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Welcome to the Independent Review Service
for the Social Fund website.

Our site is aimed at those who have an interest in the Social Fund and its review process. It has a wide range of information that will help frontline decision makers, representatives, advisers and customers.

Please click here if you have any comments about your Social Fund experience.

Changes to the Social Fund

You may be aware that the Welfare Reform Act 2012 has introduced significant changes to community care grants and crisis loans from April 2013. Click on Grants and crisis loans…important news about your review to find out more about the impact on the independent review at the IRS.

Some of the directions and guidance that apply to the existing community care grant scheme have recently changed. You will find a short summary if you click on Changes to the existing scheme.

Grants and crisis loans…important news about your review.

Your review

We can carry out an independent review of your community care grant, crisis loan or budgeting loan decision as long as you make your initial application before 1st April 2013.

Grants and crisis loans will not be available from 1st April 2013 for new applications. But you can still ask for a review of your decision in Jobcentre Plus and then an independent review at the IRS, if Jobcentre Plus has your application before the end of March 2013. We can look at your budgeting loan decision if you applied before that date as well. We can do this even if you don't get a decision until April.

It is really important that you ask us for a review quickly if you disagree with the decision you have had from Jobcentre Plus. This is because Inspectors here at the IRS will not be able to make any review decisions after the end of July 2013. So we will only have a limited amount of time to deal with your case. Don't forget that Jobcentre Plus must have reviewed your decision first, before it can be looked at here at the IRS.

If Jobcentre Plus does not receive your application by the end of March 2013 you cannot be considered for an award and Jobcentre Plus will not process your application. Don't forget that this falls during Easter weekend, so it would be best to get your application to Jobcentre Plus by Thursday 28th March.

Help that may be available from 1st April 2013

Budgeting loans will still be available from DWP after April if you have been in receipt of an income based benefit for 26 weeks or more. The initial decision and first review will still be done in Jobcentre Plus. But the second review will be carried out by the Independent Case Examiner and not by the IRS. You can find out more information about budgeting loans by contacting the DWP Social Fund Enquiry Helpline on 0845 6036967 or by visiting

New locally based provision will be delivered by local authorities in England and will be devolved to the Scottish and Welsh Governments. Other help that may be available to you will depend on where you live:

If you live in England you may be able to get help from within your community. You may want to consider approaching local organisations in your area or your local authority to see if any help is available.

If you live in Scotland you may be able to get help from the Scottish Welfare Fund via your local authority and you may wish to approach them for more information. More information about the Scottish Welfare Fund is also available at:

The Welsh Government may be able to offer help via its Assistance Fund, which will be delivered by Northgate Public Services.

Further information about the Social Fund Reforms in general can be found on the DWP website at:

Changes to the existing community care grant scheme

In February 2013 the Secretary of State made the following changes to the grant scheme:
  • a small but important change to the rules on eligibility for a community care grant found in Direction 25, which will affect applicants coming out of care;
  • a new exclusion, Direction 29A, which excludes grant awards in respect of a need that "arises after or continues beyond 31st March 2013"; and
  • new transitional guidance on how Social Fund decision makers should take account of the grants budget; the guidance applies from 1 April 2013 to initial and review decisions on grant applications made before that date.
Click here to read a full summary of the impact of these changes.

What's new

What's New Link to Whats New Page


Leaflets Link to Publications and Leaflets Page
Changes To The IRS Review Leaflet June 2011

Changes to Rules about Repeat Applications

Important changes to Crisis Loans from 4th April 2011

Social Fund reform
Read here about the Commissioners responses to proposed reforms to the existing scheme.
Social Fund Commissioner's Annual Report
The latest report on the output and progress of the IRS during the previous year

Social Fund IRS Self Instruction Pack
Our latest training material entitled "A basic overview" is ideal for those new to the Social Fund who want to learn at their own pace.