Debt Support & Advice

Debt support and information in Portsmouth

If you have problems with money – get advice as soon as possible before the problem gets out of hand. If you would like to chat to us please contact us at ECASS Portsmouth.

If you have problems with money – get advice as soon as possible before the problem gets out of hand.

There are lots of advice services, both in the city and nationally, who give free help (Please click this link for more info). The help is confidential and impartial, and they won’t judge. They can explain your options and help you find the best solution for you or alternatively you can contact us direct at ECASS and we will guide you. You can also find up to date information on local services affected by Coronavirus from Portsmouth City Council.


British Legion

  • Assistance for ex-forces and their family
  • To apply, call them for details of the local welfare representative
  • British Legion offers practical, financial and emotional support

Visit the British Legion website or call them on 0808 802 8080.


  • Grants for children living in hardship for essential items, such as furniture or white goods
  • Family must be in financial hardship and have additional social welfare needs, and have an advice or support worker to apply on their behalf
  • Online Applications can only be made by a statutory or voluntary agency who can administer the grant on behalf of Buttle
  • Maximum grant is usually £300
  • White goods etc. will be purchased by Buttle and delivered to home address, but other awards will be paid by cheque to referring agency

Visit the Buttle website.

Portsmouth Victoria Nursing Association

  • One-off grants of up to £550 towards household essentials, medical equipment, special clothing and respite care, for people receiving treatment
  • Applications must be made by community nursing staff
  • Grants for people receiving community nurse treatment, or with other significant health issues

Email to request an application form.


  • Grants for people in need for essential items (including white goods and household items) or exceptional travel costs, to resolve a short-term crisis
  • Applications can only be made by an advice or support worker
  • Online Applications can only be made by a statutory or voluntary agency who can administer the grant on behalf of Glasspool
  • White goods etc. will be purchased by Glasspool and delivered to home address, but other awards will be paid by cheque to referring agency

Visit the Glasspool website.

BBC Children in Need Emergency Essentials Fund

  • Items to meet the essential needs of children and young people
  • Applications can only be made by a statutory or voluntary agency who complete a simple online registration form
  • Most frequent requests are for white goods, beds and other furniture, clothing, baby equipment, but any essential need can be considered

Visit the Family Fund Services website for full details.

Turn2us Grant Finder

  • Directory of grants available based on the age, location and need of the individual
  • Information on how to apply is included on the Grant Finder
  • Some grants are linked to applicants’ previous jobs – check current and past employment, and use the ‘Filter your results’ option

Visit the Turn2us grant finder.


  • Assistance for ex-forces and their family
  • To apply, call or complete the online enquiry form
  • SSAAFA offers practical, financial and emotional support

Visit the SSAAFA website or call them on 0800 731 4880 or 07413 417 226.

  • Assistance for children of anyone who served in the Royal Navy, Women’s Royal Naval Service or Royal Marines
  • Children are eligible for support up to the age of 25
  • Visit the Naval Children’s Charity website or call them on 023 9263 9534

Family Fund

  • Grants for essential items for families with a child with a disability or serious illness
  • Download the Family Fund application form to apply
  • Maximum 1 application per household per year
  • Family must be eligible for public funds

Visit the Family Fund website.

Friends of the Elderly

  • One-off grants to replace essential items, such as furniture, white goods and flooring
  • People must have a support worker to apply on their behalf
  • Awards will be paid by cheque to the referring agency
  • Must be over state pension age

Download an application form on the Friends of the Elderly website.

British Gas Energy Trust

  • Grants for utility bill arrears, for customers of any energy company
  • Apply online or print out the form, complete it and post it
  • Must have had money advice and be in arrears due to serious illness or a life event

Visit the British Gas Energy Trust website for more details.

Vicar’s Relief Fund

  • Crisis fund for people at risk of street homelessness, or resettling after being homeless
  • For costs such as rent deposits, rent arrears – to access housing or to prevent eviction
  • Applications for the Vicar’s Relief Fund can only be made online, by a support agency for the person in need
  • Average grant is around £200, maximum grant is £350

Visit the Frontline Network website for details about the Vicar’s Relief Fund.

Assistance for Trade Union members

Many unions have welfare schemes for their members, so if you belong to a trade union, contact them to find out what support they can provide if you are in financial hardship.

Southern Water Customer Hardship Fund

  • For Southern Water customers who are experiencing financial difficulty, offering three types of assistance:
    • A one-off bill reduction (of up to 50%)
    • A debt write-off (of up to £2,000)
    • A grant for specific home improvements, including white goods and repairs (of up to £1,000)
  • To qualify, you must be in significant financial hardship, or challenging personal circumstances that have a financial impact
  • Apply online

Links for free furniture, clothing and household items


HIVE School Uniform Share-Shop

  • HIVE collect good quality donations of all items of clothing your child will need for school, including sports kit, shoes and coats
  • If you are struggling to afford the cost of school uniform, email with details of your requirements – items, age, gender, school – or complete the online request form
  • If you are unable to email or complete the request online, you can ring HIVE on 023 9261 6709


  • Free items offered by individuals and groups in your local area
  • Gumtree is an online noticeboard
  • Requires internet access and transport to collect

Visit the Portsmouth section on Gumtree.

Other places to find free furniture and household items include local Facebook forumsFreegle, and PreLoved.

Also Money Saving Expert has important tips on how to safely and successfully find donated items on the groups above.

Free furniture & household items


  • Free items offered by individuals in local area
  • Users can also post wanted ads
  • You can sign up for email notifications and respond to posts
  • Requires regular internet access to respond quickly, and transport to collect

Visit the Freecycle website.

