The Local Assistance Scheme will operate over the Christmas period as follows:
- Christmas Eve: Open as usual
- Christmas Day: Closed
- Boxing Day: Closed
- New Year's Eve: Open as usual
- New Year's Day: Closed
Further, as of January 1 2019, the Local Assistance Scheme will be renamed the Surrey Crisis Fund.
- About the scheme
- How to apply
- What help is available
- Who can get help
- Who cannot get help
- Applying at a Citizens Advice Office
- Where can I find out more?
- Making a complaint
About the scheme
The Surrey Local Assistance Scheme is a discretionary fund run by Surrey County Council. It has been running since 1 April 2013. It provides financial help to Surrey residents who have nowhere else to turn in an emergency or after a disaster. It also can provide assistance to set up a home in the community where no other funds or resources are available.
How do I apply?
You can apply to the Local Assistance Scheme online or, if you have no access to the internet, you may get help to access the internet at your local library or by visiting one of the Citizens Advice Offices listed below who can help you to apply online.
Please note: Never use the copy/paste function to enter information in the form. If you do this, the system may not recognise that you have completed that field and may not allow you to continue. If you have done this you will need to remove the information from the form and re-enter it before continuing.
Once you have submitted your online application, you (or your representative) must be available by telephone between the hours of 9am-5pm, Monday-Friday. This will enable us to complete your application and make a decision on any help we can provide. Once your application has been received, you will normally be contacted by telephone within four working hours. Please note that any applications received after 12pm (noon) may not be dealt with until the following day. If you have no access to a working telephone, please visit your local CAB for assistance.
This is an emergency service, therefore if you are not available for us to speak to within one working day, your application will be cancelled and you will need to make a new application.
If you are applying on behalf of someone else: Please ensure you understand what we can help with and that you have permission from that person to apply to the Local Assistance Scheme. Please ensure all information entered is accurate and up to date, as any errors may result in a delay to the application. Please also ensure that the person is aware that an application has been made and is expecting our call to complete the application.
If you are having difficulty during your application please refer to our Local Assistance Scheme User Guide (PDF).
Please Note: The Local Assistance Scheme officers are here to try to help you. They will treat you fairly and with respect. In return, we expect you to treat our team members politely and respectfully. Verbal abuse of any kind will not be tolerated. If any verbal abuse is directed towards our team members, the call may be terminated and you will not get any assistance. Such behaviour may also result in a permanent ban from the scheme.
What help is available?
The scheme can provide support for immediate needs after a disaster or in an emergency, where no other options are available. We may be able to assist with:
- certain utilities
- emergency travel costs
Other support may be available and this will be considered when you apply. Depending on your circumstance we may award one or both of the following:
- a one-off payment to cover immediate emergency needs
- in very limited circumstances certain white goods/furniture may be awarded
Repeat applications will be considered but the scheme aims to support people for one occasion and signpost to long-term help to prevent ongoing need.
Replacement white goods and furniture are only awarded under this scheme to applicants who can demonstrate significant medical or social need
Who can get help from the scheme?
To be eligible for the scheme you must be:
- at least 16 years old
- able to prove that you are a Surrey resident or prove that you intend to live in Surrey within the next 28 days
- on a means-tested benefit or unable to access sufficient funds
You must also need:
- emergency funds to meet the basic needs of yourself or your dependents and/or:
- support to set up a home in the community
Support to set up a home in the community may be available where:
- you are moving into a partially furnished or unfurnished property and
- do not have basic essential household items/white goods and
- do not have the means to provide these items for yourself.
There may be other exceptional circumstances which can be considered when you apply.
Applications for white goods/household items will be considered no more than one week prior to the tenancy start date.
If you are in need of emergency cash because you are waiting for your next benefit payment, before you apply to the LAS you must first ask the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) at a Jobcentre Plus office if you qualify for a Short Term Benefit Advance. If you are applying for Universal Credit for the first time and you are in need of assistance you must apply for a Universal Credit Advance; you will need to discuss this with your Jobcentre Plus advisor.
If you require assistance to set up home in the community and are in receipt of benefits, you may qualify for a Budgeting Loan, you must ask the DWP at a Jobcentre Plus office if you qualify before you apply to the LAS.
Who cannot get help from the scheme?
If your Job Seekers Allowance has been sanctioned by the DWP then you will not qualify for assistance. In this instance you must contact Jobcentre Plus to apply for a Hardship Payment, your eligibility for this will be assessed by the DWP. If you do not agree with your sanction you should appeal this decision to the DWP.
Awards would not normally be given for:
- Replacement white goods and furniture
- Television or satellite cost or repair
- Housing costs, arrears or rent
- Costs normally met by state support or benefits including Universal Credit
- TV license
- Installation of a telephone or telephone line
- Costs associated with care provision
- Non-essential white goods and domestic appliances
- Utility, tax or insurance bills
- Removal and storage costs
Applying through Citizens Advice
If you want to apply through a Citizens Advice office please ensure you bring:
- Your national insurance number
- Proof of identity - Driver's licence, birth certificate or passport and
- Proof of address - Council Tax statement, tenancy agreement, or two recently dated bank statements or utility bills to show current address.
We may accept other proof and this will be discussed when you apply.
The CA will listen to your situation and consider local support options – for example if you need food it may be that you can get essential supplies more quickly from a local food bank rather than through the LAS. They will refer to our eligibility criteria and advise you on available options. They may then assist you to apply online at the CA if you have difficulty in applying yourself, or direct you to a local library to use the public computers to put in an application or, in very limited circumstances where you have no access to a working telephone, they may assist you to submit a telephone application.
Where can I find out more?
Please read the Local Assistance Scheme Policy. If you have a general enquiry about the scheme send us an email:
What if I am not happy with the outcome?
If you are not happy with the outcome of your application you can ask for the application to be reviewed. In such cases an independent person from within the Local Assistance Team will undertake the review. The review will take place immediately where possible and the same working day when it is not.
If you are not happy with the way your application was handled, you should follow the Council's complaints procedure. If you are not happy with the outcome of this, then you can make a complaint to the Local Government Ombudsman.