Grant grabbing

Free income-support grants to boost your income

If you're struggling on a low income, there's a lot more cash out there to help than you may think. Charities, the Government and even companies often have funds which are available to help, especially if you've got children. Millions of pounds' worth of these grants, loans and tax credits go unclaimed, this guide takes you through what you might be able to get. 

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What is a grant?

A grant is money, or a voucher, that contributes towards the cost of you buying something. Although it may not cover the full cost of the item, meaning you'll have to cough up the rest yourself, it's almost always completely free. 

Grants are usually offered to encourage people to do or buy something they wouldn't normally consider.

Most tend to be for specific suppliers, which can mean even after the grant, it isn't necessarily the cheapest place - so always check if you can get it cheaper somewhere else. See the Online Shopping guide and look for ideas, or ask your own question on the Benefits and Tax Credits forum.

Top income support grants

Both Government and hundreds of small charities offer grants for all kinds of help for individuals on a low income. Some are open to all, while others are only available to certain groups of people.

Check the following to see if you are eligible for help with costs or increase your income ...

  1. Do a charity grant search

    money in jar

    Hundreds of small charities give grants to individuals, from one-off sums to help with things such as furniture, decorating, clothing or ways to improve quality of life (eg, holidays or training) to regular amounts to help cover bills and household expenses.

    The grants usually depend on an individual's circumstances, maybe any illnesses they have or their nationality, occupation, age or income.

    Charity-run website Turn2us has an easy-to-use grant search which tells you how to contact any suitable charities directly, or you can register for a free account to send online enquiries and applications to charities through the site. Newer platform Lightning Reach can also let you know what grants (and other financial support) you might be eligible for, and help you apply. 

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Anyone
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Varies but includes things such as household essentials, clothes and medical help.
  2. Claiming Universal Credit?

    Each Jobcentre Plus has a little-known 'Flexible Support Fund' to help support those on universal credit looking for work.

    Each centre decides how to use their fund which can include things such as cost of transport, childcare, work clothes, tools and more (during the job search or to enable you to accept an offer of employment) if an adviser believes it'll make the transition into work easier. Ask your local office if it provides any help.

    The cash can be requested for any reasonable expense, yet no one has a right to the money - it's completely at the discretion of each adviser, who will look for specific needs. If you think it'll help you, speak to your work coach, or ask an adviser at your local Jobcentre Plus.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Those on benefits looking for work
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Help cover the costs of looking for or going back to work
  3. Want to work in the arts?

    If you live in England and want to work as an artist, the Arts Council National Lottery Project Grants gives National Lottery grants throughout the year to help artists carry out their work, including writers, actors and musicians.

    If you are more musically minded, Making Music aims to help young professional musicians at the beginning of their careers by giving bursaries and prizes in both the voluntary and professional sector.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Musicians and artists
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Help to build a career in arts or music
  4. Holidays for disabled people

    deck chair

    Small charity The 3H Foundation has a grant scheme to help people with disabilities and carers to have holidays and short respite breaks. Carers are able to apply for a carer grant enabling them to have a period of respite away without their cared for.  

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Households with a disabled adult or child
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Short breaks in the UK
  5. Home improvement grants

    mall sscrewdrivers

    If you're elderly, disabled or on a low income your local Home Improvement Agency (HIA) may help you to repair, improve, maintain or adapt your home.

    There are about 200 not-for-profit, locally-based HIAs around the country that can help in varying ways. Assistance can include putting together flat-pack furniture or looking after your garden.

    Search for your nearest on Foundations in England (or Care and Repair CymruCare & Repair Scotland or Radius Housing in NI).

    Separately, Age UK also offer handyperson services at many of their local branches. See if your local Age UK offers this or call Age UK Advice on 0800 169 6565.

    Alternatively, the Turn2us and Lightning Reach portals can help you check for charities that might be able to help with things such as furniture, decorating or bills and household expenses. The grants usually depend on an individual's circumstances, any illnesses or their nationality, occupation, age or income - see above for more on Turn2us.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? The elderly, disabled or those on a low income
    • What's the maximum award? n/a
    • What does it cover? Odd jobs around the house
  6. Free cash to help pay for utility arrears & white goods

    As well as grants to make your home more energy-efficient, some utility companies also offer help if you have large arrears on your gas, electricity or water bills. Please let us know if you have success with any of these schemes.


    As energy bills are such a big issue right now, we've now got a dedicated guide for help if you're struggling to pay your bills

    water tap


    Water UK's website has info on all the water company schemes. Help from all providers includes WaterSure (see below), referrals to hardship funds and help in applying for direct payment from benefits (Water Direct).

    If you're on a meter and a means-tested benefit, and either have three or more children under 19, or someone in the household with a medical condition needing lots of water, you could get help from the WaterSure scheme which caps your bills at the average for your area.

    Some providers also offer other special tariffs and/or New Start/Restart (name depends on where you live), a scheme that can match payments or write off some of your debt if you enter an arrears payment plan.

    Phone and broadband

    If you're in receipt of income support, income-based ESA, income-based JSA, pension credit or universal credit (and you've no earnings), the broadband companies have various cheap tariffs. We've rounded them up in our Social Broadband Tariffs guide. 

    White goods

    Some charities give grants for white goods – large household items such as cookers and fridges – to families in financial hardship, though you may need to meet other eligibility criteria, too.

    Turn2Us' grants checker can help you find local charities and grants, while The Reuse Network can locate your nearest charity or furniture project that offers second-hand white goods.

