Need support during the cost of living crisis?
If you're struggling to cope with the cost of living crisis, help is available.
A number of charities and organisations can offer advice and may be able to give you financial assistance if you are disabled, vision-impaired and on a low income. Read on to find out where you can get help and what support you might qualify for.
This article was compiled by RNIB with contributions from charities across the sight loss sector.
Find out what you're entitled to
This charity's search tool lets you check what grants you can apply for.
A portal to a range of information and sources of help.
Find and apply for support from multiple providers.
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Help from your local authority
We recommend that you contact your local social services team first when you are looking for help to afford items. Whether you are registered with them or not, they may be able to give you help with:
- fees for residential and nursing homes
- telephone installation and rental
- equipment to help you in your daily life
- adaptations to your home
Local authority help depending on where you live
If you live in England
Your local authority should have a welfare assistance scheme to help people on low incomes afford everyday household items. Call your local authority to find out the qualifying criteria and how much money is available (this varies between local authorities). Find details of your local welfare assistance scheme using the Child Poverty Action Group online directory.
If you live in London
Find a wide range of support for Londoners including grants and funding; local welfare assistance; help with homelessness; food, fuel and baby banks; help for survivors of abuse, including financial abuse; help for migrants; and help with mental health.
Provides grants to help blind and partially sighted people aged 18 and over on low incomes to maintain their independence and reduce isolation (subject to criteria and typically up to £300). You must be a UK resident living in one of the twelve inner London boroughs or the City of London to apply.
If you live in Scotland
Apply for a community care grant from the Scottish welfare fund if you need help to leave care, live independently, or to continue living independently. Although this is a national scheme, local authorities deliver it, so contact yours to start your application. They also provide crisis grants for emergencies.
Find more information on the Scottish government's website.
If you live in Wales
Apply for an individual assistance payment from the discretionary assistance fund to help you live independently. They also provide emergency assistance payments. For more information or to make an application, call for free on 0800 859 5924.
Find more information on the Welsh government's website.
If you live in Northern Ireland
Apply for a discretionary support loan. For more information, contact the finance support service on 0800 587 2750.
Find more information on the Northern Irish government's website.
Disabled facilities grants from your local authority
If you live in England, Wales or Northern Ireland, your local authority may be able to offer you a disabled facilities grant if you are on a low income and need to make changes to your home because of a disability.
Grants are for major home adaptations such as installing ramps and improving access to rooms and facilities. If you're in England or Wales, contact your local housing authority for an application form. If you're in Northern Ireland, contact your local housing executive grants office.
If you live in Scotland, your local authority will usually provide you with equipment or adaptations that are essential to your needs. The amount of money available towards this is dependent on your local council.
Help from charities in your area
There may be local charities providing grants in your area. You can search for details of regional grant-giving charities on these websites:
There are also a number of independent local societies for blind and partially sighted people around the country. They may offer grants or the loan of equipment to help you in your daily life.
It is also worthwhile contacting your local Rotary, Round Table or Lions Club to see if they will consider helping you.
Where to apply for grants
In this section, find out about:
Grants for people with disabilities
The Florence Nightingale Aid in Sickness Trust
The trust considers applications from people of all ages who are disabled or in poor health and require medical items or services to improve their quality of life. The trust also considers grants for a range of items including medical aids, white goods, computers (including specialist software), reading aids, magnifiers, sensory equipment and communication aids.
Independence at Home
Provides grants to people who have a long-term illness or disability. It considers grants for mobility and travel equipment; specialist disability equipment; home adaptations; communication equipment; home repairs; kitchen equipment; beds and bedding; home adaptions and more.
Glasspool Charity Trust
Provides grants to individuals who are on low incomes and in difficult circumstances. They consider grants for white goods and other household items; beds and bedding; clothing (including school uniforms); baby items; educational computer equipment or televisions; and adaptations and equipment for people with disabilities.
Linking Help with Hope
Provides grants to people of any age with illness or disabilities who are on a very low income and receiving certain benefits. Grants are for essential household items (such as a cooker, bed, fridge, washing machine or carpets) and specialist equipment not available from statutory agencies.
DEPHER (for disabled and elderly people)
DEPHER (Disability and Elderly Plumbing and Heating Emergency Repair) provides vulnerable people with access to affordable and vital emergency work. It offers discounted or free emergency work on heating and hot water systems. It also provides financial help to people over the age of 65, the disabled, and those on low incomes. This can include help to buy food and pay utility bills. The service is free during the winter months and discounted at other times.
