentials.
Your local council might give you vouchers to help pay for daily essentials like:
a hot meal
household appliances - for example, a cooker
This is known as 'welfare assistance' and councils run their own scheme. You can find your local council on GOV.UK and ask them if they run a welfare assistance scheme.
You can also find out how to reduce your regular living costs - you might be able to pay less for things like energy, water and internet.
You can check what help you can get from local charities on the Turn2us website - you’ll need to know your postcode.
If you can't pay for food
Food banks are community organisations that can help if you can’t afford the food you need. You can find out how to get help from a food bank.
Check if you can get free school meals
If you have children, you might be able to get free school meals for your children.
Get help with housing costs
If you’re paying rent, 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.
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.
When you apply, be as clear as you can when you're explaining why you need a DHP. If you apply on a paper form, it's a good idea to keep a copy of the form for your records. 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
If you have a mortgage
You might be able to get a government loan to help to pay the mortgage interest. The government loan is called ‘support for mortgage interest’ (SMI).
The DWP will charge interest on the SMI loan - this means you’ll pay back more than you borrowed. Even though you’ll pay interest, it could be cheaper than other ways of borrowing money.
You can check if you can get SMI.
Check if you can pay less council tax
You might qualify for a council tax reduction if your income has dropped or if you started claiming benefits recently.
If you're worried about money you owe
There are steps you can take to help you reduce your debt. You can find out how to get help with your debts.
You can also talk about your debt with a trained adviser online.
If you’re disabled or look after a disabled child
You might also be able to get other benefits as well as Universal Credit.
If you’re disabled, you should check if you’re eligible for Personal Independence Payment (PIP).If you look after a disabled child, you should check if you can claim Disability Living Allowance (DLA) for your child.
Getting PIP or DLA won’t reduce the amount of Universal Credit you get.