Affordable credit for household items

Fair For You – non-profit pay weekly store

  • Charity offering loans for furniture and appliances from their online store
  • Delivery is free but connection is extra. Interest is 51.1% APR
  • Visit website to find items and check the affordability of a loan
  • If same item is cheaper elsewhere, see the low-cost loans section for other borrowing options

Visit the Fair For You website.

Low cost loans

Wessex Community Bank (Credit Union) loan

  • Minimum loan amount is £200
  • Maximum £350 for first loan from WCB, if only income is from DWP benefits
  • WCB assess affordability of repayments before making any loan
  • Can assist people who are unable to access affordable credit via a bank or building society (e.g. poor credit history), and people whose only income is from DWP benefits

Visit the Wessex Community Bank website or call them on 023 9282 7980  (Monday to Friday, 9.30am-4.30pm).

DWP Budgeting Loan or Universal Credit Budgeting Advance

  • Interest-free loans for essential items over £100
  • Maximum loan amount:
    • Single person – £348
    • Couple – £464
    • Family with children – £812
  • To apply, print out a budgeting loan application form (or request from Jobcentre), complete it and return it to the Jobcentre, or contact the Jobcentre if you’re on Universal Credit
  • You must be in receipt of Income Support, Income Based JSA or ESA, Pension Credit or Universal Credit for at least 6 months
  • Budgeting loans will not be granted to pay for daily living expenses, such as food and utilities

Get an overview of Budgeting Loans on Gov.UK or get information on Universal Credit advances on Gov.UK.

Daily living expenses (such as food, gas, electricity)

If you are struggling to afford food, there are several local foodbanks, community meals and pantries that can help.

Lidls offer great value fruit and veg boxes for £1.50.  These are usually available daily, but sell out, so get there early.

DWP Short Term Advance or Universal Credit advance

  • Advance payments for new benefit claimants in hardship who are either:
    • awaiting their first payment of benefit
    • their payment has been delayed
    • there has been a change of circumstances that will increase their entitlement
  • Ring to request an advance, or apply using your online account if you have applied for Universal Credit
  • Info taken in telephone interview will be passed to a decision maker, who will ring the claimant within 24 hours and confirm the decision

For a short-term benefit advance: visit the short-term benefit page on Gov.UK or call 0345 608 8545.

For a Universal Credit advance: visit the Universal Credit advance page on Gov.UK or call 0800 328 5644

DWP Hardship Payments or Universal Credit Hardship Payments

  • Payments for claimants who have been sanctioned, are in financial hardship (unable to afford food, heating, rent or other basic needs) and cannot borrow from friends or family
  • Ring to request. Applicants will need to explain what they need, how the money will be used, and how long it will last
  • Info will be passed to a decision-maker, who will ring back within 24 hours
  • Universal Credit hardship payments are a loan and must be repaid

For a DWP Hardship Payment call 0345 608 8545.

For a Universal Credit Hardship Payment call 0800 328 5644.

Southern Water

  • Reduced bills for people who are struggling to afford the cost
  • Find information online or ring Southern Water to find out about Essentials Tariff
  • Help is also available if you are behind on your bill
  • If you are in significant financial hardship, you may qualify for the Southern Water Customer Hardship Fund

To discuss help with Southern Water bills, call 0800 027 0363.

Mobile phones, broadband

Money Saving Expert has excellent resources to help you find a cheaper deal on mobile phones, broadband and Other essential costs

Gas and electricity costs

  • If you have a pre-payment meter and have no money to top up, contact your supplier to request emergency credit.
  • If you have gas or electricity debts you are repaying, ask your supplier to reduce or temporarily stop the deductions.
  • For help with any problems with gas or electricity, including ways to reduce your energy bills, visit the council’s Switched On Portsmouth website or call the Freephone helpline on 0800 260 5907.

Portsmouth Water

  • Reduced bills for people who are struggling to afford the cost
  • Find information online or ring Portsmouth Water to find out about Helping Hand
  • Help is also available if you are behind on your bill

To discuss help with Portsmouth Water bills, call 023 9249 9666.

Funeral costs

Portsmouth Leisure Card

  • If you receive a means-tested benefit, you may be eligible for the Portsmouth Leisure Card, which entitles residents to discounts at Portsmouth City Council facilities as well as some other services.

Advice and support on money, benefits and debt

These local advice services can also make referrals to foodbanks and other help for people in hardship but as always please feel free to contact ECASS for more information and advice.

Citizens Advice Help to Claim and Money Advice Service

  • Advice on all issues related to claiming Universal Credit, including whether to make a claim
  • Advice on dealing with debt
  • Can give advice on any Universal Credit issues up until the first full monthly payment is received

Email or ring 023 9400 6600

Advice Portsmouth

  • Free, confidential, impartial advice on debt, benefits, housing, employment rights, family issues etc.
  • Open Monday to Thursday 9am – 5pm, and Friday 9am – 4.30pm
  • Free service for anyone who lives or works in Portsmouth

Ring or text 07789 550593, or email

Area housing offices

  • Advice and support for city council tenants on any issues related to your tenancy, money, debt and benefits advice, and support to find work or training
  • Open Monday to Thursday 8.30am-5pm, and Friday 8.30am-4pm
  • Support for anyone whose landlord is Portsmouth City Council Housing Service

Find contact details for your local housing office.

Age UK Portsmouth

  • Free, independent, confidential information and advice on a wide range of issues affecting people over the age of 50
  • Open Monday to Thursday 8.45am-5pm, and Friday 8.45am-4.30pm

Ring 023 9229 1999 or email

Housing associations

  • Many housing associations offer their tenants help on benefits, debt, employment and training.

Contact your housing officer or customer service team at your local authority office or contact us here at ECASS to lead you in the right direction.

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