Financial help and advice

Local Welfare Assistance

Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) is the provision of better information, advice and support for individuals and families struggling to cope and for those who are facing genuine short term crises.

The LWA aims to enable individuals and families to reduce the likelihood of a crisis developing and to plan for a stable future as far as possible.

LWA is being delivered through building on the knowledge and experience of services already provided to residents. Through this approach the limited funding available is being used to, enable and strengthen the network of existing community, voluntary and charitable organisations to provide help to people experiencing periods of short term crisis.

What are you entitled to?

Check that you are claiming the right benefits for your situation. Certain benefits may qualify you for other grants, loans and discounts.

Maternity grants, short-term advances, budgeting advances and other forms of support are available from the Department for Work and Pensions for those who qualify. You can check you are receiving the right benefits

  • by using an online entitlement checker such as entitledto or Turn2Us

  • or by phoning Jobcentre Plus on 0800 055 6688

Short Term Advances

Often when someone makes a new claim for benefit there can be a period where they will find themselves in financial need before they receive their first payment. Short Term Advances are designed to help bridge this gap by providing an advance on the benefit applied for, this is then deducted from future benefits payments until the amount is paid off.

You can ask for a short term advance when you make your claim or whilst you are waiting for payment, however you must be able to demonstrate that you are, or will be, in financial need.

Budgeting Loan

If you have been in receipt of benefits for a continuous period of 26 weeks and find yourself in financial need due to an emergency or unforeseen circumstances you may be able to get a Budgeting Loan to help.

These loans are interest free – you only pay back what you borrow – but repayments are automatically taken from your ongoing benefit payments so may reduce the amount of money you receive for a while. The smallest amount you can borrow is £100 and the most, will depend on your circumstances. The loan will normally have to be repaid within 104 weeks.

Budgeting Advance

If you are claiming Universal Credit, you may be able to get a Budgeting Advance. However these are for those on the lowest incomes to provide an interest free alternative to high-cost borrowing such as payday loans or hire-purchase shops. In most cases you will have had to have been claiming Universal Credit (or have been migrated from a previous legacy benefit) for at least 6 months and the regulations also stipulate income thresholds for eligibility.

  • Your local Jobcentre or the website will help with more information and details of how to apply for aBudgeting Advancee or Budgeting Loan/Advance.

Free School Meals and School Uniform Grants

Since September 2014, all children in Key Stage 1 are entitled to Universal Free School Meals.

If you are in receipt of certain benefits and have children who attend school, they may be eligible for free school meals from Key Stage 2 onwards  and/or help with uniform costs.

  • More information about this, how to apply and a quick free school meals checker, view the Free School Meals page


All things money

From time to time we all need some help looking at our finances and making the most of what we have coming in each month. Whether it is getting some advice on how to manage your debt or what the best option is for buying a new washing machine, the organisations listed below can offer free, impartial advice.

  • Citizens Advice Adviceguide - general financial and budgeting advice as well as specialist debt advice.

  • Money Advice Service - free and impartial advice set up by government.

  • Income Max - helping people to maximise their income and improve their financial situation.

  • Step Change  - free advice on problem debt, based on what is best for you.

  • Pay Plan - offers comprehensive advice, guidance and support for anyone struggling with debt.

  • National Debtline - free, confidential debt advice for people living in England, Scotland and Wales.

  • Business Debtline - helping the  self-employed and small businesses deal with their debts in an informed and active way.

  • Christians Against Poverty - free debt counselling for anyone, regardless of faith.  


Housing advice

Your local authority will be able to give you general advice about housing, housing benefits and homelessness.

If you are having problems paying your rent, you must talk to your landlord as soon as possible. If you are a housing association or council tenant, they may have schemes in place which can help you pay off arrears and regain control of your rent.

If you are a private tenant, you may want to seek some advice from your local authority, Citizens Advice or Shelter, to find out your rights.

Keeping your home warm

You may be eligible for discounts or grants to help heat your home if you are in receipt of certain benefits. Hampshire County Council’s Hitting the Cold Spots service will be able to advise you of what help may be available to you.


Furniture and food


There are a number of services throughout the county which provide affordable, good quality second hand furniture for members of the public. If you are in receipt of certain benefits you may even qualify for a discount. To see what is available in your area visit one of the services below:

  • Andover
    Twice as Nice
    Tel: 01264 369615

  • Basingstoke
    Community Furniture Project
    Tel: 01256 320700

  • Bordon
    The Furniture Helpline
    Tel: 01420 489000

  • Havant and Gosport
    Jacobs Well Care Centre
    Tel: 02392 583050

  • Southampton
    For furniture only, not white goods:
    Southampton City and Region Action To Combat Hardship (SCRATCH)
    Tel: 02380 773132

  • Winchester and Eastleigh
    Emmaus Hampshire
    Tel: 01962 868300

These organisations welcome donations of suitable furniture and goods to enable them to keep on providing a service to people in need. If you have something you are looking to replace, why not consider donating it to your local furniture project?

Emergency Food

If you are struggling to afford to put food on the table due to a crisis, you may be able to get some short term help from your local food bank. They operate to help those most in need and provide a few days worth of food for you and your family.

You will need to have a voucher to be able to access the service and these are available from many support organisations. To find out where you can go to get a voucher, please call the food bank local to you or Hampshire Local Welfare Assistance on 0300 330 1150.

Local food banks:

If you need some tips and ideas for making the most of the food you do have and avoiding waste, take a look at the Smart Living website from Hampshire County Council, for lots of information and advice.


Talk to us

If you have a problem or a question which has not been answered by the information provided on these pages, please call us on the number listed below.

Hampshire Local Welfare Assistance and Advice 0300 330 1150

Hampshire Local Welfare Assistance and Advice can take the time to work with you to help with any problems you may be experiencing or any concerns you may have.

Hampshire Local Welfare Assistance and Advice will:

  • help to support you to get to the bottom of your problem

  • develop a plan of action to overcome your problem where necessary

  • refer or signpost you to a named expert to deal with your situation or concerns

  • enable you to identify help, nationally, county wide or locally through research and investigation tailored to your needs

  • act as an advocate on your behalf with other agencies

Hampshire Local Welfare Assistance and Advice will not:

  • make decisions about whether or not you require goods or services

  • be able to give you cash, goods or services

  • be able to guarantee that support is available for your specific situation but will do their best to see your particular crisis is resolved or assessed wherever possible