Independent Review Service
 for the Social Fund
  Community Care Grants   

Frequently Asked   Questions  

CCG Application Form
Community Care Grants
This information is intended to be a brief general guide only. It should help you understand about community care grants, but should not be treated as a full statement of law.

Key features of the scheme are included, but not the full text of the law or the Secretary of State's directions or guidance.

All applications have precise legal tests applied to them. You can find the Secretary of State's directions and guidance in the Social Fund Guide which you can access via the DWP website
The following questions are answered on this page you can quickly access them by pressing the appropriate question:

What are community care grants?

How do I apply for a community care grant?

Am I eligible for a community care grant?

Do the things I need qualify for a community care grant?

I have heard priority makes a difference. What does this mean?

What else might affect what I can get?
What are community care grants?
Community care grants are discretionary payments. They are aimed at people with particular problems like poor health or family difficulties. They can be paid to help with specific individual needs, like household items and certain travel costs. They do not have to be paid back. Back to top

How do I apply?
Complete form SF300 available from Jobcentre Plus offices or you can download a Community Care Grant form from the Department of Work and Pensions website. You should send the completed form to your local Jobcentre Plus office.

When you fill in the form, it is important to include as much detail as possible about your particular difficulties and how being able to meet the expenses or buy the item would help cope with them.

Your Jobcentre Plus office will tell you their decision in writing. If you are unhappy with this decision you can ask a Reviewing Officer in Jobcentre Plus to look at it again. If, following the Reviewing Officer's decision you are still unhappy, you can apply for an independent IRS review
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Am I eligible for a community care grant?
When you make your application, you must be receiving either Income Support, income based Jobseeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit. If you get interim payments of these benefits, you will also be eligible.

There are special rules for people leaving places like prisons, hospitals and care homes and who need help to return to the community. They can apply in the 6 weeks before they are due to leave, provided they would probably get Income Support, income based Job Seeker's Allowance, income-related Employment and Support Allowance or Pension Credit when they do leave.

For example, you may have been in a hospital for a number of years due to mental illness. Your doctor now thinks you are ready to live independently in the community; you have a tenancy to move into but need help to furnish it. You would be likely to receive Income Support or income-related Employment and Support Allowance when you leave hospital, as you have not worked for a long time. You could make an application for a community care grant in the 6 weeks before you were due to leave the hospital, so your new home could be made ready for when you leave. Back to top

Do the things I need qualify for a community care grant?
If you or someone in your family needs care in the community, you might be able to get help to pay for things that will help in the following situations:

If someone is leaving institutional or residential accommodation where they received care.
The key test is whether the person needs to pay for something to help them establish in the community after being in care.

For example, you may have had a stay in a care home, hospital or prison. To help you get established back into the community, you might need to pay for moving expenses, connection charges, household equipment or clothing. A community care grant might be payable to help with these costs. See the above example.

If someone is already living in the community, but has difficulty managing.
The key test is that a grant would help improve the person's ability to live in the community to the extent that it would lessen the risk of them entering care.

For example, you may have health problems that mean you have difficulty coping with things like domestic chores or looking after yourself. A grant might be awarded to help with the cost of things that would help you cope with your problems, such as household equipment, furniture or removal costs if you need to move to a more suitable home.

Or, you may be able to get a grant for something that would help you look after someone else who has difficulty looking after themselves.

If someone is part of a family coping with exceptional pressures.
The key test is that help with the expenses would help both the applicant and another family member cope with very difficult situations.

For example, you and your family might be under exceptional pressures because of circumstances such as illness, disability, a disaster or poor living conditions. It might be a single, major pressure or the cumulative effect of a number of problems. The overall effect on the family rather than the type of problem is most important. You may be able to get a grant to pay to for an item or service that would ease the exceptional pressures, whatever they might be.

If someone is setting up home as part of a resettlement programme after being without a settled way of life.
The key tests are that setting up home is part of a planned resettlement programme and that the applicant has been without a settled way of life. The programme should help the person to establish a settled way of life in other ways as well as setting up a home. These might be things like dealing with substance abuse, improving literacy, learning a skill, careers guidance or learning to run a home successfully. Setting up home may involve finding somewhere to live and making the property habitable.