Grants for people on low incomes
Glasspool Charity Trust
This charity provides grants to individuals who are on low incomes and in difficult circumstances. They consider grants for white goods and other household items; beds and bedding; clothing (including school uniforms); baby items; educational computer equipment or televisions; and adaptations and equipment for people with disabilities.
Linking Help with Hope
This charity provides grants to people of any age with illness or disabilities who are on a very low income and receiving certain benefits. Grants are for essential household items (such as a cooker, bed, fridge, washing machine or carpets) and specialist equipment not available from statutory agencies.
Grants for technology and devices
We recommend you try out technology products before applying for a grant, so that you can find the software or product that best suits your needs. Your local society for blind and partially sighted people may have computers or equipment set up for you to try, or they may offer classes where you can learn about new software. You may also be able to ask for free trial versions of software programmes so you can be sure they are what you need before you commit to buying the full version.
In addition to the following charities, several other charities can also offer grants towards technology items:
Offers radios and audio equipment to people over the age of eight who are registered as blind or partially sighted and receive a means-tested benefit.
The technology for life team at RNIB can recommend free or low-cost software that could meet your needs.
Grants for household repairs and utilities
Foundations Independent Living Trust
Provides grants to local home improvement agencies so that they can make home repairs for older, vulnerable and disabled people on low incomes. Offers funding primarily for heating, hot water and gas repairs. These grants are available in England only, in most local authorities.
Your energy supplier
Some energy companies offer grants to help with energy bill arrears and essential heating repairs. Contact your energy supplier directly for more information.
Grants are available for those struggling with their energy bills. You do not have to be a British Gas customer. Usually offers grants up to £1,500.
Energy support fund
A new fund to help British Gas customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills in response to the increasing cost of living and rising inflation. Eligible customers with fuel debt of £250 to £750 can apply for grants. It will remain open until funding is exhausted.
EDF customer support fund
Offers grants to vulnerable customers to provide them with a fresh start and financial stability. It can help households stay out of fuel debt and afford ongoing energy costs. It also provides grants for essential energy-efficient white goods such as cookers, refrigerators, or washing machines. There is no deadline for applications.
Octopus Energy octo assist fund
A fund for Octopus customers. Complete a quick and simple online form, which asks you a series of questions about your financial situation. Octopus can offer a number of support options based on circumstances and need, including access to existing schemes, monetary support from the fund, or a loan of a thermal imagery camera to find heat leaks at home.
OVO Energy fund (UK)
Supports OVO customers who have fallen behind with their energy payments. You must be in receipt of income support, jobseeker's allowance, pension credit, employment and support allowance, or universal credit (only if not working). Your energy bill debt must be at least £150 and your annual household income must be £16,190 or less.
Scottish Power hardship fund
For Scottish Power customers struggling to paying their bills due to low income or other circumstances. The fund can help by clearing or reducing arrears by crediting a customer’s Scottish Power energy account. You must be in receipt of income Support, jobseeker's allowance, pension credit, or employment and support allowance.
Grants for children and young people
Provides grants to families on a low income with a disabled or seriously ill child aged 17 or under. Considers grants for almost any item according to need, including essential household items, computers, holidays and equipment for college. Does not give grants for medical treatment, building works, adaptations to the home or debts.
Provides grants of up to £300 to children under the age of 18 living with parents or carers. Also helps vulnerable young people under the age of 20 who have experienced domestic abuse and are in the rehousing or post-housing stages. Considers grants for things such as emotional and social needs (therapy and after-school clubs); household needs (essential home furniture); clothing and toys; and educational needs (books, tools and equipment and travel costs to school).
Provides grants to children and young people under the age of 18 who are registered (or eligible to be registered) as blind or partially sighted. Offers grants for technology and sensory equipment for use at home, such as computers, assistive technology, braille devices and multi-sensory toys.
Provides grants to blind and partially sighted children and young people under the age of 29 for visual-aid equipment including video magnifiers, computers, laptops, braillers and sensory toys.
Provides welfare and education grants of up to £300 to families and children living in poverty.
Grants for older people
Provides grants up to £400 to people on a low income who are state retirement age and living in their own homes in England or Wales. Offers grants for essential household items; flooring; unexpected or large bills; household repairs; and equipment such as tablets and smartphones.
If you or your partner had a particular career, for example if you were in the Armed Forces, some charities will offer grants. Occupational charities exist for all sorts of industries – everything from health work and performing arts to food and drink trades. Turn2us allows you to search for available grants by category.
Guidance and support from charities
Many charities provide general guidance and support, including:
- Mencap (for people with learning disabilities)
- RNIB benefits and grants
- Thomas Pocklington Trust (for blind and partially sighted people)
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