A number of myths have
grown up about the Social Fund over recent years. Many people believe these to
be legitimate limitations on applying for or receiving Social Fund payments -
but they are not.
Don't be caught out by the myths - read on.
Applying for a Crisis Loan
You can only apply for a crisis loan for living expenses by telephone
Since a change in October 2002 the
regulations say you can apply for a crisis loan for any expenses either in
writing or "other than in writing". This term is most commonly taken to mean by
telephone, but could be face-to-face.
Jobcentre Plus is geared
towards telephone applications, but you may still apply in writing if you wish.
A written application is usually, but not necessarily, made on the approved
form, which can be obtained from Jobcentre Plus offices, from some advice
centres, or can be downloaded from the
There's no point applying. You won't get a payment because….
The point of applying is to get the
right decision, properly based on the law, about whether you should have a
crisis loan. Only by having an application formally decided by a Decision Maker
can you seek redress by way of a review if the decision is wrong. Many of the
commonest myths about crisis loans originate from informal advice about why
there is no point applying. If you apply by telephone, make sure your
application is logged.
The following are common
myths about why payment cannot be made.
You cannot have a crisis loan if you do not receive / have not claimed
Receipt of benefit is not a condition
for payment. With rare exceptions (such as being under age 16, or in an
institution), you are eligible for a crisis loan if the evidence shows you are
probably without sufficient resources to meet your immediate short-term needs.
Someone who is in full time work, or has not yet claimed benefit might be in a
situation where he does not have the resources to meet his immediate needs.
You cannot have a crisis loan if you do not get / have not claimed benefit
because you will not be able to repay it.
The Decision Maker cannot award a
crisis loan in excess of the amount you are likely to be able to repay. This is
the last consideration, after eligibility and qualification have been
It does not follow that someone who is temporarily
without income will not have the means to make repayment for the foreseeable
future. Crisis loans may be repaid over up to 104 weeks, so most people would
have an income from which to repay the loan before the end of that time.
You cannot have a crisis loan if you are waiting for Tax Credits to be
paid, because this Department does not deal with Tax Credits / we cannot
recover the loan by deductions from Tax Credits.
If you do not have enough money for
your immediate needs, it makes no difference which government department is
responsible for paying you. Nor does it make any difference that repayments
cannot be taken out of Tax Credits. Provided you are likely to be able to pay
the loan back, how repayment will be collected has no impact whatsoever on
whether a crisis loan is awarded.
You cannot have a crisis loan if you are claiming Jobseeker's Allowance but
have not had a Work Focussed Interview / if you have not been given an
appointment for a Work Focussed Interview.
If you are without enough money for
your immediate needs because you are waiting for a claim to Jobseeker's
Allowance to be decided, you are eligible for a crisis loan.
interim payments of benefit should be made whenever possible, as this is a more
satisfactory way of meeting the need, especially if a final decision on
entitlement is likely to be delayed. Ask the benefit section if they can make
interim payments. If they cannot, then a crisis loan is a possible option.
You cannot have a crisis loan for lost / stolen money because you have
already had a crisis loan for this reason in the last six months.
The rules prevent determination of a
second application for the same expenses within 28 days, unless there has been
a relevant change of circumstances. (There is no six month rule).
You cannot have two crisis loans for lost / stolen / spent money in the
A second award for the same period may
be made if there has been an emergency or disaster that has arisen since the
previous decision. Secondly, the crisis must not be:
- a consequence of an
act or omission for which the applicant or partner is responsible, and
- The applicant or
partner could not have taken reasonable steps to avoid.
You cannot have a crisis loan for spent money unless you produce receipts /
a bank statement.
Your evidence must show that you are
probably without sufficient funds for your immediate needs. The Decision Maker
may seek corroboration if other evidence fails to establish a balance in your
favour. However, corroboration is not routinely necessary and is never a
precondition of making an application.
You cannot have a crisis loan for lost or stolen money unless you have
reported it to the police and have a police report / crime number.
This is a variation on the previous
theme, but with an added twist. The evidential value of a lost property or
crime number is questionable. Proving you have reported a loss to the police is
rarely crucial to the issue of whether you have enough resources to meet your
immediate needs. To repeat, corroboration is only necessary if there are doubts
about the other evidence and is never a precondition of making an application.
