Independent Review Service
 for the Social Fund
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Your Right to Apply for an Independent Review
How to Apply for a Review
What the Review Involves
Alternative Services Available
How long will it Take?


The IRS Review

Your Right to Apply for an Independent Review
You have the right to ask for an independent review of the decision on your community care grant, crisis loan, budgeting loan or overpayment decision if:
  • you have had a decision about your social fund application; and
  • the decision has been looked at again by a reviewing officer; and
  • you are still not satisfied with it. This can be because you have been refused payment or because the payment you received was not enough.
How to Apply for a Review
Regulations require that all applications for a review by a Social Fund Inspector must be sent direct to the IRS. You can write to the IRS using the leaflet "Did you get what you wanted?" or in a letter, using our FREEPOST address, explaining why you want a review. However, if an application is sent to the Jobcentre Plus by mistake, they will arrange for the application to be forwarded to us.

The Jobcentre Plus office should send leaflet "Did you get what you wanted?" to you with the decision made by the Reviewing Officer. "Did you get what you wanted?" gives further information about the review but the main points are that you can ask for an independent review about;
  • community care grants
  • crisis loans
  • budgeting loans
  • overpayments from the social fund.
You can ask for an independent review after you have had your application reviewed at the Jobcentre Plus. The law does not allow a Social Fund Inspector to review a decision that has not already been reviewed.

It is important that you do each of the following as not doing so may delay your review:
  • Make your request within 28 days of the Reviewing Officer's decision. The Inspector can allow more time if there are special reasons. You will need to tell us why your request has been made late.
  • Say why you disagree with the Reviewing Officer's decision.
  • Sign your review request and send it to us at: FREEPOST, Independent Review Service. It does not need a stamp.
When we receive an application for an Inspector's review, we acknowledge its receipt and contact the relevant Jobcentre Plus office as a matter of urgency to arrange for them to send all the papers to us. Please allow a few days for the papers to arrive at the IRS before enquiring about the progress of a review.

What the Review Involves
Your case will usually be given to an Inspector on the day the paperwork from Jobcentre Plus arrives at this office.

The Inspector will complete the review of your application as quickly as possible. They will do this in a number of ways, depending on your case:

  • If your case is very straightforward and all the facts are already known and agreed upon, the Inspector may decide it is right to make an immediate decision
  • If there are key gaps in the information, or if there is something you need to be made aware of, and have opportunity to comment on, then the Inspector may decide it is best to telephone you about this.
  • If the Inspector cannot contact you by telephone, or your case is very complicated, they may decide to write to you with their questions.
What does the Inspector need to know?
If we write to you before the review is completed, it is very important that you read the Inspector's letter and try to answer any questions asked. You should also tell the Inspector if evidence is missing or if there is anything else you think is important.

You can reply to the Inspector:
  • using the reply form and pre-paid envelope he sends to you; or
  • by telephone on 0800 096 1926 (between 9:00 and 16:30). Your call will be free from a landline. Your call will not be free if you use a mobile phone, but we will be able to call you back.
If English is not your first language, and you would like to reply by phone, we can do this using Language Line. See our Other Languages page in the Translation Services section for more information.

Step 3 - When the Inspector receives your response he or she will make a decision on your case.

The Inspector will Decide
Whether the Jobcentre Plus Reviewing Officer's decision was reached correctly and whether it was the right one in all the circumstances of your case. The Inspector will decide this by looking carefully at the facts of your case, how the Reviewing Officer made his decision, the reasons for that decision and what you are unhappy about.

The Inspector will change the decision if it is wrong. The Inspector will tell you the reasons for his decision.

If the Inspector decides that a payment should be made on your application the Jobcentre Plus office will make the payment. Payments are not sent out by the IRS.

How long will it take?
We aim to clear all cases at the earliest opportunity. Our service standards set out the details of how quickly you should receive the Inspectors decision on your application.

If you apply for an urgent need, such as living expenses or other needs where a very urgent decision is required, we will treat your application as an express case. We aim to make a decision on 90% of express cases within 24 hours of receipt of the papers.

For any other needs, we aim to make a decision on 90% of cases within 21 working days of receipt of the papers.

Do you have a complaint about the IRS or a query about the decision?
If you are unhappy or have a query about the Inspectors decision or the service we have provided you can contact our customer service team.

Phone  By telephone on 0800 096 1928 (between 9:00 and 16:30) or fax on
0121 606 2184; or


PC  Send an e-mail to: sfc@irs-review.org.uk

Mail  Or you can write to the Customer Service Team at this address:

Independent Review Service
4th Floor, Centre City Podium
5 Hill Street Birmingham.
B5 4UB

Alterative Services Available
Hearing Impaired  Deaf or hard of hearing customers who have a textphone can call us on 0800 096 1929 (between 9:00 and 16:30)

Visually Impaired  Visually impaired customers, who want a copy of our leaflets or decisions in Braille, on audiotape or large print can call us on 0800 096 1927 (between 9:00 and 16:30). Go to our Visually Impaired page for more information.

If English is not your first language, and you have difficulty in understanding the information about your review, we can send you copies of the most important documents in your own language. See our Translation Services page for more information.

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