    Alternatively, you can google the name of your area and white goods, eg "Barnet white goods", to get more info on locally available help. Many councils offer local welfare assistance schemes, but you may need to be claiming specific benefits to qualify. 

    You can also find free white goods on sites like Freecycle and Freegle, but bear in mind you'll often need to collect them yourself. 

    Quick Stats: 

    • Who can apply? Anyone with utility arrears, usually a customer of the grant provider. For white goods grants, you must meet all applicable eligibility criteria
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Repayment of arrears and some household items
  7. You may be entitled to benefits

    While this one isn't a grant, it's still well worth checking. The benefits net spreads much wider than you think. Read the full Benefits Check guide to see if you should make a claim.

    Once you are entitled to certain benefits this can lead to other grants, although the pot of money is sometimes limited. Get more info on these grants from your local Jobcentre or benefits office.

    Cold Weather Payments: These help with gas and electricity costs during cold weather. Cold weather payments are different from winter fuel payments which are made every winter to people over 64 regardless of the temperature. Find out more on

    Mobility Grants: If you are disabled and need a car to get around, the Mobility Scheme from Motability may be able to give financial help for driving lessons or to replace or adapt your car. To be eligible for Motability’s Driving Lessons Grant, you must have a lease agreement on the Motability Scheme or a pending application. Please visit the Charity’s website where you can find the full eligibility criteria.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Various
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Various but intended to help cover costs for additional support you may need
  8. Reclaim & complain

    While not grants, if you're looking for money it's worth checking out the Council TaxBank ChargesPackaged Bank Accounts and Uniform Tax reclaiming guides.

    And if you've had bad service from a financial provider read the Financial Rights and Consumer Rights guides.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Anyone
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Problems and complaints with financial services
  9. Government grants

    There are a few ways which may be able to provide you with interest-free borrowing rather than getting commercial debt.

    Local council support schemes: Each local authority is responsible for providing help to its residents struggling with an emergency, such as you or your families' health being at risk, not being able to afford to buy food, needing help to stay in your own home and coming out of care, hospital or prison.

    Sadly this is a postcode lottery, each council can choose whether to offer financial help or not and who is eligible. For example, some may give furniture or food grants while others may give cash. Contact your local council or just Google "", eg, to find out its procedure.

    Budgeting loans and advances: This is a government scheme providing interest-free loans to those on certain income-based benefits if you need essential items for your home or other things that you cannot pay for in a lump sum, such as clothes and furnishings.

    Apply for one at the Jobcentre or via the form on If you have means to get money any other way (using savings, for example), you won't qualify. Up to £1,500 can be borrowed at one time for each loan and repayments are dependent on what you can afford to pay.

    If the council or Jobcentre decides your circumstances aren't urgent or you're not struggling, you may not get anything. But if you think you qualify and really need the cash, it's definitely worth a shot. Find full info and how to apply in the Debt Help guide.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Depends on loan type, see above.
    • What's the maximum award? Up to £1,500
    • What does it cover? Disasters, emergencies, essentials

Grants for low income families

On top of the grants above, if you have, or are having children, check to see if you're eligible for any of these additional grants.

  1. Recently had a child or pregnant?

    small child

    If you're on certain benefits (universal credit, income support, income-based JSA, income-based ESA, tax credits, pension credit), the Sure Start Maternity Grant could give £500, or £606 in Scotland, to help buy clothes and equipment for a new-born baby if it's your first child.

    You must apply between 11 weeks before and six months after the birth.

    If you're pregnant or have a child under four years old, you can take part in the Healthy Start scheme. It provides a prepaid card loaded with £4.25 per week during pregnancy and £8.50 per week in the first year, towards milk, fruit and vegetables and infant formula milk. You can also get vitamin coupons. 

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Those on means tested benefits with a newborn child
    • What's the maximum award? £500 (£606 in Scotland)
    • What does it cover? Anything that will help you look after your child
  2. Kids at primary or secondary school?

    If you are on means-tested benefits, you may be able to get help with free school meals, school uniforms grants and transport.

    If your child is eligible for free school meals, you'll also be able to access extra support for childcare over the school holidays. See the free school meals guide for how to claim it. 

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Those on a low income or certain benefits with children at school
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Help with the costs of sending your kids to school
  3. Help with childcare

    Working parents can boost their budget by huge amounts in the form of free childcare (for three and four years olds), or tax-free childcare (for children under 11).

    See the Childcare Costs guide for full details and eligibility criteria.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Working parents
    • What's the maximum award? Depends on the number of children you have but could be £2,000+ per child per year
    • What does it cover? Childcare costs
  4. Families with disabled children

    If you've got a disabled child (17 or under) who lives at home and you receive certain benefits (eg, income support or universal credit), the Family Fund has grants to help make life easier. These can be used on things such as washing machines, computers and holidays.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Those with a disabled child in receipt of specific benefits
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Anything that will help you look after your child
  5. Music grants for under-19s


    The Christine Brown Trust provides funding to under-19s in the UK who are budding musicians but come from a low-income family, to help towards the cost of learning a musical instrument.

    This is aimed at those already at a high level, rather than complete beginners. But money can be used for an instrument, lessons or any other learning costs you may need help to cover.

    As a Yorkshire-based charity, priority is given to those who live locally, but you may be accepted if you live elsewhere.

    Quick Stats:

    • Who can apply? Under-19s learning a musical instrument
    • What's the maximum award? Varies
    • What does it cover? Help towards musical study costs

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