What To Do When You Have No Money At All UK version

Having no money can be a frightening and isolating experience. If you have no money for food, electricity or gas or you are facing the threat of becoming, or you are already homeless, there are organisations who can help you to get back on your feet.

You may need to be referred to some of these organisations by your GP, health visitor, social worker or other advisor but for other you can self refer. Here is what to do if you need help.

If you are hungry and you have no food UK

You can get a referral to a local food bank who can provide you with an emergency supply of food, at least 3 days supply. Foodbanks help people who are in crisis with short term emergency food rations.

The Trussell Trust can help you to find your local foodbank – click here to find local foodbanks. Firstly locate your local foodbank and then contact them to find out which organisations they work with and how to get a referral. Some food banks let you come to them direct but this is rate. Most use a referral system where a professional issues a voucher which can be exchanged for emergency food at a food bank.

GP’s, social workers, health visitors and even teachers and clergy may be able to provide you with a voucher for a food bank.


Hot Meals, Community Dinners and Soup Kitchens


Find out if you have one of these community organisations operating near you. They provide free hot meals for anyone in need and sometimes work in partnership with local food banks, Unlike food banks though, you usually do not have to get a referral to attend, you can just turn up.

If you are unsure which services operate in your area, contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or your local council.

Help I have no gas or electricity or I can’t afford my heating.

Help I have no gas or electricity or I can’t afford my heating.

If you are on a prepayment meter and you cannot afford to top up your meter, some energy companies can provide help. You might be able to get a temporary credit to top up your meter which is paid back next time you are paid. Contact them and explain your circumstances.

If you are vulnerable or if you have children there may be some other schemes that you are eligible for. One is a non repayable grant which can be used once a year if you qualify and will help towards your energy costs.

Energy companies also have grants and hardship schemes available if you are struggling to meet your gas and electricity costs. The schemes on offer vary between the different companies, but all must make some provision to help people who are struggling to pay. Contact your energy company or browse their web page to find schemes which you may qualify for.

The Warm Home Discount Scheme – £140 free

You could get £140 off your electricity bill for winter 2019 to 2020 under the Warm Home Discount Scheme.

The money is not paid to you – it’s a one-off discount on your electricity bill, between September and March.

You may be able to get the discount on your gas bill instead if your supplier provides you with both gas and electricity. Contact your supplier to find out.

The discount will not affect your Cold Weather Payment or Winter Fuel Payment.


Hardship payment if you’ve been sanctioned

If you are struggling to cope because your benefits have been sanctioned, you might qualify for some emergency help to cover household expenses like food and bills.  This is know as a hardship payment.

You will usually have to pay back any hardship payments when your sanction ends but it will be paid off in installments rather than as a lump sum.

Do I Qualify for a Hardship Payment?

If you meet the qualifications you might be able to get a hardship payment.

  1. You must be 18 or over (16 if your payment is reduced because of fraud).
  2. You must be struggling to meet your basic needs or the basic needs of a child or young person you’re responsible for.’Basic needs’ include accommodation, heating, food and hygiene. You’ll only be eligible if the reason you can’t meet these needs is because of the sanction. 
  3. You must have made every effort to stop spending money on non-essential things. The Jobcentre expects you to only spend money on meeting basic needs, so they might expect you to spend less on entertainment or leisure activities.  
  4. You must have done everything you can to get money from other sources before you can apply. The Jobcentre should be reasonable about what you can do in your circumstances. For example, you won’t be expected to sell your belongings, move house, or get a bank loan or credit card. But you could be expected to ask friends or family for money, looked for other benefits (eg from your local council, or local charities), or ask for extra hours if you work.
  5. You must have done all the work-related activities that you were supposed to do in the 7 days before you apply for a hardship payment.

How to apply for a Hardship Payment

Contact the Universal Credit helpline to apply for a hardship payment. If you’re a couple claiming Universal Credit jointly, either of you can apply.

A hardship payment only covers a limited time up to your next normal Universal Credit payday. You’ll have to make another application if you’ll still be in hardship for the following month.

Universal Credit 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

Check If You Could Get A Grant To Help With Living Expenses

Many charities offer non-repayable grants to help individuals or families on low incomes who are in need.

To be eligible for support from a charitable trust, you have to meet its qualifying rules (eligibility criteria).

This may be based on where you live, your age, gender, current or past jobs, health condition and nationality.

Some funds may help based on the details of your partner, ex-partner or dependent children.

Turn”2 Us has a handy grants search where you can quickly find what you may qualify for.

Search for a grant now

If You Are Faced With Homelessness

If you are faced with eviction or you think you might be made homeless in the near future, contact Shelter the homeless charity for advice.

Shelter offer a helpline, a live chat service and local advice as well as articles and advice on a range of legal issues. Visit Shelter online here or call the urgent advice helpline on 0808 800 4444 if you are being made homeless in the near future or you have nowhere to sleep tonight.


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