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Struggling to make important payments?

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Emergency help

i This advice applies across the UK

What to do if you need emergency help with money and food

Who helps people that need support for food and bills?

  • Trust funds
  • Credit unions
  • Councils
  • Energy providers
  • The Government
  • Charities

This page has information on how to get help. Use these quick links for emergency support:

Get the help you need. But think about longer term finances too.

Whether you have one missed payment or many worrying debts, we can help you:

  • Work out your budget
  • See what savings you can make
  • Find out which payments to deal with first
  • Deal with people asking you for payments
  • Find out how to deal with your debts based on your situation

Our advice is free and confidential. Get help now.

I need money now. Where can I borrow from fast?

Emergency credit

We do not recommend payday loans or other forms of high-cost credit.

They have high interest and charges and cause a lot of trouble.

It is better to look at credit unions and government-run schemes. These can give quick, emergency loans to people.

Credit unions

Credit unions are local, member-owned alternatives to banks.

They have three main aims:

  • To offer loans with low interest rates
  • To help members save
  • To help give members financial advice and help

You need to be a member of a credit union to get a loan from them. Some will ask you to build up savings first.

  1. Find a credit union near you
  2. Get in touch with them
  3. Ask if they can help you

Find out more about credit unions here.

Grants

Turn2Us is a charity we work with. They help people get grants and access support services.

Contact them to see how they can help you.

Trust funds

We also work with a number of companies who provide ‘trust funds’.

These are for people who cannot afford insolvency services or energy bills.

Find out where to get a trust fund.

Help from your local council

Your council has a local welfare assistance scheme.

These schemes are to help people on low incomes.

Each council runs their own scheme with different rules.

Some schemes include:

  • Small cash loans or grants
  • Food vouchers
  • Free used furniture

Find out how to get help based where you are:

Track down money you have missed out on

Gretel is an organisation that can help you find lost accounts and unclaimed funds.

They look for things such as:

  • Your first bank account
  • Lost pensions
  • Unclaimed life insurance
  • Child trust funds
  • Lost shares
  • Lost investments

Find out if you have unclaimed money.

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Worried you can't pay the bills?

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I have no food. Where can I go?

Food banks

Food banks provide food and essential household items.

Our partners at the Trussell Trust:

  • Are the largest food bank organisers in the UK
  • Have over 1,200 food banks across the country

The food bank will try to make sure:

  • The vouchers or parcel meet your needs
  • You get food that meets your dietary requirements

You will usually get:

  • Nutritionally balanced food for three days
  • Toiletries, cleaning products, or other essential items

Small credit top-ups may be available for gas or electric pre-payment meters

Food banks can also signpost you to other help in your area.

You will need a referral for the Trussell Trust. Visit their website to find out:

You can also search the Independent Food Aid Network’s list of foodbanks.

Free school meals

Your child may be eligible for free school meals. This can help to reduce some of your day-to-day costs.

Find out if your child is able to get free school meals.

mum at the table with bills

Struggling to make important payments?

Free, online debt advice available now

Get debt help

I cannot pay my rent. What do I do?

Contact your landlord immediately

If you cannot pay your rent, contact your landlord or letting agency.

  • Show them your budget
  • Explain why you are struggling to pay
  • Offer them a payment plan based on what you can afford
  • If you do not, you risk eviction. We can help you with this.

They may not agree, but many will be reasonable.

Read our guide to dealing with rent arrears.

Find out what to do if you are worried about being evicted.

Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP)

If you:

  • Are on Housing Benefit or Universal Credit
  • Cannot afford your rent

You may be able to apply for a discretionary housing payment from your local council.

You will need to contact your local council to find out how to apply.

Can I get any financial support from the government?

Check you are getting all the benefits you can get

People in the UK miss out on billions of pounds in benefits and tax credits.

This includes a range of discounts and support.

Check what you can get by using our free benefits calculator.

Budgeting loans

The government no longer offers crisis loans.

You can apply for a budgeting loan instead.

You may be able to get this if you have an unexpected expense.

You must have been on one of these benefits for at least 26 weeks:

  • Income Support
  • Income-based Jobseeker's Allowance
  • Income-related Employment and Support Allowance
  • Pension Credits

You can use budgeting loans to help pay for things like:

  • Furniture
  • Appliances
  • Moving costs
  • Maternity expenses
  • Travel costs

The amount you can apply for depends on your situation.

Repayments are taken off your benefits.

Hardship payments

Hardship payments are for people who:

  • Have had benefits sanctions
  • Cannot pay their essential bills

Hardship payments apply to these benefits:

  • Universal Credit (UC)
  • Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA)
  • Employment and Support Allowance (ESA)

Read our guide about hardship payments and how to apply.

Short-term benefit advances

You may be able to apply for a short-term benefit advance.

This is when the benefit is paid early.

Repayments are:

  • Deducted from future benefits
  • Over about 12 weeks

You can get a short-term benefit advance if:

  • You need money before your first benefits payment is made
  • You need money now before your benefits go up
  • Your benefits will not be paid on its due date

You can apply for most benefits through your local Jobcentre Plus.

Read our guide to claiming benefits.

Can I stop my creditors chasing me for money?

Ask for a payment holiday

You can apply for a payment holiday from your:

  • Mortgage
  • Credit card
  • Loan
  • Hire purchase agreement

You do have to make up the payments missed during a payment holiday. These get treated as arrears.

Interest and charges may continue to be added to your debt.

Use one of our template letters to contact your creditors.

You can also contact us for free help with your debts.

Breathing Space to deal with your money worries

Also called the Debt Respite Scheme.

Breathing Space stops your creditors from contacting you while you deal with your debts.

If eligible, you can get up to 60 days' break from interest, fees and court action.

  • Breathing Space is available in England and Wales
  • In Scotland, the moratorium is a similar scheme, available for up to six months

Read our guide to Breathing Space and find out if you can apply.

Priority bills

Some bills are priorities because the impact of not paying them are greater.

You should pay certain bills and arrears first. Like your:

  • Council tax
  • Rates
  • Rent
  • Mortgage

Learn more about which debts to pay first

I cannot pay my utility bills, what can I do?

Energy arrears

If you are struggling with payments, contact your supplier to let them know. They will discuss your options to help you repay the arrears.

Energy arrears are priority debts. We can work with you on a plan to:

  • Make the repayments
  • Avoid being disconnected

Energy companies have lower tariffs available.

These are usually called ‘social tariffs’. They offer services for people who need further help like:

  • Hardship funds
  • Priority services registers

If you have a pre-payment meter, some food banks can also help by giving you a small top-up if you are out of credit.

We have made a guide to dealing with energy bills, covering:

  • If you owe the supplier money
  • Being treated fairly

The Energy Saving Trust has useful tips for:

  • Saving money on energy bills
  • Applying for financial support

Water bills

Water suppliers have support for people on low incomes and benefits. 

Help varies between suppliers - find out more about support from water companies.

Can I get help with my mortgage?

Speak to your mortgage provider as soon as you can.

They can help you set up a plan to pay back missed payments.

They may also be able to offer you:

  • A payment holiday
  • An interest only mortgage
  • A longer mortgage term
  • An assisted voluntary sale scheme

Help from the government may be available if you receive benefits.

Find out more about mortgage arrears

Mental health support

You are not alone. Support is available.

We work with many specialist organisations that help us advise people with money worries and mental health issues.

The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day, every day of the year.

Whatever you are dealing with, call the Samaritans for free help on 116 123.

Debt is a huge mental and emotional burden. We can offer some relief with free support and advice.

"They were so kind, they listened patiently and helped me through the process" Alison, Kent