Essential Living Fund

COVID 19 update

The scheme is currently extremely busy, therefore it may take up to a week for your claim to be finalised. 

Please do not chase the outcome of your claim, you will be notified as soon as possible.

Wherever possible please apply online, using the links on this page.

Online applications are being processed by a dedicated team and they will contact you when your application has been finalised and you will be expected to provide evidence where applicable.

Our phone lines are extremely busy.

Please keep the phone lines available for the most vulnerable and those that do not have internet access.

About the Scheme

This scheme is a grant system and is open for anyone to claim.

To see whether you qualify for the award you will need to answer questions about your income, earnings and savings. You also need to give proof of your financial situation.

The scheme can cover applications for:

  • furniture
  • household furnishings
  • white goods
  • clothing and footwear - including School Uniform in exceptional circumstances
  • general living expenses - these are day to day living expenses such as groceries, nappies, toiletries, money for pay as you go fuel meters

If you are awarded the grant you will not be paid in cash or into a bank account. Instead it will be:

  • food parcel / food voucher
  • AllPay cards
  • high quality recycled furniture from reputable charity
  • white goods from a reputable local dealer

How to apply for an Essential Living Fund grant

  • if you live within the Southend-on-Sea Borough use this online form
  • if you live within the Thurrock Borough use this online form
  • if you live in any other part of Essex use this online form

Note: any furniture or household furnishings will be refurbished. White goods will be reconditioned or new where appropriate.

The application form relies on pop ups. To get round it follow the steps below.

  1. Click on the option marked “Tools” at the top of the page.
  2. Highlight the option marked “Pop-up Blocker”.
  3. Click on the option marked “Always Allow Pop-ups from This Site”. A new tab will open when you select Check Eligibility, you will then be able to continue with the form.

After you have applied

General Living Expenses

General Living Expenses Applications are treated as priority. We aim to have the food parcel/food voucher processed within same working day as the application.  Awards for pay as you go fuel meters will be paid via an AllPay card.

Note: Depending on the time of day you call you may not be able to collect the voucher or AllPay card on the same working day.

You will be told at the end of the phone call whether your claim has been successful. You will also be given a unique reference number and other information you will need to get the food parcel, food voucher or fuel meter top up.

All food parcels, food vouchers and AllPay cards will be picked up from allocated points around the borough within a set time, or posted if this option is not available. You will be told of the pick up point and time in the phone call.

All Other Applications

You will be told if your application for furniture, household furnishings, white goods, clothing or footwear is successful by letter. The letter will have more information on how to get the items and what you need to take with you to get your items.

AllPay Cards

An AllPay card is similar to a Mastercard debit card and an amount of credit will already be loaded onto the card. The card can be used in any store that accepts MasterCard. The card should only to be used to buy the items you applied for.

The card is only valid for 3 weeks. After 3 weeks the card will be cancelled and made invalid. Any money left on the card will be refunded back to the Essential Living Fund scheme.


You can request a review of your Essential Living Fund decision if you disagree with the outcome.

You can ask for a Tier 1 reconsideration by writing to us at:

Essential Living Fund, Southend on Sea Borough Council, Civic Centre, Victoria Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, Essex, SS2 6ER

Or alternatively emailing us.

This must be done in writing within 1 month of the date stated on your notification letter.

You can ask for a Tier 2 reconsideration by using the above methods if you do not agree with the decision of the Tier 1

A member of the Benefits Management Team will then decide the final outcome. You cannot appeal against the final decision.

Further Information

For more information please view the ELF policy.

Phone lines are open weekdays 08:45am to 5:00pm.


Telephone: 0300 7900124

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