The social fund is a government fund that makes payments to people in need to cover specific costs.
The Regulated Social Fund:
This is for maternity costs, funeral costs and help to cover the cost of winter fuel or severe cold weather costs.
The Discretionary Social Fund:
This provides budgeting loans to meet a variety of other urgent needs. Payments are discretionary and budget-limited and decisions are subject to review rather than appeal.
REGULATED SOCIAL FUND
SURE START MATERNITY GRANT
You can claim a Sure Start maternity grant of £500 if:
- You (or a member of your family) are pregnant, or have given birth in the last 3 months (including stillbirth after 24 weeks of pregnancy).
- Have been appointed as a guardian, adopted or been granted a residence order for a child under the age of 1; and
- there are no other children aged less than 16 years in the family.
- If you are claiming for someone under 20 who is the parent of a child, the grant is payable provided the parent has no other children under 16.
You must be on either one of the following qualifying benefits in respect of the day you claim a maternity grant: income support, pension credit, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income related employment and support allowance, child tax credit paid at a rate which exceeds the family element or working tax credit which includes the disability or severe disability element or universal credit and you have received Health and Welfare advice about maternal and child health matters, and if prior to the birth.
How do you claim?
Claim on form SF100, which you can get from your local Jobcentre Plus office, your antenatal clinic or you can download the form here. The form must be signed by a health professional (e.g. midwife, health visitor or doctor) to confirm you have received health and welfare advice about having a baby.
You must claim in the 11 weeks before your expected week of confinement, or in the 3 months following the date of the birth, adoption or parental order. If you are waiting for a decision about a qualifying benefit, claim within the time limits and if your claim is refused re-claim within 3 months of being awarded the qualifying benefit.
For further information, contact 0800 731 0297 or contact your local Jobcentre Plus Office.
FUNERAL EXPENSES PAYMENTS
You are entitled to a funeral expenses payment if:
- You or your partner accept responsibility for the costs of a funeral (i.e. you have paid or are liable to pay them) that takes place in the UK (or another EEA country) or Switzerland, if you or a member of your family are classified as a 'worker' or have the right to reside in the UK under EC law, and
- You or your partner have been awarded one of the following 'qualifying benefits' in respect of the day you claim a funeral payment: income support, pension credit, income-based jobseeker's allowance, income-related employment and support allowance, child tax credit paid at a rate that exceeds the family element, working tax credit that includes the disability or severe disability element, housing benefit, council tax benefit or universal credit; and
- The deceased was ordinarily resident in the UK when they died; and
- You claim within the time limits (see below); and
- You fall into one of the groups of people who are eligible to claim (see below).
Who can claim?
You can only get a funeral payment if you fall into one of the following groups:
- You were the partner (Partner includes: both opposite and same-sex couples whether or not you were married or registered civil partners) of the deceased when they died, or immediately before either of you moved permanently into a care home.
- The deceased was a child for whom you were responsible and there is no 'absent parent' (unless they were getting one of the above qualifying benefits when the child died), or the deceased was a stillborn child.
- You were a 'close relative' or close friend of the deceased and it is reasonable for you to accept responsibility for the funeral costs
You cannot get a payment as a close relative or friend of the deceased if:
- The deceased had a partner when they died; or
- There is a parent, son or daughter of the deceased who is not:
- Getting a qualifying benefit (see above); or
- In prison or hospital immediately following a period on a qualifying benefit; or
- Under 18; or
- Aged 18 or 19 and is a qualifying young person for child benefit or;
- Aged 18 or over and in full-time education; or
- A fully maintained member of a religious order; or
- Someone who was estranged from the deceased; or
- Receiving asylum support from the National Asylum Support Services or
- Ordinarily resident outside the UK; or
- There is a close relative (see above) of the deceased, other than a child, who was in closer contact with the deceased than you were, or had equally close contact and is not getting a qualifying benefit.
How much do you get?
The following costs can be met:
- The necessary costs of purchasing a new burial plot with exclusive rights plus necessary burial fees, or the necessary costs of cremation including medical fees.
