Where can I get help and advice about benefits

Working out what benefits or tax credits you’re entitled to can be tricky, especially with recent welfare changes. Find out where to get free expert advice online, face-to-face or by calling an advice helpline.

Citizens Advice

Citizens Advice can give you free, confidential, impartial and independent benefits advice.

Advice offered

As well as benefits advice, they can help you resolve problems with debt, housing and many more issues.

Services provided

  • Online
  • Home visits
  • Face-to-face
  • Advice helpline
  • Email (in some cases)

Suitable for

Everyone.

Contact Citizens Advice

Find your local bureau to arrange an appointment or view a list of phone numbers.

How to get access to a food bank

If you’re facing an emergency and have no money to pay for food, you might be able to use a food bank.

You usually can’t go directly to a foodbank. Most will askyou to get a referral voucher from an organisation in your community before you can use them.

Places where you can get a foodbank voucher include:

  • Citizens Advice
  • Your local council
  • GP or health visitor
  • Support worker
  • Social worker
  • Children’s Centre
  • Police

If you think you need to use a food bank, follow these steps:

  1. If you have internet access, search online for food banks in your area. You will be able to find out where they are and which local community organisations the foodbank works with who can organise a voucher for you.
  2. If you don’t have internet access you will need to go to a referral organisation who will help you find the nearest food bank and give you a voucher.
  3. Once you arrive at the referral organisation, you will be asked for some basic information to find out your needs and check if you can get a voucher.
  4. If you qualify, the referral organisation will give you a voucher to take to the foodbank to exchange for food.
  5. If you need to use a food bank again, you will need to get another referral.

Things to think about if you need a foodbank voucher

If you think you will run out of food by the end of the week it’s important you plan ahead. Most food banks are not open at the weekend, so try to get a referral before the weekend starts.

Not all community referral organisations, such as Citizens Advice, are open every day, so it’s important you check first, before travelling to one.

Once you have got your voucher if you’re not able to travel, your nearest food bank might be able to deliver. You should contact them directly to find out.

Some foodbanks put a limit on the number of times you can use them. If you find yourself relying on them too often, they will be able to help you find other support.

Finding a food bank

Find an independent food bank near you on the Food Aid Network website.
You can find your nearest Trussell Trust food bank on the Trussell Trust website.

Finding a referral organisation

Find the contact details for your local council on the Gov.uk website.

Law Centres

Law Centres provide free legal advice and representation to disadvantaged people.

Advice offered

As well as benefits and welfare rights advice, Law Centres offer legal advice on issues including employment and housing.

Services provided

  • Face-to-face
  • Telephone (in some areas)

Suitable for

Everyone.

Contact your local Law Centre

Macmillan benefits advisers for people affected by cancer

A Macmillan benefits adviser can help you work out what financial help you’re entitled to.

Advice offered

They offer specialist advice to help ease money worries.

Including information on:

  • loans
  • grants
  • benefits
  • tax credits.

Services provided

  • Face-to-face
  • Home visits
  • Telephone

Suitable for

Anyone affected by cancer.

Find a Macmillan benefits adviser

Find a Macmillan benefits adviser near you

Age UK benefits advice for older people

Some local branches of Age UK offer a free, confidential benefits advice service.

Advice offered

Practical assistance to make sure you’re getting all the benefits you’re entitled to.

Services provided

  • Face-to-face
  • Home visits
  • Telephone
  • Help with completing claim forms

Suitable for

Anyone who is over State Pension age and living in the area covered by the local branch.

Contact Age UK

Call the Age UK Helpline: 0800 169 6565 (8am-7pm, 365 days a year)

Go to the Age UK website

Or put ‘Age UK’ plus the name of your local area into a search engine.

Gingerbread Single Parent Helpline

Gingerbread provides advice and practical support for single parents, including advice on benefits and tax credits.

You can call free on 0808 802 0925 (Monday: 10am to 6pm, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 10am to 4pm, Wednesday: 10am-1pm and 5pm-7pm)

Other free help and advice

Debt advice

If you’re worried about keeping up with debt repayments there is lots of free, confidential help and advice available.

Find out more by following the link below:

Housing advice

If you have rent or mortgage arrears or you’re worried about losing your home, Shelter offers confidential advice on a range of housing issues.

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