For example, you may have been living at temporary addresses, in hostels or sleeping rough. You may be moving into your own accommodation as part of a programme to help you adopt and maintain a settled lifestyle. The person planning the programme could be, for example, your probation officer, social worker, key worker at a hostel or yourself. The plan sets you a series of goals to achieve as part of the programme. A grant may be paid to help you set up your home.

For more information please see the Commissioner's Advice to Inspectors on Direction 4(a)(v).

Someone needs to travel within the UK.
Travel costs may be met if they qualify under any of the above conditions. In addition to these a grant may be awarded for travelling expenses, within the United Kingdom, to:
  • Visit someone who is ill;
  • Attend a relative's funeral;
  • Ease a domestic crisis;
  • Visit a child who is with the other parent pending a court decision; or
  • Move to suitable accommodation.
More detailed information about the meanings of the Directions relating to qualification for a community care grant can be found in the Commissioners Advice. The Commissioner's Advice is aimed primarily at social fund practitioners who already have a knowledge of the Social Fund. Back to top

I 've heard that priority makes a difference. What does this mean?
The social fund is a budget limited scheme. Each Social Fund District has a fixed annual budget for its geographical area. The budget is unlikely to be enough to pay all the eligible applicants for everything they need. Giving each item of expense a "priority" is the way of sorting out which should be paid. Expenses that have the most priority are more likely to be paid. Some of the less important expenses may have to be refused.

Priority depends on how urgently the person needs the help and what part it will play in promoting community care in one of the ways described earlier. Decision Makers have to use their discretion to decide whether something is high, medium or even low priority. Each case must be considered in its particular circumstances. Some of the expenses a person needs to meet might be high priority, but others may not. Or, an item that is high priority in one person's circumstances may be a medium or low priority in another person's case.

For example, you might be struggling to cope in your own home and need more and more help from your family. You have been offered a bungalow near to where your daughter lives. Living here would be a great help because it's all on one level and your daughter could visit you everyday. However, it's smaller than your present address.

Meeting your removal expenses so you can move to the new address would be higher priority than the cost of buying a smaller sideboard or new curtains because the ones you have are too long.

The aim is to pay for expenses of the same level of priority through the financial year. The Area Decision Maker has to give guidance about the level of priority that can be met from the budget. Decision Makers have a duty to take this guidance into account when they decide whether to make a payment.

Journal 19 and Journal 8 give more information about the way Social Fund Inspectors consider priority. Back to top

What else might affect what I can get?

Excluded expenses
There are some expenses that cannot be met by community care grants.

You cannot get a community care grant, for example,
  • for housing costs like rent, mortgage payments or repairs and improvements to your home (unless they are minor);
  • for medical items, spectacles or dental treatment;
  • to pay for domestic assistance or respite care;
  • to buy or install a telephone, or pay call charges; or
  • for expenses the local authority has a statutory duty to meet.
The full list of excluded expenses is in Direction 23 and Direction 29. These can be found in the Social Fund Guide on the DWP website.

Amount of awards
The minimum that can be awarded as a community care grant is £30, unless the award is for travelling or daily living expenses.

Provided it is a reasonable estimate of the cost of the item or service, you will normally receive the amount you have asked for. However, if the budget is under pressure, a lower amount may be awarded. The lower amount should still be enough to allow you to buy a suitable item or adequate service. The Commissioners Advice on amounts to award gives some more information about this.

If you and your partner are both aged under 60 savings of more than £500 will affect how much you can get. If you or your partner are aged over 60, your savings can be up to £1,000 before they affect how much you can get.

However, you may still be able to get a community care grant if you have savings over these limits. It depends how much the Decision Maker would otherwise award and how much your savings are.

For example, if you are over 60 and have savings of £1,450, the Decision Maker would take £450 off the money he would otherwise pay.

Say he had decided that you qualify for several high priority items valued together at £850 and that his district budget can pay for high priority needs. He would take the £450 off the £850 and award you a grant of £400.
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