The discretionary Social Fund doesn’t exist now, which includes Community Care Grants, Budgeting Loans and Crisis Loans, as it was abolished in April 2013. It has now been replaced with funding services from your local authority.[box type=”info” style=”rounded” border=”full”]Call the Social Fund on 0844 453 0151[/box]
Why Doesn’t The Discretionary Social Fund Exist?
The coalition government of the United Kingdom abolished the discretionary Social Fund, with this taking effect from April 2013, by the means of the legislation that was contained in the Welfare Reform Act of 2012.
As a follow on from this, community care grants and crisis loans were also abolished at the same time and the funding was instead made available through localised services from the appropriate local authority. This was the case across England, with the respective devolved governments of Scotland and Wales making the decisions for these areas.
When it was announced that the Social Fund would be localised, many pressure groups were particularly vocal about their concerns for this development. The main issues were about the lack of ring-fencing and doubts regarding how efficient the funding being transferred to local authorities would be at meeting the needs of the people in the area.
What Was The Social Fund?
The Social Fund consisted of two separate categories, known as the regulated and the discretionary social funds. These were introduced in 1987 as a review of benefit overall, by Norman Fowler. who was the Secretary of State for Health and Social Security. It replaced the original system of single payments from the Supplementary Benefit scheme.
At the moment, the regulated Social Fund is still available, but the discretionary Social Fund isn’t, as of April 2013.
The Regulated Social Fund
The regulated social fund consists of maternity, funeral and cold weather expenses.
Maternity grants can sometimes be referred to as Sure Start maternity grants and is a fixed amount of £500 given to help those on a low income to purchase clothes and equipment for a new born baby. You are free to choose how the money should be spent.
You do not have to repay a maternity grant. You are only eligible for this sort of grant if the new baby is the only child in the household under the age of 16. There are different rules for twins or if you give birth to more babies.
Funeral payments are to help those on a low income to cover the essential costs of a funeral. You do not need to repay the cost of funeral payments, although, it may be recovered from the estate of the deceased.
You are not eligible for funeral payments just because you are paying for it. If you are living in the UK, the Jobcentre Plus office has to accept that there is no-one else who could be paying for it and it is reasonable for you to be the person responsible. In Northern Ireland, the Social Security Agency will make this decision.
Cold Weather Payments
Cold weather payments are given to those who are on a low income and provides assistance with fuel costs in periods of colder weather. There is no requirement for what the money is spent on and this money does not have to be repaid.
This works based on weather station reports, as each UK postcode is linked to a specific one. When the weather is forecasted or reports an average daily temperature of 0 degrees centigrade or lower for 7 consecutive days, a payment is made.
You can get cold weather payments if you are receiving Income Support or Income-Based Jobseeker’s Allowance for at least one of the days during the period of cold weather. You will also need to have either a child under the age of 5 in your family, a child that you get Child Tax Credit for with an extra amount for their disability or you are getting an extra amount for disability or being over the age of state pension and do not live in a care home.
Cold weather payments are different from Winter Fuel Payments, which are made to every winter to everyone over the age of state pension, no matter what the temperature is.
The Discretionary Social Fund
The discretionary social fund was made up of community care grants, budgeting loans and crisis loans. These are no longer available due to cuts made by the coalition government, and started to take effect as of April 2013.