If the Decision Maker has doubts about your evidence, he should
explain why and offer you the opportunity to provide additional evidence. He
should never require you to report to the police once you have applied for a
crisis loan. Doing so would not add anything of value to the evidence.
You cannot have a crisis loan if you have spent your money on something
frivolous / something benefit payments are not intended for.
One of the qualifying conditions is
that you need to meet expenses in an emergency. Any very pressing need
requiring immediate action or relief is capable of being an emergency. It
follows that if the evidence shows that you have such a pressing need, whether
you contributed to the situation or could have foreseen it is irrelevant.
Benefit payments are a person's income, to use as he sees fit. There is no list
of what they are "intended for".
You can't have a crisis loan if you are waiting for a decision about
whether you are a person from abroad for the purposes of Income Support or
If you have been already been refused
benefit because you are treated as a person from abroad and not habitually
resident in the UK, you cannot have a crisis loan. But, if you have not claimed
benefit or your claim has not been decided, you may still be able to get a
crisis loan. The crisis loan Decision Maker must decide if the rules about
people from abroad would probably apply in your case. The rules are quite
complicated, and you should expect to answer a number of questions to enable a
decision to be made.
Community Care Grant Myths
You can only apply for a community care grant once every six months.
The rules prevent determination of a second application for the same
item or service within 28 days, unless there has been a relevant change of
circumstances. If you need something different, or your circumstances have
changed since you made the earlier application, this rule will not apply.
(There is no six month rule).
There is a limit to the number of items you can apply for on each
You can apply for whatever you need,
regardless of how many items there are, on one application form. If there are
too many things to fit in the boxes provided, carry on in the space provided at
the end of the form, or use an extra sheet of paper. If you use an extra sheet,
make sure is securely attached to the form and that your name and national
insurance number is shown on it.
You can't apply for furniture for a new rented home until you have a signed
You have to show a balance of probability that you need the things
you have applied for. There are other ways of achieving this standard of proof,
aside from providing a tenancy agreement. The Decision Maker may seek
corroboration by way of a signed agreement if other evidence fails to establish
a balance in your favour. However, corroboration is not routinely necessary and
is never a precondition of making an application.
All the offices in the country can only pay for high priority items.
Each Jobcentre Plus district is
allocated a yearly budget for community care grants. The districts' budgets
have to last throughout the financial year, and Decision Makers should pay
higher priority needs in preference to lower priority needs.
around three-quarters of districts were able to meet all high priority needs.
About a quarter could not meet all high priority needs throughout the whole of
the year. A very small number of districts were able to a number of medium
priority needs at some points in the year
Only cookers and beds are ever paid because the budget is under pressure.
There are no set items that are always
paid or refused, or which will always have high priority or will always be low
priority. Priority depends on how urgently you need help and important each
item is to helping you with your particular difficulties. Each case must be
decided on its individual merits.
The Decision Maker should
only consider what level of priority the budget can pay once he has decided the
priority by looking at your circumstances. If the budget is under a lot of
pressure, it may only be possible to pay for the most urgent and important of
the high priority needs. Because they are often urgently needed, beds and
cookers may often fall into this category. But, other things could be equally
important in some cases.
You can only have £150 for a cooker / £90 for a bed (and so
There is no set amount that should be
awarded for any particular item. Once the Decision Maker has decided that an
item is high enough priority to be paid, he must decide what amount is
appropriate in your case. Generally, he should base his award on your estimate
of cost, providing it is reasonable. However, you are unlikely to be paid
enough for models with luxury, rather than functional, features.
If the district's budget is under pressure, the Decision Maker may
not be able to award what you ask for, even if it is a reasonable amount. But,
he should always make sure that he awards enough to buy a new item of
serviceable quality that is suitable in your circumstances. The award should
cover delivery and fitting or installation where appropriate.
Grants are not paid for clothing.
Just as there are no items that always
get a payment, there are none for which payment is never made. Depending on the
circumstances, a grant for clothing might be as important to resolving
difficulties and meeting the aims of community care grants as any other need.
Note. Check out the Frequently Asked Questions page for
information about the basic rules for Social Fund payments.
come across any of these myths? Do you think you may have heard one that we
have not mentioned here? Tell
us about your Social Fund experience.