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Worried about money

Guidance to direct you or somebody you care about to the right type of support this winter and beyond.

If you need advice or support to pay your bills, heat your home, get quality food that’s right for you and your family, or access the right type of benefit, there are a range of organisations and initiatives in Waltham Forest that are here to help.

What can we help you with?

  • I suddenly have no money - lost job, reduced hours, unexpected costs, relationship breakdown
  • My money doesn’t stretch far enough - deciding between food/fuel/mobile credit, low income, illness, bereavement
  • I’m worried about debt- rent or council tax arrears, bills, credit cards, owing friends and family
  • I’m waiting on a first payment of Universal Credit - made a new benefit claim, benefit payment is delayed
  • Other support available - food hubs, shelter, migrant support

I suddenly have no money

If you are of working age or pensionable age and on a low income, you may be able to get one or a combination of Universal Credit, Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support:

  • Universal Credit - a monthly payment that can help you with your living expenses and housing costs, including your rent.  
  • Housing Benefit - can help you pay your rent. Most people receive housing costs through Universal Credit, but you can apply for Housing Benefit separately if you have reached state pension age or live in supported, sheltered, or temporary housing.
  • Council tax Support - if you’re on a low income or in receipt of a benefit you may be able to get some of your Council Tax bill paid for you. 

Grants or payments

Regardless of whether you are receiving benefits, if you are struggling to pay for things like bills or essential living costs, you may be eligible for grants and payments such as ‘Local Welfare Assistance’:

  • Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) can help you and your family. Especially if there is a risk to your health or safety because, for example, you’re fleeing domestic violence or you don’t have enough money to pay for essentials like food, electricity, and gas. You won’t normally get any cash payments, but you may receive food vouchers, top ups for pre-paid meters, or packages of the household items you need. 
  • Household Support Fund: the Council has partnered with Citizens Advice Waltham Forest to provide eligible residents with £250 vouchers to help pay for food and other household essentials.
    If you are struggling with the everyday cost of living, you can contact Citizens Advice Waltham Forest on 0808 2787 838 (freephone Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm) to request assistance and support.
  • Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP): if you already receive Housing Benefit or Universal Credit Housing costs, and you’re still struggling to pay your rent, a DHP can help top up your housing-related benefit to cover costs like rent, deposits, and - removals. 
  • Discretionary Council Tax Hardship: for those experiencing exceptional hardship and it isn’t their fault, residents can receive help if 1) the amount of money they have coming in is a lot less than their outgoings and they have no savings, and 2) they have applied for all other help such as benefits and reductions. 

If you need support challenging a benefit decision, you can contact Citizens Advice Waltham Forest. 0808 278 7838 (freephone)

If you are worried about struggling to pay your bills, accessing temporary accommodation or becoming homeless, you can get in touch with a housing advisor on 020 8496 3000.

My money doesn’t stretch far enough

Anyone who is struggling financially can talk to an advisor for free and confidential advice, for a benefit check or to help you find cheaper deals on things like gas and electricity. Check if you can increase your income by contacting:

  • Citizens Advice Waltham Forest - advice on various issues including money, benefits, housing, employment, and how to apply for further aid. 0808 278 7838 (freephone)
  • Debt Free London - expert advice for Londoners with problem debt. The advice pages on their website can be translated into many languages. 0800 808 5700 (freephone)

You can also:

I’m worried about debt

Debt can happen to anyone. There are many options for free debt advice and support and to help reduce how much you pay each month:

I’m waiting on my first payment of Universal Credit

You should contact the Universal Credit helpline for help on 0800 328 5644

Another option available if you are waiting on a Universal Credit payment or decision is to ask to receive your benefit earlier than usual if you need to pay for something like rent or food. An advance is a loan rather than a grant, which will mean you'll pay your advance back through monthly deductions from your Universal Credit. You can find more information on the GOV.UK website.

If you want to speak to someone else on the phone for more information and advice on benefit advance, you can speak to Citizens Advice National on 0800 144 8848 (freephone).

Other support available

Heating your home 

HEET is a Waltham Forest based fuel poverty charity. They offer a range of advice, support and guidance on heating your home and accessing funding. You can find more about HEET by visiting their website or calling 020 8520 1900.

More information on keeping your home warm and safe this winter is available through our Winter Wellness programme 

Support to access good quality food

Food hubs and banks

  • Bags of Taste teach residents on tight budgets to cook healthy, delicious and low-cost meals. Their free course includes the ingredients needed to cook three meals from across the world which will be delivered to your door.

Further help:

  • Early Help Food Vouchers - to help buy fruit, vegetables and milk if you’re on a low income, pregnant or have a child under four years old.
  • Free School Meals - your child may be eligible
  • Baby Bank - equipment, food and clothing for babies and children under five years old. Talk to your midwife, family support worker, health visitor, food bank, social worker, or Children’s Centre to get a referral. Or if you would like to refer yourself, please get in touch or you can fill in the referral form on their website.
  • Bags of Taste teach vulnerable residents on tight budgets to cook healthy, delicious and low-cost meals. Their free course includes the ingredients needed to cook three meals from across the world which will be delivered to your door.

Age UK Waltham Forest

Age UK Waltham Forest offers assistance with benefit applications such as Pension Credit, Carers Allowance, Attendance Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Dial-a-Ride/Taxi Card applications, appeals, housing issues, alleviation of debt/fuel poverty or minimisation of risk of abuse.

Phone: 020 8558 3404

Housing and accommodation support

If you are worried about struggling to pay your bills, accessing temporary accommodation or becoming homeless, you can get in touch with a housing advisor on 020 8496 3000.

You can access advice for council tenants online or you can email

Or you can contact:

  • Shelter - Emergency helpline if you are homeless or at risk of being homeless. 0808 800 4444 (freephone)

Support for migrants

Waltham Forest Migrant Hub provides advice and support on immigration, housing, welfare, employment for migrant residents and information about free activities in the borough.

The website itself has a translation function, with over 100 languages available.