The Royal British Legion, the UK’s largest charity dedicated to supporting the Armed Forces community, has today launched a new grant scheme for veterans and their families who are struggling to pay their energy bills. The initiative will provide non-repayable emergency grants of up to £2,400 a year (£200 a month), and is available across the UK.
It’s estimated there are 2 million UK armed forces veterans, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Defence, though the Royal British Legion hasn’t said how many might be able to benefit from the new grants. When we asked about the total funding available, the charity told us there was no set cut-off and that it wants to help as many members of the Armed Forces community as it can.
For further support with your energy bills – including if you’re not part of the Armed Forces community – see our full Energy bill help guide.
Who can apply for the Royal British Legion grants
In general, the Armed Forces community includes those who have served, or are serving, in the Royal Navy, British Army or Royal Air Force, as well as their families, dependants and carers – which can include children, current and former spouses and partners, widows and widowers.
However, the Royal British Legion uses a broad definition of “Armed Forces community” – so even if you’re not sure you fit in one of the categories above, it’s worth checking your eligibility on its website or by calling its helpline on 0808 802 8080.
The grants are means-tested – but you DON’T have to be on state benefits
If you’re currently getting any means-tested state benefits, such as universal credit, pension credit or income support, you should qualify automatically.
But you could still be eligible for a grant even if you don’t get any benefits – the Royal British Legion will check your income and expenditure to assess your needs. The charity told us that it encourages anyone struggling financially to apply, as it has flexibility to consider support for people who don’t meet the means-testing.
Apply for a grant online or call the Royal British Legion on 0808 802 8080.
You can get up to £200 a month for up to a year, depending on your circumstances
If your application is successful, you’ll get up to £200 a month for up to 12 months – the exact amount and duration will vary depending on your circumstances. You won’t have to reapply every month, just once.
In most cases, you won’t be paid in cash. Instead, you’ll get one or more of the following depending on your situation:
- Vouchers to top-up your gas or electricity prepayment meter.
- A virtual credit card you can use to pay utility bills (the card would be restricted to this use).
- Vouchers for food, clothing or household items.
- Replacement white goods.
Why the Royal British Legion has launched these grants
The charity said it’s taking action after seeing a 20% rise in requests for support with urgent needs, such as food and household costs, over the past 12 months. It expects this to continue to increase over the winter months.
Some members of the Armed Forces community are more vulnerable to rising costs than others, according to the Royal British Legion, with its research previously finding that working-age veterans were more likely to be sick or disabled than other UK adults of the same age.
Other charities also provide grants for veterans
While the Royal British Legion is the biggest charity offering financial support for those in the Armed Forces community, it isn’t the only one.
If you’re struggling, there are lots of other charities that might be able to help. For help and signposting to Northern Ireland specific services please contact the Northern Ireland Veteran Support Office for further information on 02895 216784.
For UK wide charities you can use the Turn2Us grant search tool to find the right one for you based on your age, gender and where you live. Alternatively, you can contact the Veterans’ Gateway service online or by phone on 0808 802 1212 for more information – this service is backed by a number of charities and other organisations, including the UK Government.