The Social Fund

The Social Fund gives various payments to help people on a low income with specific costs.

Community Care Grants

Community care grants are intended to help with expenses so that people can live in the community and families can stay together. You can also get one to ease ‘exceptional pressures’ on your family, for example, if the lack of an essential item is causing you stress or affecting the health of your children.

To be eligible for this grant, you must be on Income Support, income-based Job Seekers Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit.

Usually a grant is given for specific items, which might include clothing, bedding and other household items. It can also be paid to help with certain travel expenses.

If you are eligible, you might be able to claim a community care grant if a child has recently come to live with you, and you need  to buy new things for them. You may also be able to get help with removal expenses if your current housing is unsuitable for you. There are lots of situations in which you may be able to claim help, if you are eligible.

Community care grants are discretionary, which means that even if you are eligible you will only get one if the benefit office decides that your need is important and there is enough money left in the district Social Fund budget. Community care grants do not have to be repaid, so you should always check if you are eligible to claim one when you have expenses you cannot meet.

You can apply for a community care grant on form SF300 which is available from local benefit offices. The form is also available online at www.gov.uk. Because community care grants are discretionary, it is important to include all relevant information on the application form, and explain what could happen if you are unable to pay for an item or service.

Budgeting Loans

Budgeting loans can be paid to people living on means-tested benefits, to help with essential lump sum expenses. These include costs for moving home or buying new items such as household equipment, furniture and clothing.  Budgeting loans have to be paid back to the social fund, but they are interest-free. You won’t get a budgeting loan just because you are eligible to apply. The decision will be made following a review of your circumstances.

You can apply for a budgeting loan on form SF500, which is available from local benefit offices.  You can  download a copy of the form at www.gov.uk

Crisis Loans

Financial help in the form of a crisis loan can be made if you have no other way of getting help, such as in an emergency or disaster.  The money has to be repaid to the Social Fund, but is interest-free.

You can apply for a crisis loan on form SF401, which is available from local benefit offices. You can also download a copy of the form at www.gov.uk.

There are other types of Social Fund payments including Funeral Payments and Maternity Grants. For more information about the Social Fund, contact our advice service.

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