Other sources of financial help


Local Authority Payments

In some circumstances, financial support may be available if you obtain a legal order formalising the arrangements for the care and upbringing of the child. Local authorities have the power to provide Residence Order allowances and Special Guardianship allowances.

These payments are discretionary and likely to be means-tested.  This means that the local authority will look at your needs and your financial situation, and at their own policy. They will then make a decision on whether or not to make any payments to you.  Any decision they make should be reasonable, take account of relevant case law and respect certain fundamental human rights.  Otherwise, it may be challenged in court.

If a child is placed with you by the local authority, then unless you agree with them when they place the child with you that it is to be a private arrangement, you may be entitled to be assessed as a foster carer and receive a fostering allowance. This is a complicated area of law – contact Family Rights Group (see below) for further advice.

Each local authority is under a general duty to provide support to ‘children in need’ and their families under Section 17 of the Children Act 1989. This can include financial support, both as a one off and on an ongoing basis.

A child is in need if s/he is under 18 and either

  • s/he needs extra help from Children’s Services to be safe and healthy or to develop properly; or
  • s/he is disabled.

Government guidance to local authorities on family and friends care says that they should have in place clear eligibility criteria in relation to the provision of support services under Section 17, including financial support, to children living with family and friends carers.

The Government guidance also requires every local authority to have a policy setting out the range of support services for children in family and friends care. You can contact your local authority to ask about their policy and practice on family and friends care.

If you do not think that you are receiving the support that you need, you can contact us for advice.

Family Rights Group
Telephone: 0808 801 0366 Monday to Friday 9.30am-3.00pm
Website: www.frg.org.uk

Family Rights Group provides free, confidential independent telephone and e-mail advice to families whose children are involved with, or require, local authority services because of welfare needs or concerns


Child Maintenance

Unless the child is looked after by the local authority, you could ask the parents to pay child maintenance, because they remain financially responsible for the child throughout the time that they are living with you.

During 2014, charges have been introduced for people who pay or receive child maintenance through the Child Maintenance Service (which replaces the Child Support Agency). For more information about these charges click here.

Child Maintenance Options
Telephone: 0800 988 0988 Monday to Friday 8am-8pm, Saturday 9am-4pm
Website: www.cmoptions.org

Child Maintenance Options provides impartial information and support with anything relating to child maintenance.



16-19 Bursary Fund

This fund provides help for education-related costs to 16 to 19 year olds who are  in further education or training. 

Under this scheme, some vulnerable students are eligible to receive a bursary of £1,200 a year. This group includes:

  • people in care
  • care leavers
  • people claiming Income Support
  • disabled young people who receive Employment Support Allowance and Disability Living Allowance

Other students facing financial difficulties may be awarded a bursary at the discretion of their school, college or training provider, who will set out details of how the scheme will operate locally.



Warm Home Discount Scheme

For winter 2014 to 2015, some people will be able to get £140 discount on their electricity bill through this scheme. This includes people with pre-pay or pay as you go meters.

You qualify for the discount if all of the following apply:

  • your supplier is part of the scheme
  • your name or your partner’s name is on the bill
  • you are getting the Guarantee Credit element of Pension Credit (as of 12th July 2014)

Some suppliers offer the discount to a broader group of people – those who are vulnerable or on a low income. Each supplier has its own rules about who else can get this help.

For more information about whether your supplier has a scheme, who it covers and how to apply, see the gov.uk website, contact your supplier or phone the Home Heat Helpline on 0800 33 66 99.



Furniture Projects

In some areas, there are local furniture projects that provide good quality second hand furniture, safety-tested appliances and other household items free of charge for people on benefits or a low income.

Furniture projects are usually able to deliver to your home. You may have to pay something to cover delivery costs.

You may have to ask your local council, an advice centre or a community group to put your name forward. If you are already in contact with any organisations like this, ask them if they can put you in contact with a local project.

You can find a furniture project via the Furniture Re-use Network. Their website lists local furniture projects: www.frn.org.uk or you can phone them on: 0845 602 8003.


Try the Freecycle Network: www.freecycle.org or Freegle: www.ilovefreegle.org. Both are charities devoted to the recycling of unwanted items via the internet.



Grants from charities and benevolent funds

Financial assistance is often available from grant-giving organisations, depending on your particular background and circumstances.  In some cases you can apply directly, but in others a referral is needed. Grandparents Plus can help by identifying and making applications to charitable trusts.  Contact our advice service for more information.

Some of the charities we make applications to include:

British Gas Energy Trust
Website: www.britishgasenergytrust.org.uk

This Trust awards grants to individuals and families to clear domestic fuel debts and other household debts, and to purchase essential household items.

Buttle UK
Telephone: 020 7828 7311

Buttle UK has a small grants programme which provides essential items such as clothing, beds and washing machines to families living in crisis, when there is no one else that can help. Buttle UK also has an educational programme which aims to transform the lives of vulnerable children (aged 11 and over) by funding places at schools with a safe and supportive environment.

Family Fund
Telephone: 01904 621115
Website: www.familyfund.org.uk

The Family Fund is a registered charity which gives grants to families on low incomes with severely disabled or seriously ill children aged 17 and under.  The Fund will consider any request, so you can ask for whatever you need most, for example, laundry equipment, driving lessons, computers or holidays. You can apply directly to the Family Fund – no referral is needed.

Family Holiday Association
Telephone: 020 3117 0650

The Family Holiday Association provides families on a low income with a break in a UK holiday park.


Turn2Us is a web-based charity providing an online service to help people access information on all benefits and grants available in the UK.

The Directory of Social Change publishes A Guide to Grants for Individuals in Need. This is a practical guide to support available from over 2,280 trusts and charities. Your local library or Citizens Advice Bureau should have a copy of this guide.



Local Welfare Assistance

Until April 2013, families living in difficult circumstances and on a low income could apply to the Social Fund for help in the form of discretionary community care grants and crisis loans.  The money which used to pay for these schemes has now been given to English local authorities and to the Scottish and Welsh Governments to provide ‘local welfare assistance’ to support residents in their area.

Local authorities may choose to run a replacement scheme, but they don’t have to. They may choose to put the money towards supporting existing local schemes, such as foodbanks,credit unions and schemes which provide subsidised furniture and white goods.

Contact your local council for details of the scheme in place in your area. Contact our advice service  if you would like help in making an application or are not sure if you meet the criteria.




Foodbanks operate in many areas and are run by charities.  Non-perishable food is donated by local people – schools, businesses, churches and individuals. People who are struggling to feed themselves and their families can be referred to foodbanks by care professionals such as doctors, health visitors and social workers, or by advice agencies, job centres or via ‘local welfare assistance’ schemes (see above).