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Emergency support

Southwark Emergency Support Scheme (SESS) can help if you're a Southwark resident who is facing a crisis, emergency or disaster and needs help.

You can apply to Southwark Emergency Support Scheme if you or your partner are receiving one of the benefits listed below or have made a claim for one or more of these benefits in the last six weeks and are waiting for a decision on a claim  

  • Universal Credit  
  • Pension Credit  
  • Employment and Support Allowance (income based)  
  • Jobseekers Allowance (income based)  
  • Income Support  
  • Working Tax Credit  

Apply for emergency support - I'm claiming benefits

If you need help and are NOT claiming one of these benefits, you should apply to the Southwark Cost of Living Fund.

Apply for emergency support – I’m not claiming/receiving benefits

The Southwark Emergency Support scheme is discretionary with limited funding available so in most instances, we'll only consider applications made by the main householder.

We normally provide goods or services rather than cash. For example, you might qualify for a food gift card or help with your energy bills. You can receive help if you:

  • are facing a crisis, emergency or disaster
  • are at risk of having to move out of your home and community and go into care, or
  • are moving back into the community after spending time in a place such as a care home or hospital
  • are a refugee fleeing your home country due to persecution, war or violence

In most instances, you must also:

  • have been living in Southwark for at least 3 months
  • be 16 years of age or older, and
  • be receiving one of these benefits:
    • Universal Credit including the personal allowance element
    • Income Support
    • Jobseeker's Allowance (income based)
    • Employment Support Allowance (income based)
    • Guaranteed Pension Credit.

You can submit your application at any time and we’ll assess it in office hours as soon as possible. We’ll make a decision on whether to award your application based on your eligibility, and your reasons for applying.

We’ll let you know our decision by email. If you’re successful, we’ll let you know how your award will be made and what to do next.

Learn more about how we use your data - read our privacy notice

SESS is a discretionary scheme with limited funding so we can only help those with the greatest need. We will ask you for evidence to support your application. If you can’t provide this, we may refuse it.

We’ll refer you to other local support and advice services if we think it'll help you. In some cases, we may refer you to these services rather than make an award under SESS.

We’ll also refer you elsewhere if we think that a claim to another scheme or fund would be more appropriate, such as schemes run by Jobcentre Plus.

If you provide false or incomplete information, you may be prosecuted.

Southwark Emergency Support telephone number: 020 7525 2434 (find out about call charges).

Evidence you need to provide

To consider your application for help, we'll need supporting evidence. If you don't submit it with your application, we'll contact you by email, telephone or letter, to ask for it. If you don't provide the evidence that we ask for, your application may be refused.

You must provide:

  • your most recent 2 months bank statements for all accounts you hold
  • your most recent 2 months wage slips
  • evidence that you've recently made a claim for Universal Credit
  • We'll ask you for evidence to support your application. If you can’t provide this, we may refuse it.
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Page last updated: 10 January 2023

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