Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Many people are worried about Coronavirus (COVID-19) and how this could affect their housing. Click here to find out what COVID-19 means for you.


Between 1 May 2020 and 31 March 2021, if you make an application to the Discretionary Assistance Fund in Wales because of hardship caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the application should be dealt with more flexibly than usual.

During this period you are able to make up to 5 rather than 3 claims in a 12 month period and you do not have to wait for 28 days from your last grant before you receive another one.

Cash in a crisis

If you are in a crisis you might be able to get help from the Discretionary Assistance Fund in Wales or a loan or benefit advance to pay your rent or essential household expenses. You may also be able to access a food bank.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help.

Discretionary Assistance Fund

You may be able to get help from the Discretionary Assistance Fund (DAF), which provides urgent grants to people in Wales as a last resort. The DAF can include awards for certain electrical white goods, such as fridges and cookers, in addition to household items such as beds, bedding, curtains and kitchen items. Grants do not need to be paid back.

There are 2 types of grant from the DAF :

Individual Assistance Payments (IAPs)

In some urgent situations, IAPs can help if you are trying to move house or stay in your current home. There are some qualifying conditions and, to be eligible, you must be:

  • entitled to, and in receipt of, Income Support, income-based Job Seeker’s Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance, or Pension Credit, or
  • due to leave an institution or care home within 6 weeks, and likely to be entitled to receive one of the above benefits on leaving.

Emergency Assistance Payments (EAPs)

EAPs can help meet expenses as a result of an emergency or disaster and might be able to help pay towards heating your home in the event of extreme weather.

Anyone over the age of 16 can be considered eligible for these payments.

The EAP is a small, short-term grant available to cover the immediate emergency needs and can be awarded towards essential needs such as food, gas, electricity, essential clothing and emergency travel. You do not have to be receiving any benefit to qualify, but you must show that you have tried other sources of affordable funding before applying.

For more information on the DAF, included a link to apply online, click here. You can also apply by ringing 0800 859 5924 (9.30am – 5.30pm Mon-Fri free from a landline) or 033 0101 5000 (local rate).

Get advice if your application for a DAF is unsuccessful. An adviser may be able to persuade them to offer you some help or be able to help you access other sources of help.

For information on the DAF in welsh, see here.

Food banks

Food banks provide food parcels to people in need. They are often run by church or community groups.

Some food banks offer a hot meal and advice. If you live in a rural area and cannot afford to travel to collect your box, some food banks offer a free delivery service.

You need a voucher to use a food bank. You then swap this at the food bank for food.

You can get food bank vouchers from:

Short-term benefit advance

If you have claimed benefits and are waiting for your first payment, you may be able to ask for an advance payment, also known as a short-term benefit advance.

You can ask for this if there is a delay in processing your benefit claim which isn’t your fault, or you are waiting for an increase in your benefit payments due to a change in your circumstances.

To be eligible, you must be claiming an income-related benefit such as jobseeker’s allowance, income support or employment & support allowance. You need to prove that you are experiencing financial hardship.

You usually have to repay the benefit advance within three months, but in some circumstances you have up to six months to pay back the money.

If you have applied for Universal Credit and don’t have enough to live on while you wait for your first payment you may be able to get a Universal Credit advance.

Hardship payments

If your benefits have stopped because of a sanction, you might be able to apply for hardship payments.  You will need to prove that you or your partner will have problems paying for essential living costs. If you’re homeless, pregnant, a single parent or vulnerable (perhaps because of an illness), you should be able to get a hardship payment straightaway.

You don’t usually have to repay a hardship payment.

If your Universal Credit has been sanctioned, click here. If your JSA has been sanctioned, click here.

Budgeting loans and budgeting advances

Budgeting loans are interest-free loans available only to people claiming certain income-related benefits.

There are two types of loan, depending on which benefits you are claiming:

  • budgeting loans – if you claim income support, jobseeker’s allowance, employment and support allowance or pension credit

Help to pay your rent or council tax

You may be able to get help from the council with the costs of renting your home. Local councils can provide help through:

You can also contact your council’s housing options or homelessness services for advice. Your local council may be able to offer financial help to help prevent you becoming homeless.

Get advice immediately if you already have rent arrears or mortgage arrears.

Credit unions

Rather than getting a bank overdraft or spending money on your credit card, credit unions are a more affordable option if you need to borrow money for a short time. Credit unions won’t let you borrow more than they think you can pay back and the interest rates are low.

Try to avoid bank overdrafts, spending money on your credit card and borrowing from payday loan companies. These are very expensive ways to borrow money, especially if you don’t repay them in time.

Other benefits

Have a look at our page on other benefits or find out what other benefit help you might be able to claim by using the entitledto Benefits Calculator.

If you are struggling to pay your debts then get advice as soon as you can. Click here to find details of our free, specialist, independent, confidential debt advice service surgeries across Wales.

We are sorry that we cannot provide this information in Welsh, however if you would like to speak to an adviser in Welsh please contact 08000 495 495.

Phone an adviser

If you have a housing problem, call our expert housing advice helpline

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If you have a non-urgent problem and would like to speak to an adviser
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This page was last updated on: September 14, 2020

Shelter Cymru acknowledges the support of Shelter in allowing us to adapt their content. The information contained on this site is updated and maintained by Shelter Cymru and only gives general guidance on the law in Wales. It should not be regarded or relied upon as a complete or authoritative statement of the law.

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