Community Care Grants and the Social Fund

Claim by Freephone 0800 587 6716

Seven parts to this below:

  1. Community Care Grants

  2. Budgeting Loans

  3. Crisis Loans

  4. Sure Start Maternity Grants

  5. Funeral Payments

  6. Cold Weather Payments

  7. Winter Fuel Payments

1) Community Care Grant = free money, not a loan, is not repaid.

Budget Limited – so claims can succeed some times, fail at others, just due to budget constraints.

Qualifying Conditions

Must be on

Incapacity Benefit does not qualify – but see below.

Reasons for grant

Family under pressure

Prevent entry into institutional/residential care

Examples of what you can apply for – and possible amounts for each

The Argos catalogue (in hardcopy or online) tends to be used as the baseline for prices. Choose middle price range from that.

You must itemise everything individually, or the form may be returned to you insisting that you do so before they process the claim.

Carpets or floor coverings generally not awarded now, unless you can argue a health risk of not having them, which is difficult to win. Families with babies of crawling age can be an exception – you can argue floor is covered in loose concrete and floorboard skelfs which are risking injury to the baby.

CCGs and Incapacity Benefit

CCGs cannot be applied for if you are on IB. Same for budgeting loans. But very many people who are on IS on grounds of ill health wrongly believe they are on IB – that is because they are sent the same IB forms, attend the same IB medical, and so on, just as if they were on IB. They get slightly less money than on full blown IB, but aren’t always aware of that. On the streets, IB is used as the name for both full blown IB and IS through being unfit to work. It is only pedants and official language within the DWP that name them differently. So often best to phone DWP and check that claimant is really getting full blown IB and so is ineligible for CCG before giving up on a CCG application.

The Review (=appeal) Process

Normally always ask for a review – even if you get a partial award, you can get the additional items added in on review. Having an award downgraded is in practice unknown, especially as the money has already been given to the claimant.

And after review stage, go to the IRS – Independent Review Service – for them to do a further review. They are independent of the DWP and so often make more favourable decisions. But you have to have gone through the DWPs internal review process first.

Community Care Grant Review

Possible things that you might argue/emphasise for a Community Care Grant Review for a single person could be:

You may be offered a budget loan instead of a CCG at some stage by the DWP – best to refuse this until the review process is exhausted, because a loan is no patch on real money.

2) Budgeting Loans

Not a good alternative to CCGs – because you have to pay the money back. But they are far easier to get, often are given by default. A form is submitted similar to the CCG form, again itemised list of items is required.

You can have at most £1500 of budgeting loans at any one time, although could apply for crisis loans additional to that.

Repayment

They are interest free (at present). Repayment is deducted from benefit at an agreed rate – best to negotiate that with the DWP to be at a low rate, there initial offer will be at a higher rate, and people often don't challenge that. You can request repayment terms changed later, but you have to argue financial hardship at that point.

3) Crisis Loans 0800 587 6716

Similar to budgeting loans except are available for everyone, regardless of what benefits (if any) you are receiving. You can apply for this if you have run up your repayment limit on budget loans. They are processed faster than budgeting loans.

They are for expenses from an emergency, unforeseen crisis, or disaster.

Crisis loans for household items (furniture, cookers, etc.) are made by filling out a form. Crisis loans for essential living expenses are held to be more urgent and are done by telephone. You should get a decision back within four working hours. The person who takes your call has no decision making powers, is just there to write down what you say.

If the crisis loan is refused, ask for a review. If that also fails, get an independent review from the IRS – same as for CCGs.

4) Sure Start Maternity Grants

Qualifying benefits – Claimant must be receiving one of:

Or must expect to receive them after the baby is born (e.g. an initially childless couple who will qualify for child tax credit when their baby is born).

5) Funeral Payments

Funeral costs will be paid for by the DWP if you are on benefits or low waged. They don't pay much though (around £600) so some funeral directors won't deal with these cases.

Again is time barred – you only have three months to claim. And again, claimants are missing out even though entitled to this.

But if any other close relatives have an income, the DWP will hold that they should pay for the funeral instead. Unless the other relative was estranged, or can convincingly pretend to be estranged.

Qualifying benefits – Claimant must be receiving one of:

Another option would be to refuse to pay the undertakers after the funeral is over – but some now insist on cash payments before the funeral because of that risk.

6) Cold Weather Payments

Qualifying rules – basically: pensioner, or disabled, or baby

Either:

Or:

7 Winter Fuel Payments – 08459 151 515

Couples just get one single payment, not a double payment.

Two single pensioners – get £200 each, so £400 is paid out in total.

A couple of pensioners – get £200 in total, effectively £100 each.

(*) except if you are still working, and are not with the DWP for receiving any benefits or state pension or pension credit – you may need to explicitly claim in that case.