If you are finding it difficult to budget for emergency or one-off expenses because you have no money coming in or you are on a low income, you may be entitled to help from the Government in the form of a grant or loan.
CLIC Sargent Grants
Some charities offer grants to parents who have a child with cancer, covering everything from travel expenses to new washing machines.
CLIC Sargent offers care grants (which aren't means-tested) to cover extra expenses after your child has been diagnosed. Your social worker can apply for one of these for you.
Our CLIC Sargent social worker provided us with a grant which helped with the costs of things like parking and the extra food and clothes.
The Social Fund
The Social Fund offers one-off payments and loans to help ease exceptional financial pressures on families receiving a qualifying benefit, such as Income Support (IS) or income-based Jobseeker's Allowance. It is made up of the following benefits:
- Budgeting Loans/Advances (see below for more information)
- Cold Weather Payments
- Funeral Payments
- Sure Start Maternity Grants
- Winter Fuel Payment (made to households with someone over the Pension Credit age
Changes to the Social Fund
Following the introduction of Universal Credit (UC), part of the Social Fund has been abolished and replaced with locally-based support, otherwise known as:
- Local Welfare Provision (England)
- Scottish Welfare Fund (Scotland)
- Discretionary Assistance Fund (Wales)
The reform means that you can no longer apply for Community Care Grants and Crisis Loans in England. However, you are still expected to pay these loans back if you’ve received one. Social Fund grants are available in Northern Ireland until UC is introduced in May 2017.
Budgeting Loans are interest-free, which means that you only pay back what you borrow. It is to help pay for essential items, including rent, furniture, clothes or hire purchase debts.
You can apply for a Budgeting Loan if you have been receiving one of the following benefits for at least 26 weeks:
- Income Support
- Income-related ESA
- Income-related JSA
Budgeting Advances will replace Budgeting Loans for people who are eligible for Universal Credit. You will need to have been receiving an income-related benefit for at least six months to qualify for a budgeting advance.
One of the main differences between the Budgeting Advance and Budgeting Loan is that you will be expected to pay back your loan over a shorter amount of time. This means that you will need to pay back the money over 12 months rather than the current guidelines of 104 weeks. However, this will be extended to 18 months in exceptional circumstances.
You will be unable to receive a Budgeting Advance if you have an earlier Budgeting Loan or Advance that has not been fully repaid.
This benefit will help by providing an advance of your future benefit payment, which will be taken out of any following payments you receive. This will help you cope in the weeks before you receive regular payments.
This benefit, which is run by the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP), will be available to people who can prove they are in financial need and already receiving income-related benefits, including Universal Credit. Short-term Advances will replace Interim Payments and Crisis Loan payments.
Disabled Facilities Grant
If you need to make changes to your home, for example widening doors, installing ramps or improving accessibility, you may be able to get a grant from your local council to help with the costs.
Young people under the age of 18 who have a disability can get a grant without their parents' income being taken into account.
Applying for help
Get in touch with your local authority to find out how you can apply for one of these schemes. You can find your local council by visiting www.gov.uk.
To find out more about changes to the Social Fund and whether you might qualify, contact JobCentre Plus on 0800 055 6688.
Updated July 2016, next review due 2017.