Sefton's Emergency Limited Assistance Scheme (ELAS) is available to support local residents who are experiencing severe hardship, a disaster or emergency. It is there to meet one-off needs and not ongoing expenses.
If you need urgent help with the costs of food, winter coats, gas, electricity or emergency travel and do not have money to get them we may be able to provide assistance. We may also be able to assist If you need furniture or essential domestic appliances because you are setting up home, moving from care, have suffered a disaster (such as a fire or flood) or have had to move due to violence, fear of violence or other reasons.
Cash will not be awarded. Instead the scheme will provide assistance, either through the provision of paypoint credit, travel warrants, essential household goods or referral to a support service.
The scheme does not cover clothing; rent costs, essential repairs to your home, removal costs or essential furniture if you rent a furnished accommodation (your landlord is responsible for providing this).
There are also a number of other organisations that can provide advice and support. You can find out more here.
Customer Service Delays
We are currently experiencing a high volume of calls to our Contact Centre and requests to our Council Tax Teams - in part due to the cost of living crisis, the £150 Council Tax Energy Rebate, local elections, allocation of school places and the administration of the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
Both teams are currently prioritising supporting the most vulnerable, the processing of the £150 energy rebate to 114,000 households and those in need of help and support from our Emergency Limited Assistance Scheme (ELAS).
As at 27th April the teams have processed the £150 Energy Rebate to 45,256 households (in Council Tax Bands A – D). These payments have been made to households that have paid Council Tax by Direct Debit where the instalment was paid between 1st – 18th April. For those whose direct debit is paid from 19th to the 28th April their rebate will be paid by mid-May. For households in Bands A to D that do not pay by direct debit, we will be writing to them by 6th May to collect information from them that will enable us to process their rebate over the coming months.
We appreciate that the current response times will be frustrating for people trying to contact the Council, so we have taken steps to recruit and train additional staff, and our staff are working extra hours to help meet the demand. We would encourage people to use online processes wherever possible.
To be eligible for support you must live in Sefton and be aged 16 or over.
You must also be on a low income. This would normally mean you will be getting one of the following benefits:
- Income Support.
- Income based Job Seekers Allowance.
- Income related Employment and Support Allowance, or
- Pension Credit (Guarantee Credit only).
- Has claimed, or is in receipt of, Universal Credit but is experiencing financial hardship.
- You require support to stay in the community
- Or you are being resettled into a new home by the council or a voluntary organisation following an unsettled period in your life
- Or you don’t have enough money to meet your (or you family’s) immediate needs after an emergency or crisis.
Awards will only be made where there is no alternative means of meeting your need. This includes help and support from friends and family or the Department for Works & Pensions (DWP).
Before applying for any support under this scheme we recommend you contact the DWP as you may be eligible for a hardship award, short term advance or budgeting loan. We may require evidence of this in support of your application.
If you wish to apply for support from the Emergency Limited Assistance Scheme you must complete an on-line application form. If you have difficulty accessing or completing the on-line form you can speak to an advisor in the contact centre: 0151 934 3377Applications will only be considered from Monday to Friday 9am to 4pm.
Whenever possible, decisions on applications for help with the costs of food, goods for infants/children, gas, electricity or emergency travel will be made before the end of the next working day. Decisions on applications for assistance with furniture or essential domestic appliances will be made within 5 working days.
Awards for help with the costs of food, and emergency travel will usually be paid in the form of a voucher. If awarded food or emergency travel you will be given details, over the telephone, of how to collect your award; food support is provided at one of the local foodbank distribution centres.
If you are awarded gas/electricity these are now being awarded via a new SMS voucher scheme, whereby you will be sent a secure voucher code on a text message which can be redeemed at any of the retail network ‘Paypoint’ terminal across the borough.
The retailer will credit the award to your energy key or card, or their energy account (if a bill is presented).
Beds or essential domestic appliances will be provided; any domestic appliances that are supplied will be subject to a guarantee of up to 6 months. After this period it is your responsibility to arrange for the maintenance or repair of these goods. Further applications for white goods will not be considered within 3 years of the original award.
Typically, the Council will only make three awards to a repeat applicant in a period of 12 consecutive months, except for domestic appliances (see above).
You need to provide a contact telephone number on the application form so that a member of the team can contact you if necessary.
If you have applied for new benefits but are still waiting a decision - you must apply for a Short Term Benefit Advance from the Department of Works & Pensions. Contact the DWP helpline on: 0345/0845 6088545
Waiting for an increase to your existing benefits -you can apply for a Short Term Benefit Advance from the Department of Works & Pensions. Contact the DWP helpline on: 0345/0845 6088545
Difficulty in paying your rent or council tax - if so, you can apply for a Discretionary Housing Payment - phone Sefton Contact Centre on 0345 140 0845 for advice.
Recently had sanctions applied to your benefits resulting in your benefits being stopped or reduced? If so you can apply for a Hardship Payment from your local Job Centre Plus.
You may also be eligible for a budgeting loan from the Department of Works & Pensions. A Budgeting Advance can be used for: furniture, household items, clothing, footwear, rent in advance, removal expenses, home improvements / maintenance / security, travelling expenses etc. You need to contact your local Job Centre Plus for further information.
The Council takes the threat of fraud seriously. An applicant who tries to fraudulently claim by falsely declaring their true circumstances, providing a false claim or evidence in support of their claim, may have committed an offence under the Fraud Act 2006. All allegations of fraud will be investigated. Criminal proceedings or other sanctions may be applied in appropriate circumstances.
Information collected during the application process will be used to assess an applicant's claim. Information contained on the claim will be cross-matched with other data held by the Council for verification purposes.
In assessing a claim it may be appropriate to make referrals within the Council or to external agencies to provide advice or support.
The Council may also share data for cross checking purposes with both internal and external organisations for the prevention and detection of fraud.
You can ask for the decision to be reconsidered by writing to the One Stop Shop or by calling the Contact Centre helpline on 0345 140 0845.
If you are unhappy with the outcome of the reconsideration, then you may persue a complaint.
ELAS applicants requesting support with gas or electricity costs are now being awarded via a new SMS voucher scheme, whereby the applicant will be sent a secure voucher code on a text message which can be redeemed at any of the retail network ‘Paypoint’ terminal across the borough.
The retailer will credit the award to the applicants energy key or card.
We believe that this change will ensure that we can continue to support those vulnerable people in our communities and those affected financially by the pandemic, whilst also reducing any potential risk of spreading the virus by reducing footfall into the Council’s One Stop Shop(s) when they re-open.