Home essentials in a crisis

We are currently experiencing high levels of demand due to the coronavirus pandemic. All applications will be processed as quickly as possible. We appreciate your patience at this difficult time.

Coronavirus service update

We can provide short term assistance to households facing financial hardship as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic.

If you, or someone you know has experienced a reduction in income, loss of employment or suffered financially from coronavirus, then they may be eligible to apply for support with:

  • supermarket vouchers
  • pre-paid energy and clothing vouchers for school uniform (non-branded)
  • or household items required to meet a basic need if there are no other means of assistance available.

See below for information on how to apply.

About our service

Our Kent Support and Assistance Service (KSAS) may be able to help you if you are having serious difficulties managing your income due to a crisis or if you are facing exceptional pressures because of an emergency.

Additionally, we may be able to help if you or someone in your household is returning to the community after living in supported housing, an institution or a care setting. If your application is successful the support offered will be goods and/or services. We do not give money.

We offer our help for a short time only if you have no other means of support.

Except in exceptional circumstances, we can only offer help 3 times in a rolling 12 month period, and we will not help for the same reason more than once.

Wherever possible we want to help you stay in (or move back into) your local community.

Our service is a discretionary service that offers support where it can. However, there are circumstances where we won't provide assistance. Examples of these circumstances include:

  • the replacement of broken items
  • continued or long term support where we have already provided assistance
  • where our baseline criteria are not met (see 'who is eligible' below).

Please read the 'other places to get help' information below for further guidance on the support that is available across Kent.

Before you apply we'll expect you to have claimed any national benefits, grants and loans which are appropriate to your situation.

Your local district council may also be able to help you if you need help paying rent or rent in advance through a Discretionary Housing Payment.

You must have spoken to a benefits or Job Centre Plus advisor about the following before applying to us for help:

If you have had your benefits stopped as a result of a Department for Work and Pensions sanction we will not be able to help you unless exceptional circumstances apply.

If you are not eligible to receive benefits in the UK, we will not be able to help you.

Find other organisations in your area who can help and support you.

To make an application, unless in exceptional circumstances, you must:

  • be aged 16 or over
  • live in Kent (if you pay your Council Tax to Medway Council you will need to contact their local welfare provision scheme)
  • live on a low income or receive a means-tested benefit
  • have no access to savings or support from other sources or have suffered a loss of income as a direct result of COVID-19.

Providing evidence

We will ask for evidence of your benefits and savings, and we may also ask for things like:

  • proof of any reasons you give for needing help (such as unusual expenses)
  • proof of your earnings if you are working
  • proof of signed tenancy/new address/moving date if you are asking for furniture items.

Apply

To ask for our help:

To complete the application you will need:

  • your National Insurance number
  • details of anyone who lives in your house, including their National Insurance number(s)
  • details of your income and that of your partner or other adults living with you (this includes benefits payments and any income from employment).

Once you have applied for help from us, we will contact you with information on agencies that may be able to help you in your situation long-term and enable you to manage your financial crisis. We will then tell you if we are able to provide the items you need, and explain how we will get the goods to you.

If we can't help you, we will explain why and tell you about your right to ask for a review of your situation. We will also let you know where you can go to get more advice or information.

Appeal a decision

If we have declined your application within the last 7 days and you feel the decision should be reviewed, you can appeal in the following ways:

If you have an account

Log in and appeal against a declined application

If you don't have an account

Appeal against a declined application using our online form

We don't offer money. We can provide essential home items such as:

  • groceries (for up to 7 days)
  • baby food, milk and nappies
  • furniture (beds and seating)
  • crockery
  • bedding/curtains/carpets
  • essential electrical appliances (fridge, cooking appliance, washing machine)
  • clothing

and help with:

  • utilities (prepayment gas and electric, for up to 7 days)
  • emergency travel arrangements via public transport (for example to flee a crisis)

Most of the home items we provide will be secondhand.

These are just some of the situations under which we may offer you help. They are just examples and should not be used to decide whether or not you are eligible for our help. If you aren't sure, please contact us.

  • You are under JSA sanction and you have a child under 5 in the house
  • Your ESA has been suspended and you have already made an appeal
  • Your CTC has been stopped due to a change in your circumstances
  • You are waiting for a new benefit claim to come through
  • Your money has been stolen or you have lost it
  • You have spent your money on hospital travel
  • You are fleeing domestic abuse
  • You have left care
  • You have left prison and used your discharge money for travel
  • You are no longer homeless/on the street
  • You are a victim of fire or flooding

If we cannot offer help or you need more help, you can try the following:

Food

You can try your local food banks or the Salvation Army. If you have children under 5, you can also try your local children's centre for both food and clothes.

Clothes and furniture

You can try the Salvation Army, Freecycle, Gumtree, local Facebook selling pages or your local charity shops. If you have a social worker involved with you or your family, they may look into trying Family Fund with you.

Power and utilities

Speak to your provider first to see if they can offer emergency credit. The British Gas Energy Trust may be able to help, or the Salvation Army.

Energy efficiency or heating grants

Collective switching schemes

You could save money on your energy bills by joining a collective switching scheme. This combines buying power through auctions to access more competitive tariffs. Participation is completely free with no obligation to switch your current energy tariff or energy provider. Examples of schemes in Kent include:

Utility company schemes

If you are in receipt of a pension, disabled or chronically sick, have a long-term health condition, are in a vulnerable situation, have a hearing or visual impairment, or other additional communication needs, you could be eligible to join the priority services register. The register allows you advance notice of power cuts, priority support in an emergency and more. Contact your energy supplier to sign up to the priority services register.

Support with energy arrears or debt

Find out whether your energy provider can offer you some help:

Financial advice

  • Citizens Advice can help you check for any benefits or financial support to help you with energy bills or allow for you to make energy improvements to your home.
  • Energy Saving Trust has lots of information about how to save energy at home and some financial advice.
  • Turn2us is a national charity providing financial support to help people get back on track. You can access a benefits calculator and grant search to find charitable funds you may be eligible for.

Other assistance

Hospital travel

Speak to your GP and ask about patient transport. You can also see if you are eligible for the NHS Travel Scheme.