- The cost of documentation required to release the deceased person's assets
- The reasonable costs of transport for the portion of journeys in excess of 50 miles, undertaken to transport the body within the UK to a funeral director's premises or a place of rest and to transport the coffin, bearers and mourners in two vehicles to the funeral
- The necessary costs of one return journey from your home for you or your partner to arrange or attend the funeral if you are responsible for the funeral costs
- Up to £700 for other funeral expenses (or £120 if you have a pre-paid funeral plan which does not cover these expenses).
How do you claim?
Claim on form SF200 which is available from the DWP, Jobcentre Plus Office or you can download the form here. You must claim within 3 months of the date of the funeral. If you are waiting for a decision on a qualifying benefit, claim within the time limit and, if your claim is refused because you are not getting a qualifying benefit, reclaim within 3 months of being awarded the qualifying benefit.
For more information or to get help claiming any bereavement benefits you might be entitled to, contact The Bereavement Service Helpline on 0345 606 0265 (Textphone 0345 606 0285).
COLD WEATHER PAYMENTS
These are automatic payments (you do not need to make a claim) currently £25.00 for each qualifying week made by DWP if:
- The average temperature recorded or forecast over 7 consecutive days by the designated weather station for your area is below freezing; and
- You have been awarded income support or income-based jobseeker's allowance or income-related ESA that includes a work related activity or support component for at least one of those days and you are responsible for a child under the age of 5, or are getting one of the pensioner or disability premiums, or are getting child tax credit that includes a disabled or severely disabled element or universal credit; or
- You have been awarded pension credit for at least one of those days; and
- You are not resident in a care home.
The 2015-16 Cold Weather Payment Scheme starts on the 1st November and you will be able to check if your area qualifies for a payment in November.
WINTER FUEL PAYMENTS
This is a lump-sum payment of between £100 and £300 paid if you have reached pension credit qualifying age in the 'qualifying week' (week commencing 21.09.2015 for winter 2015/16).
You are not entitled to a winter fuel payment if during that week you:
- Are subject to immigration control or not living in Great Britain and, or
- Have been receiving free inpatient hospital for more than 52 weeks, or
- Are in custody serving a sentence imposed by a court, or
- You are getting pension credit (PC), income based JSA or income related ESA and you have been living in a care home for 13 weeks or more at the end of the qualifying week (disregarding temporary absences).
How much do you get?
Subject to the rules below, the winter fuel payment is £200 if you are under 80, or £300 if you are aged 80 or over in the qualifying week.
- If you share accommodation as a mutual home with another person, £200 (if you are both aged under 80), or £300 (if either of you is 80 or over) is paid per household.
- If you have been living in a care home for at least 13 weeks in the qualifying week and you are not getting income-based JSA, income related ESA or PC, you are entitled to a payment of £100 if you are aged under 80, or £150 if you are aged 80 or over.
- If you are receiving PC, income-related employment support allowance or income based JSA you will get £200 (or £300 if you or your partner, if you have one, are aged 80 or over) regardless of who else is in the household. If you are one of a couple and your partner receives PC, income-related employment support allowance or income-based JSA, then he or she will receive the payment instead of you.
How do you claim?
You should automatically receive a payment (usually between November and December) without making a claim if you received a payment last year, or are getting a state pension or other social security benefit (apart from child benefit, housing benefit, or council tax benefit) in the qualifying week, otherwise you must make a claim. You can get a claim form and other information by ringing the Winter Fuel Payment Helpline on 0845 915 1515.
DISCRETIONARY SOCIAL FUND
Budgeting Loans - are interest-free loans to help people who have been on IS, income-based JSA or PC for at least 26 weeks to meet intermittent expenses for specifies items for which it may be difficult to budget, enabling the cost to be spread over time. You can use a budgeting loan to buy maternity items or items for a new baby or to help towards some of the costs of a relative's funeral.
Please note that the Welfare Reform Act included provision that has replaced Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans for general living expenses with a service that is delivered by your Local Authority (DMBC Local Assistance Scheme). This means you can no longer apply for a Community Care Grant or Crisis Loan in England, Scotland or Wales.
You must still repay anything you owe on a Crisis Loan.
You can ask for an internal review of any decision made by a decision maker, including the refusal of a payment or the amount awarded. You must do this in writing within 28 days of the date of the decision was issued to you. The time limit can be extended if there are 'special reasons'.
Whilst all the information given in this document was correct at the time of going to press, DIAL Doncaster cannot be held responsible for any subsequent changes.