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Emergency loans

This is a repayable sum that gives short-term financial support if you need money urgently because of a crisis situation, disaster or other emergency.

This could include payments for specific items (such as furniture, white goods and clothing) to replace those destroyed in a fire or flood, as well as living expenses to cover the cost of food, utilities or lost/stolen benefit monies.

Who can apply for an emergency loan?

You can apply for an emergency loan if you:

  • are aged 16 or over

  • are in receipt of a qualifying benefit, such as universal credit, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment support allowance, income support or pension credit

  • have been resident in the borough for at least six weeks before making your application

  • do not have the resources available and are not eligible for a budgeting loan

  • have repaid any previous loans in full or can demonstrate you are paying off a loan.

If you do not have a fixed address, then you may be able to apply using your benefit correspondence address if this has been verified.

What is not included in the scheme?

Some people are excluded from the emergency loan scheme and cannot make an application. These include:

  • people in hospital or care homes, unless they are due to be discharged in the next two weeks

  • prisoners who are either being held in prison or are on home leave

  • members of religious orders who have all their accommodation and living costs met

  • students in full-time education (unless you are receiving qualifying benefits)

  • most people who are subject to immigration control.

In addition, some expenses are always excluded from the emergency loan scheme. These include:

  • any expenses outside the UK

  • the costs of a school uniform, travelling expenses to and from school or school meals

  • medical costs or expenses

  • housing costs and most utility payments

  • travel costs.

Receiving your decision

The timescale for making decisions is two working days.

How will the loan be paid?

If your application is successful, then you could receive your loan in two different ways, depending on your personal circumstances and whether you have been awarded assistance with living expenses or for specific items. These are:

  • referral to Lewisham Plus Credit Union, who will contact you directly to arrange payment at an agreed location in the borough

  • collection at any Post Office branch in the UK using a unique identification code provided to you via email or text message.

For both methods, you will be required to agree a repayment plan for your loan, which will also include a monthly interest rate of 2%. You will never be asked to collect your emergency loan in person.

Rent in advance payments

Rent in advance payments are intended to support single people who have a residency connection to this borough and are moving into private-rented sector accommodation within the borough.

Applications will only be considered if you have been discharged from long-term institutional care, such as prison, or you need to find a home as part of a planned resettlement or rehabilitation process and you fulfil the criteria for a support grant to be paid.

If you think that these circumstances apply to you, then you should first contact the Single Homeless Intervention and Prevention (SHIP) service.

The service will undertake an assessment of your needs and provide you with further advice regarding your housing situation, which may include making an application to the local support scheme for an emergency loan.​


Single Homeless Intervention and Prevention

Telephone: 020 8314 7007
Email: SHIP@lewisham.gov.uk
Opening hours:

Monday to Friday 9am–3pm (except Wednesday 1–3pm, emergency cases only) If you are homeless outside of these hours and need urgent advice, please phone 020 8314 7007.