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Client Hardship Service (CHS)

What is it?

People struggle financially for many reasons. The Client Hardship Service (CHS) team wants to help you to manage better and for things to improve. We want to help you to live independently wherever possible and get out of financial hardship.

We can:

  • Support you with money management and budgeting support and advice, supporting grant applications, providing cost comparisons for utilities and supporting with switching to cheaper providers or tariffs
  • Connect you to debt agencies and support with any initial appointments
  • Make referrals on your behalf to support workers, advice organisations and voluntary agencies
  • Support you to get back into work through Adult Learning Employability skills and other employability organisations
  • Assess your hardship support request to see if you are eligible for essential household items, to assist with relocating or remaining in your own home
  • Support you with Disability Related Expenses claims - these can reduce the amount that people must pay towards their care

Who can get support?

To receive support from the Client Hardship Service you must:

  • Be 16 years old or over
  • Live in Norfolk
  • Be claiming a means tested benefit eg Universal Credit, Employment Support Allowance, Pension Credit, Tax Credits

We will look at your income and savings to provide you with a budget plan.

Support and guidance

We can put you in touch with organisations who can offer support in many different ways. You can also find support organisations on the Norfolk Community Directory.

Support organisations can:

  • Provide free training to help you get back into work or get a better paid job
  • Give your family support if there are difficulties at home
  • Help you if you struggle with addiction
  • Find you a suitable support network or groups if you are isolated, lonely or struggling with mental health issues

The CHS team is trained to help you wherever possible.

Household goods and furniture

If you need essential kitchen appliances and furniture, we might be able to help you. We can provide high quality second-hand and new items if re-used goods are unavailable. All items come with warranties.

If we are made aware that household goods awarded by the Client Hardship Service are being sold for financial gain, we will investigate and this may result in the removal of goods and you may not be permitted to use this service in future.

Financial help

We can direct you to community organisations that support people with living costs. We might be able to:

  • Provide you with a food parcel
  • Make a small gas or electricity meter pre-payment via Paypoint

How to get help

Complete our online hardship support request form.

You will be asked to provide:

  • Personal and financial information for yourself and anyone else who lives with you - see details below
  • Electronic copies of evidence. Paper copies of evidence can be posted to us if you cannot send an electronic copy

What to gather before you start your hardship support request

Get the following information together for yourself and anyone else who lives with you.

  • National Insurance number. We cannot process a hardship support request without it. Visit if you have lost it
  • Last two months' bank statements for all accounts held within the household -  your bank statement must contain your name and address
  • Details of any debts
  • Details of any savings or property you have
  • Information on any health issues affecting you and/or anyone you live with
  • If you are moving due to family breakdown or reconciliation, you need to provide details and the name of a professional, such as a social worker, who could give supporting evidence if required.

Apply for the Client Hardship Service

How to save the online form during the request process

You can save your hardship request form at any point during the request process.

However, you must complete it and send it within five days of starting it. If you do not complete it within five days, it will be deleted from our system.

When you save the form, you will be given a code. Without the code you cannot return to the form. It might be helpful to take a screenshot or photo on your phone.

Return to a saved application

Telephone Hardship Support Requests

If you cannot complete an online hardship support request call 0344 800 8020. We will complete the form with you, but you will still need to send us evidence via email or via post.

What happens next

Step 1: Hardship support request submitted

When you submit a hardship support request form to the Client Hardship Service, we will send you an email with your request reference number.

Step 2: Assigned an adviser

Your hardship support request will be assigned to an adviser. They will contact you by phone to support you with your hardship support request.

Step 3: Conversation with an adviser

Your adviser will contact you to provide support - during this, they will ask you for further information about your circumstances so they can provide the best support possible.

Your adviser will complete further checks based on the information you have given, as well as data held by Norfolk County Council and external organisations.

Step 4: Support provided

A standard financial statement will be provided to support you with money management and budgeting, information on advice organisations and any agreed household items will be sent to you via email.

Some cases may take longer to work through than others, please be patient whilst we try to find the best outcome for you.