Local Welfare Assistance (LWA)

Benefits and money advice

Local Welfare Assistance (LWA) could help you if you or your family are in severe financial hardship, especially if there is a risk to health or safety.

Normally the fund does not give out cash payments, but may provide:

  • food vouchers, or a referral to the local food bank
  • top up for electricity or gas pre-paid meters
  • essential household items to help you set up home, or remain in your home
  • a referral to get low cost furniture

During the COVID-19 emergency social distancing means that payments are now being made by BACS direct to bank accounts, which can take up to three days. In an emergency a referral to a foodbank can be made the same day. Staff are now working weekends, where possible, and most applications are being processed within 24 hours provided all relevant information is provided when applying.

Non-cash payments are used to help make sure all payments are spent on the things they are given for. The fund gives the minimum needed to help each applicant to make sure we can help as many people as possible.

Who can apply Click to get info

We may be able to help you if you:

  • are aged 16 or over
  • have recourse to public funds
  • have been continuously resident in Waltham Forest for the previous six months, unless you are fleeing domestic violence or leaving an institution
  • have not been housed in Waltham Forest by another local authority
  • are entitled to a qualifying benefit such as:
    • Income Support
    • Universal Credit
    • Income-based Jobseekers' Allowance
    • Income-related Employment Support allowance
    • Pension Credit
    • Housing Benefit
    • Council Tax Support
  • are not in a hospital, care home or prison (unless you are due to be discharged within six weeks)
  • do not have savings you could use to meet the need
  • have not received a DWP Social Fund Crisis Loan, or Waltham Forest Local Welfare Assistance help , within the past 6 months
  • are seeking support to pay for an approved item
  • do not have enough resources to prevent serious risk to your own, or your family’s health or safety

Priority is given to:

  • families with children
  • people with disabilities
  • people over 65

Who can't apply Click to get info

We cannot help you if:

  • You are waiting for your first DWP payment
  • You have a change in your circumstances, but remain on DWP benefit
  • Your DWP benefit has been disallowed
  • Your DWP benefit has been sanctioned

In these situations, you will need to contact your local DWP office, who may be able to grant you a short term benefit advance.

For full eligibility criteria read the Waltham Forest Local welfare Assistance scheme proposed policy and qualifying criteria (70KB Word doc).

How to apply Click to get info

Use our online form to apply.

 ​If you have problems using a computer for health or disability reasons, you can either

  • contact us by telephone, email or in writing and we may be able to call you and take the information over the telephone,
  • visit one of our Library Plus branches where you can complete the form, or seek assistance from a member of staff.  .

We will contact you to get identification (preferably photo ID), unless you are already receiving Housing Benefit and/or Council Tax Support from Waltham Forest council.

We will need to see the last 3 months statements for all your bank accounts.

We may also need to see other evidence depending on what help you are asking for. More information is given on the application form.

What happens next Click to get info

If you have given all the information and evidence we need, we will generally deal with requests for assistance within a week. If your need is very urgent, for example for food or utility bills, we will aim to deal with your request the next working day.

We will give you the result of your application and make arrangements to provide you with the help you requested. If you are not successful we will let you know and we may be able to offer some other sources of help.

If you disagree with our decision you can appeal.

Appealing our decision Click to get info

You can appeal against any decision made except:

  • Decisions made by Waltham Forest Community Credit Union to refuse an application for a loan, or to offer a loan for less than the amount applied for.
  • A decision to award an application for assistance in full.
  • How the decision to award for assistance is made such as the decision to use of non-cash awards or the choice of any goods provided as part of the assistance.

You must make your appeal within 14 days of receiving the decision.

You should email lwa@walthamforest.gov.uk and describe the reasons you disagree with our decision.

Other sources of help Click to get info

You may be able to apply for a Budgeting Loan from the DWP, contact your local DWP office for more information.

Contact Click to get info

Revenues and Benefits Service

London Borough of Waltham Forest 
PO Box 856 
E17 9PN 

Phone: 020 8496 8505 or 020 8496 8417
E-mail: lwa@walthamforest.gov.uk