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Grants and schemes

Throughout the UK there are thousands of grants and schemes available to help people in need.

They are awarded for all sorts of reasons, such as:

  • replacing essential white goods
  • helping with disability equipment or day to day living costs that cannot be met by government benefits
  • home repairs and moving home
  • help with the cost of a holiday
  • costs relating to childcare (e.g. school uniforms)
  • unexpected costs such as an unexpected bill.

Each grant and scheme will have its own award criteria. Often they will want to ensure that you have applied for any government schemes and/or claimed all the statutory benefits that are available to you first. You will also need to show that you have a low income and no or low savings available to you. Most charities will judge applications on a case-by-case basis so don't be afraid of something that seems unusual. Grants can be awarded for a wide variety of circumstances to help those in need.


Many grants are administered by charities or trusts. There are so many and whether or not you can access them will depend on a number of different factors. This makes it almost impossible for us to list them all.

However, things to think about when looking for a grant are:

What's local to you. There are numerous local charities and trusts which help people within certain geographical locations. It might be worth asking your local carer’s centre or local Citizens Advice Bureau if they know of any grants that are local to you.

Charities that focus on a particular illness or disability. There are many different charities that focus on a particular illness or disability, however a couple of examples are:

  • the Multiple Sclerosis Society can sometimes award grants for disability equipment, short breaks and support for families
  • Macmillan Cancer Support can sometimes award small one off grants to help with some of the additional costs that a cancer diagnoses can bring

To find charities that focus on a particular illness or disability you could search online or you can contact the Carers UK Helpline who can have a look for you.

Occupations in the family. Your own occupation, or any you have had in the past, can open up a range of grants to apply for - from being a doctor, engineer, entertainer, retail worker, etc. Was or is someone in your family in the Armed Forces or have they worked in a certain sector like nursing (including healthcare assistants), the civil service or the education sector? There are many different charities that were specifically set up to aid the families of people within a whole range of professions. 

Being a member of a certain body may also make you eligible for certain grants, eg, The Chartered Institute of Patent Attorneys has a benevolent fund for its members.

What you need it for. If you need a specific item of equipment or a holiday, then that might affect who you can apply to for assistance.

If the help is needed to adapt a home to meet the needs of a person with a disability or illness. A Disabled Facilities Grant is a local council grant to help towards the cost of adapting a home to enable someone with a disability or illness to continue living there.

Turn 2 Us is a charity website that includes a dedicated ‘grants checker’ specifically to help you find grants, depending on your individual circumstances. They also have a free ‘grants checker’ helpline (0808 802 2000) that you can call and who will then run a grants search for you. Turn 2 Us also has its own occupational charity within it called the Elizabeth Finn Fund. This is worth exploring as it covers a wide range of professionals and can signpost you if it cannot help you itself.

British Gas Energy Trust

If you are struggling to keep up to date with your electric and/or gas bills, British Gas Energy Trust can provide advice, assistance and grants. You have to live in England, Scotland or Wales and do not need to be a customer of British Gas to apply. For more information, visit

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In England your local council will have a local welfare assistance scheme. This may be able to help you if you are in urgent need or in emergency circumstances. Each local council will have its own scheme, and some offer things like vouchers to pay for food or essential items. You can see what is available in your area via your local council, or you can search via the CPAG website.

In Wales there is a single national local welfare assistance scheme called the Discretionary Assistance Fund. This fund includes Emergency Assistance Payments which may be able to help if you are in an emergency situation or after a disaster and Individual Assistance Payments which may be able to help if you need financial help to live independently. You can see more information on the Money Made Clear website.

In Scotland there is a single national Scottish Welfare Fund. This Fund includes crisis grants which may be able to help if you are in an emergency situation or after a disaster and community care grants which may be able to help you if you need financial help to live independently. You can see more information on the CPAG website.

In Northern Ireland there is a service called Finance Support that may be able to support you in times of financial need. This service includes Discretionary Support which may be able to help you if you have a crisis which places you or your immediate family’s health, safety or wellbeing at significant risk. If you are eligible for Discretionary Support it can take the form of a loan or a grant. You can see more information on the NI direct website.

As well as schemes from the local council, there are also Budgeting Loans which may be able to help you pay for essential things like furniture, clothes or moving costs. Budgeting loans are interest-free, so you only pay back what you borrow. You have to be in receipt of certain benefits to apply for a Budgeting Loan. You can see more information on the website (for England, Wales & Scotland) or on the NI direct website (for Northern Ireland).

Access to Work scheme

You may be able to get financial support through a grant if you have a disability or physical or mental health condition and need support with this for your employment. 

This could help pay for:

  • BSL interpreters, lip speakers or note takers
  • adaptations to your vehicle so you can get to work
  • taxi fares to work or a support worker if you cannot use public transport
  • a support worker or job coach to help you in your workplace.

See the UK Government's Access to Work page to find out about the criteria and what's involved.

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