You may find that caring increases your expenses and decreases your income. As a result, one in five carers struggles to pay their rent or mortgage. Over a third cannot afford their utility bills. It is no wonder that you may not have enough money if there is an emergency.
1. Extra benefit payments
Check if you can apply for extra benefit payments.
If your benefit payment is stopped, for example because you have been sanctioned, and you don’t have enough money to live on, you may be able to get a Hardship Payment. You can read more about hardship payments in the hardship payment guide on Turn2us.
If you need help until your benefit claim is processed or paid, you may be able to get an advance on your benefit. You pay the advance back out of your benefit payments. See the short term benefit advance guide on Turn2us to find out more.
Budgeting loan or advance
If you need help to pay for one-off essentials, you may be able to get a budgeting loan or advance. The budgeting loan and budgeting advance guide on Turn2us sets out what you can get it for and how to apply.
2. Local welfare assistance
If you are claiming some benefits and there is a scheme in your area, you may be able to apply for help from your local council.
Even if you’re not receiving benefits, you may still be able to apply if your income is low. Most schemes take into account that you are a carer.
Local welfare assistance could help you with essentials but you can’t usually get cash. You could get vouchers to pay for food, fuel or clothing. You could get bigger basic living items like beds, cookers and fridges.
Read the emergency assistance page on Turn2us to find out how to apply to your local scheme.
3. Help with food and groceries
Foodbanks provide emergency boxes of food and offer support for people in a crisis. Foodbanks are good for connecting with your community and identifying other assistance too. You can search the Trussell Trust website to see if there is a foodbank in your area.
You can ask your local council, local charities or Citizens Advice about other places to get food.
4. Check which benefits you can claim
Four out of ten carers miss out on support that they’re entitled to because they didn’t know about it. Make sure you’re getting what you’re entitled to, to make it easier to cope in emergencies.
Many carers miss out on benefits they are entitled to claim. Use our online benefits calculator (supplied by Turn2us) to check you are getting the right benefits. If you are struggling to pay your rent you could apply for Discretionary Housing Payment. Find out more about Discretionary Housing Payment on Turn2us.
If your benefits are reduced by the benefit cap, check whether you are exempt. Read the benefit cap guide on Turn2us for more information.
If you think that a decision to refuse your benefits or stop payments is wrong, you can challenge the decision. Read more about challenging benefit decisions in the challenging decisions benefit guide on Turn2us. For more help to challenge a decision, you can use the find an advisor tool on Turn2us to find an advisor near you.
5. Get advice and support
Even if you can’t claim any more benefits, you might be able to get help from other places.
Support from your local council
If you have an emergency, you can ask your local council for help. You may be able to get help paying for respite, help towards the cost of specialist equipment, help towards the cost of adaptations to your home, or help with housework.
Support from charities
There are lots of charities which can help if you are struggling. Some can help in an emergency but most applications take a while to be processed. Use the grant search tool on Turn2us to see if you are qualify for a grant. A grant is money that you would not have to pay back.
If you need help to deal with an emergency, you can also contact the following organisations for advice or use the find an advisor tool on Turn2us to find an advisor near you.
Housing and homelessness:
- Crisis: National Charity for Single Homeless
- Shelter England/Scotland - helpline: 0808 800 4444
- Shelter Cymru - helpline: 0845 075 5005
- Housing Rights Service Northern Ireland (NI) - helpline 028 9024 5640
- My Money Steps
- National Debtline Helpline - helpline: 0808 808 4000
- StepChange - helpline: 0800 138 1111
Next update due: March 2018