Social Fund

Who is it for?

Community Care Grants: if on income support, income-based ESA or JSA or will be soon. Budgeting Loans: if on income support or income-based ESA or JSA  for 26 weeks. Pension credit is also a qualifying benefit.
Crisis Loans: anyone without sufficient resources for any essential need.
Also covers cold weather payments.

Who pays it?
Job Centre Plus (through Regional Offices)

Which leaflet? And how is it claimed?
SB16. SF300 for CCG, SF500 for BL, SF401 for CL all from Job Centre Plus office or from regional office by phone. Claims can be made over the phone or by application form. Cold weather payments paid automatically.

What are the age limits?
16 and over.

National Insurance based?

Means tested?
Yes. Savings over £500 taken into account (or £1,000 over 60). But all savings counted for Crisis Loans.

How long does it last?
‘Loans’ mean immediate reductions in weekly benefit for up to 78 weeks.

What is effect on other benefits?
Weekly loan deductions can be made from all benefits except Child Benefit, AA or DLA.

Is it taxable?

Increases for dependants?
Not applicable.

Payable if in EU or other?

Points to watch
Community Care Grants not repayable. If on Income Support, loans deductions take priority over third party payments such as fuel suppliers. Timing of claim important because of monthly/yearly budgets. No right of appeal but Social Fund Inspectors are useful in reviewing perverse decisions. Crisis loans now limited to 3 in a 12 month period unless need has arisen due to delays in benefit assessment of payment.

The A-Z of Benefits 2009 was compiled by Gary Vaux and Community Care.

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