Royal British Legion offering veterans and their families grants of up to £1,200 to help pay bills – check if you're eligible and how to apply
The Royal British Legion, the UK's largest charity dedicated to supporting the armed forces community, has launched a grant scheme for veterans and their families who are struggling to pay their energy bills. The initiative will provide non-repayable emergency grants of up to £1,200 (£200 a month for up to six months), and is available across the UK.
Update: 30 November 2022: The amount of support you can get under the Royal British Legion's scheme has been reduced. When it first launched, you could get grants of up to £2,400 (£200 a month for a year). Now, the most you can get is £1,200 (£200 a month for six months).
The charity told us it was making the change because it had seen a high level of demand for the grants and wants to support as many people as possible.
The eligibility criteria remains the same, and the exact level support you can get depends on your circumstances – see below for full info and how to apply.
It's estimated there are two million UK armed forces veterans, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Defence, though the Royal British Legion hasn't said how many might be able to benefit from the new grants. When we asked about the total funding available, the charity told us there was no set cut-off and that it wants to help as many people as it can.
For further support with your energy bills – including if you're not part of the armed forces community – see our full Energy bill help guide.
Who can apply for the Royal British Legion grants
In general, the armed forces community includes those who have served, or are serving, in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force, as well as their families, dependants and carers – which can include children, current and former spouses and partners, widows and widowers.
However, the Royal British Legion uses a broad definition of "armed forces community" – so even if you're not sure you fit into one of the categories above, it's worth checking your eligibility on its website or by calling its helpline on 0808 802 8080.
The grants are means-tested – but you DON'T have to be on state benefits
If you're currently getting any means-tested state benefits, such as universal credit, pension credit or income support, you should qualify automatically.
But you could still be eligible for a grant even if you don't get any benefits – the Royal British Legion will check your income and expenditure to assess your needs. The charity told us that it encourages anyone struggling financially to apply, as it has flexibility to consider support for people who don't meet the means-testing.
You can get up to £200 a month for up to six months, depending on your circumstances
If your application is successful, you'll get up to £200 a month for up to six months – the exact amount and duration will vary depending on your circumstances. You won't have to reapply every month, just the once.
In most cases, you won't be paid in cash. Instead, you'll get one or more of the following depending on your situation:
- Vouchers to top up your gas or electricity prepayment meter
- A virtual credit card you can use to pay utility bills (restricted to this use)
- Vouchers for food, clothing or household items
- Replacement white goods
Why the Royal British Legion has launched these grants
The charity said it's taking action after seeing a 20% rise in requests for support with urgent needs, such as food and household costs, over the past 12 months. It expects this to continue to increase over the winter months.
Some members of the armed forces community are more vulnerable to rising costs than others, according to the Royal British Legion, with its research previously finding that working-age veterans were more likely to be sick or disabled than other UK adults of the same age.
Other charities also provide grants for veterans
While the Royal British Legion is the biggest charity offering financial support for those in the armed forces community, it isn't the only one.
If you're struggling, there are lots of other charities that might be able to help. You can use the Turn2us grant search tool to find the right one for you based on your age, gender and where you live. Alternatively, you can contact the Veterans' Gateway service online or by phone on 0808 802 1212 for more information – this service is backed by a number of charities and other organisations, including the UK Government.
Energy suppliers also offer hardship grants to their customers who are struggling to pay their bills and are in energy debt. There are currently nine schemes running. For more, see our supplier-by-supplier energy grant analysis.
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