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How to get help with urgent or one-off expenses

Sometimes you just can't afford an unexpected bill. If that happens, you might be able to get your benefit paid in advance, or apply for help from your local council or a charity.

Can I get my benefit paid in advance?

There are a couple of ways you could get a benefit payment earlier than you normally would:

  • You might be able to get an advance payment of your benefit called a Budgeting Loan (or Budgeting Advance if you receive Universal Credit).
  • If you’re waiting for a decision on your benefit claim, you might be able to get a short-term advance.

Budgeting Loans

Budgeting Loans can help you pay for essential things such as furniture, clothing and removal costs.

The minimum loan is £100. The maximum amount you can borrow is:

  • £348 if you’re single
  • £464 if you’re a couple
  • £812 if you have children

To be eligible for a Budgeting Loan, you or your partner must be receiving one of the following benefits:

  • Pension Credit
  • Income Support
  • income-based Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • income-based Employment and Support Allowance.

There may be different options for how you pay your loan, but you’ll need to repay it within 104 weeks. What you owe is usually taken out of your benefit payments until the loan is paid off.

Budgeting Advances (if you're receiving Universal Credit)

Budgeting Advances can help to pay for a range of different expenses, such as one-off items, home repairs, moving costs or clothes.

The minimum advance payment is £100. The maximum amount is:

  • £348 (if you’re single with no children)
  • £464 (if you’re a couple with no children)
  • £812 (if you have children).

A Budgeting Advance is a loan. You’ll need to repay it within 24 months. Repayments will be taken from your Universal Credit payments until it's paid back. You’ll be told how much your payments will be reduced by.

Short-term advances

If you’re waiting for a decision on your benefit claim, you might be able to get a short-term advance to tide you over while you’re waiting for your first benefit payment.

You can apply for an advance if you’ve recently applied for:

  • State Pension
  • Pension Credit
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance
  • Income Support
  • Employment and Support Allowance
  • Carer’s Allowance
  • Universal Credit (if you're making a claim for this benefit, you need to ask for an advance within 5 days of applying).

A short-term advance is a loan. Repayments will be taken from your benefit payments until it's completely paid back. You’ll be told how much your payments will be reduced by.

To apply for a short-term advance, contact the organisation responsible for the benefit you’re claiming.

What extra money are you entitled to?

Do you know what benefits you are entitled to? Our Benefits Calculator can help you, quickly and easily, to find out what you could be claiming.

Can I get financial help from my local council?

Your local council might be able to help if you’re in financial crisis. Schemes vary from one area to another.

Some local councils may not offer a cash grant but provide goods, services or vouchers instead.

Contact your local council to find out about the financial support schemes they offer and to check if you qualify

Can I get financial help from other charities?

Charities and benevolent funds might be able to help you if you’re unable to get support elsewhere.

If you ask for help from a charity or benevolent fund, you might need to show proof that you weren’t able to get a loan or advance for your benefit or help from the local council.

Grants from charities can range from small amounts for food vouchers to large amounts for buying domestic goods, such as a washing machine or cooker. Others may provide help towards the cost of a wheelchair or housing adaptations.

There are many charities and trusts in the UK. Some may only support particular groups, while others will consider helping anyone. Each charity will have their own eligibility criteria and application process.

Contact Charity Search or Turn2us to find out what various charities can help with.

The Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need guidebook may be available from your local library.

Can I get help to pay funeral expenses?

Funeral Payments from the Department for Work and Pensions can help towards burial or cremation costs and up to £1,000 for other expenses, such as funeral director’s fees. You usually need to pay the amount back from the estate of the person who's died.

The eligibility criteria can be complicated. Read our factsheet The Social Fund, Advances of Benefit and Local Welfare Provision to get more information.

Visit GOV.UK to download a claim form or phone the Bereavement Service helpline on 0800 731 0469 to make a claim. You must make a claim within 3 months of the funeral.

Some benevolent funds might be able to help with funeral costs. See the section above to find out how to search for one.

We're here to help

We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 125 local Age UKs.

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Last updated: Apr 22 2022

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